When I was a kid, my father used to tell me how easy it was to stop smoking.
“Nothing to it”, he’d scoff, “I’ve done it at least a dozen times”.
Which reminds me of weight loss.
Most people have had the experience of losing the same ten pounds (or more) as often as my father quit smoking. Keeping it off- that’s the trick.
But it’s not nearly as hard a trick as you might think.
In fact, half the members of the National Weight Control Registry– a database of about 5,000 people who’ve successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off for years- report that maintaining weight is actually easier than losing it. (Most of the rest say the two tasks are about equal.)
The key to losing weight naturally is to make a few adjustments in the way you think about it.
Most weight loss goals aren’t unrealistic- the timetables are. If you adjust your timetable, the whole task looks a lot more doable. Remember, becoming a millionaire is a doable goal- roughly 2.6 million people in the US alone have done it. But becoming a millionaire overnight almost never happens, despite what late night infomercials would have you believe. Forget looking great in a bikini by Friday and start thinking about next summer. When you adjust your time frame and your task becomes less overwhelming.
By far the biggest obstacle to weight loss is hunger, cravings and temptations. But even these are easier to beat than you might think. It all comes down to food selection. Processed carbs- including most cereals, pastas and breads, not to mention sugar-laden desserts- create their own cravings. That’s because they raise blood sugar quickly causing the body to release a surge of the “fat storing” hormone insulin.
High levels of insulin make fat burning a virtual impossibility. Not for nothing do they call insulin “the hunger hormone”. High blood sugar and high levels of insulin put you on what I like to call “the craving express”. It’s a blood sugar roller coaster that never ends well.
The secret to getting off that roller coaster is to choose foods that create healthy satiety- a feeling of fullness and satisfaction that lasts a long time. This means protein, fat and fiber. There’s no need to fear fat- it actually makes you full! Sugar, on the other hand, makes you overeat. Stock up on every vegetable under the sun, coat with some nice butter or olive oil, and top off with a side of protein. It’s a perfect, blood-sugar controlling meal, and it will keep you from digging into the Haagen Daaz.
Some favorite “satiety” foods and snacks include:
- Grass fed beef
- String cheese and apples
- Celery and almond butter
- Tomato and buffalo cheese (with a splash of extra virgin olive oil)
A key to eating less and feeling satisfied longer is to start eating beans on a regular basis. I find this to be the best weight loss secret in the world, and I frequently start the day with eggs and a homemade dish of kidney beans (right from the can) mixed with some cut up vegetables and stir-fried in butter or Barlean’s coconut oil. It’s a bonanza from an energy and blood sugar point of view, and you’ll hardly ever find yourself overeating at lunch.
While no supplements (or drugs, for that matter) will cause fat to fall off your hips, certain supplements may support your metabolism in ways that will make it easier to lose fat if you’re also eating right.
One of them is chromium, which helps our friend insulin do it’s job better and may help control blood sugar.
Another is green tea extract (also known as EGCG) which has a mild but noticeable effect on metabolism. And fish oil is always a good idea, not only for it’s myriad of health benefits, but because it helps reduce inflammation which can be a big obstacle to losing weight.
Finally, fiber supplements like psyillium husks help keep blood sugar on an even keel, keeping cravings at bay. Even better, sprinkle a product like Barlean’s Forti-Flax on smoothies and salads- you’ll get not only the fiber, but also the healthful plant lignans found in the flax.
The key to natural weight loss is to eat real food. Food your grandmother would have recognized as real. Food without a barcode. Food as close as possible to that which- thousands of years ago- you could have hunted, fished for, gathered or plucked.
Relax, go slow, and turn off the informercials. Cut the white stuff out, take good supplements and move around a lot. And check out our Summer Diet Boot Camp Challenge.
It’s a great way to begin the summer, and best of all, it’s a plan you can actually stick with.