Open letter to Jason: Ideas for more weightloss with less struggle

Jason,



it’s great that you’re doing something about your weight, and it’s even better that you’re motivating so many other people to lose weight, too, through your fatblogging meme.



I hope these thoughts will give you inspiration to try some new directions in your efforts.



Your approach to weight loss seems to me to be too focused on the physical aspects, ignoring the psychology (beyond motivational pep-talk like “you can do it!”).



More importantly, it sounds too much like a struggle.



I believe that you can achieve weight loss with more fun and less struggle. (And I’m not even out to sell you anything. What a missed opportunity ;)



For the record, I lost 12 kilos (from 83 to 71) steadily over the past year. It’s not an insane amount, but it’s still a 15% loss.



What made the difference for me was learning to listen to and feel my body.



What I mean by that is, focus on how you feel in your stomach and the rest of your body when you eat. So much food makes you feel too bloated and stuffed after you’ve eaten it. Certainly if you eat more than you need, you’ll feel stuffed. And then perhaps you quench that feeling by eating even more. Not a great recipe.



If you can fine-tune your sensibility towards how eating and drinking make you feel, try to picture that feeling before you put stuff in your mouth, and then focus on that, rather than how it tastes when you’re about to eat something, then it’s not difficult at all. Then you’ll know to eat only what you need and nothing else, and your body will start to shed the pounds it doesn’t need anymore.



Here are some more lessons I learned:



  • I don’t believe in not eating bread, cheese, pasta and such. Indeed, my first five kilos I lost over 1 month in italy where I had plenty of bread, cheese, pasta, olive oil, gelato, wine, and all the rest of it. Don’t worry so much about the kinds of foods you eat. Worry more about eating rich, flavorful, good quality food.


  • I’ve found that if the food tastes savory and rich (it has all 5 basic tastes in a good balance), I eat less of it. When the food is lacking one of the basic tastes, or is just not very good, I’ll tend to eat more, hoping with each bite that the next bite will have what I’m craving. Use good quality ingredients: Fresh fruit and vegetables, flavorful oils, and plenty of it, good bread, good pasta, good cheese, and all the rest of it.


  • I consider fat-free or low-fat foods downright harmful: They taste less rich, making you eat more to compensate. Again, it sounds counter-intuitive, but I’ve found it to be true over and over again.


  • Make smaller portions. There’s a strong tendency to eat everything on the plate, so put less there in the first place, and take 10-15 minutes after finishing the plate to see if you really need more food. Better quality, but less food.


  • If you’re not hungry, don’t eat! It’s one of those things that are stupid and simple, but it’s really easy to get caught in the “it’s 7 pm so I must eat” trap. Skip a meal, or just have a snack.


  • If you want to have dessert (and I’ve had dessert almost daily while losing weight steadily), don’t eat more of something else to compensate. My mom told me “if you want dessert, you have to finish your plate first”. That’s bollocks. Don’t eat only dessert, of course, and don’t eat dessert if it doesn’t make you feel good. But don’t overeat something else to compensate for dessert. Desserts are not necessarily evil.


  • Focus on your digestion. If you don’t go do the number two at least once a day, you’re not going to lose weight. It has to go somewhere. Your digestion is the fire that consumes what you eat and produce the energy your body needs. It’s your engine, and it needs to operate efficiently. I’ve used green tea to kickstart ti, but more recently I’ve found that a meal consisting of just boiled vegetables and a glass of water (always drink water lukewarm, never cold), or perhaps a clear vegetable soup, can get my digestion going again when it’s stuck. It depends on your body type, and some have better digestion by nature than others. Experiment and see what’s good for your digestion.


  • Go vegetarian for a period, or a few days a week. Meat, fish, and dairy products are tough to digest. Besides, pure veggies actually taste quite nice, if they’re good and fresh, and it’s really hard to overeat.


  • All of the cooking stuff is easier if you’re cooking at home: You can make sure each meal tastes great, you can make portions small, you can make sure the ingredients are rich and fresh, and you don’t have to overeat because you know you can always go grab something in the fridge.


  • I also took a couple months of only eating fruits until noon. I liked it because it got me going in the day with lots of energy and a very light feeling in my stomach and zero chance of overeating for breakfast, making it easier not to overeat for lunch.


  • Do exercise. I just wanted to get that in there. I’ve been running early mornings (6am), which has the added benefit of kick-starting my metabolism. Lately, I’ve been focused more on the Yoga, which probably doesn’t burn as many calories, but is so much better for getting in touch with your body, and it supposedly does give you more exercise than you’d think, and it even exercises your inner organs!


  • Consider your psychology. I believe that a lot of overweight people, myself included, are overweight in part because they absorb experiences in life and stash them away in their bodies. The body acts as a buffer for the mind. Of course there’s fat and calories and biochemistry involved, but so long as the body needs the armor and the buffer, it’s going to keep it, no matter what you try and do to it. So give yourself the time to listen to the emotions that come from your body, as you’re trying to lose weight, and be prepared to examine them, deal with them, and let go of them. For me there were various insecurities and fears, including fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of success. Be prepared to listen to your body. I think this is very important.


The overarching theme that I want to get across, though, is:



Don’t fight. Accept, and let go.



If you’re fighting, you’re working against your your body, not with it. Feel your body, listen to it, accept it, and respect it, and it will tell you what it needs. You need to accept yourself and your body as it is today, right now, before you can begin to change.



Accepting doesn’t mean that you don’t want it to be different. It means that you’re working with it, not against it. Believe me, your body wants to be slim, too, and it wants to tell you how to get there. But if you make it your enemy, it’s going to defend itself, and fight to keep its armor, the fat.



Your pal,



//Lars



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7 comments

Raymond Brigleb

You might also consider "going raw":http://goneraw.com/
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Kevin Scaldeferri

Your dessert comment reminds me of a friend who lost 20lbs on an "ice cream diet". The way it worked was every night he had a (small) bowl of good ice cream. Throughout the day, whenever he was tempted by something he asked himself, "will I enjoy this more than a bowl of ice cream?" Usually the answer was no, so he didn't eat it. These days I'm almost completely vegetarian (fish once or twice a week, other meat maybe once a month) and I agree that it makes me feel healthier overall, but your point about rich and savory food applies. Often I don't feel all that satisfied after eating, and probably go back for seconds more than I should. I'm thinking maybe I should adopt the Indian practice of adding a spoonful of ghee to top most dishes and see if the extra fat satisfies my stomach (at lower caloric cost than a second plateful). Another trick is to spice up your food a bit past where you're usually comfortable. You won't eat as much of something if it's really spicy, and it really gives your metabolism a boost. Just don't go so far with this that you don't enjoy your food anymore.
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@Kevin: Good point with the ghee. I've actually taken to pour some good olive oil over any italian dish -- pizza, pasta, lasagne, bruschetta -- at the plate at the last minute. It really enhances the flavor. Besides, I read somewhere that eating lots of good oil (like about 8 fluid ounces daily) was good for you. I lost the reference, and I might have gotten the number wrong, but I do remember that it was surprisingly much. Supposedly it lubricates your bowels.
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Amen. What you are describing is the exact method I have been using, which has led to a 6kg weightloss since the beginning of the year. That's about 2kg a month, which is fine by me.
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At the end of the day, the only thing that works is eating less. Not even exercise will help if you just eat up the energy expenditure. Stuff the Atkins, Lo-Carb, whatever-diets where the sun doesn't shine. If such trends actually make you eat more (similar to what Lars says) or they land you a degree of malnutrition lacking certain vitamins, enzymes, or fibers, then you haven't accomplished much. You've only changed the problem. Full flavour is the way to go, I agree with Lars completely. Apart from that, constant activity works for me. Not necessarily exercise, just having plenty to do. I often forget to eat, if I'm busy. Btw, olive oil is king in my domain, too. Not sure about the digestive effects but I think it's proven to be anti-inflammatory...helps rheumatism and swelling, to some extent. Do yourselves the favour of mixing olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and a bit of crushed garlic as a salad dressing. My 2½-year old gobbles up green stuff by the acre, when I do it. And that's a stamp of quality if ever there was one.
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There definitely needs to be some FUN in dieting -- after all getting healthy is a life time quest (not a short term period of starvation) -- and definitely have to find ways to satisfy the senses and well as tend to the emotional and mental needs too. The Unofficial Queen of Fatblogging, Lady Rose
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Branimir Dolički

Wait, you've got 71 kg and you consider yourself overweight?
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