Millions of people have resolved today to “lose weight”. In the Age of Obesity that is currently being experienced in the developed world, losing weight is something on many people’s minds.
So how do you lose weight? And how do you keep it off? On Reddit, a man who lost 260 pounds shared his secret. And it is so profoundly simple:
Just reading that title creates curiosity. If he didn’t use surgery, weight loss drugs or specialized diet, how could he possible do it? This tiny paragraph reveals the universal secret to losing weight:
Monitoring my calories every day. I cut down my intake to 1200 from what it used to be (around 3000/3500) per day, and started exercising. I walked. A lot. Ultimately, when dealing with weight loss, it’s 80% diet, 20% exercise. I pretty much stuck to that.
Someone asks, “How did you manage your hunger pangs when you started cutting calories?” He adds:
That was without a doubt the hardest part. Sitting in my room, wanting to go and get a snack. The cravings were insane, I’ve never felt anything like it. I dealt with them by continuously telling myself ‘it’s not worth it’….
This part is the key: “The cravings were insane, I’ve never felt anything like it. I dealt with them by continuously telling myself ‘it’s not worth it.'”
This appears to be the only way. How do you lose weight? You somehow control hunger pangs and cravings and stop putting food in your mouth (see below for one technique to help with this). It is all about not putting food in your mouth. It is about doing that every day. To keep the weight off, it means doing that every day for the rest of your life.
Does exercise help? Yes. But there is no way to get rid of excess calories through exercise. If you “accidentally” eat 10 Oreo cookies, you now have to walk or run six or so miles to eliminate those calories. There simply is not enough time in the day for most working people to exercise away their excess calories. You have to control hunger pangs and cravings and stop putting food in your mouth if you are going to lose weight.
What this means is that it is, in theory, incredibly easy to lose weight. All you have to do is stop putting food in your mouth. Unfortunately, for most people, hunger pangs and cravings make that simple task very difficult.
Apparently, for the majority of human beings, there is a part of the brain that is wired so that “eat” is the default setting. That “eat” signal is often triggered visually – for example, when you see pizza, cookies, cake, potato chips, etc. sitting around, but also when you see food commercials, drive past restaurants, see pictures of food in magazines, walk into a convenience store, etc. The “eat” signal is very strong – as he puts it, “The cravings are insane.” But the only way to lose weight is to overpower the cravings with conscious control.
The only way is to stop putting food in your mouth. Every time your brain says, “eat”, you have to override it so that no food enters your mouth. Every time you see (or are reminded of) cookies, cake, pizza, potato chips, soft drinks, etc. and it triggers a craving, you have to override it so that no food enters your mouth. The problem is, “The cravings are insane.”
Either the conscious brain or the cravings win. If the cravings win, the result is weight gain. If the conscious brain wins, weight loss happens.
Many people are able to get into a pattern where they control the cravings and lose weight for a period of time. They enter what can only be described as a special mental state where cravings are completely controlled by the conscious mind. This state might last for a month or a year, until some weight goal is reached. Then the special mental state is broken, and cravings are allowed to win again. This is why weight is almost always regained after a diet. The only way top keep weight off is to control the cravings – and therefore total calorie intake – every day for life.
Why am I writing this post? There are two reasons. One is to help you understand the yin and yang of weight loss. The equation is so simple: To lose weight, stop putting food in your mouth. The problem is that hunger pangs and cravings are constantly encouraging you to put food in your mouth. Control the cravings and you win. You lose weight.
The other is to remind myself of the yin and yang of weight loss. And also to answer this question: Is there anything that you can do about the cravings? I lost 50 pounds last year using the Dukan diet. The great thing about any low-carb regime like the Dukan diet is that it significantly reduces cravings. Once you eliminate the cravings, it is much, much easier to lose weight. With the Dukan diet I had very good control over cravings for 6 months. But once I reached my weight goal and started eating carbs again, it was much harder to control what I put in my mouth. I have gained about half of it back, and I want to lose that weight again.
This post is a pep talk to myself – I need to completely cut off carbohydrates again. I know it works, so I need to do it again. And this time it would probably be smart to stay off the carbs permanently. That would have been unthinkable a year ago. Now it is starting to seem obvious. Carbs, at least for me, really do seem to be addictive at some level. And the more I read, the more convinced I am that carbs are toxic at some level. By eliminating carbs, I think my life will be much better.
The tradition with New Year’s resolutions – whether they involve eating less, hitting the gym, cleaning the house, procrastinating less or whatever – is that the discipline lasts about a week or so. Then it collapses. Gyms, for example, are packed the first week of the new year. Then they empty back to normal levels again. How to maintain the discipline? This page can help:
Happy new year!
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