As a plus size nation we are obsessed with weight loss. During the decades-long fixation, we tried every possible fad diet, every magic pill, and an unstoppable stream of gimmicks: ring worms, zapping belts, cotton balls, tongue patches... you name it.
Nothing helped. Nothing!
Of course, it is unwise to expect results from dubious outlandish contraptions. But what about the science backed approaches such as calorie restriction and exercising?
There’s a very good reason why the sensible methods of weight loss do not work as well as expected, and I will elaborate on that a little later. Let me talk about the willpower first.
Modern life is tough, demanding, and exhausting. To cope with challenges, we have to engage our resolve not once day and not even ten times a day; we must exercise willpower and self-control almost constantly.
Multiple obligations, grand and small, govern our life. Obligation to work, obligation to care for the family, and obligation to our own precious self are the most important ones. And then, there’s a sea of temptations that accost us everywhere. We need to summon our will every morning and can only let it go when we are ready to sleep.
On top of that, the fast pace of life gives us very little time to recharge our batteries, and when inevitably we are running on empty, we need the last few drops of willpower just to keep going.
Now, let’s go back to the calorie restriction and exercising.
When we decide to go on a calorie restriction diet, we intentionally put ourselves in a pickle. We have to fight constant hunger, deprivation, and stress combined with unyielding craving for the foods we like and are forced to avoid. Going on a weight loss diet is one crazy willpower-sucker.
Working out is not much better. When we engage in moderate to vigorous workouts, we need to summon some serious willpower to meet the demands of fairly fast running, swimming, cycling, etc. And pumping heavy iron can be a murder.
Then, just when the workout session is over and we eagerly anticipate some chilling and relaxing, the electrolyte imbalance may surprise us with intolerable cramps, while the lactic acid buildup sets our muscles on fire. And afterward, of course, the delayed muscle soreness tests our will 24-48 hours later.
"In the end, everybody breaks. It's biology" - said a CIA operative in Zero Dark Thirty. And he was talking about the most hardened warriors. So, it is not surprising that the regular folks, soft and spoiled by the comfortable life, do not stand a chance.
Eventually, a lot of us crack and must go easy on ourselves. We have to face the necessity of letting go of some obligations. And the choice we make is somewhat obvious.
Can we stop earning our daily bread? Inconceivable. Entirely out of the question. We have to assign willpower to our employment as a simple matter of survival.
Can we stop taking care of our family? Highly unlikely - we are responsible loving humans, and quitting on our family is anathema to most of us. A big chunk of our willpower will always be allocated to supporting the close ones in spite of all their problems and foibles.
Can we stop taking care of ourselves? What an idiotic question.
Yes, we can!
And yes, we do!
By all means, the first obligation we dump is the obligation to our own, not so precious after all, self.
Here are some facts to support that. ‘Research suggests that 50% of persons starting an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months’. And how about quitting a diet? That happens even faster - 50% give up dieting within one month.
When people were asked, ‘Would you rather lose 15 pounds or have your 401(k) balance rise 15 percent this year?’, most people chose the money.
What people might not realize is that the financial payoff from losing those 15 pounds and being healthier is much greater than the increase in 401K. And when it comes to exercising, moderate to vigorous physical activity actually increases our energy capacity. Similar to the way the Tesla Powerwall batteries accumulate energy from the sun.
But these are the topics for another conversation. Let’s to sort out our priorities first.
A Solution 2 Dilemma
Currently, we are facing a dilemma: to be or not to be on a diet, to exercise or not to exercise. Something should be nixed since we don’t have the stamina to keep both activities going. Our health, our employment, our social wellbeing, and our future depend on it.
Sounds like a tragedy, not quite Shakespearean but still a distressing one.
Don’t despair though, there is a way to avoid that distress by making intelligent decisions.
Step One – Be Honest
The first very important step in the right direction is to be honest with ourselves. Do we really believe that unhealthy lifestyle will increase our chances to be successful at work? Do we really think that being an ailing, week person will help us to take a good care of our family?
We may try hard to convince ourselves that we can survive and even succeed without taking good care of ourselves. But, c’mon, deep inside, every rational individual knows that without healthy diet and exercising we are doomed to be sick.
Those who fall into the overweight category are usually the first to quit. The customary quitter’s mantra goes like this: ‘I am just slightly overweight. I don’t have to workout or eat healthily because I have a few extra pounds. My health is fine. Oh, and lucky for me, the scientists report that you can be “fat and healthy”.
I have to disappoint the overweight quitters. Yes, there are scientists who think that some people fall into the so-called “healthy overweight” category. Those scientists obviously haven’t heard that obesity is a chronic disease, and being overweight represents the first stage of this malady.
Those scientists also ignore the fact that when a disease is not stopped at stage I, it inevitably progresses to stage II, III, and further. This is a common development for every disease whether it is hypertension, heart failure, cancer, or obesity.
Letting a disease progress by doing nothing and finding excuses is unwise. It is well known that treating the late stages of any disease is much, much harder; in many cases, it is too late.
“Healthy overweight” is a foolish and treacherous oxymoron. The main symptom of the disease, redundant fat, is obvious and indisputable. The absence of the disease biomarkers only means that current diagnostic tools are not sophisticated enough to detect the very early stages of obesity.
Step Two – Change the Narrative
The next step in the right direction is to change the narrative. We need to stop fussing about extra weight. We did it for decades, and it did not halt the obesity epidemic.
The narrative should not be about extra weight and weight loss per se. Losing weight just for the sake of getting a slimmer body doesn’t carry any gravitas. But when we approach excessive weight as a manifestation of the disease of obesity, it makes us treat this situation differently. We become more motivated to get rid of it.
When we conscientiously replace weight loss with health gain, everything falls into place. Now, it is not a vanity project, it is a health improvement project. Now we are investing in a good dignified cause.
In fact, we are investing in a bevy of good causes:
Prevention of chronic diseases
Deterrence of the frailty of old age
Achieving those causes will dramatically improve our quality of life and will extend our healthy longevity.
I hope I’ve convinced you that quitting is not an option. Let us see how we can tweak our physical activity and healthy eating practices to make them more pragmatic and achievable.
Step Three – Face the “Bad” News
I will start with the “bad” news. Regular physical activity is an essential and irreplaceable component of health. That’s a given, and there’s no way around it. Therefore, I can’t provide an excuse from regular intensive exercising. But I can give you several pieces of advice that will make your life tolerable.
Choosing a routine that is right for you is the way to go. There is a plethora of workouts available for every taste and ability. If you are a fitness club member, talk to the fitness instructor whom you trust and who is familiar with your health, capabilities, and aspirations. Otherwise, use the limitless capabilities of the Internet. Do a focused online search. Don’t go for the miraculous promises, go for the substance. And stay away from the sources with sensationalist attention grabbing titles.
With a little bit of perseverance and luck, you will find some exciting workouts tailored to your taste.
Just keep in mind a few important considerations:
- Light workouts build up a good appetite but burn too few calories. Light exercising is better than nothing, but it can actually result in extra fat deposits. I see the light physical routines as an initial step to introduce you to the fulfilling world of moderate to vigorous workouts.
- Set realistic attainable goals. Being too ambitious can result in injuries or big disappointments. On the other hand, going after a low-hanging fruit will have too little effect, may stall your health improvement, and will set you up for disappointment.
- Do not push yourself too hard and always increase the intensity of workouts incrementally.
- Never be fooled by the trendy arduous routines that do more harm than good to our bodies. I know many people who were burned by the excessively demanding workouts and developed an aversion to exercising. Leave CrossFit, P90X and similar punishing routines to the cocky congressmen and reckless youngsters.
Step Four – Exploit the Good News
Now, the good news. Eating and nutrition are the areas where my Bites & Chews method of mindful eating can do many excellent things for you. It will completely remove the stress of dieting. It will lift the heavy burden of bad eating habits and rid you of the symptoms of indigestion. It will show you a way to turn each meal into a relaxing and healing experience.
I am definitely not promising you a cakewalk, but I can guarantee that my approach to eating will substantially increase your energy and confidence levels instead of depleting them. Use that energy surplus for any other cause dear to your heart.
He’s the gist of the Bites & Chews method:
Good health starts with proper digestion in the mouth. I developed a method of changing the way we eat by tweaking how we bite, chew, and process food in the mouth, hence the name “Bites & Chews”. It is powerfully simple and is easy to follow.
Does this method require discipline and compliance? Yes, of course. You can’t achieve anything if you don’t stick to your goals. Does this method require sacrifice and pain like restrictive dieting or punishing workouts? Far from it! I specifically designed Bites & Chews to form a habit of healthy eating without experiencing any stress, deprivation, or pain.
I find it extremely counterproductive when a person approaches a dining table with fear oozing tons of cortisol. Instead, I want you to be pleasured and nourished by every little morsel of your meal. The precise and relaxing technique is aimed at activating your innate resources. Bites & Chews invokes intuitive responses from all the organs and systems in your body that are involved in digestion.
My goal is to nudge you toward healthier food choices, but ultimately it is your decision. There’s no pressure on you to eat exclusively healthy foods. The Bites & Chews nutritional health score system is going to show you the health value of foods, but it is up to you to decide which food is going to be on your plate. You’ll be surprised how eating properly will eventually change your food preferences for the better.
Bites & Chews does many things, but it does not do what many weight loss methods do – go against normal physiology.
Bites & Chews doesn’t restrict. It is wasteful to spend willpower on fighting your food preferences.
Bites & Chews doesn’t cut calories. Cutting calories sends your body into the defensive fat saving mode.
Bites & Chews doesn’t cut portions. Seeing an unusually empty plate is depressing, unnerving, and only increases cravings.
And another point I want to underscore. Remember I mentioned how light workouts can lead to flab accumulation? That’s a serious problem for many people who are not physically ready for serious workouts. I am happy to say that Bites & Chews presents a solution to this problem. It works in tandem with light workouts by making sure that you eat just the right amount of food.