You’ve listened to the experts and tried your best, but the weight just won’t move.
Perhaps you’ve been made to feel bad, that if you’re not losing weight it’s because you lack the strength that others seem to have.
What else could it be? All anyone can do is eat less and exercise more, right?
I’ll bet you know that isn’t quite true.
Telling someone to lose weight by “eating less” is like telling someone suffering depression to “cheer up”.
There are some harder truths to accept before we can make any progress.
You Don’t Have Enough Willpower
If you’re only trying to eat less and exercise more, you’re pushing two opposite magnets together. Every moment will be a struggle to keep them from pinging away from each other.
Most of us in the US are over-fed on calories, and under fed on nutrients. Those calories also tend to come from a source that makes us want to eat more – refined carbohydrates.
If you change nothing in that formula, and then you try to eat much less than normal through a sheer act of will, you’re asking a lot of yourself. The odds are stacked against you, and statistics expect you to fail and slip back to your old weight.
So how do you break this cycle?
Willpower is a finite resource. Every time you say no to something you want, it will be more difficult to say no to the next thing.
Willpower is your logical mind acting against your emotional mind. Imagine a weedy college professor in a room with a brainless muscle-head. When things are calm, the professor’s theories all sound very good and proper. “We should stop eating twinkies,” he says, and the brute nods his head. “We should also exercise more and eat lots of vegetables and healthy meats,” he continues, and his companion nods vigorously at the mention of steak.
When things get heated, however, the little professor doesn’t stand a chance. You can’t talk your way out of a headlock, unless you’re saying, “Okay, okay, we’ll eat the twinkie!”
Your little internal professor doesn’t have the brawn, but he does have the brains to think ahead. This is your advantage, and it’s your only chance to get your way, despite temptation.
In the real world, this means using your logical mind to set up an environment that supports your decision to lose weight, before you ever decide to start resisting temptation.
- Get educated on what foods help you curb hunger, and choose a diet.
- Clear the house (on a full stomach) of all the food that will tempt you.
- Ask a trusted and supportive friend to hold you accountable.
- Fail gladly, since it means you’re improving. ( It took me years to develop these habits )
- Have a non cheat day, replace the foods you crave with grain less versions and eat more fat/whole protein
Use your will to dictate an environment of success before temptation arrives, and your willpower will immediately triple. In order to replace habits you must identify the trigger and replace it with an equally positive reinforcement.
You’re Avoiding The Food That Can Help You
Calories are not created equal.
In fact, nothing in nutrition is exactly equal to another thing, otherwise they’d be … the same thing.
Here’s the most satiating (anti-hunger) calorie source to the least:
The pervading advice for a long time now has been to limit fat intake, and limit overall calorie intake.
This is ludicrous.
Fat is the most satiating source of calories, so if you limit your fat intake you’ll probably end up feeling more hungry even if you eat the same amount of calories. You don’t need to go crazy on fat, but eat for satiation. With my own clients I actually force their bodies to burn fat 24/7 and I keep just the right about of natural omega 3 rich oils in their diet. (However this is another topic to discuss )
It’s a recipe for failure, and another reason why it’s not all down to willpower.
By eating “low-fat” versions of normal food, you’ll end up consuming processed substances that are only there to mask the emptiness of the product. Most of these will intensify cravings, worsen hunger, and provide nothing for your body to actually use.
Bottom line: Fat doesn’t make you Fat! It is the combination of carbs/sugars and fat than do. Fat is masked by carbs. Take a look at a piece of cake, a high fat/ high sugar “food”. I guarantee you wouldn’t eat a stick of butter by itself. However you would eat a stick of butter hidden in Cake!
With any macro nutrient you can eat an abundance. I do find some individuals wracking up a staggering 2,000 calories in nuts with out realizing it. This is more mindless eating, and the more active you are the more fat you can use as fuel.
Most people now agree that refined carbohydrates pack on the pounds, and at the same time we’ve taken far too long to remember the benefits of eating fat. This has led a lot of people to eat a diet that is low in fat, low in carbs, and low in calories.
Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!
Here’s what we need to do:
Eat plenty of natural fat, lots of protein, and get as much of your carbs from vegetables as possible.
Why Carbs Make You Hungry
Carbohydrates, when entering the bloodstream, trigger the production of a hormone called insulin.
When consumed in the context of vegetables, this response is calm and healthful.
When consumed as refined carbs, however, the response is more of a panic.
One of insulin’s many jobs is to protect the body from glucotoxicity, a type of damage that occurs when there’s too much glucose (or other sweet tasting carbs) around for the body to control. It might seem strange to think that sugar could be harmful if we use it for fuel, but just think about the gasoline in your car. Things that are full of energy generally need careful treatment.
Our bodies have evolved to handle these energetic little molecules to power the cells of our body. If we’re overloaded with them, however, they must be pulled aside into a safe place. This safe place is a fat cell.
After the crisis is averted, and all those calories safely stored away, the levels of insulin take a while to come back down. This stops you from accessing those calories, which leads to another crisis – critically low levels of glucose, and no way to use the energy that’s just been stored away as body fat!
This is why eating a bagel for breakfast is likely to leave you critically hungry before lunch time.
Fat on the other hand, does no such thing. It is stored as body fat too, but it doesn’t stop you from accessing it. Therefore, when you eat a high fat meal, you’re likely to feel full for a long time afterwards. People on a high-fat diet often report that they don’t really get hungry anymore, and when they do, it’s never as debilitating as it used to be.
Sometimes, I find my patients are eating fewer calories than before, without even trying.
If you want to eat less, eat calories that make it easy to do so.
A Nourished Body Can’t Fail
Nutrient density is a casualty of the Western diet.
Nutrient dense foods have a high nutrient to calorie ratio. This means each calorie consumed should come with an abundance of nutrition.
This nutrition is involved with every process of the body. Unlike the energetic calorie, its effect is subtle, and a deficiency can go undiagnosed for years, even a lifetime.
If you’re feeling full after your meal, but it still failed to get you the nourishment you need, then it had a very low nutrient density.
It’s hard to taste trace minerals, so to make sure we got enough, our taste buds simply steered us towards the things that tended to have a lot of the nutrition we needed.
Today, however, we’ve engineered the existence of “empty calories”. We have isolated calorific substances, removed them from their natural contexts, and then put them back together in hyper-palatable consumable products that trick the taste buds into thinking they’re getting something worthwhile.
Soon after such a meal, despite still feeling physically full, you may continue feeling the need for food.
The taste buds can be fooled, but the rest of the body knows it’s been short-changed.
Increase the nutrient density of your food, and each calorie you consume will come with a heap of other essential molecules that your mineral-starved body will be grateful for.
5 Step Process to Ensure Success
1. Be clear. Write it down.
Write down why you’re doing this. Nothing is more powerful than knowing with absolute clarity the purpose of your actions. If you’re honest about it, it has the potential to pull you back from almost any setback.
Write down your ideal weight. You don’t need to give yourself an over-optimistic deadline for this weight, in fact, it might be better not to give yourself an overall deadline, so long as you follow step 5.
2. Get educated about WHY it works.
The internet is rife with advice about how to eat. It may get confusing sometimes, but it’s helpful to develop your own critical eye. Look at my baseline diet and build off of this according to your needs. The principles are straight forward. Eat anti-biotic free/hormone free whole protein, Omega 3 rich fats , anything that is green ( vegetables ), and low-glycemic fruit. Keep fruit and starchy vegetables to 2 – 3 times per week for non-athletes.
3. Prepare for the fight.
Use all the willpower-boosting techniques I shared above, and add to that your own personal list of nutrient dense recipes.
Make sure they don’t contain grains or vegetable oils, and fill them instead with nutrient-dense foods like organ meats, wild fish, grass-fed butter, leafy greens and collards, alliums, free-range eggs, and berries (to name a few).
4. Set and complete your first daily goal.
It will be hard, but it will be a lot easier if you use this simple hack – invest only in the success or failure only of today.
If we invest our emotions in a long term deadline, we’re likely to feel terrible after eating well for a week, just because we fall off the wagon for a day! How crazy is that?
All progress is good. Its the habits we’re developing that are important. They’re what will keep you lean for the rest of your life.
Know the weight you want to get to, but let that be your direction.
Let your goal be: “Eat only whole foods today.”
Focussing on one day at a time, rather than on the whole journey, actually helps us maintain perspective of the bigger picture.
The principles I am talking about are basic nutrition fundamentals. Everyone is different and depending on the damage that has already been done you may need additional support in the micro nutrient department. The change of reduction of sugars is very difficult but you must push through it. Feel free to comment below if you have any further questions.
Take these methods into your next healthy venture, and let me know how it goes! Sign up below to stay up to date.