Like a lot of people, I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life, typically gaining weight during stressful times and then losing it and repeating the cycle. I was a fat kid, fat adult at times and slim adult at other times.
I’m not really what you would call a yo-yo dieter. I would typically walk around at about 200 pounds and get upward of 230 before making changes. So I never had extreme shifts but do know what it’s like to gain and lose weight.
Most recently I discovered several things that I think can help anyone looking to lose weight and keep it off.
Forget Everything You Know
First and foremost, you have to forget everything you know about weight loss. There is an incredible amount of contradictory and suboptimal information out there. Forget about counting calories, separating eggs whites from yolks, eating lean meats, stocking up on packaged snacks, having six meals a day or drinking a gallon of water. And completely forget about the food pyramid, it’s almost exactly upside down.
Don’t Exercise to Lose Weight
Next, forget about exercise. Exercises is great for your health and fineness, but it is not a good weight loss strategy. Running an hour on a treadmill will barley burn off one piece of cake. So instead, you need to focus on eating right.
Eating right is not about dieting. A diet is short term and leads to yo-yo weight loss where you lose 10 pounds only to gain 20 pounds later. You need to adopt new way of eating that can be part of a sustainable lifestyle.
Aim at a Perfect Meal
Now when it comes to eating correctly in a sustainable way you have to understand that you’re not going to eat perfectly all the time. That’s imposable and setting an imposable goal is the same thing as failing. So what you want to do is imagine an ideal meal, and then adjust what is available to you to get as close to that meal as possible.
So our ideal meal is a steak and salad with a little olive oil and vinegar. Very simple and healthy. Now imagine all we have available is a fast food so we order a burger and fries. Dropping the fries gets us one step closer to that ideal meal, that means the burger by itself is better than the burger and fries. And if you get rid of the bun, then you have a beef patty along with some vegetables. That’s pretty close to that ideal meal.
Use this method with all your meals. Even if you can’t totally eliminated some items, reducing the portion gets you closer to that ideal meal. So if you’re having pasta, try eating half of what you normally do and double up on the vegetables to fill your plate. Get your burrito in a bowl instead on of a tortilla. Get thin crust pizza to reduce the dough.
Whatever you eat, just ask yourself, “What can I do to get it closer to that simple steak and salad?” Every little adjustment you make will add up do big changes.
To help you find your own way to healthy weight loss I’m going to give you some heuristics. A heuristic is a kind of rule of thumb that will help you discover what works best for you. These are not absolutely true, but they’re simple and close enough to being true that following them will help you find your way.
Eat whole foods
Eat complete, whole foods and stay away from low fat, low calorie packaged foods.
Don’t try to separate eggs yolks from whites. Don’t try to trim fat from your steak or remove the skin from your chicken. Have whole fat milk, whole fat cottage cheese and regular salad dressing.
Those low fat, low calorie foods always have additives that you don’t need. Stick with whole foods, the fewer the ingredients the better.
Eat an apple, not apple sauce. Eat a baked potato, not French fries. Have a steak, not pastrami.
Don’t eat anything that comes in a box
Don’t eat anything that comes in a box. Shop the perimeter of your supermarket. That’s where you’ll find the produce, dairy and butcher sections. Stay away from the pasta, crackers, cereals, cakes cookies, chips and all the other boxed stuff that sits on the inner shelves.
This includes breads and and other baked goods like pastries, even though they don’t come in boxes.
Basically any food that was prepared by people in whites coats, you want to stay away from it. Instead, stick to foods prepared to you by people in overalls.
Don’t eat sweets
Don’t eat sweets. Don’t add sugar to your coffee or tea. Eat the occasional fruit, particularly berries and have some Greek yogurt to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Plants aren’t Magic
Understand that plants aren’t magic. As a matter of fact, most allergies and autoimmune diseased are caused by specific plants. So don’t be fooled by packaged foods and smoothies that boast about being plant based. Being plant based is completely meaningless.
Eat meat. Plenty of meat from a variety of sources. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, even wild game. White meat, dark meat, steak, ribs, ground up. Eat it all. Grilled or baked.
The only meats to avoid is breaded and fried meats.
Drink water. Unsweetened coffee and teas are good too, but stay away from soda, juice, milk and other sugary drinks.
Be a Little Hungry
At the end of the day you should be a little hungry. Not starving, but wanting to eat something. Embrace that feeling, that feeling means you’re losing weight so that’s exactly what you want to be feeling before you go to bed.
Your Body Will Adapt
There’s a good chance that this will be a big change for you and that means your body will need to adapt. Most of our cravings come from habit, our body wants to keep getting what it’s always gotten. This makes the first few weeks of a new way of eating very difficult. There will be those late night cravings and afternoon energy crashes. You will want to eat that ice cream and cookie and in the moments where the cravings grip you, you will think that losing weight is imposable. But I assure you that if you white knuckle it for a few weeks, the cravings will go away and you will begin feeling and looking so much better. Then you’ll find it very easy to continue eating this way. You just sticked it out for a little while.
The best way to stick it out is to totally eliminate the bad foods from your house. Throw out or donate all the of pasta, cookies and breads. Eliminate them as an option.
And don’t think you can never have a treat or a cheat a little. Once your body adapts and you are consistently eating the way I’ve described, then it won’t bother you to have some sweets now and then. You just have to break the cravings first.
Now you have everything you need to lose weight. Practice these techniques and I can guarantee you will have healthy and sustainable weight loss. Give yourself time and don’t compare yourself to others. You can do it.