Fat-blocking pills. Coffee enemas. Green tea and grapefruit. Low-cal, low-fat, low-carb, low glycemic index. The every-other-day diet. “Points.” The “Hollywood” Diet. “Metabolism enhancer” pills. Cabbage soup. Slim Fast. And these are just off the top of my head. Is it any wonder we’re all a little confused about weight loss? Americans spend over $33 billion every year on weight loss, yet we’re not losing weight. Almost two thirds of Americans are overweight (having a body mass index over 25.0), and 31% are obese (BMI over 30.0). Childhood obesity has more than tripled since 1988, leading to increased rates of childhood diabetes and diseases once considered only for older adults–heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Americans are eating more and exercising less, and we’re spending money hand over fist to get thin.
The problem is, money won’t do it. There’s no magic pill that will let us keep eating fast food twice a day and lose weight. The stark truth is that no matter how much Americans spend, weight loss only happens with a real, lasting lifestyle change, and most of us just aren’t willing to do that. We’d rather buy our way into those size 6 jeans. Rather than spending your hard-earned cash on fad diets, books, and pills (which aren’t regulated by the FDA, incidentally), here are some ways that you can really lose weight and keep it off.
1) Get a dog
Okay, it’s not your typical weight-loss suggestion, but dogs are great motivators. It’s much easier to call your friend or neighbor with an excuse why you can’t make it to your nightly walk around the neighborhood than to look in those big, adoring doggy eyes and say, “Sorry, Fido, you’ll just have to poop in the house tonight because I’m feeling lazy right now.” Also, when Fido snatches half your dinner off your plate because you’re paying too much attention to the television and not enough to your meal, that’s a good way to reduce your calorie intake.
2) Walk or bike to work
Not only will you burn calories and fat with the exercise, you’ll save money on gas and upkeep on your car. You can also feel righteous about doing your part to decrease greenhouse gases and global warming. Of course, you’ll probably want to bring a change of clothes with you so you don’t smell funky during the board meeting, and carrying that extra weight will increase your weight loss. You’ll also get some great gloating rights with your coworkers, but I’m not sure how many calories a good, solid gloat burns.
3) Don’t eat fast-food
Fast-food would be more aptly called “horrible food.” It’s full of the worst kinds of fat and processed, refined sugars. Not only that, but the portion sizes are far outside the recommended intake, especially for those greasy, salty fries. Instead, take a few extra minutes in the morning and pack your lunch. You’ll save money, eat healthier foods, and you won’t go hungry when your coworkers stop inviting you to lunch with them because you’ve annoyed all of them too much with your bike-riding gloating.
4) Stop reading internet articles and do something
Sometimes information is gold, and sometimes research becomes an excuse not to get up and get going. We all know what to do to lose weight–eat less, exercise more–but we tend to read more, and more, and more about it. Reading isn’t an aerobic activity. So grab a carrot stick and a glass of water and walk around the block instead of googling “weight-loss” again. You never know–you might even find a puppy who needs a home while you’re out there.