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7 Myths and Facts About Maintaining a Healthy Weight

November 5, 2020

We’re coming up on the holiday season—a traditional time to put on a few extra pounds. This year, the holidays are likely to look quite a bit different, but it’s a good bet that food will still play an important role in the celebrations. And we might not be getting as much exercise as we usually do because of COVID-related restrictions on gyms and other facilities. Maybe you’ve already found yourself carrying around the extra weight that many are calling the “quarantine 15”?

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for so many reasons. It lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and disability, decreases arthritis and osteoporosis pain, and delays age-related disability. For patients who are planning surgery or another health procedure, losing a few excess pounds can improve recovery.

There are a lot of common myths about weight loss. Let’s dispel a few of them.

Myth #1: The only way to lose weight is to eat less.
Fact: While controlling our food intake is a very important part of the equation, getting enough exercise is equally important. Staying active burns calories, which helps us shed those unwanted pounds. Find activities that you enjoy. These days, walking, exercising to a video, or even a virtual personal trainer are options.

Myth #2: Only aerobic exercise helps us lose weight.
Fact: Activities that build muscle are just as important. Muscle burns more calories—even when you’re at rest—than does fat. So the goal should be to shed fat, not muscle. This type of exercise also protects our bones. If you can’t go to the gym, lift weights at home with a video. Elastic exercise bands are good, too.

Myth #3: When it comes to diet, our choice of foods is all that matters.
Fact: That’s true to an extent. Nutrient-rich meals with lots of veggies, whole grains and low-fat proteins are great. But how much we eat is almost as important as the foods we choose. Did you know that Americans are eating quite a bit more than they used to? Avoid this “portion distortion” by learning how much of a food really constitutes “one serving.” Use smaller plates, and begin with about half as much food as you think you want—you can always get seconds.

Myth #4: If you’re hungry, you should eat!
Fact: That’s true to an extent—listen to your body and don’t just eat because you’re bored or because there’s a packet of cookies on the counter top. On the other hand, we can develop a growing hunger habit over time. Instead, we can train ourselves to crave less food. Eat more slowly. Try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes. If you practice this enough, it’s likely you’ll soon discover that you feel full after eating less food.

Myth #5: When it comes to calories, dining out is about the same as eating at home.
Fact: Portion distortion has had even more effect on restaurants. Experts say many restaurant meals contain an entire day’s worth of calories! Resign from the clean plate club. Divide your meal in half right away and ask for a doggie bag. You can do the same thing at home if you’ve ordered takeout or delivery.

Myth #6: Beverage choice doesn’t make a difference.
Fact: Calories can be lurking in our glass, too! Sugary sodas are a top source of extra sugar in American diets. The calories in fruit juices also add up. And while you probably know the health problems of drinking too much alcohol, consider that the average beer has 153 calories, and a piña colada can have close to 500! Plain water with a little fresh lemon or lime is a better choice.

Myth #7: Fat shaming is an effective way to motivate a person to lose weight.
Fact: In reality, weight bias and stigma can create a barrier between a person who is overweight and the lifestyle changes they need to make. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), people who experience weight bias from a healthcare professional are less likely to be active, and have a higher level of stress, associated with weight gain. In fact, the AMA said in 2019, “This negative impact can lead to further weight gain that causes impaired psychological health and distress, as well as physiological health and distress.” Look for professionals who will treat you with respect.

The information in this blog post is not intended to take the place of your healthcare provider’s advice. Talk to your doctor about a weight loss program that’s right for you. Ridgeview Transitional Rehabilitation’s experts offer nutritious, healthy meals and a personalized exercise plan for each guest.