GET HEALTHY!! Lose Weight by Saying No to Dieting By Cleveland Clinic Wellness Editors

Lose Weight by Saying No to Dieting
By Cleveland Clinic Wellness Editors

source: Cleveland Clinic

The next time you catch yourself looking in the mirror and thinking, “Gee, I really need to lose 20 pounds,” consider this: You can be healthier without losing even an ounce.

“Weight doesn’t tell the whole story,” says Thomas Morledge, MD, of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “Studies show that when you compare a sedentary person who is ‘normal’ weight to a heavier person who exercises and eats a better diet, the heavier person is less likely to keel over from a heart attack.”

The fact is, trying to lose weight on specific diets — low-carb, high-protein, Cabbage Soup, whatever — doesn’t generally result in lasting weight loss. Yes, you might lose 20, 50, even 100 pounds on some preformatted regime, but you’re likely to see your weight boomerang back (maybe even higher than before). Sounds crazy, but the fact is that some diets can result in people burning up muscle tissue as their body looks for protein to continue critical functions, Dr. Morledge explains. This creates a long-term problem: Muscle is your primary energy burner. Muscle burns calories even when you are sleeping. If you burn up too much muscle, then even getting out of bed could be a major challenge when you’re 80. With less muscle, you use fewer calories on a regular basis — meaning it’s harder to manage your weight than before you went on that weight-loss plan! The goal for most of us is not to first and foremost lose weight, but to make changes to our lifestyles that improve our overall health.

Be Healthier at the Same Weight

Those 20 pounds, especially if you are carrying them around your middle, can still be a wake-up call for change. Belly fat often tells a story of unhealthy food choices, and if you want to rewrite your health prognosis, this is where to begin. Switching from a typical American diet — higher in disease-causing saturated and trans fats, processed carbs and packaged foods — to an eating style that features more lean proteins (such as fish and beans), whole grains, fruits and vegetables can change your body composition, if not your weight. “You’ll see that your abdominal fat will decrease, which will not only help you button your jeans, but will actually make you healthier. Abdominal fat hangs in layers around your intestine and spews out molecules that cause damage to blood vessels,” Dr. Morledge says. “Even if your overall weight doesn’t change, you’ll be carrying it somewhere less dangerous.” In other words, flabby thighs may not cut it on the beach, but they won’t kill you — while belly fat just might.

The other factor in achieving better overall health without losing a pound? Exercise. Just getting up off the couch and walking for a half hour each day will provide your heart with real health benefits, Dr. Morledge explains, even though that activity probably won’t, by itself, result in significant weight loss. But that’s okay: You will improve your cardiovascular health and be more likely to see your grandchildren graduate from college.

Small Changes, Big Results

The first change in your life is often the hardest — it doesn’t have to be huge to lead to great results. That one thing, Dr. Morledge says, varies by individual. Maybe it’s giving up your two sodas a day; maybe it’s switching from takeout every night to more home-cooked meals (which not only tend to be healthier but, hello, will also save you money). It might be to start walking, or to add an extra 10 minutes a day to the walk you’re already doing. Your starting point might not even be directly related to eating or exercise  — it might be to begin a stress-reduction program, which will result in you finding better ways to handle pressure than opening a bag of cookies. “The point,” Dr. Morledge says, “is to look for the doable sweet spots, not engage in a total makeover.” Some other easy modifications you could choose to make:

·         Eat a healthy breakfast every day.

·         Switch to fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks.

·         Switch to whole-grain carbs (brown rice, whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta) at meals.

·         Have a glass of water instead of juice, soda or an energy drink.

·         Turn off the TV while you eat, or don’t eat by the computer.

·         Have one glass of wine at dinner, not two.

·         Get more sleep — if you’re not fatigued during the day, you will be less likely to fall prey to the munchies.

Planning is key here. Look at your calendar at the beginning of the week and clearly mark which four or five days you’re committed either to exercise, changes in your diet or managing stress. Make the plan reasonable. If a birthday bash with cake and ice cream is on the calendar, then plan for it. Clearly that’s not the day to eliminate deserts unless you have willpower of mythic proportions! If you make one change and stick with it, you’re likely to become motivated to work on another area, and then another. These small steps, in progression, will result in big changes.

The Happy Accident

One of those big changes just might be a drop in pounds. It’s a funny thing: While you’re busy “not losing weight,” you just very well might! When you are able to combine heart-healthy exercise, nutritious food choices, portion control and an awareness of why you are reaching for that next bite, then the scale will begin ticking to the left. The domino effect of positive, sustainable adjustments to your habits will lead you to a healthier weight, and most importantly, a healthier, more energetic andhappier you.