Losing weight is simple, right? Which is why most people are effortlessly thin and when you put on a few pounds all you have to do is eat less and move more. Sounds perfectly logical and yet nothing could be farther from the truth. Why?
When you eat less, you get hungry, and after you exercise (move more) you get hungry.
So what can you do? That's the million dollar question isn't it? Actually, weight loss is a billion dollar industry and there is obviously not one simple answer that works for everyone.
To understand how to lose your extra weight, you need to understand how you gained it.
If you're thinking that you've just eaten too much, you are most likely wrong. Don't you know a skinny person who eats more than you do and manages to stay thin?
There are many factors that contribute to weight gain but the big 3 in my book are sugar, starch and chemicals. This is a key takeaway because although each of us has a unique biological story, we have enough in common to apply some general guidelines and get the needle on the scale moving in the right direction.
By now, everyone accepts that sugar isn't helping us in any real way, except to please the palate for a few seconds. Search "sugar" on this site and you will find all sorts of caustic comments about the corrosive nature of sugar and how it rusts you from the inside out.
For now just accept that the more sugar you eat, the more you will want.
And the more you want, the more you will eat and the fatter you will be.
I wish it wasn't true but I didn't write the rules. I love tasty sweets too but I love them even more when I do not have them very often.
That means all grain: bread, crackers, cookies, flours, rice, all the things you love and feel like you can never live without. If you are a client of mine, you remember the resistance you felt when you first heard me say that grains are addictive, fattening and nutritionally-bankrupt. You searched for loopholes and played around with quinoa until you couldn't stand looking at it anymore.
I'm just telling you that it's easier to just stop playing the grain game for a while to see what happens.
I won't launch into a gluten discussion or debate the virtues of ancient grains here and now. I'll just tell you dogmatically that if you get off grain for a while you will quickly discover how much starch really is part of your personal weight gain story. For that matter, starchy vegetables like potatoes aren't helping either so take a break from those too.
This is a biggie. As difficult as it is to break up with sugar and starch, avoiding chemicals is nearly impossible but you absolutely must upgrade your food quality if you want to lose weight.
Industrial agriculture has taken over the world scene and in order to produce mass quantities of food, pesticides and fungicides and herbicides are used on crops. Large-scale animal production means chemically-treated feed (grains again) and the use of synthetic hormones and antibiotics to plump up those animals in order to bring them to market sooner.
Did you catch that? When animals are given antibiotics and synthetic hormones, they gain weight.
It's part of a strategy called "feed efficiency" which helps bring animals to slaughter 30% faster. So only eat animal foods (meat and dairy) from animals that were pasture-raised.
Chemicals make animals fat and chemicals make us fat.
The mechanisms are complex but here's how I see it: when you ingest chemicals (in food, air, water and through the skin from beauty products and fragrances) your body knows it must preserve your brain and vital organs from damage and so those nasty chemicals need to be wrapped up and stored out of the way in your fat. One theory is that weight loss resistance occurs because the body is reluctant to release these toxins back into the bloodstream and will instead slow down metabolism when you restrict calories to keep you from harm.
What can you do to lose weight safely?
Take another look at the list of 3 things that make you gain weight and get them out of your diet.
Give your body the most nourishing and clean real food you can afford and some time to heal. You didn't gain that weight in 3 weeks and it won't be gone in 3 weeks. But you can start to feel better immediately, and when your body starts to trust that you are going to feed it real food instead of insulting it constantly with chemicals, it will start to cooperate with you.
If you're on Rx drugs, your climb will be steep because they are chemicals and most drugs are taken very day, sometimes many times a day. Do what you can right away to counteract the effects that they are having on your weight by eating well and then research the possibility of tapering or eliminating them with trusted, trained guidance.
So here it is again, in a nutshell.
If you want to lose weight you need to understand how you gained weight (see above list). Then do the opposite. Of course, being active, getting good sleep and having fun and sun are helpful too but this place is called Food Truth.
1. Stop Eating Sugar
2. Get Off Grain
3. Eat Real Food
Staying slim really is 80% food and 20% exercise. I'm living proof. Because of an injury, I was out of commission for several months and pretty sedentary but I stuck to my good eating style and my weight only fluctuated 3-5 pounds, like it always does. Once I started moving around more and did a little (very little) weight training, I got some muscle tone back. And come to think of it, I also got hungrier.
Like Mark Sisson famously says in the epic film CarbLoaded: "You can't exercise away a bad diet". I heard Dr. Mark Hyman say it again very recently too and tell his own related story.
Check these lean guys out:
The film is on HULU and Dr. Hyman's new book "Eat Fat, Get Thin" is awesome. I'm listening to it now in the car and find it as entertaining as it is informative. It's not rocket science, it's real life.