In the last blog I highlighted the benefit of examining your life, reducing the stressors in your life, and utilizing that approach to reduce your weight. Again, from thousands of patients, I have seen weight loss after they have redesigned their lives to a lower level of stress and a greater level of satisfaction. Happy people, despite the old stereotype of the fat joker, tend to be people with appropriate weights; and people who address their stressors tend to be people who subsequently observe weight loss and improved health – without any restricted diet or new diet pill. So, for me, the key to losing weight is to design your life, reduce your stress, improve your close relationships, find time for sufficient sleep, and develop the right habits for a healthy life.
Nevertheless, I still want to address how to change your eating style. Hippocrates did not advise his patient to eat less; he advised them to eat better. He offered the famous quote: “Let food be thy medicine.” From that perspective, I want to repeat my core belief. In terms of the food you eat, you do not lose weight by restricting; you lose weight by switching from restricting to substituting. You need to add, not take away. You need to add real food, not processed food. You need to eat healthy food, not contaminated food, packed with chemicals. That means you need to shift your eating style away from dairy and meat products to more of a plant-slanted eating style. You do not need to reduce the amount of food you consume, but you need to ingest more nutrients with fewer empty calories.
Now, what do I mean by real food? I am referring to any food that is not man-made and pre-packaged. Any food that existed in that same state 10,000 years ago. Try vegetables, salads, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds. Eat more plant-based protein; and remember that animal based protein is good if it constitutes less than 10% of your caloric intake. Meat is acceptable, as long as it is the smallest part on your plate. Try to substitute fish (like cold-water salmon) for your meat item. The fish provides a higher degree of omega 3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for multiple systems in your body. However, those omega 3 fatty acids also lower your cortisol – and that, by itself, will lead to a gradual (and more permanent) weight loss.
So, what’s my message? Caloric restriction does not work. Never has, never will. 98% of weight loss through caloric restriction will be regained. If you want a lower weight, and if you want better health, switch to real foods (more vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, and seeds, plus more fish). Improve your quantity and quality of sleep. Reset your brain waves with meditation and visualization. Utilize habits that will decrease your level of the stress hormones cortisol. Do not offer the excuse that you do not have time to make these changes. We all waste too much time in front of the YV, zoning out after a stressful day. Or we waste too much time with some emotional eating, again zoning out after another stressful day. There are other options. There are other habits.
From my perspective, weight and life come down to creating the right habits. I’ve said it before: the small advantages (the small habits) can lead to the greatest triumphs. A short-term diet is not a habit. Another pill is not a habit. It comes, then goes. You want habits that will last the rest of your life. Try the four habits discussed above, and they will work wonders for your health and weight. Real food. Good sleep. Meditation. Visualization. Ask yourself: why don’t you find those four components on a diet bookshelf? Because they do not require any dramatic change or any drastic program. They just require some new beliefs and some new habits. The best part should be obvious. With the right new habits, your whole life will improve, not just your weight.
Yes, I have missed something. I did not discuss exercise, which is always a habit that leads to improved health. I left it to this point because the above habits constitute about 80% of the weight remedy. Exercise contributes only 20% to the solution. Nevertheless, I still recommend adding exercise to the above habits. Walking daily is fine. Exercise, after all, does much more than burn calories. Daily exercise, like daily visualization, sends an important message to the brain, rewiring it toward a lower weight target. Once again, move away from restriction. Think more of addition. Adding all of the above habits in these blogs on weight loss will allow you to do what all those diet books and pills can not accomplish. These habits will allow you to reach a lower weight and stay at that lower weight. Isn’t that what you want?
Lastly, if you need an additional incentive, here it is. The average 65-year-old couple has a net worth of $167,000, and that financial statement includes the equity in their home. However, the average 65-year-old couple can expect to spend $300,000 on their remaining lifetime medical bills from age 65 to death. By remaining in good physical health with reasonable weight, you have your best chance to reduce those health care costs. Since fat cells are toxic to the immune system and to your brain, view dropping a few pounds (to hit a reasonable weight target for your height and body structure) as just one of the habits for good health – a habit you need long-term, not short-term.