By Michael Bronco
The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion adults are overweight worldwide (and counting). Unfortunately, statistics also show that there is no end in sight since up to ninety five percent of those who go on a diet and exercise program fail within a year. So, why is this happening? Well, it may be that people are actually trying too hard, and they don’t address the issues that lead to weight gain in the first place.
Over the next three issues we are going to show you steps that you can take to make permanent changes and achieve lasting results once and for all.
The first step is to eliminate the triggers that stand between you and your success. These are habits that hold you back. What we need to do is to replace the things that don’t work with the things that do work.
Trigger #1: Not enough sleep
When we don’t get enough sleep, two hormones that regulate appetite are thrown out of whack: Leptin, which is found in fat cells, is a hormone that tells us we are full after we eat and Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, lets us know when we are hungry. Well, guess what? When we get less than eight hours of sleep, Ghrelin levels rise causing us to be hungry, and Leptin levels drop so we don’t receive a proper signal telling us to stop eating. It’s a double whammy that makes it nearly impossible to stick to a healthy eating plan. The bottom line is that without enough sleep, we’re always hungry.
Would you fix a crack on a wall before fixing the foundation of a house? Patching the crack would be a waste of time. In the same way, trying to eat a healthy diet would be a waste of time if one were not sleeping properly. Addressing insufficient sleep is therefore job number one.
Trigger #2: Eating while watching T.V.
Watching television while eating is a trigger that makes it difficult to stop eating because the brain can only absorb one thing at a time. The stimulus provided by the television is more compelling to the brain than the food, so our brain only sends us the signal that we have watched television. The food thing never gets recognized so we continue to be hungry.
Trigger #3: Environment
If you need to eat healthier and get more sleep than that may mean saying NO to those who would lead you down the wrong path. Find people who support your efforts and whose example you want to emulate. Avoid negative energy.
It is also important to get organized around the house. Clutter makes it difficult to relax and focus.
Trigger #4: Exercising too hard or too much
Exercise? Yup, exercise is a trigger too. If you’re currently trying to lose weight by doing a lot of cardio, then stop! Slow down and work on being consistent rather than on burning lots of calories. If you are having a hard time eating right, then too much exercise will only make it more difficult. It sets up a dysfunctional cycle of eating too much then exercising to burn it off. Remember, this is about long term results, not a quick fix. We can deal with increasing exercise when the primary triggers that sabotage your efforts have been eliminated.
In the next issue…Step 2: Diet.
Michael Bronco is a Mount Pleasant resident and an experienced personal trainer who has worked with Olympians and NFL players. He is also a contributor to such publications as Men’s Exercise, Exercise for Men Only, and The Parrillo Performance Press.