Everyone knows how to lose weight. The formula is simple and has been well communicated to all of us: burn more calories than you eat each day. That’s right—eat a little less, move a little more. Nothing could be simpler. So why are we in the midst of an obesity epidemic? If we all know what to do and why—and even how to do it— why are we still overweight? “One cause is the knowledge-behavior gap—people have trouble doing what they know they should do,” says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., of New York City, co-author of The Ultimate Diet Log (Houghton Mifflin). “Yes, diet and exercise are at the core of any weight-loss program, but there are so many other factors that it really isn’t just about calories in and calories out anymore.” We asked Sass and several other experts to share their ideas on how to bridge that knowledge-behavior gap—and to address some less obvious factors that can contribute to repeated weightloss failure. Here’s their best advice for breaking out of your rut.
Think beyond ‘‘calories out’’ Cardiovascular exercise is the key to burning calories, but you may get as much benefit, if not more, from yoga. A recent study at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that an ongoing yoga practice correlates nicely with a healthy weight—and not only because of the calorie burn. Yoga practitioners were found to be more aware of what they were eating and better able to stop when they were full, characteristics that the study attributes to mindfulness.
“When you practice yoga, you are developing a deeper and much more subtle awareness of your body,” explains Ashley Turner, M.A., a Los Angeles yoga teacher who drew on her experience as a mind-body psychotherapist to create the DVD Yoga for Weight Loss (Element). “Smoothing out the brain waves and calming down the nervous system give you an opportunity to notice the moment of choice,” she adds. “You get to ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to eat more?’ Most of us never even encounter that moment.” Turner suggests doing 45 minutes of yoga, three times a week.