In today’s society, it is increasingly desirable to become physically “fit” and achieve the “perfect” sexy body. On the one hand, the increased portrayal of the idealized body by magazine, internet, television and other media sources leads many individuals to yearn for the unobtainable.

 

On the other hand, many individuals today are plagued by excess weight and obesity due to a variety of factors such as sedentary lifestyle, genetics,  and behavioral factors. People today want to look a certain way, and to do so as fast as possible.  The problem is that humans have been conditioned to expect immediate gratification, which however does not apply to exercise outcomes. For example, you can go out and buy a brand new television and begin to experience its benefits as soon as you get home. Because of the long journey necessary to reach the desired look in a healthy and safe manner, people often fall victim to one or more of the many schemes that prey on the vulnerable looking for a quick fix. Let’s take a look at some of the shortcuts often attempted by those hoping to achieve their goals more quickly.

Supplements – The supplemental weight loss industry is a multi billion dollar industry. The information given during advertisements for supplements is usually of holds low validity. Most supplements, including “natural” ones, are associated with adverse side effects. If something is strong enough to create a response, then it is surely strong enough to elicit a negative side effect. The bottom line is that if there was a magical supplement that worked without any problems, everyone would be taking it already.

Fad Diets – There are many current fad diets whose success depends on their ability to sell the idea of their potential, rather than a realistic product. Most make outrageous claims while having no resources to prove them. The research to support these claims is not credible, and in some cases, is even distorted. Furthermore, some of these diets will go as far as ignoring Canada’s dietary recommendations. For example, some recommend eliminating all carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables! Lastly, even when fad diets do produce results, they only work for a short period of time, often until the person discontinues the diet.

Surgery – Some individuals who have suffered a lifetime of chronic obesity consider undergoing surgical procedures to aid in their weight loss. The two main surgeries performed are gastric bypass (where a section of the stomach is cut out to reduce stomach volume) and gastric banding (construction of a band to decrease the opening of the stomach, thus allowing less food to enter). Both of these surgeries are accompanied by risks such as increased chance of infection, blood clots and possible adverse reactions.

Drugs – There are four main drugs that have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration ) to aid in the treatment of obesity. Sibutramine is used as an appetite suppressant. Orlistat blocks fat digestion, while Pentamine and Diethylpropion aim to reduce food intake. Even though these drugs might sound appealing, they all come with side effects such as dry mouth, headache, constipation and decreased absorption of vitamins and essential nutrients.

Here are a few weight loss strategies that you can implement today:

Physical activity – This is the best approach to weight management. Physical activity will speed up the metabolism, help to control appetite and is associated with

many psychological benefits.

Diet plan – If you choose to follow a diet plan, incorporate those changes into your lifestyle. Be realistic about something you can commit to, and avoid rapid weight loss. Always eat breakfast, it has been shown that people who eat breakfast have are at a decrease rate of obesity. Eat small portions frequently throughout the day.

Be aware of environment influences – Comfortable environments such as long barbecues, or sitting on the couch will lead to more food eaten. If food is easily accessible you will also eat more. Become aware of distractions and hunger cues that initiate the impulse to indulge into your favorite snack.

Maintain proper attitudes and behaviours – Always stay positive and set goals. Modify your behaviors and actions so that you can expend more calories and reduce intake: i.e. take the stairs instead of elevator at work.

Be reasonable – A reasonable amount of weight to lose is 10% of your initial weight over a 6 month period.

Ultimately, there is no quick fix to weight loss.  Success comes with dedication, commitment, and focus, and there is always a price to pay for every “short cut” taken. Implement a lifestyle change that you are able to maintain comfortably for the rest of your life. In the long run, you will be healthy, fit and most importantly, happy.

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