The fat trap.
This article appeared on the New York Times website a while ago. It describes the plight of the overweight and obese in losing weight. Those who successfully lose significant amounts of weight will eventually regain it. This is compounded by "fat genes" that supposedly predispose individuals to obesity and even to selecting high fat, high calorie foods. Those who lose weight are described as forever having to meticulously monitor calorie intake and expenditure.
Pretty depressing stuff if you're overweight.
Losing weight is fantastic, but who wants to always be measuring food and maniacally exercising? Always thinking about food and worrying about the pounds coming back on? It's enough to make a person abandon the running shoes for a pair of extra wide sweat pants.
This article is everything that's wrong with weight loss and "dieting". It's based on starvation level diets, which are unrealistic and impossible to maintain in the long term. Unfortunately, what the author doesn't realise is that by eating in accordance with our physiology, it IS possible to lose weight and keep it off, without being doomed to a life of food scales and calorie charts.
The problem with "diets" is that they're a quick fix solution to a systemic problem. Mainstream medicine will tell you that it's all about "calories in vs calories out", without taking into account the complexity of the human machine. Starve, over exercise, and get hyped up on stimulants, and the body will eventually rebel. Rapid weight loss will see a significant loss of muscle tissue, the body's effort to reduce calorie requirements by removing energetically demanding tissue. With a loss of muscle tissue comes a drop in basal metabolic rate. In addition, stress hormones kick in, which promote fat storage and feelings of hunger. Then, when the dieter succumbs to any sort of refeeding, their body a) becomes more likely to gain fat, and b) requires fewer calories to maintain the same initial body weight.
This is why fast weight loss never works in the long run. People want to lose 5 or 10 pounds in a matter of weeks, but this is often mostly water, salt, or glycogen... with some muscle loss and eventually some fat loss. It makes about as much sense as chopping off a leg to lose some quick pounds. The number on the scale may be lower, but at what cost? What's the point of being "thin" if your adrenal glands are burned out from chronic stress? Or if you've increased the risk of cancer from all the chemicals ingested in food? Or if you're unable to enjoy life because of obsessive calorie counting?
Most people want to lose weight to reduce their risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. But too many weight loss programs leave the individual in worse shape than when they started! Malnourishment is the precursor of disease - and it is difficult to obtain all necessary nutrients on most calorie-restricting diets.
In the raw food world, there is increasing focus on building health as a means of achieving a healthy weight. When an individual is truly healthy, mentally and physically, a healthy weight can be effortlessly maintained.
How is this achieved?
True health includes athletic fitness, hydration, stress management, strong social relationships, a sense of community and belonging, exposure to sunshine and nature, and adequate rest, in addition to ingestion of healthy foods and minimising exposure to toxins. Addressing all these issues permanently means a lifestyle and habit change - developing a consistent routine that addresses all of these needs, and which is realistic and can be easily maintained.
So, what should the overweight person do to lose some pounds? Before doing anything, get a full physical work up. Cholesterol, liver function, blood pressure, heart rate, everything. It's called a baseline measure - and it will be the comparison point for all subsequent measurements on the journey to health.
Once that's done, it's time for diet change. Don't be afraid - a healthy diet will not mean rabbit food and leave you constantly hungry. In fact, you get to eat more than you ever would have thought. Cut out animal products: dairy, meat, eggs, honey, as well as soda, fast food, and processed snack food. Replace these things with whole plant foods, like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans, and small amounts of nuts and seeds. Stick to a low fat, whole food vegan diet and watch your health skyrocket. Incorporate as much raw food as you can. Entire meals can be made 100% raw, like a breakfast smoothie with bananas, mangoes, and water. And for those who think it's too radical a dietary change: don't worry, there's vegan alternatives to almost every meal in existence. Tempeh and seitan instead of meat. Veggie burgers instead of beef burgers. Scrambled tofu instead of scrambled eggs. Almond milk instead of cow milk. Yes, you can have vegan pizza, burgers, and pies. All of these are great transitional tools for getting off the dead animals and onto the plants.
Make sure you eat enough - the calorie density of plant foods is generally lower than animal products. One fast food hamburger meal is easily the equivalent of 10-15 bananas. Make sure enough calories are consumed to meet nutritional targets, maintain energy levels, and sustain a positive mental attitude. 30bananasaday.com is a great resource, or check out the Banana Girl Diet, Banana Boy Diet, and Raw Til 4 pages on facebook.
Next is movement. You can't be healthy if you're not fit. Do whatever floats your boat, whether it's running, walking, swimming, rock climbing, salsa dancing, or yoga. As long as you're moving. If you do what you enjoy, it won't even seem like a work out - it will just be fun. Incorporate activity into daily life. Play with your dog or your kids. Ride your bike or walk instead of using the car. Take the stairs.
Ensure adequate rest. Get off the stimulants. Most of us are running around on too-little sleep, but artificially boosted with coffee, energy drinks, and chocolate. The body can't rest when we're hyped up on drugs, and rest is crucial for recovery. It's common to require 8-10 hours of sleep per night - or even more if athletic. Drink plenty of water. Spend time with uplifting people who encourage you to make positive changes. Get outdoors.
Over time, you will see radical shifts in your physique as well as mental outlook and attitude. You will become less interested in weight and more focused on how you FEEL. Happiness, vitality, and vibrancy will attract more of those things into your life. And THAT's the goal - not simply a number on the scale.