The last post on Healthy Enough (before this one) was published on 3rd June 2014 – over three years ago.
Three years is a long time. Whether you’re a longtime Healthy Enough reader or new to the blog, you might wonder where I’ve been for the past 38 months or so.
I’d say you’re right to wonder, and that you deserve an explanation. After all, I’ve set a high bar in terms of what I want to achieve with this blog – given that I’ve been absent for so long, why should you treat me seriously?
I was at the gym today running on the treadmill when a news story came on the overhead television. The story stated that certain plate colours were linked to the amount of food people put on them and therefore had a profound effect on weight loss.
That’s a new one…
Now, I’m very interested in the psychology behind weight loss and eating habits and decided to do a little research on the subject.
As it turns out (not surprisingly), there are numerous different opinions and so-called studies that indicate which plate colour is associated with allotting different portion sizes and the amount of food we eat because of it.
At least, that’s how I see it. I’m 6’1″ and a notch or two under 200lbs. Consult a BMI chart and I’m technically overweight, but I feel pretty healthy, and I’d rather trust my own subjective measure than one so simplistic as BMI.
But here’s what I’m not: what most guys want to be. You know – toned, lean, buff, head-turning. And I wish I was, as many of us do.
If you were to embark on a diet, detox or new exercise program, what would be your motivator? The end result? The challenge of willpower?
What about doing it because you can feel the difference in your body?
Forget about seeing the difference. Ensuring you’re happy with your next beach photo on Facebook is motivating, but knowing that your body is benefiting from your new regime is more important. By feeling what your body is going through, you’re learning a skill: listening to your body. It may seem simple, but is a great asset when dieting or generally being conscious of your health.
According to Science Daily, the number one reason diets fail is because dieters underestimate the amount of calories they consume.
In reality, it goes far deeper than that. Miscounting calories isn’t the problem. That’s only an indicator of a far greater issue: that the dieting measures most people take are overly prohibitive.
Many of us associate dieting with restriction and sacrifice — doing things we don’t want to do in order to improve ourselves. That association (and the subsequent actions we take as a result) is typically what trips us up when it comes to losing weight.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I have discovered that you can lose weight and keep it off without making any drastic lifestyle changes. Furthermore, I’ve made it my personal goal to reveal this truth to as many people as possible, which is why you’re reading this.
You see them everywhere. You recognize their names. And yes, they’re some of the most influential people you know.
These are what some like to call celebrity doctors, who have millions of followers that hang onto their every word. Whether or not it is deserved, these people are widely respected for their “wisdom.”
Celebrity doctors are not going away anytime soon, as the medical industry draws of tens of millions people in each year. Here at Healthy Enough (including yours truly), we watch some of these celebrities on TV and other forms of media every day.
Does that mean we should take all of their advice to heart? In other words, are celebrity doctors all they’re cracked up to be?
Before we dive into this question, let’s figure out why they’re so darned irresistible in the first place.
Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
~ Dr. Seuss
Although weight loss doesn’t have to be a painful process, there are usually what I like to call ’emotional startup costs’ as you find your feet. It’s expected. We embrace it. Hooray for positive change!
Unfortunately, these costs are often accompanied by something far more damaging and insidious. Surprisingly, the source of this negativity is your friends and family – the people who are supposed to love you, house you, feed you, cuddle you when you have nightmares, hold back your hair when you’ve had one too many tequilas, drive the getaway car if you should decide to rob a bank, and so on.
If you go to any gym these days (perish the thought), chances are you will see that the vast majority of people are wearing headphones. And while most people may think that listening to music while exercising is great for passing time and breaking up the boredom, it actually has a much stronger effect that few are aware of.
In fact, music can be so powerful that wearing headphones and using mobile music devices was banned by the national governing body for running, USA Track & Field, because of the competitive advantage it gives runners.
There are a bunch of reasons as to why you should drink more water – not the least the fact that around 60% of your body is made up of the stuff. It stands to reason that you should keep your levels topped up. But for the purposes of this article, you should drink more water because it encourages weight loss and increases satiety.
One study conducted at Virginia Tech offers evidence of water’s weight loss effects. The following is a paraphrased summary of that study courtesy of Wikipedia:
Davy et al. took a group of 48 overweight and obese Americans aged 55 to 75 who were considered inactive and divided them randomly into two equal-sized groups. The control group followed a calorie-controlled diet equating to approximately 1,500 calories per day for the men and 1,200 calories per day for the women. The second group followed exactly the same diet but drank 500ml of water before each meal. Both groups kept up the diet for 12 weeks.
Although both groups lost weight on average, the water-drinking group lost about 5lbs more on average (an 30% increase in weight loss). Because the water-drinking group reported feeling both more full and less hungry, the researchers believe that the water acts to suppress appetite.
Subjective effects also reported by the water-drinking group were feeling less hungry, having a clearer mind and a better ability to think. There were no negative effects reported.
While this study is far from perfect (for instance, the sample size and physiology of the subjects is limited), it does point towards the positive effects of drinking plenty of water. Furthermore, the study is backed up by an enormous volume of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of water consumption on weight loss.
Finally, drinking water prior to meals is advised in order that you do not confuse thirst signals with hunger signals. In my experience, it also encourages you eat less than you might otherwise.
Seriously. Life’s too short to cut out the things that you love the most: whether that be chocolate, cake, nachos, fries, or all of them (hopefully not on the same plate).
Following a diet that prevents you from eating your favorite foods is a bad idea for two reasons:
It’s incredibly hard to sustain in the long-term
It can make you utterly miserable
Successful long-term weight loss and weight management is not about being miserable. It’s about moderation, not dieting extremism. After all, if you’re going to be following a diet for the rest of your life, you need to make damned sure that it involves you eating all of the things that you love.
Chocolate, chips and cake can all be part of a healthy diet. Moreover, if you like those foods, they should be. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.