Survive the Zombie Apocalypse!
Today I wondered why it was so hard for me to lose weight, so I thought I’d have a frank conversation with my body. If anyone knew how to help me lose weight wouldn’t it be my body? Unfortunately the conversation didn’t go quite like I thought it would….
“So body, I’ve noticed we are getting a little chunky. Maybe we should get in gear and lose some weight, what do you think?” I asked.
“I hear you, isn’t it great that we’ve managed to pack away some pounds, but I definitely don’t think we should lose any weight. If anything it looks to me like we could waste away at any time. Just imagine what would happen if we didn’t have so much food – got to be prepared” my body replied.
“Look, we need lose some weight. Gaining weight just isn’t healthy. You have to help me!” I said.
“No and do” said my body “after all that “Zombie Apocalypse” has been in the news, and a few extra pounds now will make us better able to survive”.
“That makes absolutely no sense. Everyone knows the first rule in a “Zombie Apocalypse” is Cardio and you know we have that licked….” I reply.
“Look I like you, but let’s face it you have no idea what we need. We better just let me handle this” my body says.
Yes that’s right - back-sass from my body!
This looks like a funny conversation that I had with myself, but it is really similar to the dialogue we have every day with our “unconscious” self. Our body just does not like to lose weight. It is constantly worried about the next “Zombie Apocalypse” or the next great famine, but these events just don’t happen in America today. Our own body fights to keep us fat, even if that means making us obese and prone to all varieties of serious diseases (like diabetes…).
Luckily we can fight back, we can use some logic and compel our bodies to change in ways we want it too. Unfortunately our body has a good point; it is hard to know what changes we really need to make to get healthier. Do we eat no fat? Or is it no carbs? Is it all about calories or not? There is a lot of conflicting guidance out there, so what should we do to start losing weight before the next “Zombie Apocalypse” (after all cardio is easier if you don’t have to carry around that spare tire)?
First let me say that I have tried low-fat diets, low carb diets, counting calories, measuring every portion, and the truth is I have lost weight with every one of them. Yes that is right; I’m saying they all have worked for me! Unfortunately I have also lost the same 10 or 15 pounds about a dozen times…. The problem is not necessarily the technique we use to lose weight, but our overall approach to dieting. Most people have a goal, like “I want to lose 15 pounds in the next three months”. What they don’t have is a plan to make a permanent lifestyle change, and so when we reach our goal (if we even make it…) we go back to the same bad habits that made us fat in the first place. Our bodies just “wait us out”, and then fattens us back up.
So what can we do to really lose weight? First, take a long-term view. In Claudia Dreifus’ recent New York Times article “A Mathematical Challenge to Obesity” researchers noted that REAL changes in your body occur slowly, but that if you can stick to your diet long enough (about a year is what the researchers found was necessary for lasting changes in body weight) that it will in fact lead to a lasting change in bodyweight. That’s right if you can hang on long enough your body will “reset” to a lower weight. Unfortunately the same research indicates some other disturbing findings: it is easier for obese people to gain weight (i.e. if you eat 100 extra calories a day and you are fat, you will gain more weight than if you do the same thing and are thin). It really is harder for fatter people to lose weight (even when they do everything right!).
If you want to lose weight, it is easier to make smaller changes over a longer time (instead of drastic changes for a short period – to get rapid weight loss). Stick with some basics that can help you stick with your diet for the long-term:
1) Drink plenty of water – it will help you eat less overall.
2) Eat Protein with every meal – it takes longer to digest and you’ll stay fuller longer (and eat less because it).
3) Eat high Fiber foods – Fiber slows digestion and can help limit spike in blood sugar that drive cravings.
4) Make small changes that you won’t notice in your diet (for example, substituting Light Wheat bread for your sandwich for lunch at work will save you 40-60 calories and won’t feel like you’ve made any change at all).
5) Remember rule #1 to surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – cardio (really adding any sort of exercise will work).
A few minor changes and you can get your body to let you lose weight, without all the back-sass!