Stop Starving Yourself: Why Eating Less Won’t Help You Lose Weight Quickly

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Stop Starving Yourself: Why Eating Less Won’t Help You Lose Weight Quickly

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Losing weight is all about the math, correct? All we need to do is eat less and move more…right? Calories in and calories out. This is what everyone was told for years and no one really knows where it came from or why.

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The main problem with the “eat less and move more” method is it is not maintainable and we know it. We cannot continually eat less and less and exercise more and more. Eventually, there will reach a point where we can’t eat any less and still manage to function or do any additional exercise we can do without our bodies breaking down.

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The ‘Eat Less’ Lie

Many of us with PhDs in dieting (such as yours truly) know that an average-sized woman is supposed to eat at least 1200 calories a day and up to 2000 to maintain a healthy weight. So, if I really wanted to lose weight quickly for an event, I should just eat next to nothing?

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It is simple math, correct? WRONG.

When our bodies go into starvation mode for too long, our evolutionary side kicks in and starts to panic and conserve energy (i.e. body fat). The end result is not a drop in excess weight.

I bet you probably didn’t think that excess body fat has a purpose– it does!!

Body fat is basically stored energy.

So, eating as little as possible can actually backfire on us brutally. I have heard of diets that suggest that a woman go down to as little as 500 calories a day. That is a hearty lunch as far as I am concerned and definitely not enough to sustain you all day long.

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Another problem with the ‘food restricting‘ concept is we can quickly become hangry.

“Hangry is a clever portmanteau of hungry and angry, and an adjective that describes being irritable due to hunger.”

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When I am too hungry, it can get scary. When we restrict ourselves and do not eat enough on a consistent basis, we are setting ourselves up for an inevitable binge.

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The goal is to have balance. However, our diet culture has us brainwashed into thinking we need to constantly starve ourselves rather than being able to eat what we want, exercise, and maintain the weight loss, which makes absolutely no sense.

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Lastly, eating next to nothing wrecks our metabolism.

Remember The Biggest Loser? What is really fascinating about The Biggest Loser, besides getting weighed on a scale the size of a Jumbotron, is how there has never been an officially sanctioned reunion show. There is a good reason for it, too.

There are no reunion shows because so many of the contestants end up gaining back the weight they lost. That doesn’t make for good ratings, does it?

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Seeing how a hypothetical Hillary once weighed 200 lbs, got down to 130, and is now up to 250, isn’t exactly uplifting, nor does it make you want to watch the upcoming season of the show. Also, I doubt that Hypothetical Hillary wants to be on camera explaining what happened with her weight.

Last year, a large study by the National Institute of Health was conducted on past contestants from The Biggest Loser to see what long-term results the show had produced and they were pretty disturbing. All of the contestants had slower resting metabolisms than when they started the show, some as much 800 calories less per day.

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Move More

There were times in my life where I worked out considerably more than I do now. As much as 2-3x more than I currently do. I still work out most days, for an hour or so.

In a given week, I average 9 or so hours a week, which I know because my phone tells me so.

If I attempted to replicate my old workout routine, it wouldn’t be possible given how I no longer live in an apartment building with a gym on the first floor, or across the street from an Equinox. Central Park isn’t a 10-minute walk from my house now and the dog needs to be taken outside a lot.

We can not always find the time to exercise more. It may not be practical or realistic… and that’s OKAY.

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There is a sweet spot when it comes to exercise. It is possible to do more harm than good.

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Everyone is different. When I was training for a marathon, I was reading a book describing how a famous runner’s body would break down at 60 miles of running a week, so the trainer would only let her run 59.

So with regular old exercise, unless you are training for a specific event and are supervised by a trainer or coach, I do not recommend more than an hour, even if you are going for a weight loss.

Why is this the recommendation? First of all, our current weight is determined 80% by our food and only 20% by exercise so the phrase “we can’t outrun the fork” is relevant here.

Secondly, you can warm up, get your heart rate up, get in resistance work out, and cool down within 60 minutes. I know this because I have taught group exercise classes for 11 years.

More isn’t always better, sometimes it is just more.

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Lastly, overuse injuries are no joke. Remember the runner who would get hurt at 60 miles per week and not at 59? Sometimes people’s bodies are actually that sensitive.

Do you want to risk not being able to do your favorite form of exercise for weeks or months because you overdid it? Or end up in chronic pain due to sciatica because you didn’t listen to your body and take a break from your SoulCycle?

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So to those of you are still telling yourself that you can lose weight by “eating less and moving more,” STOP IT.

To lose weight and keep it off, simply focus on your overall health and wellbeing and the weight loss will follow. You need to sleep, drink a lot of water, practice stress management and enjoy your life.

Yes, we are eating healthy and moving lots, but we are not obsessively counting calories or going on a super low-fat diet and doing 90 minutes of cardio after work. We want to have our blood sugar controlled which can’t really happen if all we are eating is diet yogurt and then running 10 miles.

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Food is not the enemy and we should not be exercising to “undo” what we eat. There will be times when we can’t spend a full hour at the gym and you only have 20 minutes and that is OKAY. Once we change the way we think about food and health, everything else will fall into place.

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Until next time,



Guest Post

Erin Wathen is Holistic Health Coach, Food Abuse Counselor and #1 Best Selling Author of Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet. Originally from the West Coast, graduating from the University of Oregon for her Undergraduate degree and Hawaii Pacific University for Graduate School, Erin worked in Human Resources in NYC for many years. After her daughter was born and a move to the suburbs, she decided to transform her lifelong passion for health and fitness into a new career. Erin is a Star Three Spinning Instructor through Madd Dogg, Classical Pilates with Physical Mind Institute, 200 HR Vinyasa RYT and TRX.

Follow her on Instagram at @erinwathenwellness

Follow her on Twitter at @erinwathen

My Ebook “Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet” launched yesterday on Amazon It debuted as #1 in 3 different categories in the US alone 💪 The feedback has been amazing If you haven’t gone online and ordered it yet, the link is in my bio 💪 Here I am with my publisher, Angela Lauria at the Red Carpet Launch last night. 💪 To read all about last crazy 48 hours in this Author’s life, go to my blog. It’s been a wild and crazy ride 💪 💪 💪 #wellness #amazon #autumn #november #iin #iinhealthcoach #whycantisticktomydiet #diet #mindfulness #commitment #instagram #fitness #goals #goal #fitmom #fitnessmotivation #health #healthy #healthyfood #healthylifestyle #intention #author #authorsofinstagram #makeadifference #mclean

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