The Right Way to Lose Weight
Weight loss is big business. It seems like every day there’s a new fad diet in the news. Newsstands are full of magazine covers promising to reveal the secret to a slimmer body. There’s junk mail in our email inboxes promising to help us lost 20 pounds in a week. Celebrities are telling the world how they lost X pounds in X days by eating only kale smoothies or something equally silly.
Weight loss sells books. And ebooks. It sells magazines and newspapers. It powers websites. It sells seminars and workshops and pre-measured “diet” meals. It sells memberships to diet clubs and support groups. It sells fitness equipment. And it sells ridiculous fringe products like so-called “skinny wraps” that promise miracles with no effort.
It’s big, big business.
Meanwhile, while we’re reading articles that promise to show us how to “Lose Your Belly in 7 Days!” the experts shake their heads and warn us that diets just don’t work. We should just get up and exercise more. (Of course there are other experts telling us that doesn’t work either.) Most people who diet, we’re told, gain back all the weight they lost and more.
Guess what they do then?
They go on another diet. Because weight loss is an industry, and to keep an industry going there has to be a steady demand for the product. If it was easy to drop pounds and keep them off, the diet industry would disappear. So it all hinges on promising us miracles and making us feel like the we’ve failed when the miracle doesn’t materialize.
Here’s the truth about losing weight: there isn’t any one plan that works for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, no matter what the diet industry would like us to think. There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to lose weight. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
Losing weight is a holistic process
There’s more to losing weight—and keeping it off—than just counting calories. Or exercising more. Or even eating more vegetables and fewer carbs. Every single body on the planet is different, and the mind of the person living in that body is different from the mind of the next person.
And that’s important. Because successful weight loss—losing the weight and keeping it off, and doing it without dieting for the rest of your life—involves more than just your body. It’s a whole-person process and it involves body, mind, and spirit in equal parts.
If you stick to a low-calorie diet, will you lose weight? Of course. But the moment you stop obsessively counting calories, the weight will pile back on. If you go on a kale smoothie diet, will you lose weight? Probably. But as soon as you go back to your old eating habits you’re going to gain it right back. That’s why the “diets” that really do work—Atkins, Paleo, and so on—are successful. They’re not really “diets.” They don’t just change what we’re putting in our mouths. Instead they change how we think about food and about eating. They permanently change our eating habits.
Here’s the piece of the weight-loss puzzle that seldom gets mentioned: if we’re in a place where we need to lose weight, then there’s an issue with our current eating patterns.
No one wants to talk about this. And few of us want to hear it. That doesn’t, however, mean it shouldn’t be said. The brutal truth is this: with very, very rare exceptions, if we’re overweight we’re either eating too much, eating too often, or eating the wrong things. It’s not a pleasant thing to hear, and I might offend some by saying it. But don’t take it as a personal criticism—I’m not saying that everyone who needs to shed some pounds simply “lacks will power.”
Not at all.
I’m saying the modern food system makes it extremely difficult to eat well, and modern society encourages—even glorifies--poor eating habits. The American food industry is designed to do one thing: sell us junk. Because junk is where Big Food makes money. And the system works really, really well.
But it isn’t good for us.
To lose weight successfully you have to do more than just diet. You have to change your mindset. You have to change your relationship with food. And, if we’re totally honest, you have to be willing to buck the status quo. Because everything about our food network, from the way we farm to food advertising, is designed to keep us unhealthy. And our beliefs about food and the rituals that surround eating—heavily influenced by the food industry—are ingrained from the time we’re small.
It’s hard to change beliefs and habits so central to ourselves. But it can be done. And if you want to lose weight successfully and keep it off, it’s critical. So we’re going to look at some of the key elements of losing weight the right way, the way that won’t send you yo-yoing back to your original weight and beyond or leave you frustrated and feeling like a failure because you’re too focused on the scale.
In part two, we’ll talk about:
- How changing the words you use to talk about food can help you lose weight
- Why fad diets set us up for failure
- Why the idea of “comfort food” is so bad for your waistline
- How cooking for yourself is an integral part of permanent weight loss—and not for the reasons you think
- Why building muscle is just as important as losing fat
- How one simple trick can effortlessly cut calories from every meal—without changing what you eat or leaving you hungry
We all know that carrying extra weight is a strain not just on our joints but on our hearts and our brains. And getting down to a healthy weight is one of the most important things we can do. Losing weight can help heal heart disease, normalize your blood sugar, and even reduce the risk of dementia. But in our throwaway society, filled with food so hyper-processed that it’s lost half its nutrition, this is easier said than done. Part two will give you some of the tools you need to take the weight off and keep it off—without resorting to fad diets.
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