Diets and Weight Loss

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just take a magic pill and all our weight troubles would disappear? Or lie on the beach and feel the pounds melting away?

Maintaining a healthy weight is vital to our physical and mental well being. Being overweight affects our body image, self-esteem, mental acuity, just to name a few areas. Following a sensible weight loss diet can help us maintain / reach a healthy weight.

History of Dieting

Before the 1800’s, dieting to lose weight was not common. There just weren’t too many overweight people around. Rich merchants, bankers and business owners were the only ones with the means to indulge themselves. For those that tried to diet, they only decrease the quantity of food without regard to their nutritional value.

It wasn’t until around 1850 when Dr. Harvey suggested to one of his patients, William Banting, to eat a low carbohydrate diet. Banting was so impressed with the results that he wrote the first diet book, “Letter on Corpulence Addressed to the Public”. Unfortunately, the British Medical Association was not impressed.

The process of modern weight control has been around since the 1920’s when the flapper arrived on the scene. Flappers symbolized lively, energetic youthfulness, and every woman wanted to be like them. Diets were devised to help lose weight and when that didn’t work, some went so far as to swallow tapeworms to accomplish their quest. In 1949, Twiggy became a popular icon. This evolved into the “waif” look of the supermodels today.

So here we are today, still obsessing about our weight. Doctors are prescribing weight-loss pills like they are candy, eating disorders have developed and now it’s elective day surgery to have your stomach altered.

Modern Diets

Today, there are literally hundreds of different diets to choose from. There’s low carb, calorie counting, Hollywood diet, liquid diet, low calorie diet, very low calorie diet, Atkins diet, South Beach diet, North Beach diet, East Beach diet, cabbage diet, raw foods diet, eat-in-pairs diet, combination diet, sprout diet. The list goes on and on.

The truth is we need calories for our bodies to burn fuel. If we consume more calories than we burn, our bodies store the excess in fat. If we burn more calories than we consume, our bodies use the stored fat for energy. It’s as simple as that.

If it’s that simple, then why isn’t everyone losing weight?

That’s a good question. Every person’s body is different. Some people are taking medications that prevent their bodies from efficiently burning fat. Some people have medical conditions that prevent them from burning too many calories. And some bodies just don’t want to cooperate!

There is no right or wrong diet. No diet will work for everyone. That is why you should find a diet that you can work with. For me, I love food. So I should stick with the sensible low calorie diet supported by portion control. That way, if I want to have a small slice of birthday cake, I can! I just make sure it’s a small portion of cake, record the calories in my diary, and make sure I don’t go over the daily allotted amount.

The important thing to remember when dieting is that you need a well balanced meal taken from all the food groups. Your choice of foods and the amount you eat will determine your type of diet.

The Importance of Exercise

It is important to realize that dieting along does not get the job done. Sure you’ll lose some weight at first, but in the long run, you’ll need exercise.

Exercise increases your resting metabolic rate which means you’ll burn more calories even when you are sleeping!

Getting enough exercise does not mean that you have to join an expensive gym or jog three miles a day. Try walking around the yard or block for 15-20 minutes a day. Any type of physical activity will help.

Weight Control for Life

One you have successfully completed your diet and you’ve reached your goal weight, your diet doesn’t stop there. It’s important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating responsibly and getting plenty of exercise to help you maintain your ideal weight.