Old Diets Die Hard
Ah yes, the good old diet, the never-ending yoyo. Are you on one? Tried one? About start a new one? Too smart to have never bothered? Tried some and never worked? Tried some, was lucky enough to have found one that worked for a while, but then the weight came back?
It’s all so confusing and frustrating. Worst of all, despite the massive weight loss industry, and countless blogs and youtube videos about organic foods and how to banish your love handle; the fact remains: the world is getting fatter. A lot of people are frustrated, want to improve, but frankly don’t know what really works, especially in the long term. Therefore the easiest thing to do is nothing, just continue the course. Perhaps get on a diet when we absolutely feel like it, knowing in the back of our minds that it probably won’t last. But hey, at least you tried, right?
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.
There’s a way out of this mess. Absolutely!
And it starts with your brain. As in, let’s think outside the box for a minute.
Wait, you say, thinking hurts my head, just tell me straight up already!
Alright, I hear ya. Let’s get back in the box for a second, and quickly look over what tools we got inside:
- Tool #1: Eating less. Of course you will lose weight if you eat less. But how long can you keep this up? Life is stressful, eating is fun (for most of us anyway). Can you really stay off ____ (insert your favorite comfort food here) for the sake of your health? We haven’t even started talking about buffets yet.
- Tool #2: Exercise more. I’m sure you’ve tried this one already. Did it work? How long did it work? If it’s still working for you, you can stop reading right now, because you obviously don’t need my help. Good for you!
- Tool #3: Current “IT” food. You know, the one everyone’s talking about, including Dr. Oz, or maybe some online guru. Coconut seems to be really hot right now. Or maybe turmeric, or cinnamon, or flax seeds, or gluten free foods, no make that organic, yeah, that’s it, organic is where it’s at. Free ranging, non-GMO, gluten free, cold pressed, unpasteurized fair trade organic goodness is the magic elixir! Again, if this is working for you, please stop reading now.
Looks like the old tools ain’t working so well.
But maybe it’s not the tools. Tools are just…tools, it’s all in the “how”. Maybe all we really need is a new way of looking at how to use them more effectively. This is where thinking outside the box comes in.
Screw the box, kick it to the curb!
Let’s get a new one, not a box, but a new way of thinking. A sensible, long term approach that is both realistic and functional.
It’s not hard, it’s just different. What matters in the end, is that it works, really really well. And it works for all of us who have normal lives, and don’t make a living looking good in front of others. It works for those of us who just want to lose some weight to get back to the healthy, normal range, to feel better. Most importantly, to stay at the healthy weight for the long haul (as in, the rest of our lives).
So take the red pill and come down the rabbit hole with me (I know, couldn’t resist).
A Thinner Me
But first, who am I to tell you how to lose weight?
Good question. I’m not a doctor, nor a dietician. I have, however, traveled the road of a typical person who was once skinny in childhood, gained weight through college, marriage, and kids. Tried different diets and exercise regimes with various degrees of effectiveness, but never with any long term success.
I’m your average guy.
I love food. I’m a foodie. Pizza, burgers, ramen noodles, fries, chips, ice cream, you name it, I love them all. But really, who doesn’t?
Oh, I love alcohol as well.
Eight years ago I reached almost 200 lbs on my 5’10” frame. That’s over 28 on the BMI index. I was going to the doctors on a regular basis for treating the following:
- Non alcoholic fatty liver (which is ironic, since I drank plenty of alcohol)
- Sleep apnea
- Acid reflux/GERD
- Insomnia/poor sleep
You get the point, a healthy person I was not.
Finally I decided to do something about it (well, the doctor pretty much forced me to do so). I was put on your regular diet, you know, no junk food, watch your calories & cholesterol, get some exercise. Even though it worked in the beginning to various degrees, sooner or later I would crack, go on a binge, or just slowly revert to my old ways. With that, the weight would come back.
I blamed my lack of discipline, or mental power, or self control. I felt embarrassed, and when it hurt enough, I would get back for another round, only to fail again somewhere down the road. Feel sh*tty about myself. The yoyo continued.
So far my story is no different than anyone else.
Let’s jump to the present me:
- Body weight of 155 lbs (22 BMI)
- Body fat of 15%
- No more fatty liver
- Normal blood sugar levels
- No more sleep apnea
- Minimum acid flux (still get it once in awhile, especially when I hit the buffet)
- Sleep an average of 7 hrs a night, naturally
- Most importantly, I’ve stayed in this weight range (+- 3 lbs) for the last 5 years, and the extra flab stays off pretty much effortlessly.
Basically I’m at my high school weight. Being “light on my feet” has never been a more appropriate way to describe how I feel everyday.
Mind you, I’m no elite athlete, nor do I want to be. All of my vitals are just in the normal range. That’s all I want, to be normal, feel healthy, and have the foundation to a more fulfilling life. Without health, none of the other stuff really matter. That, I hope, is something we can all agree on.
And I did this not by developing more discipline or self control (that comes later), but by thinking differently.
It all starts in the brain, the rest simply follows, naturally.
A different way of thinking gets the ball rolling, which leads to a cascade of changes, both mentally & physically, to shed weight and keep them off, with little “force” involved. The biggest change is not to massively increase your discipline (that’s way too drastic & difficult for most people), but to change your approach.
I stumbled upon this by accident, through countless trial & error.
I want to save you the trouble.
A Thinner You
Let’s set our goal first.
The whole point of this is to lose weight. Nothing more, nothing less.
We want to do this in the most painless, and long term sustainable way possible.
Our goal is normal weight. But what is normal? I use two metrics: BMI + body fat percentage. There are a ton of resources online for finding out the normal ranges for both. To save you time, go here and here. Sure there are more ways to measure yourself, such as blood tests, etc. If you want to dig further, go knock yourself out. What I found is that as your weight & fat level come down, all other metrics improve as well. So let’s keep it simple.
Your goal is to get nice and comfy in the middle of the normal BMI & body fat ranges for your age & sex. Everyone is different of course, so do take that into consideration as well. Don’t go too far though, the fact of matter is, unless you are some genetic freak or elite athlete, you are not as “unique” as you think you are when it comes to biometrics. Oh, and if you are asian, your normal BMI is going to be 1 to 2 points lower than the suggested range (sorry, but you know there has be a price to pay for all that natural math ability).
Once you calculate your normal weight & body fat range, you now have your goal. Write it down, or burn it into your memory (It’s two numbers, you can do it, for me it was <23 BMI & 15% body fat). That’s where you are going, in black and white, no ifs and buts. You gonna do this!
Next up, a few truths, or my personal truths that I learned the hard way, if you will:
- When it comes to weight loss, your dietary routine is far more important than everything else, including exercise. Forget the treadmill if your main goal is to shed pounds (do it for building muscle).
- Denying yourself what your body is naturally craving, be it healthy or not, is not sustainable. In other words, don’t fight your body, it will win eventually no matter what.
- It’s our instinct to eat until we’re satisfied. Anything less doesn’t feel good, which makes the practice of eating in moderation, as touted by pretty much every health authority out there, not sustainable nor realistic.
As you can see, the conventional diets create a lot of conflict between the mind and the body. We’re trying to will ourselves to do something we instinctively do not want to do. No wonder most fail, as I did in the past.
Yet one other truth remains: if we consistently consume more calories than we use up, we will gain weight. There’s simply no way around this. The good news is that the reverse is also true, as in if we consistently consume less calories than we use up, we will lose weight.
Some people go to great lengths to force themselves to eat less, such as gastric bypass. Sure they work, but are you willing to go that far?
So how do we balance the two sides? In other words, how do we consume less while still feeling satisfied? If we can somehow align our body and mind in the same direction, then the weight will come off, effortlessly.
I’m not a magician, nor a hypnotist, but I found a way to do this, and it worked, big time!
Are you ready for a new (much) slimmer you?
You better be.
Here we go.
Wait, my lawyer advised me to get this disclaimer* (see bottom of post) out of the way first.
Now we’re ready to go.
There’s one definition that’s a common theme throughout this new thinking. That is, the definition of eating to “full”. Or the fullness scale, from 1 to 10. 10 being the fullest, one being, well, we never bother with 1.
What is 10?
10 is what you feel after a thanksgiving meal, or after your favorite buffet feast, or your birthday/BBQ party where huge quantities of meat, junk food, alcohol & desserts were consumed until you need to take off your belt, unzip your pants, and fall into a eating coma for a few hours.
That’s a 10. Everything else is relative to that.
There are 3 mains rules in this new eating behavior, I call it “Goldilocks’s Three Bowls”:
1. Eat 3 meals a day, one large (8), one medium (6), one small (3)
2. Wait at least 12 hours between the end of the last meal of the day, and the beginning of the first meal on the next day
3. No snacking between meals
That’s it. Your weight will come off if you follow this, and you can keep eating whatever you are eating now, no need to count calories, simply adhere to this guideline religiously. You will feel satiated everyday and your weight will drop after the first week, and the next, and the next…
Let’s dig a little deeper:
- Large meal = eating to an 8 on the fullness scale, meaning you are satisfied, you feel full, but not to the point of taking off your belt or having a nap after (that would be a 9 or 10).
- Medium meal = eating to a 6 (max. 7) on the fullness scale. You feel somewhat full, you can definitely eat more, but you are not hungry anymore.
- Small meal = eating to a 3 on the fullness scale. Make no mistake, this is basically a glorified snack. Just enough to ease your hunger pangs, nothing more.
- You can choose the order of the meals in any way you like. For example, if you prefer a large breakfast, have your large meal in the morning, then a medium lunch, and a small dinner. Or reverse it, have small breakfast, medium lunch, and large dinner. For myself, I go medium breakfast, large lunch, and small dinner.
- For medium & small meals, put the all the food you are going to eat on a plate before you sit down. This way, you can eyeball the actual quantity you’ll be eating, and no seconds. This will ensure you don’t go over the limit.
- The 12 hour eating free period is the minimum, you can and will go longer as you progress. This serves as a very important buffer period where your stomach is resting. This does wonders for your blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.
Remember, the clock starts at the END of the last meal, not the beginning. So if you started having dinner at 6pm, took your time, and had your last bite at 7:30pm. You cannot have breakfast until at least 7:30am the next day.
- What’s a snack? Anything with calories is a snack. So basically the only thing you can have between meals is water, black coffee or tea. That’s it. If you drink coffee with cream and sugar, you need to have it at the end of a meal, so it counts as part of the meal. The point is that there needs to be a clear break between meals, where you give your stomach time to digest.
Wait, you say, but what about the times I want to really pig out? 8 is not enough. It’s Christmas, and I’m ready to go nuts. It’s gonna be 10, not 8! Don’t worry, here comes rule #4:
4. When you eat to a 9 or 10 on occasion, simply skip one of the other two meals.
That’s right. There’s no cheat meal in this new thinking, because it’s not a cheat, it’s called life, and it’s expected without any guilt attached. And we know exactly what to do. Have your feast, just skip one of the other two meals, be it small or medium, take your pick. All other rules still apply (eg. 12 hour window & no snacking). Let me give you an example, if you are going to a party, which starts at 7pm, and you plan to drink & eat like a king (or a queen), simply have one meal during the day, say a medium lunch or small breakfast. But I’ll be hungry, you say. No you won’t actually. Even if you do, just think about how much you’ll be eating at the party, I guarantee it’ll tide you over until then.
I can go on about all the nuisances of this new plan. And I will, in future blogs. For now, you have the blueprint to a slimmer you, tailored towards real living, with a ton of flexibility, that’s easy to remember & follow, with minimal mental/physical anguish.
You will feel satisfied everyday, and at the same time training your body to distinguish between different levels of fullness, which is crucial in developing self awareness & control going forward.
And it works! Don’t believe me? Try it for a week. Your scale won’t lie.
There’s a lot of material here to digest. Feel feel to ask me questions/concerns. I’ll be glad to answer them.
Disclaimer to protect my (now skinny) behind:
*This blog does not provide medical advice.
Results May Vary: Causes for being overweight or obese vary from person to person. Whether genetic or environmental, it should be noted that food intake, rates of metabolism and levels of exercise and physical exertion vary from person to person. This means weight loss results will also vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as typical.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material, contained on this blog is for educational purposes only. The content is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.