On Failures and Yo-Yo Dieters

Sit Ups

Some people can lose weight and keep it off simply by adopting and maintaining good habits. If you fall into this category, then awesome! Just focus on your habits and you’ll be at your goal soon.

For other people, maintaining good habits is probably not enough. Don’t get me wrong, good habits are KEY. They are the absolute most important factor in determining your fitness outcome.

But if you have developed a negative psychological framework with regards to food, movement, and your own self-image, you are fighting an uphill battle. You can help yourself by becoming mindful of your mental framework and taking steps to improve it.

On Failures and Yo Yo Dieters

“Failures” and “Yo Yo Dieters” are people who believe they just can’t win. Two destructive beliefs are most common:

  1. I am failure at dieting and always will be;
  2. Food will always be a struggle

BITCH, just shut the fuck up. You aren’t a failure at dieting. You’re just a person who failed at dieting. Big fucking deal.

Losing weight is HARD. Even for so called “naturally skinny” people.  When your body has fat, it wants to hold on to it. When you don’t eat enough, your body thinks it’s going to die.

Your hot body – it’s the most complicated machine on EARTH. In the known universe even. It’s smarter than your pre-frontal cortex, meaning – it’s smarter than YOU.  It doesn’t want you to lose weight. So you’re not a failure. You’ve been fighting an uphill battle and you haven’t done the right tricks.

…Yet!

And also, no, food will NOT always be a struggle. It will only be a struggle for a LITTLE while, during the period it takes to acquire new habits. After that, it will be easy.

Food is only a struggle because you live in a world of processed foods. You don’t eat like a normal human being should eat, you eat foods that were designed to addict you, and you probably hang out with people who relish in bad food. And yet you wonder why you aren’t where you want to be?

The truth is that you’ve developed habits that are not suited towards being thin. You’ve done this in a world that makes bad habits default. In order to break those habits, you might have to experience a little bit of discomfort. So big deal! The discomfort will pass if you stop DIETING and start living a normal healthy lifestyle of a civilized human being.

But What if I am ALWAYS hungry?

I know what you might be thinking now.

But what if you are one of those people who is always hungry and never satisfied? That is 100% how I used to be. You don’t need an appetite suppressant. You need to stuff yourself with veggies all day, and remove addictive foods from your home and life. You don’t have to ever go hungry, and in fact you don’t even have to lose weight within this time. Within a few weeks, your appetite will begin to change. Within 6 months, you will be a completely different human being. I promise you.

 So no, you aren’t a failure, and food won’t always be a struggle. It’s all a story in your head. Throw it in the garbage where it belongs. If you find yourself thinking these thoughts, just think about how stupid you’re being. You’re not making any sense!

This is Only the Beginning

To be a fit person, you need to think and act like a fit person would. You need to identify personally as a person who values your body. Here are a few tips.

  1. Develop Good Habits. What you do, you become. Fake it at first, then it will become real. Choose one specific good habit, and just do it every day until it becomes second nature. It won’t take long. Beware: Don’t do too much at once. One habit at a time, and I’d recommend you focus on food rather than exercise. A good example: “from now on, I only eat salad for lunch.”
  2. Get Crap Out of the House. Fit people don’t keep crap in the house, and then complain that they can’t stay in shape. You don’t need bread and pasta, so get rid of it. If you have a craving, then you can go to the store or to a restaurant and deal with it then. Not in the house.
  3. Take a Break from Going Out to Eat with Friends. In most places, it’s hard to make healthy choices while going out to eat. So take a break while you develop good habits. It’s only temporary.
  4. Cut Out Alcohol for a Little While. Alcohol = empty calories. You can go a few weeks without drinking. It also affects your sleep quality, which affects your weight. Cut it out, and let it back in after you begin reaching your goals.

If you’ve put your all into developing good habits, and you’re still a failure or a yo-yo dieter, then hey – you tried your best. And I guess your best wasn’t good enough…

…Or maybe consider that your failure was a lesson in what DOESN’T work. Starving yourself and counting calories might work for some, but it’s not sustainable for everyone. Implementing one healthy habit at a time is a universal path to lasting success.

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Your Friends and Family are Stupid

Romantic Love

Enough about love. Let’s talk about hate.

The People You Love are Killing You

Some people are fortunate enough to be surrounded by people with healthy habits. Most of us fall into a different category.

Being fit takes work. And if the people in your life support your efforts, then that is a beautiful thing. If not, it might be time to make some very difficult changes.

Failure to Respect Boundaries

Some people will  never respect your boundaries.

Maybe it’s your friends who tell you to “live a little” while pushing a plate of nachos in your face. It could be your colleagues who tell you, unprompted, that they’d rather be “fat and happy” than deprive themselves. Perhaps you have an Italian grandmother, who despite your morbid obesity, insists that you’ll starve to death if you don’t have another meatball.  And also, don’t forget your coat.

Losing weight is so hard. Your body is fighting you, your friends are fighting you, and maybe even nana is fighting you.

For me, I couldn’t do it without enforcing my boundaries. These people must be classified as “Haters” and removed from your life, temporarily, while you establish good habits.

Don’t Shun Nana

Ok, when it comes to nana – don’t shun her.

Just put on your mental blinders. When she offers you a meatball, don’t fight. Just change the subject. Then do it again next time, and again next time. Nana is probably so old she won’t even remember.

And Nana is your grandma. She’s not god. She can’t make you eat the meatball. She can barely even lift a newspaper. Deep down, you want that fucking meatball. So don’t blame nana, who can barely even see without her bifocals.

Your Family is Nana

Nana is a metaphor. I’m not even Italian.

Nana represents all the people who think you’re beautiful just the way you are, and who want to stuff the shit out of you because they lived through the great depression.

Nanas of the world are old as hell, and they’re stubborn. You can’t change them. But you can’t let them change you.

Don’t shun your nanas. Just ignore their efforts. They brought you into this world, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat what they offer. Go ahead and break their hearts. We all have nanas. Your nana will be offended, but she won’t be uniquely offended. Disappointing grandma is just an unavoidable fact of life.

And Then There are The Others

If a person is not a nana in your life, and yet they are negatively impacting your weight loss efforts, just do this: drop them!

Temporarily, maybe. Permanently, maybe. Who cares? Once you’re hot, everyone will want to be your friend.

Why so harsh? Because people in your own age group should have the mental flexibility to respect your goals and boundaries. If they don’t, they are losers – or worse yet, jealous haters.

People who love you want you to be happy. When they see you struggling, they want to help you. All the others are just bags of douche.

And Then There Are Your children and Spouse

I love when people who are overweight say they MUST keep crap in the house because the kids like it. Or their husband likes it.

Fit people don’t feed poison to the people they love and care about. Just because your kids and husband are skinny now, doesn’t mean they’ll always be. And it doesn’t mean that unhealthy foods aren’t affecting them negatively.

This is YOUR life, and those are YOUR children and YOUR spouse. Set some parameters, and stop using them as an excuse. I can’t even imagine feeding unhealthy food to my dog, let alone my human family.

This doesn’t mean be a dictator. But it does mean TRY your best. And ACTUALLY try.

Your husband  is entitled to make his own choices. And your kids, depending on their ages,  are also entitled to do the same. But young kids won’t starve to death if you don’t feed them garbage. And older kids can buy junk food with their own money if that’s what they want. Set a good example by living it. And don’t be a nana to a younger generation.

On Stupid Lies

People who love you (and people who hate you) will fill your head with stupid “facts”. Facts about life, about diets, even facts about you.

Examples:
1. Oh, our family just has slow metabolisms
2. Oh, you’re naturally big. Not like your sister – she’s slim
3. Oh, you shouldn’t eat avocados, they’re fattening. Here, have some cake.
4. Everyone who loses weight will just gain it back, plus more.

These aren’t really facts. They are silly opinions that have been filtered through these people’s various biases. All they amount to is a giant pile of BS.

You don’t have a slow metabolism. Have you ever noticed that people with slow metabolisms are usually the same people who eat crap all day and night?

And no, you’re not “naturally big.” YES you probably should eat avocados.  And no, you’re not destined to gain back everything you lose.

In Sum

The people you love AFFECT you. The people who surround you AFFECT you. Both with their actions, and with their words. But they don’t own you.

So this Valentine’s Day – be careful of the people you love the most. You might be using them as an excuse, or they might just be killing you.

Now a question

How do YOU deal with difficult family and friends?

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Can a Manicure Help You Lose Weight?

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By nature, I am disgusting. I just need to internet to know.

Grooming, to me, is the ultimate Sisyphean struggle. In the instant one stray hair is removed, another 6 pop up. My latest pedicure was consistently three months ago.

Grey hair? I call them my “wisdom strands.”
Werewolf legs? Just part of my “January Coat” (a term coined, btw, by the same Laura who brought us the Pretty Purple Smoothie ala Laura).

Whatever. I’m gross.  Because entropy always wins

But here is what I find.

When I take more pride in grooming habits unrelated to weight loss, I also tend to eat better. In fact, I treat myself better in general.

When I feel fresh to death, so to speak, I feel unstoppable. My freshness has no limit. I’m like a human breath mint.

And when I’m feeling good, I’m doing good for myself. And this makes sense. Studies have shown that the way you dress affects not only your behavior, but even your hormone levels.

Studies?

Have you ever experienced a day where you just feel “on”?

When you’re feeling that way, you’re living a fuller life. You’re less likely to turn to food for comfort or out of boredom or anxiety. You’re feeling sexy and you know it.

So could taking steps to feel “on” more often be beneficial to your mental and physical health? Could a regular routine of manicures increase your general sassiness factor so as to promote weight loss ?

I also wonder – could one facial per month multiply your hotness factor by 15, thereby turning you into a sex god?

I spent about 45 seconds on Google searching for studies that look for correlations between grooming efforts and weight loss. I came up empty. But I will continue my search.

In the meantime, what do you think?
Do you feel that putting more effort into your appearance has any relation to the choices you make throughout the day?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Temptation Bundling

Woman exercising on treadmill in gym

 

In yesterday’s post, I posed a challenge for those who struggle to find gym motivation.

I  love psychology. And I believe that pairing gym visits with a particularly engaging story can help you not only find the motivation you need to show up, but also cause you to associate more positive feelings with the gym in the future.

The challenge is a form of “Temptation Bundling.”

Willpower is Half Motivation

Willpower isn’t just willpower. Really, it’s a combined term for two aspects of a human trait:
1. The strength of a desire; and
2. The willingness and ability to actually perform a concrete action in furtherance of that desire

If you know absolutely nothing about math, but know that you’ll get $500 if you learn Trig by next year, you might learn it.

But if you know absolutely nothing about math, but you know that your first born will be killed if you can’t figure it out in the same time frame, the odds of you learning it are much higher.

It’s an oversimplification to chalk this all up to dopamine, but certainly it plays a role. Motivation is related to attention. And attention is related to things that matter to you. Like your first-born not being thrown into a river.

Stack the Deck in Your Favor 

Things that matter to you can improve your willpower by increasing your attention, and therefore your motivation.

So make a conscious effort to make mundane things matter more. This is how you stack the deck in your favor.

It will help you in two different ways:

[1] Activation Energy. Increased attention provides the initial interest and activation energy you need to get started and get over initial hurdles.

[2] Habit Formation  Performing any activity will begin your brain on the journey of creating a habit. Doing it in an interested state will likely make it stick better.  As they say, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Soon enough, you’ll enjoy a semi-automatic behavior, the familiarity of which will bring you comfort and joy.  You just need a little help getting there.

Use Temptation Bundling

Temptation bundling is just one hack of many that you can use to increase your motivation, and thus, your willpower. Bundle an enjoyable activity with a less enjoyable one, and keep the association strict. 

In order to do this effectively, you’ll have to know yourself.

For example, I love audiobooks, and I don’t have much of an attention span for television. I like certain shows, but I can’t focus on a show while exercising. You might experience the exact opposite.

If you LOVE a particular show, then ONLY watch that show at the gym. I personally do the same with audiobooks.

More Examples of Temptation Bundling for Fitness

  1. Make a pact with a friend you don’t see often, but whose company you thoroughly enjoy.  For the next three months, you are only going to hang out at the gym. This is you time.
  2. Listen to your favorite audiobook only while exercising.
  3. Watch your favorite TV show only while exercising.
  4. Have a small piece of chocolate every time you exercise! And at no other time.
  5. Splurge on cute gym clothes, so that whenever you are at the gym you feel like the hottest ticket
  6. If you are motivated by physical challenges, then spend the first 2 minutes of your workout racing yourself on the treadmill and try to beat your old times.

Many people do these things without even realizing. Often, these are the people who experience the most success.

If you don’t do these things naturally, then it’s very important to be concrete in your temptation bundling rule and action.

The only person you are trying to help here is yourself, and a concrete behavior is what you need to get the habit formation going.

If you have any other tips and tricks, I’d love to hear. And I’d also love to hear how any of these tips work out for you.

Happy Bundling 🙂

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Self-control…the saga continues

Self-control and food always remind me of a very dramatic telenovela. “I love you food!” “I hate you food!” “Pizza, don’t leave me. I was just overreacting!”

Omg, what about those dreadful 2am booty calls…you walk to the pantry and just eat everything.

How do we break the cycle from overeating, eating after a meal, eating when you are not hungry, and eating like crap when you have that urge?

Here are some ideas that have helped me:

 

  • Get rid of all the goodies in the pantry. Remember, you are eating clean now. Stock the pantry with cans of tuna. I promise you, it won’t be as appealing as a bag of chips at 2am. If you are desperate enough to open a can of tuna and eat it, well, I won’t judge you and good for you, keep up the high protein intake! You are welcome for this life hack.
  • I know there is a big debate on eating breakfast v not eating breakfast. For me- eating breakfast helps. I like a protein rich breakfast like eggs or a protein shake. Eggs are awesome because they keep me fuller longer and less likely to graze and snack between breakfast and lunch. Stop with the empty calories, you don’t need them! A hardboiled egg, serving of oatmeal (slow digesting carb) and some berries or 2 tablespoons almond butter or natural peanut butter on a whole wheat toast with a fruit. I’d say you are a morning champ and you get a gold star in my book!
  • Grazing is way different than having a nutritious small meal or snack. Grazing to me is empty calories and not satisfying. Eating a bag of pretzels if you are hungry is not the solution. I always have three meals a day and two snacks a day. Sometimes three snacks if I train that day (my trainer turns me into a ravenous beast). Space out your meals and snacks accordingly so you have no time to be super hungry and no time to sit and think about other foods. If your body is satisfied, your mind will be too. Awesome snack ideas: Serving of nuts, hummus and veggies, cottage cheese and fruits, I know this may sound weird, but cottage cheese and chickpeas or another type of bean. Someone gave me this idea a while back and it works. The combo is filled with fiber and protein.
  • Drink, drink, drink and drink some more water. If you are not drinking this minute, your gold star has been taken back and I am very disappointed with you. You must stay hydrated, water will keep you fuller and longer in between your meals, it will help flush out the toxins. “But Rachel, I am so full… I can’t drink anymore!” Excuse me, why are you complaining? You just said you were full. If you are full, there is no reason to be snacking. Oh, and none of that sugary stuff. Please, I know you are smarter than that.
  • I know you are craving a little piece of chocolate or a bag of chips… but hear me out before you indulge. Many years ago, the great Oprah was discussing bad food habits. The Specialist on the show said, it takes 21 days to break the habit. That always stuck with me. I know it will be hard, addictions are hard to control but you can do this. A few months back I discovered a protein ice cream (sorry folks, I will not be telling you what it is because I am here to help you break the habit not start one), while it wasn’t that bad for me (low in sugar and calories), it also did not provide me with the nutrition I needed that you would get from a bowl of let’s say, grilled chicken and veggies. It became a meal replacement and I found myself craving it 24-7 and eating the ice cream over “real” food. I gave myself a deadline to finish what was in the freezer and as of January 1st, I will kick the habit. The first few days were awful and I was having a hard time deciding what to eat because I was not interested in much but it got easier and I don’t even think about it anymore. Feed your body= feed your mind.
  • Set a goal. I feel like looking forward to something always helps control my actions. For example, my Husband and I are going on vacation in a few months. I want to be as fit, healthy, and hot as possible. Sorry in advance, babe, but I will be clothing shopping before the trip.
  • Sleeping is important. I know you all love sleep. I am still trying to catch up to all the lost sleep as a child. Why did I ever fight sleep? Sleep is one of my BFF’s next to my slow cooker. I can put food in the slow cooker and then go to sleep. If sleep and the slow cooker were actual people, I think they’d also be best friends. I noticed if I don’t get good sleep, I crave carbs. If you deny yourself sleep, the evil hormone, Ghrelin attacks and handcuffs you to a box of donuts. I know donuts are so delicious but let’s say this out loud, all together now, and “We-are-stronger-than-this. We –are-kicking-the-habit.”
  • Eat something fermented. How about those kimchi pancakes from my previous post or a pickle? Fermented foods help stop sugar cravings. Drink greens. Green smoothies are all the rage! Don’t you want to be one of the cool kids? Nutrient rich foods increase energy levels and curb sugary cravings. I love this book http://www.amazon.com/10-Day-Green-Smoothie-Cleanse-Smith/dp/1501100106 and the recipes. Even though it is a 10 day cleanse, the Author does state that this can be a snack or a meal replacement option. You do not need to do a full cleanse!
  • Protein and good fats help keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Have a healthy portion of protein, veggies and a good fat like avocado for lunch.
  • My wise mom once said, “Are you sure you want to eat that? Five seconds of pleasure is a lifetime in the hips.” Ok, fine, I’ll admit it, I ate whatever it was and it did go to my hips and I am still working it off… but we all learn from our mistakes. Why are moms always right?
  • Please pack a high protein snack after you work out and eat it within half hour of working out. No, that McDonald’s on the way home is not a mirage, it’s real and it’s testing you. Just keep driving. Again, let’s say this out loud, all together now, and “We-are-stronger-than-this. We –are-kicking-the-habit.” Easy food for after the gym: protein shake, protein bar, beef jerky, or nuts. Doesn’t require refrigeration, filling, and easy to consume while driving home.

 

What do you do to help curb your cravings? I am always open to new ideas.

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The Serial Challenge for Gym Haters

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no puppy, you cannot come to the gym.

Serial.  An award winning non-fiction murder mystery podcast. It tells a gripping true story over a series of episodes. You cannot stop listening.

If you haven’t heard it yet, then I have an idea. Start listening to it.
…..But only while you’re at the gym.

This idea occurred to me while listening to another podcast. It’s an episode of Freakonomics called “When willpower isn’t enough.” On this episode, guest Katherine Milkman talked about the concept of “Temptation Bundling.” Milkman is an assistant professor Wharton School at Penn. She has done some interesting research on motivation and choices.

Ok, so maybe Temptation Bundling is obvious. But it works. You can make terrible stuff slightly less terrible by bundling it with good stuff. It’s something many of us do without even noticing.

This challenge is basically just that. But it has the additional benefit of being concrete. So you can make a commitment to simply just do it.

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be like Shia

The Challenge

If you don’t go to the gym because you simply hate going, then this is for you.

Don’t worry about what you do at the gym. Lift weights, do cardio, whatever. Who honestly cares?

You are more than welcome to go easy on yourself. The point is just to get moving. 

Here’s the challenge:

  1. Download the “Serial” Podcast
  2. Pick at least two specific days to go to the gym per week
  3. Spend at least one hour at the gym per visit, listening to the podcast
  4. You are NOT allowed to listen to the Podcast unless you’re at the gym
  5. The challenge is over once you finish the first season.

If, after the challenge, you still hate the gym, then no bid deal. Your challenge is complete, and you did some good for your body.

If, on the other hand, you learn to love the gym, then YAY. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of activation energy to get started. You’ll just have to try it and see 🙂

If you do this challenge, OR if you have another idea for a good podcast that might work, let me know.

Happy Gyming.

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Get Rid of Your Freaking Clothes

Maintaining a safe distance from your “comfortable” aka “fat” clothes should be treated the same way you’d stay away from the lady clipping her fingernails on the subway: the greater the distance, the better off you are.

I can relate to the need to hang to hang on to your unwanted clothing way beyond its need to exist on your life. This post comes from someone who can justify any purchase through sheer force of imagination.

The thought process goes like this. First you wonder, “How great would this look if I happened to lose 5 pounds while simultaneously finding myself in a casual dining situation in Morocco?” And before you can answer yourself with a resounding, “so great!” You realize that the purchase has already been made.

FullSizeRenderIdentify and destroy bad patterns of behavior. 

It’s time for you to release your cottony victims from your life, closet, or miscellaneous vacuum sealed bag.

Here are a few ways you can convince yourself it’s ok to let go:

• Watch Hoarders
• When you donate your clothes, they go to someone less fortunate and that feels good!
• Curse them with bad luck so you don’t want them anyway
• Wear it to an event where a lot of pictures are taken because god forbid you are twice tagged on social media wearing the same thing to two different events
• Witness a crime in your fat clothes

Clothes swap!

If, due to extreme poverty or a generalized hatred of shopping, you truly feel you have either your fat clothes or plastic bags to choose from – that’s cool.

Start a clothing swap with friends! This is a good way to not only pass on some sweet threads to a deserving peer, but also to have a meeting of the minds.

Those who are further along in their weight loss journey are also passing their motivation on to you. Perhaps your bestie’s pants are only a temporary stop before you step down to another size – free stuff! no commitments! One of my favorite things about pants is that they don’t judge. You can use them as much as you need to and drop them like a hot potato as you continue to drop the amount of hot potatoes you eat.

May your fridges and closets be wisely stocked!

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Five Things to Drink Instead of Diet Coke

Writing this post feels a bit like speaking at my own funeral. I love Diet Coke so much. Diet Coke is my friend.

But fuck Diet Coke, because it’s my greatest addiction.

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But I love you Diet Coke. I was just playing. Come back 😥

Kicking the Habit

I’ve tried so many times to kick the habit. I failed, I succeeded, and failed.

I kid you not that I had serious withdrawals. If I didn’t drink Diet Coke by 1 PM, my lower back would start hurting. I would get a terrible headache. Wtf is that about.

An End to Extreme Approaches

I used to take an extreme approach to quitting the great Diet Coke. “Starting today,” my dumbass would say, “no Diet Coke for all of eternity.”

And by 1 PM my back would hurt. And by day three, you’d find me underneath an overpass, injecting Diet Coke directly into my thigh.

I’ve stopped taking this approach. Quitting my dearest friend is too hard.

Instead, when I want a Diet Coke, I just try to drink something else. And sometimes, just sometimes, I have a fucking Diet Coke. And it’s glorious.

Five Alternatives to Diet Coke

1. Water. Need I say more?

2. Green Tea. Usually, water doesn’t scratch the itch. And oddly enough, coffee doesn’t scratch the itch for me either. I’ve never been a huge tea drinker, but Green Tea somehow does the trick for me. And after substituting Green Tea for Diet Coke a few times, it actually became much easier. It’s a habit thing. If you don’t like Green Tea, maybe you’ll like  Black Tea or one of those zesty orange flavored teas.

3. Coffee. Maybe coffee will work for you. Coffee is delicious, and it has health benefits. The coffee at my office is disgusting and burnt.  It gives me heartburn. So choose a coffee that is not the coffee at my office.

4. Vitamin Water Zero. Ok so arguably this is just as terrible for you as Diet Coke. I don’t know, it probably is. But I find it less addicting. And I guess it has vitamins. So sometimes I just want a Diet Coke and I have a vitamin water instead. Then I don’t want Diet Coke anymore.

5. Crack. Sometimes, you need something a bit harder. Crack is probably equally addicting to Diet Coke, but you won’t find it at Duane Reade. Once you develop a full blown crack habit, your Diet Coke habit won’t seem so bad. It’s all about perspective.

I can’t remember if crack is one of those drugs that makes you skinny, but try it for yourself and let me know.

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Five Awesome Books for Fitness

If you’re smart like me, you read a lot of books. And if you’re sexy like me, some of those books are about health and nutrition.

Here’s the thing – I want to look good. But what I want more than that is to be fully immortal.

So these aren’t diet books. They’re books about health. And some of them contain new or different thinking which might be controversial. But they’re all interesting.

  1. Eating on the Wild Side” by Jo Robinson. I fucking love this book. So will you please read it? I don’t know. Maybe you’ll find it boring.The premise is that even if you eat fruits and veggies, our modern varieties are not necessarily giving you optimum nutrition, because we’ve bred out some really good stuff. Each chapter covers a category of produce. The author provides the following info:
    1. the history of the crop;
    2. the genetic history;
    3. how to pick the most nutritious variety;
    4. how to prepare it for optimum nutrition;
    5. how to store it for optimum nutrition;
    6. interesting facts that will surprise you

The book is fantastic. Its just brilliant. Even if you’re not so into nutrition, it’s just a super interesting book about plants. I listened to it on audiobook maybe three times. While exercising, of course 😉

2.  “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. Even though it’s not so old, this book is basically a classic. The info is so basic, and the author is just so smart. The premise is to just eat fucking food. It’s great.

Pollan rails against “nutritionism” and tells us why we shouldn’t really trust what we get from nutritional studies. He gives me lots of fuel for my anti- FDA government conspiracy fire. And yet he’s not at all a conspiracy theorist. He’s just a smartie pants.

3. “Good Calories, Bad Calories”  by Gary Taubes. This one is a classic in nutrition circles. Just give it a read.

4. “Grain Brain” by Dr. David Perlmutter.

This is where my list starts to get a bit controversial. Dr. Perlmutter is kind of one of those “hippie” doctors.  You may not agree with him. I tend to agree with a lot of what he says, and I think he’s very careful in his claims.

This book isn’t about weight loss. It’s about how our grain-heavy diet affects our brain. He also tells us how to eat to best preserve our brain function into old age. Hint: it’s not bagels.

I think it’s a great book and an interesting book.

5. “The Fast Diet” by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

Hate the title. Love the book.

This isn’t a diet book. It’s a primer to Intermittent Fasting, and it takes a very gentle approach at that.

Basically, this book touts the benefits of greatly reducing your caloric intake for two days a week.  So it’s not really about “fasting” per se. But if you don’t know much about fasting, this book is a great start. It’s very approachable. And I love that it gives both a male and female perspective on fasting.

But wait! There’s more!!

If you just so happen to be an ignorant fool who doesn’t want to read a book, you are in luck. The Fast Diet was based on a BBC Documentary, also featuring Dr. Mosley. You can check it out on youtube here. It’s great.

While you’re at it, check out my list of awesome documentaries here.

Happy Reading 😀

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A Way Out: Eating Without Counting

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This plate contains meat, mac and cheese, and starchy veggies prepared in oil. But notice how it’s mostly veggies. And underneath is entirely greens.

I’m about to describe how I eat, in general.

I think that for most people, a diet like mine will allow them to lose weight – even without exercise. And yes, even without counting calories.

All you have to do is listen to your appetite.

This is basically it:

  • This is KEY: I’d guess that 3/4 of my diet is veggies, by volume. I eat as many veggies as I want. Many greens, but I don‘t shy away from starchy vegetables.
  • I dress my salads however I want – sometimes including croutons, seeds etc. I personally only like a small amount of dressing, and usually no dressing at all.
  • I eat a small amount of meat several times a week. Many weeks I don’t eat any meat at all.
  • If I’m not eating a TON of greens for a particular meal, I use small plates. Large plates are ridiculous.
  • I eat lots of soups, usually broth based (rarely creamy)
  • I eat lots of eggs, every day. With a little bit of olive or coconut oil.
  • I’m not big on dairy, but I have it when I want it
  • I try to stay away from refined foods
  • I eat not too many beans, but probably more than most people
  • I eat 1 or 2 squares of chocolate every day
  • Some days, I drink wine
  • Occasionally, I eat bad stuff

The foods I eat most often are:
greens, eggs, sweet potatoes, avocados, tomatoes and onions

On Meal Frequency (and this is important!!):
 I eat as often as I want, but I NEVER eat simply because it’s meal time. Some days I eat very often, and some days not at all. I eat completely according to my appetite.

On Physical Activity:
I stay active, but only because I enjoy it. I don‘t do harsh exercises. I walk often, hike often, and sometimes jog.

Three caveats to all of the above

1. Losing weight is different than maintaining weight. What I’ve described, to me, is a healthy diet – based on what we know now. If you eat like this, and according to your own appetite, then your weight should take care of itself, barring some other major issues.

If you go from eating processed foods to eating like this – I imagine you’ll lose weight without counting calories. But if you always eat like this, and you haven’t been losing weight, then of course you won’t. For you, adding exercise or cutting out some calories might work.

2. Getting from A to B is a trip. If you rely on processed foods and carbs for the majority of your needs, it could be very difficult to suddenly transition to a diet like this. You don‘t want to torture yourself, and yes – it may take time. I suggest adding vegetables to your diet first, rather than taking anything away. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy and prefer eating this way. It just took some getting used to.

3. This diet makes me feel full and satisfied. If this doesn’t make you feel full and satisfied, it’s not going to work for you.  This is why I suggest adding rather than subtracting. Fill up on veggies that you love, and begin to gingerly try ones you don‘t care for. You might find that you get to an ideal weight without even trying.

Sometimes, Counting Calories is Good.

In some situations, counting calories might make sense. For more on that, check out my post On Counting Calories.

Happy not-counting 😀

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