I just dug up a 10 year old medical checkup form. Despite significant muscle mass gains, I am 15 pounds lighter than 10 years ago! Here are the rules that helped me lose weight and maintain the weight loss:
- Don’t eat when not hungry. We eat a lot of food because of craving, not hunger. How do you tell the difference? Think of how you feel if you have eaten nothing in 8 hours. It’s a grinding feeling. Craving is just a dull, psychological feeling. If your digestive should signal true hunger when you need food. (Actually, it signals true hunger even when you don’t need food. More below.)
…or eat fresh produce. If I cannot resist the craving, I eat unprocessed fresh fruit or vegetable. That doesn’t fully satisfy my craving, gradually retraining it. Additionally, fresh produce is much better for me than junk food snacks.
- It’s OK to feel hunger. In nature, animals eat all they can find because they don’t know where the next meal comes from. That’s why my dog is constantly starving. She forages all the time. If I fed her all she wanted, she would be a blimp. Humans share that same evolutionary programming. However, as humans, we can choose not to forage constantly. We can choose to feel hunger before meals.
- Many “healthy” foods are really junk foods. Anything packed with calories with relatively minimal nutritional value a junk food. This includes:
- Fruit juice is junk food, even non-sweetened fruit juice. They are so packed with calories that you’re better off with sugary soft drinks. The same goes for smoothies. The average “original” size Jamba Juice smoothie is a 480 calorie bomb! That’s about three and a half soft drinks!
Stuff with trans fats are junk foods. Trans fats’ peculiar harm is more than just weight gain. Still, foods full of trans fats are often still bad for you even without the trans fats.
- “Healthier” junk food is still junk food. It’s just marginally less deadly. Wendy’s removed the trans fats from its fries, but they are still bad for you. Remember when Snackwell cookies and other low fat products first came out? People started eating them as if they are healthy. In fact, these “healthier” products often had about as many calories as the originals, sometimes more!
- “Healthier” junk foods have a high opportunity cost. “Healthier” potato chips, popcorn, crackers, or other junk foods provide virtually no health benefit and offset better foods, ones with actual nutritional qualities. In high school, I knew kids who had a bag of potato chips with every lunch. That is a travesty; those potato chips offset something healthier like fresh fruits or vegetables.
- Exercise. Diet and exercise go hand and hand. While only one of the two is better than neither, you have to do both to get best results.
Quit blaming the dog. This is euphemistic for society’s tendency to blame others for our own failings. You have to take personal responsibility. Just because the restaurant put two meals’ worth of foot in front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat it all.
- Don’t gorge at restaurants or special events. It’s OK to be be satiated without being stuffed, and you’ll save money to boot!
- Don’t buy into alternative medicine. Stuff like detoxification, coffee enemas, grapefruit diets, etc. are usually proven bunk, and even if they don’t harm you, they’re a distraction from good nutrition. You’re too valuable to be a living pseudo-science experiment.
Your skeptical side may suspect I am preaching but not practicing. You’re partly correct. I don’t follow these rules perfectly all the time.
I want to lose another 10-15 lbs to get rid of belly fat. (I may have ab muscles underneath them?) I’ll have to crank down these rules further. I think it’s an attainable goal, but we’ll see!