Losing weight looks easy in principle but its really difficult in practice.
Well – could the reason be a lack of discipline?
Or are we no longer afraid of the consequences of being overweight?
Now I know you may not wish to hear the discipline thing – but it has a ring of truth to it, don’t you think?
People in general fail to lose weight to their recommended level for their height and to keep it under their control. And they fail again and again feeding (‘scuse the pun) a lucrative weight loss industry.
What this should do in most cases is to remind us that true success comes from a series of failures, which rarely helps when you’re standing on the scales.
Einstein once said - “if we knew what we were doing – it wouldn’t be called research”.
But that is exactly what we are all doing through our own experience each day – conducting a live research project with our bodies.
In normal circumstances and conditions, and in the absence of taking prescription drugs, where weight gain or loss is not a side effect, these facts are pretty much a given:
If you eat and drink more than your physical activity – there is weight gain.
If you balance the two, there is no weight gain.
If you eat and drink less than your physical activity, there will be weight loss.
Makes sense doesn’t it? Of course it does.
And yet somehow we continue to fool ourselves – we continue to think that we didn’t “do that?” OMG – was that me scoffing that doughnut down?
Yes, Actually it was you and love was nowhere to be seen.
Psychologists call it – self-serving bias.
Or to put it more plainly – better known as self-delusion.
We delude ourselves into thinking that what we are consuming on a general level is ok and yet in some little corner of our brains – we know that this is not so – we know that we are still overweight. We know that being overweight is not good for our general health and wellbeing. We know.
And yet, we carry the evidence around with us day after day, for all to see.
Not only that, we somehow put up with the obvious discomfort, inconvenience and sometimes real pain of having to live out our daily lives – standing and sitting – walking – going up stairs – bending down – getting in and out of cars and buses, or just simply getting dressed or undressed – all ordinary activities so much harder to do whilst carrying extra weight.
So, why do we do it?
Well, one of the reasons is that so many other people do it, so it is not really that odd any more, is it? Can it be a reflection of conformist behaviour?
2 in 4 people – that’s just over 31 million in the UK are overweight. Half of these are clinically obese and a majority of these people are fast overeaters of processed or refined foods.
Research by Mintel has shown that 25% of people in the UK are on a diet of some sort most of the time – that’s 15.8 million people.
So, could that possibly mean that half of the overweight people in the UK not on a diet of some sort, simply don’t care?
I think the answer is that there are more important things to worry about these days and yes, weight is one of them but there appears to be no longer an apparent fear of the consequences of being overweight.
Although diabetes and coronary heart disease are cited as possible consequences, it just doesn’t have the life-threatening ring of a cancer diagnosis does it?
It is compelling to think that millions of people are maladaptive in their behaviour around food and drink, who rarely eat fresh fruit and vegetables and who rely on microwave meals and processed foods for much of their nutrition.
An interesting perspective, don’t you think, of the way people in the UK and much of the Western world, behave around the third most important element they need to survive, next to air and water – their food.
It is not just what is being consumed but in what quantities, how it is being done, when it takes place, its frequency, in what combinations it is being consumed and what mood one is in at the time.
What you eat
If you eat mostly processed food and drinks, your body has to work harder to digest this type of food, which has a low nutritional factor. In other words, it may taste good and meet your hunger needs, but at the cellular level, where the real work takes place, much of it is rejected as lacking the right nutrients to boost your immune system and energise your body and mind, and that which is not eliminated, simply turns to fat.
This type of food uses up a lot of energy in the digestive process, can cause fatigue and does not make for smooth bowel movements.
If you eat high water content whole or real foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables and grains that make up to 80% of your daily food intake, there is less energy being used in the digestive process. Enzymes found in the water of fresh fruit and vegetables – and not in tap water – produces amino acids that go on to produce all the protein you would ever need. In addition, the fibre that is present in this type of food is great for the intestines and digestive tract and bowel movements are smooth and regular.
A normal stomach can expand to hold up to 4 litres of food, more than 50 times its empty volume.
If you eat this sort of volume of food 2-3 times a day, your stomach will distend permanently. In other words, it will distend from its natural size of around the size of your open hand, to 4-5 times the size. A large distended stomach, becomes hungry sooner that a normal stomach, as the brain begins to learn to trigger off hunger pangs earlier for you to fill your stomach and the more you eat over and above the amount your body actually needs will turn to fat. The two types of fat that you have in your abdominal area are subcutaneous fat, which lies just under your skin and visceral fat, which distends the stomach and gives the infamous pot belly look. Your visceral fat greatly increases the risk of you developing various heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnoea, some types of cancer and several other degenerative diseases such as arthritis.
Most busy people in the West eat their food fast, particularly if they are eating junk food. Here it is mostly a matter of feeding because you’re hungry – it doesn’t much matter what you eat as long as it is something. It takes the brain 15-20 minutes to register that you are feeling full – by that time your meal is over and you have probably eaten too much. Digestion begins in the mouth – if you are a fast eater, then you are not chewing your food enough to get the saliva in the mouth to begin to prepare your food for its passageway down the esophagus into the stomach. Most obese and fat people eat fast and don’t realise that this aids weight gain in the form of visceral fat – the fat that is bad for your liver and heart and that can lead to many chronic degenerative diseases.
The three meals a day syndrome has become institutionalised in our society and not all people conform to that need, as we are all very different. If you do eat fast and are overweight, then the likelihood is you are eating processed or junk food more frequently because you are most likely to be hungry, more often than most. If you are eating high water content foods, such as fruits and vegetables, you are probably not overweight, eat the right sized portions at various times of the day when you do feel hungry – so frequency is not a problem.
Ever since the Hay diet came out in 1927 people have looked at food combinations and whether this is an important issue with regard to their food intake. Again, the trouble with this issue, is that we are all different. You should try it out for yourself, and if it works for you, adopt it.
Our society has become institutionalised in the manner of mixing animal protein with high starch foods and the issue lies in your digestion. There is no doubt that people who do eat properly combined foods, do feel better, they spend less energy on digestion and their bowel movements are far more comfortable. The key here is refined or processed foods, such as white bread, white flour, sugar and pasta for example - when these types of foods are combined with animal protein, the body struggles to digest them easily.
If you are in a life and death situation, your digestive system shuts down, and adrenaline is pouring through your blood in order to deal with the stress of saving your life. Thankfully, most of us don’t live in an environment where we face this type of stress every day.
However, many of us do live very stressful lives, so whilst our bodies are not having to deal with the levels of adrenaline to save our life, most of us experience chronic stress, that triggers off these stress hormones on a regular basis, which has a major effect on digestion and promotes weight gain. Put simply, if you’re angry – don’t eat – let the anger go – improve your mood – and then eat – slowly – and this will improve your mood even more.