If you're one of the millions of Americans who plan on going on a diet soon, here's some more advice - don't.
Some nutritionists say it’s time for a radical new approach to healthy living.
Kyle Hammond has made a lot of strides in the past nine months; he's changed his exercise routine, targeted the pitfalls of his diet - fast food and a lot of overeating - lost 100 pounds and reversed the course of both his diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I feel 20 years younger than I did nine months ago,” Hammond said.
He achieved his goals through the weight loss and wellness center at the Oklahoma Heart Institute and still attends weekly meetings to keep the weight off.
It’s a good strategy because, if he's like most Americans, he'll need all the support he can get.
Long-term studies show after five years less than ten percent of dieters manage to keep the weight off - 50 percent are back where they started and 40 percent are even heavier.
Tulsa native, Nicole Geurin said, “As one of my colleagues said, for every diet, there's an equal and opposite binge.”
Geurin now lives in California and is a nutritionist for Apple; her clients are motivated, smart, successful, and yet, “I saw patients really struggling and suffering. You know, fighting against their bodies. And I felt like it was really damaging their health.”
She said the problem is we all have a set point range of about ten to 15 pounds, and, try as we might, our bodies will fight to protect that weight by increasing our appetite and slowing our metabolism.
It’s a vicious cycle that's left one in three Oklahomans obese - the eighth-highest rate in the nation, a statistic which comes with its own long list of health concerns.
That’s why Geurin now advocates an approach called Health at Every Size.
“Which is about taking the focus off weight completely and putting it on to healthy behaviors,” she said.
Rather than worrying about the scale, Health at Every Size calls for mindful eating of a variety of healthy foods, enjoyable physical activity and an end to body shaming.
Geurin said, “Someone who's in a larger body can be metabolically healthy. They can have normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They can still be physically fit.”
Director of cardiology at the Oklahoma Heart Institute, Dr. Eric Auerbach, said, “My concern with what you're saying is it could also be an excuse for an individual to make less than their best effort at improving their health,” he said.
Auerbach is all too familiar with the negative health effects of obesity, and he agrees that short-term dieting is not the solution.
“I think a lot of people are unaware of how they can make improvements that would result in lasting weight loss,” he said.
But, Auerbach also agrees the focus should be on health, not a number on the scale.
And to achieve that, Geurin believes we need a whole new mindset. It’s not about giving up, she says, it’s about moving on.
“It gives them permission to not put their lives on hold until they lose weight, but to really live life to its fullest right now,” Geurin said.
Health at Every Size isn't a blank check to gorge on fast food and never leave your sofa. The goal is to take good care of our bodies, which includes accepting them in all different sizes.