We live in an incredibly unhealthy food environment
. Most of us are ignorant of nutrition and way too fond of hedonistic self-indulgence. The food industry takes advantage
of our weakness by concocting addictive foods
out of sweets, fats and salt that most people cannot resist. Then it pushes all that bad food on us with a massive, relentless propaganda campaign
. Becoming lean and staying that way in this atmosphere is extremely difficult, even for the most self-disciplined of us.When I was in college, I weighed as much as 240 pounds
but I managed to slowly but surely shed the extra weight and then keep it off for most of the last 40+ years.
As I write this, at age 72, my BMI is 19.4. I have tried many of the diet approaches that have come along over the years.
I was on the Atkins Diet
bandwagon, back in the 1970’s, when most people thought it was the devil’s work. Now, it’s thought to be a reasonably sane approach. I had great success with calorie restriction as laid out by Roy Walford, M.D. in “Beyond the 120-Year Diet”
. But just watching every calorie every hour of every day is a hard row to hoe and not many people are ever going to stick with that. Eventually, I found myself backsliding and had to move on to other methods. In recent years, intermittent fasting has become my primary method for staying fit and lean.
I strongly recommend that you investigate this way of eating. For me, it has been the easiest method I have ever tried
. At this time, I am eating only the equivalent of one large meal, all healthy food, spread between 2P and 6P each day. I am only significantly hungry for about an hour each day prior to my eating period.
I racewalk, run and do resistance training 3 days a week but I think eating right with intermittent fasting
is as important to my health as any of those activities. I think it works so well for weight loss because A. limiting eating time limits calorie intake and B. you are not often hungry. It’s not hard to eat less than 2000 calories a day if you are only eating during a short portion of the day and you are only eating nutritious food rather than calorie-dense junk. Take a look at this March 6, 2016 article, Fasting Diets are Gaining Acceptance
, in the New York Times.
I suggest you check out Dr. Robert Lustig’s book, "Fat Chance"
. He documents the politics and science behind the fat epidemic of the last 30 years. In "The FastDiet"
by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, intermittent fasting
is at the center of their approach to healthy eating and weight loss.
Another helpful book on this subject is "The IF Diet 2014"
by Robert Skinner. He gives you three ways to do intermittent fasting
, including the one I like best, the “Thirds” version, where you restrict all your eating to one eight-hour period every day, for example, 11A-7P. (I cut that eating period in half, to 4 hours.) While some of these authors will tell you that you can “eat what you want” if you are doing intermittent fasting, you will get much better results, obviously, if you get in the habit of eating only good food. I recommend the book “Sugar Busters”
as an good place to start reading on this subject. This next one is not a diet book but it includes some excellent tips on how to change your eating habits: “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”
by Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist. Be wary of extravagant claims and promises in diet books!
Pick and choose skeptically from the advice given in any diet book. Often included in order to sell the book is a magical promise, usually some version of “calories don’t count”. But, sadly, they do. Unbiased studies seem to prove that, again and again. In the end, it mostly comes down to taking in fewer calories than you burn, eating good food and exercising. And then finding a way to keep doing that for the rest of your life
, instead of going back to burgers, fries and Coca-Cola after a few months. Only a tiny percentage of people manage to get lean and stay that way. Their “secret” is habit management!
Eating good food instead of bad food, eating intermittently instead of constantly feeding, getting out to racewalk or run or getting into the gym regularly are all just good habits instead of bad
. Once you establish a good habit, then that eventually becomes as compelling as the old bad habit it replaced. Usually, it only takes 2-3 weeks of perseverance to change a habit. Really solidifying the change takes longer, but those first few weeks are the hardest part. People who maintain healthy lifestyles over many years have made that happen by actively managing their habits
. It also helps if, once you get fit and lean, you become a fanatic about it
. There’s a lot working against you.
When you lose weight, your body metabolism changes in order to pork you back up. There is the aforementioned massive, relentless propaganda campaign from the food industry to deal with, not to mention everyday temptations from family and co-workers, plus our evolved built-in desire to grab every morsel before it escapes. And plain laziness. But I think many people can get past all this if they can drudge up the will to first educate themselves about the problem and its solutions and then proceed to create new habits
. The reward for putting in the effort is enormous
, even if it’s nothing more than the way you feel when you look in the mirror — and it’s actually much, much more than that!