"You should be doing 1,400 calories a day, then you'll lose weight!”
"You should be fasting for two days a week, then you'll lose weight!”
"You should be hitting the gym every day, then you'll lose weight!”
"You should be increasing your protein to 40%, then you'll lose weight!”
"You should be just eating organic, then you'll lose weight!”
"You should be just eating complex carbs, then you'll lose weight!”
Bullshit. All of it. Faddy, unsustainable, yo-yo diet bullshit. You'll lose weight and have a positive, enjoyable relationship with food only when you learn to eat when you’re hungry, and stop obsessing over what you eat.
I want to burst some bubbles around here, because I'm fed up with seeing so much bad advice passed around - advice that will never, ever free you from the mental chains you're in right now.
Calorie control is a LIE
Fixing your calorie intake at an arbitrary level based on a one-size-fits-all approach is foolish, even at a glance:
- We're all different sizes
- We all have different metabolisms
- We all exert ourselves to a different degree
- One day we might walk to work, one day we might go to the gym, one day we might be sick in bed
Your calorie needs are highly variable. Your body knows what you need and it’s trying to tell you. You’ve just stopped listening.
Calorie control will never cure you
It will only ever be a sticking plaster. It might (if you’re one of the few “lucky” ones) be a sticking plaster you wear until the day you die, miserable and cake deprived. You only get one life, and this is it. Do you really want to spend it worrying about how many “points” your pudding is worth? Think about it: is an alcoholic who can’t go into a bar really cured?
Exercise Does Not Make You Thin
It may make you healthy(er) - if you do enough - but it will not make you thin. You'll just eat more snacks to make up for the calorie shortfall. Face it, 30m on a cross trainer burns off enough to eat a single Mars Bar, and not even a king size one. Oh and yeah, I know, muscle burns more energy than fat just sitting still - but unless you're Arnie, the actual difference is two pretzels (no, it really is).
I trained for and ran two damned half marathons and never lost a kilo - and I am not alone, or even in the minority.
I've been to the gym every morning for ten years, doing cardio and resistance training, and only got fatter.
My wife is a goddamn yoga teacher, and I’m still decidedly un-pretzel-like.
How this happened to you (and me)
You were born with the ability to know how much food you need on any day, at any time. Your parents, and the wider culture, forced upon you 3 meals a day, forced you to eat more than you needed - "clean your plate there's a good boy, there are kids starving in Africa, finish it and you can have some dessert!" You were taught that lunch happens at 1, dinner at 6 or 7, and not to snack when you’re hungry because it will “spoil your appetite.”
Let me translate that. You knew, as a child, what your body needed. You asked for food when you were hungry and stopped eating when you were full. Then your parents unknowingly bullied you into eating too much, then rewarded you with even more food - addictive, sugary food at that. Or maybe they unwittingly fetishised junk food by banning it from the home. Either way, you learned to ignore your body’s signals and indulge your addictions.
You eat too much food because you are habitualised into eating on a schedule, because you have forgotten what it's like to listen to the signals from your body. You eat too much because you are afraid to find out what real hunger feels like.
You are a victim of the obesity epidemic and it truly, genuinely isn’t your fault. But worse, you’re also a victim of the diet industry. You need a revolutionary, self driven, sustainable change; not some smug, muscular prick telling you to pedal faster and eat less. If it was as simple as that, don’t you think EVERYONE WOULD BE THIN? You know Mars Bars make you fat, but you eat it anyway.
There is another way
A way where you enjoy food, where you really get the most from it. A way where you lose weight, yet don't diet and don't feel like you're missing out. A way where you don't need to pretend that you wrote down everything you ate today. A way where you can eat any damned food you like without feeling guilty or pressured or worried about tomorrow.
You do not need to be deprived, miserable or restricted. You don’t need drink smoothies that taste of green or shop in health food stores where everything is brown. You need to do the opposite of the mindless eating we have been taught; you need to relearn how to eat mindfully and consciously.
I've been in one support group, I want to be in another. Are there 4 other guys out there who will try mindful eating with me for one month, try to get at the true cause of our weight problems and sustainably change our relationship with food for good?
I look forward to your replies!