Gord and I and friends are on the one-year diet. This time next year, healthy habits will be an automatic part of our life – without struggle, without willpower. Our healthy habits will be something we do every day, like getting up in the morning and brushing our teeth.
The crux of our diet is the three pillars of health:
- Eat food made with love.
- Move our bodies
- Keep good people close.
We don’t worry about weight. The weight will melt off. Our goal isn’t what we will be. It’s what we do. Weight is not the goal. Weight is a side effect of healthy living. Practice the three pillars and the rest will follow. Oh and we don’t count calories.
Our diet has got to be sustainable through thick and thin and through all the disruptions life will surely offer between now and the end of life. We are in this for the long haul. How we live today is the lifestyle we aim to practice through our eighties and beyond. Think about it. If we adopt a temporary weight loss regimen that we hate, we set ourselves up to boomerang back hard once the unpleasant and unnatural lifestyle period has (thankfully) ended.
No quick fixes! Eighty-five percent or more of people who lose weight by restricting calories gain the weight back and more within five years. They blame themselves for “not having the willpower”. Then they go back on the same diet that didn’t work in the first place because obviously it was their fault. Argh! Says former Weight Watchers executive, “It’s successful because the other 84% have to come back and do it again. That’s where your business comes from”.
Weight is kind of meaningless. Really. After four months I weighed one pound more than when we began. But, my waist was two and a half inches smaller. My muffin top was gone. I had more muscle and less fat, and bonus, everything in my closet fit. I got to wear more than the two long, loose shirts in my closet. I weighed more, but I was slimmer, I moved better and I looked better. Gord lost one pound, and one inch around his waist. He felt better in all ways (even in his bowels after he started riding his bike to work again. He says biking massages your insides.)
It’s hard for people who solely concentrate on “getting to a certain weight” to ever be satisfied with their weight, because how much they weigh does not translate into how they feel and look. Imagine a 150 pound woman who goes for a walk every day and goes to the gym a couple of hours a week. She eats food made from scratch. Then imagine her twin, 150 pounds, who eats little, is always hungry, and sits at work, during her commute, and after work. Do they feel the same? Do they look the same? The whole lifestyle package matters. Weight is an indicator, not the goal.
Weight loss can’t be predicted. –Not like fitness can. If you do ten pushups every day you are guaranteed to be doing twenty in a month. Weight doesn’t work that way.
The old theory said that every 3500 calories cut would translate into one pound lost. We know now that that the laws of physics cannot be directly applied to human biology. As weight is lost, fewer calories are burned. Your brain fights hard to put that weight back on and keep it there. This makes perfect sense given the constant food shortages our ancestors survived. Never before have energy dense foods been available from cradle to grave.
Thus if you naturally burn 2400 cals a day, and you “go on a diet” (that is you suddenly starve yourself), your body jumps into survival mode. To stay at the weight you were before your restrictive eating began, you must eat less than before. This effect lasts a long time if not forever. (There is limited research so far on how long this effect lasts.) Your brain has a lot of tricks including getting you to eat more by turning off the fullness hormone leptin and turning on the hunger hormone ghrelin.
We’re constantly told to move more to lose weight. It ain’t so! “We keep hammering home the stereotype of the fat, lazy slobs who are eating fast food all the time who are not moving, not exercising or not taking care of themselves, making poor choices, when there’s very little science that actually backs this up. Dr. Arya Sharma Furthermore we burn 200 calories or so in a one-hour workout. How many calories can we eat in that time? Give me a Big Mac and a chocolate and I’ll let you know. “You can’t outrun your fork.” Dr. Yoni Freedhoff.
Finally there are your genes. Some people are naturally meant to be bigger. That’s how they evolved. You know those big girls on your softball team, with their big backs and shoulders, who can really whack the ball? They are meant to be big, not willowy. Gord and I have different metabolisms and different starting weights. Our one-year diet accommodates our different needs. Gord will lose a little more than me and I won’t lose too much.
That’s why being whatever weight isn’t our goal. Our weight will naturally arrive at the healthy place our bodies desire, so long as we practice the three pillars. We’re living now the way we want to live into the future. The three pillars:
- Cook our own food. Cut out processed food.
- Move our bodies every day. We’re not running marathons; we’re just m-o-v-i-n-g.
- Good people. The people we associate with affect our habits and our health.
Gord and I are changing in stages. There’s no rush. We’re making permanent changes. There is zero advantage to losing weight if it all comes back.
I will be writing about our journey here and I’ll tell you how it’s going.