This is a great question and one that's often answered without objective reference to the scientific research. Ask some fitness trainers and they'll tell you exercise is the most important factor. Some dieticians may hold the view that diet is far more significant. And yet a psychologist may say that all the stuff going on between your ears is perhaps the most important of all.
So who do you believe? I mean. they can't all be right - or could they?
Weight loss is a tricky business - and there is no magic formula or blanket approach that we can apply to everyone.
But here is a summary of what we know - when we refer back to the science:
Obesity is multifactorial - in any one person it is likely there are many contributing factors (ie: it's not just about diet & exercise). This is exactly why any weight loss program MUST be personalised and tailored specifically for the individual.
Some of these other factors that must be addressed include:
Genetics - we know that certain genes can make it more difficult for some people to lose weight. Identifying these first can help structure a tailored program.
Hormones - more often than not we find imbalances with hormones such as insulin, leptin, cortisone, oestrogen, thyroid or inflammatory hormones. When these are corrected, weight loss is much more likely.
Rest, Relaxation & sleep - It's not all about what you eat & how you move. If you're not getting sufficient rest to recharge your energy, weight loss will always be a struggle
Stress - High stress hormones will literally lock up your fat stores making it almost impossible to lose weight. Learning the skills to better respond to stress, both external & internal (ie: thoughts & emotions), will enable weight loss.
Thoughts, Beliefs & Emotions - quite obviously these play a major role in our ability to stay motivated and they are ultimately responsible for how successful we can become
Various other factors including your age, medical conditions and medications should also be considered.
It's unlikely we'll be able to solve the obesity problem by just looking at diet & exercise. We have to take a much broader approach & really look at all the factors - physical, mental & emotional. Just picking one or two will only ever provide short term benefits.
Are any factors any more important than the others? Well it really depends on the individual. Some of my clients say learning how to mindfully eat had the biggest impact. Others tell me that learning how to stop listening to the constant barrage of negative internal chatter going on in their minds has the most effect. And yet others say that learning how to take time out and manage stress was what helped most.
Sorry for not providing a definitive answer to your question. That's the nature of obesity I'm afraid.
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