Of all the articles and ads about weight loss and weight loss products, you will notice that many of them seem to be saying that weight loss without exercise is what they have to offer. They will tell you about some diet pill, or perhaps a diet, which is going to take the weight off without you lifting a finger…other than to unscrew the cap.
So here’s the question: Can somone really lose weight simply by adjusting their diet? So many people feel that they do not have the time to exercise, or feel they lack the energy to exercise, or just plain don’t want to. It would be great if all they had to do was take some pill or eat some specific diet and the weight would go away, right?
Now, my problem is that when I think of, or advise someone on, weight loss, I automatically throw in adjectives like “healthy” and “permanent”. I’m not really in touch with the concept of using a diet to lose a few pounds to get back into last year’s clothes or to look good at the high school reunion. I tend to think of losing weight as a step to the point where you achieve your weight loss goal and enter the realm of weight management. At this point, you are living a healthy lifestyle of combined physical activity and proper nutrition and are able to enjoy life to the max…for a good many years to come!
“Yeah, Don, that’s great, but I’m one of the first group of people you talked about. I just want to lose weight and don’t want to mess with exercise. Heck, man, I’m so overweight and pooped all the time that just thinking about exercise scares me. Just tell me what diet pill to take or diet to follow so that I can get my weight down, look good, feel good about myself, and enjoy life like you say!”
Well, there are people who want to be rich but who don’t want to “mess with” saving, or making wise purchasing decisions, or working hard, either. Whatever we really want in life usually has some sort of price tag attached, and, as the saying goes, we usually, “get what we paid for”.
To throw in another old saying, anything worth doing is worth doing well.
To get back to the weight loss without exercise issue, let’s look at a couple of facts.
1. Diets do not work as far as permanent or healthy weight loss is concerned.
2. Permanent, healthy weight loss is commonly achieved through a combination of exercise and proper nutrition.
3. While there are diet products and supplements which can enhance the effects of any weight loss program, they very seldom do the trick by themselves for most people.
Let’s start with that last one.
Start by reading the labels or advertising literature of most diet pills and other weight loss supplements. Somewhere you will usually find a statement that will say something like “when used with regular exercise and a sensible nutrition program”. In other words, taking that diet pill or supplement “might” help you lose weight IF it is taken as part of some other weight loss program.
Even the manufacturers of the Alli fat loss pill, which at the moment is the only federally approved weight loss pill, will let you know that you really need to be doing other things as well as taking their pill to experience effective weight loss. Testing of that pill, one of the most effective available, show that weight loss with the pill alone will be minimal unless it is used with a program of regular exercise and proper nutrition.
Let’s face it. If there WAS one diet pill that you could take and then sit around watching TV, eating ice cream, and drinking beer…AND still lose weight and be healthy, there would not be so many different diet pills claiming to do the trick!
Okay, I started with the last fact, so let’s jump around and deal with the first fact next.
Diets per se do not work for permanent, healthy weight loss.
When you suddenly decrease the calories you regularly have been feeding your body, it senses a starvation situation (built in survival trait) and lowers its basic metabolic rate. In other words, it adjusts itself to function with fewer calories. This might not be too bad, but, if you go back to your old eating habits, the same amount of calories will now produce more fat to be stored on your body.
This is the reason that going on and off diets is very likely to cause weight gain, rather than weight loss! It’s called yo-yo dieting.
Additionally, extreme reductions in nutrition can also mean extreme reductions in the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats (needed for life), phytonutrients, and other nutritional factors required for health, energy, and long life. You might lose weight but actually endanger your health and lack the energy necessary to live your life with pleasure.
Just to throw in another monkey wrench, once your body has adapted to its new diet and adjusted its basic metaolism, the weight loss will cease. This usually occurs after only a few pounds have been lost. To lose more weight, you will have to cut your nutritional intake even more, or simply decide to take a look at the second fact I listed.
Test after test and study after study has demonstrated beyond a doubt that the most effective weight loss program is one that includes regular, moderate exercise and healthy eating and living habits. The exercise does NOT have to be extreme, although overall results will usually be directly related to the amount of effort expended.
Most of us are NOT going to wind up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Cory Everson unless we exercise and eat like they do!
However; regular, moderate exercise can burn calories and build lean muscle tissue which will continue to use up excess calories and burn fat even when we are not exercising. It will raise energy levels, make daily life easier, help elevate mood and fight depression, and will help protect us against a host of degenerative diseases. It has been shown to delay and mitigate the effects of aging, and has been shown a potent protector against many conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and many forms of cancer.
Healthy eating does not necessarily mean “dieting”. Healthy eating involves such things as proper selection of foods, paying attention to portion sizes, and changing a few eating habits…including that great American pastime…snacking!
I used the term “healthy eating and living” because such things as getting the proper amount of sleep, having fun, and having friends can also contribute to health in general and weight loss in particular.
Is weight loss without exercise possible?
Sure! Millions of people throughout history have gotten very thin before they starved to death!
Millions more have simply combined exercise with healthy eating and living habits to experience permanent, healthy weight loss and have enjoyed a long and happy life as a result.