Quick Weight Loss Solution? Or The Slow, Boring, Effective Route To Weight Loss?
Do you have a weight problem? Are you a little overweight – or a lot – and looking for a safe, effective, and rapid weight-loss regime?
Well, I don’t have it. Sorry! I just got your hopes up there for a moment, though, because it seems curious to me that the speed of any weight-loss diet seems to be very often touted as its great selling point. I’ve never had a significant weight problem myself, but have worked with and known a great number of people with such a condition. Half of them seemed to be semi-permanently on one crash diet after another, each one offering miracle results within the week, fortnight, month etc.
Were the promised results forthcoming? To be honest, yes, sometimes they did seem to be borne out. However, judging from the complaints and bewailing I would often hear a few weeks later on from the same colleagues or friends, often enough this flush of success was swiftly followed by a sag of failure, as the pounds crept swiftly and unstoppably back on.
Why are some people with an obesity problem so unwilling to hear the harsh truth about weight loss? Weight loss is hard work and is a long-term project if you want real lasting success. Okay, that’s my opinion, but it’s based on observation close at hand. My loved one had a minor health-related incident some time ago (okay, it didn’t seem too minor at the time) and decided he needed to overhaul his health, get fitter and lose some weight. (All of this was with the full backing and knowledge of his GP.)
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Did he go on the cabbage and water diet and take off half a stone in a week? (No, thank the Lord!) Did he do the ‘supermodel soup’ diet of hot water with chilli and honey? (Apparently that’s what it is – hey, I don’t know, I just believe everything I read!)
No, it came down to something much more crazy than that. He sat down with me and talked it through. Then we did some research (okay, I did some research) on what foods are beneficial to health, fitness and weight-loss, and the nature of his little health alarm in particular. Then I pretty much engineered and designed a diet for him. Then he went away, tweaked it, ignored half of what I had said (but still wound up with a pretty healthy and beneficial diet that was conducive to losing weight.) Crazy or what?
My loved one also committed to a regular exercise plan. At first this amounted to a walk after work every night (or almost every night, weather permitting). Gradually he began to run a little most nights – not all the way, but a little further all the time. Eventually he was running most of the way, and then all the way, and then increasing the distance of his runs. I am impressed with the level of his commitment – it's amazing how he has kept up a steady program, without any significant lapses. (Except for the odd pulled muscle etc. keeping him indoors for a few days here and there.) I must add that he was careful to get fitted for proper running shoes beforehand at a specialised sports equipment retailer, as well as purchasing other useful equipment such as a Garmin Forerunner 50 footpod (in order to track his speed, distance, gait and improvement over time.)
But what did he do with regard to diet? Overall, it comes down to the following points:
Eating real food, not convenience food. This means whole grains, lean fresh meats (back before he was vegan), simple, unsweetened and not highly processed dairy products, nuts, pulses, fresh fish and lots of fruit and vegetables. It sounds so easy, right? Don't we all eat like that? (Or do we?)
Not too many luxury foods, even when eating 'real' food. In a state of nature, say as a hunter-gatherer or peasant farmer, you don't get to eat exactly what you want all of the time, no matter how 'whole' and natural it is. Nature isn't likely to provide unlimited quantities of roasted cashew nuts, peanut butter, olives and honey-preserved dates! These yummy calorie and fat-dense natural foods are provided in limited quantity in a state of nature. My other half concentrated instead on healthy 'staples' – grains, pulses, vegetarian protein, fish, vegetables. That's not to say he didn't have some treats – but that's exactly what they were – occasional treats.
All home-cooking all the time! Okay, perhaps not all the time – that's a pretty rigorous standard to have to hold yourself up to. But as near as all the time as possible is what he aims for – because it's so much easier to eat right, when you're not eating prepackaged 'convenience' food or mystery ingredients out at fast-food places and restaurants.
Ignoring calories and fat grams. Seriously, this is my opinion after reading around on the subject, and it's what my partner has stuck to. He makes whole, healthy, natural food, he get a lot of exercise, and he eats when he's hungry – to satisfaction. No portion limits, no fake 'substitute' foods, and certainly no 'diet' food. Real food, not diet food! Bearing in mind the above point – I.e. not buying lots and lots of what amount to 'luxury' healthy foods – he eats what he wants when he wants it. And in the amount he wants it!
Increasing the volume and lowering the calorie density of your meals. Now, I'm aware it may sound like I'm contradicting myself here, but bear with me. I'm not talking about calculating how many calories you want to eat. I'm talking about using the awareness of the low caloric value of whole, real foods like lean protein, whole grains, (most) vegetables and fresh fruits, and pulses, and putting it to work. How? By adding those foods to every damn meal! Take an example. Say you made a delicious chicken stew with some (wholemeal) dumplings. There's some fat in the dumplings, and maybe you fried the chicken beforehand for extra flavour. Now if you just add a cup of frozen sweetcorn, a couple of cups of black-eyed peas or beans and a whole lot of brown rice, then you've almost certainly just caused the average calorie count per hundred grams of that stew to drop like a stone. So you're still eating your fill... and you're eating healthy. And, over time and gradually, you're losing weight.
Is it crazy? Do you really want to lose weight gradually, sustainably, over time, rather than shed a few pounds in a couple of weeks and then put them back on (and then some)? It's working for my other half: he hasn't reached his target yet, but he's well on the way. Weight-loss is a journey as well as a destination.
Well, what do you say? Are you thinking of trying the crazily sensible weight-loss method? Don't forget to check it out with your doctor if you are. (As always, nothing in this article is intended as medical advice and reflects my experience and opinions only.) But remember: it's so crazy, it just might work!