“Step right this way, or grab your mouse and order my new Miraculous 5 minute guaranteed fat burner/shredder and watch yourself slim down in just 7 days! Your friends won’t even recognize you its that darn effective!” Now who would order such an obvious snake oil scam? We wouldn’t be taken in by that one right? The answer is yes we would, as evidenced by the fact that weight loss books frequently top the best seller list, and the info-mercials are clearly raking it in.
But why are people so easily duped by all these scams and quack cures? The reason is that they are looking for a quick easy fix, something that will work where all else we’ve tried has failed, and will allow us to avoid the work that is actually required to get ourselves healthy. We want it so desperately that we throw ourselves into their greedy hands and suspend our natural skepticism for their outlandish claims. Of course this leads us to the inevitable let down, and 2-3 months from now we’re back at square one. What is the answer then? I think it is a return to the basics, to the tried and true, in other words to maintain a sound grounding in reality.
Now I don’t mean to dispute the veracity and value of certain popular diets out there like the Atkins Diet, among other notables. They can be effective for a great many people. The avoidance of highly processed, useless foods does promote a favorable hormonal response and other benefits too numerous to list here. But the lion share of the results they provide should actually be attributed to the reduced quantity of food they eat because of the filling effect of protein and fat. It still is the enormous volume we eat (coupled with our inactivity) that gives us our exaggerated dimensions. But you knew all of this already, didn’t you? Is this all therefore academic? If it was we wouldn’t be flocking in droves to these snake charmers.
Proper dieting and exercising is about being smart. Smart eating means knowing yourself and utilizing tricks and tactics to cut down on your portion sizes and to somehow increase your activity. Dieting and exercising are not always easy, so you must not fool yourself or try to avoid the obvious. First you have to throw out the rediculous concept that only bad things taste good. Healthy food and drink do taste good, if you know how to prepare them, and/or you know how to accustom yourself to them. If you insist that you’ll never, ever like eating that type of food - guess who you are hurting? I never liked salads in my youth, but by learning how to spice them up I was able to condition an enjoyment of them, at least of certain types. It just took a little time. Another smart tip you may have heard before is the fact that you can shrink your stomach after a while if you cut down on portion size for about 3 weeks. After a while you will be surprized to find that you are full from only two hot dogs instead of your usual three.
Another important tip about dieting is this: please don’t even think about buying that big bag of chips when your’e out shopping. You already know how you will give in to temptation when you get home, why would you even want to have them around?? Once you’ve gained control over your habits you can start adding back some of the indulgences you love as rewards for living smart, because no diet that banishes enjoyment will stand the test of time. Its all about mind over platter.
On the exercise front, the rules are the same. Try to find smart ways to increase your activity. Like they say, park as far as possible from the supermarket door, make a “lot of trips” from your car to the house with the groceries. These are not a large price to pay for fitness, but they all add up. Read The Laziness Index for other tips on exercise mind over “fat matter.”
The choice is up to you, do you want to institute lasting programs that actually work, or do you wish to hop on that magic train to the promised land of instant perfection and milk and honey? I’ll take real food anytime.