People have grown so accustomed to quick-fix weight-loss plans that losing a pound a week is viewed as “too slow” or somehow disappointing. Most experts agree that losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is the recipe for long-term weight management. Anything faster than that seems to increase the potential for weight re-gain, with many people gaining even more weight than they lost.
The problem lies in the types of lifestyle changes people need to make in order to lose weight quickly. Consider the Whole30 plan, which is essentially an elimination diet that calls for a month-long commitment — no cheat meals, no indulgences. People following the Whole30 plan avoid grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol and legumes in an effort to focus on whole, simple foods. (I’m not sure why grains and legumes are not considered “whole” or “simple!”).
Most experts agree that losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is the recipe for long-term weight management.
One night at a local brew pub, I was sitting with my friend, who was somewhere around day 10 of the Whole30. Meanwhile, I was in the early weeks of The Lifestyle Project. As I enjoyed the house-made lager and a grilled chicken sandwich from the food truck parked outside, he was sipping a glass of water and eating a salad with no dressing that the food truck owner threw together at his request.
He was giving me some grief about how I’m never going to lose any weight eating sandwiches and drinking beer instead of doing something extreme like the Whole30. In the same breath, he was grumbling about how miserable he was and explaining that he and his wife do the Whole30 for one month each year in an effort to improve their health and lose weight. He typically loses between 20 and 30 pounds during the month.
“What happens the other 11 months?” I asked.
“I don’t follow any plan at all,” he said proudly. “I always gain the weight back in the month or two after we do it, but it’s an opportunity to test ourselves and live clean for a month.”
I’m not a nutritionist, dietitian or health coach, but this seems absurd. My friend enters this month every spring fully aware of the fact that the change in his lifestyle is going to make him miserable, is completely unsustainable and will not drive long-lasting results. Meanwhile, he’s telling me that my plan is inadequate because it allows me to commit the sin of drinking a beer or two and eating a sandwich on a night out with friends.
I don’t mean to single out the Whole30 plan, which has thousands of devoted fans. It’s just that any eating plan that is based on the elimination of certain foods (particularly foods you love) is, in my opinion, not practical as a means of lifelong lifestyle change.
People who struggle with their weight, myself included, are often desperate for help and willing to grab onto anything that promises results — especially quick results. The truth is, I could lose weight more quickly if I pushed myself to eliminate all “extra” calories from my diet. I also know that I don’t want to live that way for the long-term. What I’m working so hard to do is learn how to live a healthier, more well-rounded lifestyle that I can sustain even after The Lifestyle Project is over.