Let’s say you are about twenty five percent overweight. You are a woman that should weigh one hundred pounds but you weigh one twenty five. You are a man that should weigh one hundred eighty pounds, but you weigh two hundred thirty pounds. It has taken you a lifetime to gradually get up to the point you are now at.
You are having different problems, your joints are aching, you sweat at night, moderate physical activity is a lot more taxing than in was just a couple of years ago. You know that you are too heavy, your clothes aren’t fitting right, your feet are hurting. You have tried a couple of the popular fad diets, but you don’t want to stick with it, the call of your old tastes and habits are too great right now. Maybe your busy life just isn’t allowing you the time to prepare your own foods, so you eat out, usually at the cheapest, fastest place on your way home from work. You tried more exercise, but all that work didn’t seem to do anything for your weight.
You see people that aren’t overweight and you wonder what they are doing right, or why their bodies don’t seem to make so much weight out of the foods that they eat. You wonder if maybe your genetic makeup is the ultimate cause of your steady upward trend. Maybe there just isn’t anything you can do about it, right?
The thing is, though, that you are in the majority in the United States. The number of people that are not overweight is shrinking, while the number of people in the same boat as you are grows year after year. If you go to a Chiefs game, where there are seventy eight thousand people, chances are that over forty five thousand of them are overweight. Calculate your BMI using this formula. Multiply Your height in inches, times your height in inches. Divide your weight by the answer you just got. Now multiply that answer by 703. This is your BMI. A good number is less than 25. Here is an online calculator.
The current debate among health professionals centers around whether our diet or our lifestyle is more to blame. That debate is also occurring in your head. Should I eat less, should I work out more. Maybe I can just jog a half hour a day and keep on eating the same way. That debate, though is a distortion of the reality of the imbalance between the normal american diet and what is possible with exercise.
Running a twenty six mile marathon for a one hundred eighty pound man consumes around two thousand calories. The number of calories that you consume through extra effort is just not enough to compensate for eating some of today’s large portions accompanied with a sweetened drink. According to this article in the Washington Post,
When the organization (Center for Science in the Public Interest) started its food survey in 2007, Hurley said, it was shocked to discover a 1,500-calorie entree. Now most on the list are in the 2,000 calorie range, and some reach 3,000.
Go out to eat and the food that you are served will clock in at over two thousand calories, IN MOST CASES. That is, one meal in the day would require you to run a twenty six mile marathon to burn it off. If you were a boiler and put that much more fuel in you than was required you would burst. In a way, you are bursting. There are 1200 calories in a 32 ounce Big Gulp at 7-11.
The problem is the fuel supply, not the work you are asking the machine to do. You can only exercise so many hours in a day, but you can cut your fuel consumption way down very easily. Why don’t you do it? Only you know the answer to that question, here are some possible rebuttals to your possible excuses:
Cooking takes time that I don’t have. The short rebuttal is that it doesn’t. Eating out takes time. Eating frozen food out of a box takes time. Ordering a pizza takes time. So what we are talking about is how much more time it takes to eat food you prepared, instead of food prepared for you. IF YOU HAVE THE INGREDIENTS ON HAND, it takes no more time to make a salad than it does to go somewhere and eat. Making a meat patty on your stove takes less time than going somewhere for it. You have to have healthy stuff at hand to eat, though. You have to plan ahead if you want to change your outcome. You must prepare your own food, because you have no way of knowing what is in foods that are prepared for you. This truly is stumbling block number one.
Buying real food is expensive. That is true and the only rebuttal that I have is that you don’t need to buy organic foods. You don’t need to shop at Whole Foods for GMO-free or any other kind of special foods. Your goal should only be to stop eating prepared foods. If you go to the store, just buy foods that you find on the exterior walls of the market. That is usually where you will find real foods, and by real foods I mean single-ingredient foods. If you buy raw foods and eat just that simply, you have beat the beast. Drink water or unsweetened tea instead of canned or bottled prepared drinks. If you just do those two things, you will have cut your calories in half for the week. There is no increase in expense if you are buying fruit and vegetables to eat if that replaces boxed or bagged foods and canned or bottled prepared drinks. Your bill may in fact go down.
One excuse you may have for not changing is “I don’t want to.” That is the one that you must fight alone. The consequence of changing nothing is a constant march from your twenty five percent BMI to obesity. The health consequences are staggering to you personally, the cost of that can’t be measured in time or money. The thing in your head that is saying ‘I Don’t Want To’ is your old habits, your existing belief system.
A great deal of the work of eating right is forming new habits to replace habits that are in the way of the life we want to live. All habits are exactly the same to your brain. Habits keep us from having to think about every waking moment of our lives. You don’t think about every step you take when you are walking up or down steps. Doing that is a habit, and you can do it in the dark, because it is a habit. Driving to work is the same way, you are free to think about many other things while you drive because most of the trip is handled by your brain on autopilot.
Finding and eating food is a habit just like all of your other habits. When we go to the store we do our ritual. Mine is walking every aisle, hoping that the sight of something we are out of, that we normally are not out of, will break me out of my routine enough to pick it up. Otherwise, there is not a great deal of critical thinking that goes on in the grocery store. I am not one to read labels and do a great deal of comparing between items. I want to get the one I like and get on with it.
That is the enemy of change. Habit. At the beginning, just stay out of the middle aisles in the store. Make a habit of purchasing only at the edges. Decide at the start that all you need can be found among the real foods that are a single ingredient. If you must go into the danger zone, don’t purchase any food with a health claim on the label. Added vitamins are not there for your health, they are there like fish bait to hook you.
Back to the Washington Post:
…society must begin to tackle huge, unhealthful food portions the way he and others went after the tobacco industry: By stripping away its cool and fun image and revealing it for the health hazard it is.
“I’d try to change the social norms,” he said. “I’d go after big food. And I would go after things that are sold as food when there’s no real food in it. It’s just highly processed fat, salt and sugar.”
Why are you still eating the way you always have? Because you have not yet made the decision to change. You are a creature of habit, as are we all. Most of us don’t yet know how to best approach the necessary change. We are tempted by diets that give us temporary results, or we hear from others that it wasn’t worth it, because the results were temporary. You will not be able to change until you can see the change for what it really is, it is a change of habits. You must not be attempting to lose weight, you must attempt to lose habits, which is much harder, but permanent. The weight will never come back if the habits that created them are gone.