How Important is Diet for Weight Loss?

I started training a client about 9 weeks ago. His primary goal is weight loss, along with stress reduction and overall better health. As of yesterday, he has achieved an impressive 14lb weight loss! I am so proud of the hard work he has been putting in. So what has he done to lose the weight? He went from a sedentary lifestyle to training with me just twice a week, as well as eliminating his daily ice cream habit.

The human body, however, is an incredibly adaptable machine. When you change your habits or start using your body in a new way, very quickly your body adapts to the changes, always trying to conserve energy. My client’s body has most likely already adapted to the diet change of not eating ice cream every single day. Happily, his training program is constantly changing as he becomes stronger, more flexible, and more adept at exercising. He is also adding in some yoga weekly to try something new – this change will definitely help. But now he needs to reassess his diet in order to continue losing weight.

How Important Is Diet to Weight LossMy advice to clients who really want to change their diet and lifestyle is, don’t go on a diet! Diets work because they restrict calories, or because they cut out major food groups (thereby restricting calories). But can you eat according to that diet’s rules forever? Would you even want to?

What can you do instead of following a diet? Change your habits. Assess your lifestyle. Start keeping a food journal. You don’t have to calculate every calorie you eat, but start writing down the food you eat, the portions (very important), and what times you eat. You’ll start to recognize food habits you didn’t even know you had. Or you might notice you eat more than you ever would have guessed. If you take the food journal one step further and start noting down your mood pre- and post-eating, you may be able to work out if you’re a stress snacker, or maybe a boredom eater. Once you see and recognize your food habits and your triggers, you can start to tackle them one by one.

Weight loss is a tricky primary goal for personal trainers unless their clients are also monitoring their diet. When you compare the estimated 300 to 400 calories burned lifting weights for an hour, or running for half an hour to the calorie count of an average breakfast (let’s say a piece of toast with peanut butter, a banana, and a skim milk latte at 400 calories total), it doesn’t seem fair. Especially if people have the mindset of, ‘Oh, I worked out today, so I can have this cupcake!’  The reality check is that a Crumbs vanilla cupcake is a whopping 780 calories, and a Magnolia vanilla cupcake is 390 calories.

Want more info on making small changes? Check out Smaller Sips to Weight Loss, for info on making small changes to what you drink during the week, and then read 50 Easy Healthy Habits You Can Start Now, for ideas on where to start with small, healthy goals.

What is one habit you think you could change today?

Do you rely more on exercise or on diet to control your weight?