Weight Is Easy
Losing weight is easy, I've done it a hundred times.
Many comments we received after we published "Summer's Half Gone" were from folks who wanted to know more about how I lost nearly fifty pounds in 4 months. My first thought was to write a book about my experience, since so many people seem to be wrestling with a weight problem - and the health problems that often accompany being overweight. But nah! There's no secret to it. It's not a "diet" . If you go on a diet to lose weight, if you're anything like me you'll lose weight all right; but after you go "off" your diet you'll gain it back. I'm the voice of experience you heard tell about, So, listen to me!
Since (conservatively) about six out of ten Americans are overweight, that means more than half of you reading this are overweight - well, how about half of you who are Americans who are reading this are overweight? You Australians, Europeans, and New Zealanders are all probably pretty svelte, right? If so, you probably aren't going to read this anyway.
I've been fighting the battle of the bulge since childhood. My problems were always exacerbated by surrounding myself with friends who could eat candy bars by the dozen; scarf down great quantities of fries, chips, beer, pies, cookies and cakes without so much as gaining a single ounce. But me? If I looked at a bag of chips, I'd gain five pounds. It ain't fair! But, my dad used to always remind me that: "Life ain't fair" and the sooner I got used to that the better off I'd be. I guess.
Hand me that super-size order of fries will you? And some ketchup!
Now I know some of you are, by now, skipping over all this stuff trying find the secret as to how I've managed to lose all this weight and still be able to sit upright and write this. If you're like I used to be, you're probably hoping against hope that I've uncovered some secret way to weight loss that is easy to do and that I'm going show you how to eat all you want and lose a bunch of weight. Gee, I'm sorry to have to disappoint you. But, if you find a way for me to eat all I want and stay thin, let me know - I mean besides walking 30 miles a day, running 10 miles a day, and climbing Mount Everest twice a month. I know that I could eat all I want if I did all that; but then I wouldn't be able to eat anything, because I'd be dead too. Dead people don't eat much, do they? So, keep your smart remarks to yourself! Because I'm not looking for ways to kill myself right now. If ever I am, I'll be sure to let you know. You can send your ideas via our comments form. But not now!
First of all, I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not a physical trainer. I don't have any significant medical knowledge. So before you report me to the AMA, ANA, AARP, ABC, or DEF or sue me for giving medical advice or nutritional advice, I am telling you right now I'm not qualified to give you diet, exercise or medical advice. So, see your doctor if you want medical advice; call a nutritionist if you want advise about nutrition; and go see a physical trainer if you want advice about exercise. Because I'm lawsuit bait if I claim I know anything about anything related to medicine, nutrition or exercise. There's a good reason why doctors, nutritionists and physical trainers would want to sue me. You see, there's a good chance I might be right. But, they're making a lot of money doing what they do and I'm not making any money doing what I do (at least not this!).
OK. Now that the disclaimers are all out of the way, I'm going to tell you a little about how I've managed to lose nearly fifty pound and live to write about it. And, give you a little advice :-) .
How have I lost weight? Dozens of times! Let me count the ways. When I was in high school I lost forty pounds over one summer on my own diet that I called the "egg diet". I called it the "egg diet" because that's all I ate. Poached eggs, boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs. Eggs, eggs, eggs. I can imagine this was not too good for my health and had it been invented back in those days, would have indicated huge doses of Vytorin for my (I'll betcha) dangerously high levels of cholesterol (the bad kind, no doubt).
I survived the egg diet though. I had the benefit of being only about sixteen at the time. My arteries were very elastic; my arteries and my youthful idealism were equally elastic around that time. I wonder where they both went? Anyway, in my youth I lost weight to look good, not that I looked good when I was thin, but I looked better; how's that.
I've been on the low-fat, high-fiber diet, the "Pritikin Diet" (remember that?), the Adkins Diet, the "Drinking Man's Diet" (not that I'm a drinker, for heaven's sake!), low calorie diets, celery diets, grapefruit diets - if it had a name I've probably been on it.
But this time I decided not to go on a diet. I decided to change my life, the way I ate, what I ate. I learned all I could about food and nutrition (you're sitting in front a vast ocean of knowledge right now: your computer - coupled with a good search engine and the desire to learn and ask the right questions there's nothing you can't learn). One of the results of my intensive study of food, nutrition, and food additives was A Killer On The Cob and Sweet Sorrow (both are Rants by-the-way).
Like Einstein before me (I'm laughing now) a revolutionary thought came to me and from that I deduced the formula for weight-loss success. Sure, I'll share it with you. Since you're reading this I'll assume you're not skinny, we have something in common. Buddies we are, so to speak. Anyway, the formula is:
There you go. Simple. Elegant! What does it mean? You're not a mathematician? Me either. What it means is that MASS (that's you) is the sum of Calories consumed (C) times Bad Calories consumed (Bc) doubled, minus Energy Used (Eu).
Bad calories are calories derived from things you already know you shouldn't eat. Stuff like cupcakes, pies, ice cream, potato chips, mashed potatoes with 4 ounces of butter on them. Stuff like that. You know what I mean. The stuff you eat, that while you're eating it, sets off a little voice in your head that keeps saying: "This stuff is not good for you. You're gonna get fat. You're ruining your arteries". I know you've heard that voice before.
Now, I'm not saying you cannot have anything "bad". But if you do you'll have to double the calories they contain (read the label).
And you'll have to set a limit on how many calories you're going to eat every day. And you're going to have to make it something you can live with for a long time. Like how about the rest of your life. So don't go off and set some ridiculous goal like 900 calories a day. That's just going to cause you to lose weight fast and then gain it back fast when you finally say, enough of this starvation routine! And, if you've had a problem with your weight for most of your life, you know you'll get to that point.
Set a goal you can live with today, tomorrow, and ten years from now. For me, I have a goal of 1500 calories a day with an upper limit when I reach my "desired weight" (which has nothing to do with the government's silly weight charts) of 1800 calories a day.
I figure I can live within those limits most days and I can stick with it year after year. Unlike diets that restrict the kinds of foods you can eat, I can eat anything I want, but bad calories cost twice as much as good calories.
Before we leave the subject of bad calories/good calories, let me make some points here. Bad calories you sort of "feel" but sometimes foods can trick you. Many so-called "good for you foods" like "fruit juice cocktails" are not what they seem. Things like "Sunny Delight" and "High C" are high fructose corn syrup laden drinks and therefore contain lots of bad calories.
Bread might be the staff of life, but not white bread, or at least not the kind you see in grocery stores. White bread is worse than eating sugar out of the sugar bowl. It's starch and high fructose corn syrup and little or no fiber. And read the ingredient label on "Wheat Bread". You're likely to find the first three ingredients are "enriched, bleached wheat flour", "water", and "high fructose corn syrup". If it doesn't say "whole wheat flour" as the first ingredient, it's not "Wheat Bread" it's just brown white bread. I know I'm goofy, and your point is?
Oh yes, and avoid soft drinks completely. They are a treasure of bad calories and absolutely teeming with high fructose corn syrup, which is much worse for you than sugar. Diet soda isn't much better, but if you must choose the ones with sucralose (Splenda) and not the ones with aspartame (NutraSweet). Stick with water, iced tea (unsweetened of course!) coffee, a little skim milk (organic if you can afford it and find it) and diet soda with sucralose (but drink diet soda only if you absolutely can't live without it). If you like fruit juice, remember it's got a lot of calories in it. You're going to be better off eating the fruit itself because it has micronutrients in it and fiber. Fruit will make you feel fuller than the juice will. Honest! Vegetable juice, like tomato juice and V8 juice are low in calories, but high in salt. So if you're on a salt-restricted diet, get the low-salt kind. Ummm, you better check with your doctor about salt. I'm a numbskull - don't listen to me!
Wow, this is turning into a book. I'll try to behave and be brief (yeah, right!). Stay away from crutches like aspartame and sucralose if you can. Try to eat stuff that's not sweet. Eat lots of whole grains, vegetables (fresh is best). Snack on stuff like no-fat pretzels if you're going to snack and keep track of you calories and try not to go over the goal you've set. If you do, do better then next day.
Now, let's move on to the final part of the equation: Energy-used. If you sit in front of your computer all day (or your TV) you can still pull this off. But you're going to actually have to get up and move around. At first I forced myself to take walks. I started off thinking thirty minutes a day was great. Surprise! I actually looked forward to my little walks. Now I walk about two hours every day. Normally I do about one and a half hours during the middle of the day and about thirty minutes at night. However, I can vary that depending on what my schedule is. Now I work about 10 to 12 hours every day, so don't use the excuse you don't have time. Walk at lunch if you have a lunch hour. Walk after dinner. You don't have to walk two hours a day. Walk forty-five minutes. Walk an hour. Just make yourself get up and do something. Otherwise your Eu is going to be not so good, eh, Remember the higher your Eu the more you can subtract from the calories + bad calories (x2) that you consume. And, it's sad, but true, that it's much easier to eat than to move around. It's like the speed of light. Immutable fact.
Habits! Yes watch old habits. They like to come a'creepin' when you've been sleepin'. I had lots of bad habits, especially when I awoke in the middle of the night and found the peanut butter jar had jumped up on the counter and the strawberry jam had flown right out of the fridge onto the counter and landed right next to the peanut butter. I just couldn't help but get out a spoon and take a spoonful of peanut butter which needed a spoonful of strawberry jam, which needed a spoonful of peanut butter, which needed a spoonful of jam until finally it all made me thirsty and that required about a half-gallon of milk. Then, of course, I could go back to sleep :)
Then there's the Oreo paradigm (I just love that word! Umm "paradigm" not "Oreo"!). Here's how it works. You say, I'm going to have three Oreo cookies and set them on a plate and right beside it you place a glass of ice cold milk. Then you put the cookies away - back in the pantry. You do all this because leaving the whole bag of cookies sitting out in front of you would cause you to eat more. Wrong. After the three cookies are gone, you'll be in the pantry getting out the bag anyway. So, if you're going to eat stuff like Oreos, you might as well sit there an eat them until you think you've had enough. Because putting them away does not stop you from eating more than you would have anyway. The same holds true for peanuts and potato chips too. Just leave the bag or jar out, you're going to eat them anyway.
One more hint: Breakfast cereals. Almost all Kellogg's cereals have high fructose corn syrup in them. Almost all General Mills and Post cereals do not. Got that? Read the label!
And one other thing about cereal. Don't look at the box and see that one serving contains 170 calories and with milk contains 210 calories. If you count your bowl of cereal and milk as 210 calories you're only fooling yourself and you waist will not be fooled. Read the serving size. One serving of cereal equals about 3/4 to 1 cup. And one serving of skim milk is 1/2 cup (four ounces). Fill your cereal bowl as you normally do and I'll betcha it's about 2 servings (at least) and a "serving of milk" enough to cover the cereal is about eight ounces or one cup. So your 210 calories is really about 430 calories, if you use skim milk at all :) But, think about it, 430 calories isn't bad for breakfast. If you've chosen 1600 calories a day as your goal, you've still got almost 1200 left for lunch and dinner. And, you've had a normal, regular, human-size bowl of cereal with milk. If you're like me and you think skim milk on cereal is like using water on cereal, try 1% milk. It only adds a tiny bit more fat and about 20 calories per eight ounces. Not bad, and who the heck wants white water on cereal anyway?
Oh and another thing... Weight Watchers? Weight Watchers? We don't need no stinkin' Weight Watchers! If you're going to rely on the "support" of others, then you're probably going to ultimately fail in your drive to lose weight, get fit, and get healthy. That's just my opinion. Many people have made mucho dinero with weight loss "clubs" and weight support groups. I don't know anyone who sticks with (or can actually afford to stick with) one of these kind of weight-loss plans. But hey, if you're the support group type, and you can afford to stick with it, I hope it works for you.
There are, however, several ready-made things you can buy to aid you in your quest to lose weight. I sort of like the South Beach individual pizzas. They're relatively low in fat, low in calories, and really high in fiber, thanks mostly to the whole grain crust. These single-portion pizzas make a nice dinner (along with a fresh salad and olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing) and they taste pretty good too.
And, Slim Fast has been good to me too (depending on whether or no you can stomach the taste). The milk chocolate flavor does not taste anymore like real chocolate than my mattress. But the French vanilla flavor it palatable and that's the one I buy. One serving equals one can, or eleven ounces, and contains at least 30% of all the vitamins, minerals, and that kind of stuff you need - including 100% of your minimum daily requirement of vitamins C and E. It's not that expensive. If you drink one can a day it will cost you about $6.00 or $7.00 a week.
Well this has gone on long enough and probably too far for most of you who are still reading at this point. I imagine doctors and nutritionists reading this were seething just about fifteen paragraphs ago.
I could give you lots more details about what to eat and what not to eat, but if you're really honest with yourself you already know that. Read the ingredient labels on food. Avoid aspartame. And avoid high fructose corn syrup if you can. Most likely, if you live in the good ole USA you'll find it is nearly impossible to avoid high fructose corn syrup. It's in everything and it's potential for causing lots of health problems is just now being discovered - some thirty-plus years after they began dumping it in our food supply.
No matter what Pepsi tries to tell you, HFCS is bad for you if for no other reason than the body does not treat it as a sugar. It's metabolized in the liver and that's not-so-good for a food ingredient that's in almost everything we eat. And, if you don't believe anything else about HFCS, believe this: Consuming it does not make you feel full because it does not stimulate the release of insulin like sugar does.
And while you can't avoid it (probably) altogether, you can be sensible about how much you allow in your diet. Most diet breads, even some very good diet breads, full of whole grains and other good things, have HFCS in them. But food manufacturers are required to list ingredients in the order of prevalence in the food. If you look at the ingredients label on a can of Pepsi, you'll see the first ingredient is carbonated water and the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup - about thirteen or fourteen teaspoons of it in one can.
Learn more about the foods you eat, remember good calories only count half as much as bad calories (according to my equation which means nothing to the medical community or anyone else but me), whole grains, fresh vegetables, low fat sources of protein like chicken, fish, lean meats, even eggs, are OK. Your brain has a little voice that will scold you when you eat really bad stuff so learn to listen to it. READ THE INGREDIENTS LABELS! If you're eating prepared foods (and not all prepared foods are bad) read the ingredient labels, the calorie count and the serving size. Serving sizes are deceiving...like a lot smaller than normal human beings would eat. So watch it! If you eat two servings and think it's one, you're only fooling yourself and you're not going to lose weight. So eat a normal portion for you and count it as whatever number of servings it really is. You can't fool the scale you know.
Use your own good common sense and remember you're not going on a diet, you're going on a journey - and if you stay on the path or near it, you'll be healthier and happier and thinner than you've ever been on any diet. Plus you'll never have to look at the waiter or waitress and say "No thanks, I'm on a diet" because you're not.
Dogs need treats, cats need treats, and we need treats. So treat yourself once or twice a month and splurge a little. Just remember to go back to eating right the next day; and maybe do a little extra walking or bicycling or whatever exercise you like best. Don't think of losing weight this way as a diet, think of it as a change of lifestyle - a change for the better. I figured the old way wasn't working for me, it's about time I tried something else. I call it the anti-diet. You can call it whatever you like. I never look forward to being "off" my diet because I'm not on one. See? It's easy!
I should have written a book, I guess. I have a lot more to share with you - maybe some other time.
Please remember, before embarking on any diet or exercise plan visit your doctor and ask him if you're healthy enough to eat healthy foods and walk an hour or so each day.
"Yes. And, that'll be $95.00 please. Thank you. Come back and see us in six months."
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