“One should eat to live, not live to eat.”
When is Enough Enough?
Eating properly is a 24-hour-a-day business because losing or maintaining weight is actually harder than overcoming alcoholism. Once alcoholics take that first drink, they are lost but they can refrain from taking that drink in the first place. With food addicts, however, there is no option to give up eating. To overcome food addiction, one must learn to limit, not stop, one’s consumption. Your metabolic rate dictates how much food you need in order to maintain, lose, or gain weight. If you eat a single excess apple a day you will gain fifteen pounds of fat in a year.
Most people have trigger foods, which they cannot resist, not only because of taste, but also because of emotional and cultural conditioning. Germans cannot resist their sausages. Italians cannot resist pasta. Mexicans cannot resist deep-fried carnitas. At one time, Jerzy could not resist piroshkes, which he associated with his beloved mother. Whenever he visited Poland, she would have them waiting, hot and steaming on the table when he walked in. Jerzy would put away plate after plate until his stomach bloated. Then he would conceal his cramps and shortness of breath as his mama stood by, happy and proud. Trigger foods include french fries, potato chips, nuts, donuts, cookies, candies, fruits, and hundreds of others that you may associate with pleasure. Whatever your food triggers are, you must avoid them totally, like an alcoholic. How you motivate yourself to do this varies from one person to another. Whatever your motivation, it has to be stronger than the temptations of your trigger foods. Otherwise, you will never succeed at losing weight. To lose weight, you must change your whole lifestyle.
The first step is to identify what is most important to you in life. When we asked our clients this question, everyone had a different answer. A divorcee said she wanted to be attractive. A professor was scared because his doctor told him that if he didn’t lose weight, he would become diabetic and possibly lose one or both of his legs. A real estate agent wanted more energy to conduct his business. A young mother wanted to be a good role model for her daughter. A student wanted to make his life simpler and more peaceful. Whatever your motivation, you must focus on it twenty-four hours a day. The second step is to choose something that constantly reminds you of that motivation. It could be an image or symbol that has special meaning to you. For example, you could wear a necklace, bracelet, or ring that is always visible to remind you to do the right things and avoid the wrong things. But how do you know what is right and what is wrong? The fact is that there are ways to lose weight and ways not to lose weight, and you need to understand them before you can be successful.
HOW NOT TO LOSE WEIGHT
Why is it so difficult for you to lose weight and keep it off? There are several possible reasons:
- If you lose weight only by dieting (that is, without exercising), you will lose muscle, which will make you weaker. Eventually, you must eat to recover your strength, and then you will regain the weight you lost, if not more. However, the weight you regain will be fat, not muscle, which you can never rebuild without exercising.
- If you lose weight only by strength training, your muscles will become sore and inflamed, which will exhaust you. Eventually, you must stop exercising to heal yourself, and then you will regain the weight again, with fat, not muscle.
- If you lose weight by dieting and endurance training, you will reduce your muscle size and convert fast-twitch muscle to slow-twitch muscle, which will decrease your metabolic rate. Eventually, you will become weak and have to increase your food intake to recover your strength, and then you will regain the weight as fat. Worse yet, you will wear out your joints from the exercise and become inflexible, which may lead to chronic pain that forces you to stop exercising.
- If you lose weight by being anxious all the time, you never switch from the sympathetic nervous system, which burns lean body mass as energy, to the parasympathetic nervous system, which burns fat as energy. That will cause loss of muscle mass and a reduced metabolic rate. Furthermore, because your sleep will be restless, you will not recover your energy at night. Eventually, you will become exhausted, stop exercising and dieting, and regain the weight as fat. That can lead to chronic fatigue.
- If you lose weight by chemical means such as diet pills, herbs, teas, or shakes, which artificially stimulate your metabolic rate or suppress your appetite the effects won’t last forever and in the long run, do more harm than good. Eventually you will have to discontinue using these chemicals to avoid undesirable side effects such as high blood pressure and heart attacks, and then you will regain the weight as fat.
- If you lose weight by dehydrating your body such as in a spa with heat or body wraps, the loss of weight will only be temporary because the body will demand to be rehydrated, and then you will regain the weight as water.
- If you lose weight by surgical means such as liposuction or stomach stapling without also changing your diet and lifestyle, you will eventually regain the weight as fat.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT
One of our clients, Jack, came to us to lose 25 pounds. After we tested his body, which weighed 173 pounds, we calculated that 116 pounds of that, or 67%, was lean mass, and 57 pounds, or 33%, was fat. According to the Ideal Body Weight chart of The Happy Body program (Table 2.1, page 35), which shows the healthy relationship between height and weight, Jack should, at 5’6″, have weighed 150 pounds, of which 135 pounds, or 90%, should have been muscle, and 15 pounds, or 10%, should have been fat. That meant that he should lose 42 pounds of fat and gain 19 pounds of muscle with a net loss of 23 pounds.
After we told him that, Jack looked at us with disbelief.
“I lift weights six days a week for half an hour,” he said, “run for one hour, and work on the Stairmaster for another hour. How can it be that I lost so much muscle and gained so much fat? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Actually, it makes perfect sense,” said Jerzy. “Working out with weights for half an hour builds your muscle, but then your endurance training for two hours burns up the muscle. During the two hours of endurance training, you not only burn all the muscle that you built with the weights, but also some more that you had before you began training. Therefore, proportionally, you’re getting fatter.”
“Do you mean,” he asked, still incredulous, “that my endurance training was counter productive that I shouldn’t run?” “Oh, you can run,” Jerzy said, “but you should know that not all kinds of running are good for you. Imagine a sprinter and a marathon runner. Who do you think is more flexible, stronger, faster, and leaner?”
“Well,” Jack said after thinking it over, “the sprinter is obviously faster. But the marathon runner must be leaner, more flexible, and stronger because he can run longer.”
“Wrong. Actually, running longer shortens the stride, which shortens the muscles and makes them less flexible. Both runners will be comparably lean, but the sprinter will be stronger because he does more work in a shorter amount of time.”
“That makes sense.”
“Now answer this question,” Jerzy continued. “Do you need to be leaner, more flexible, and stronger? The answer seems to me to be just as obvious. You need flexibility to be pain-free, to perform any movement without restrictions, and to have balance. However, being flexible is not enough. You must also be strong. You need strength to make any moveeven to open or close your eyes, breathe, or lift a spoon. Any movement is a combination of flexibility and strength. If you are flexible and weak, like an infant, you will not be able to stand. On the other hand, if you are strong but inflexible, your movement will also be restricted. So, to be fit, you need to be both flexible and strong.”
“And there’s one more thing. Any movement happens in a certain time frame. The shorter the time of the movement, the more efficient and agile the body is. A person who lifts two hundred pounds in one second is more efficient than someone who lifts five hundred pounds in five seconds, because the ratio for the first lifter is two to one, whereas the ratio for the second is one to one. The person who is more efficient is also more powerful, has a higher metabolic rate, burns more calories, and handles any physical task more easily. While losing body fat, you have to remember that you must increase your metabolic rate. You can only accomplish that by exercising or eating. You could also do it with hormones or steroids, but that would have unhealthy, long-term side effects. Your metabolic rate is directly proportional to the size, strength, and efficiency of your muscles. Only anaerobic exercises that last between six and eight seconds can increase your muscle size and make your muscles strong and efficient.”
“Why six to eight seconds?”
“Because our fastest energy comes from a chemical in the muscles called adenosine tri-phosphate, or ATP, all of which is used up in six to eight seconds. You need speed to be agile to react quickly to any changed situation. As you know, aging means losing flexibility, strength, speed, and muscle size, and that adds up to poor posture and a lowering of your metabolic rate. In other words, as you get older, you become stiffer, weaker, slower, fatter, more stooped over, and tired. Running sprints no more than a hundred meters will make your body more flexible, stronger, faster, leaner, upright, and energetic. Anything longer than a hundred meters will do the opposite.”
“Alright,” Jack said, “I understand all that. But didn’t you say that I can also increase my metabolic rate by eating?”
“Yes, you can increase your metabolic rate with food in four ways. First, you can time your meals so that you eat every three hours, but only enough to give you energy for two hours. After that, you should feel slightly hungry. When your body has processed all the food that you ate, it has two choices when it gets hungry. To survive for the additional hour, it can either eat its own muscle, or it can eat its own fat. If you are calm, your body will eat your fat for no more than one hour. If you are anxious, your body will burn its muscle instead. On the other hand, if you do not eat after three hours, your body will stop eating fat, as a protection so you don’t use all your reserves and die. It’s very simple: at that moment, it wants to survive, and so it wants to protect its reserves. Therefore, if you want to eat up your fat, you must eat every three waking hours.”
“How did you come up with that number? Why not two hours or four?”
“We’ve done experiments with our clients and ourselves, and found that after two hours or after four hours, fat stayed on the body. But after three hours, you can burn off one hundred to two hundred calories. Let’s assume you eat five times a day. That will add up to between five hundred and one thousand calories every day. Since there are 3,500 calories in every pound of body fat, that translates into one-eighth to one-quarter of a pound of fat per day, approximately one to two pounds a week or fifty to one hundred pounds in a year! The exact number of calories you burn each time you eat will vary, but the number should be about the same number of calories as your Ideal Body Weight. For instance, if your Ideal Body Weight is 150 pounds, you should burn 150 calories of fat five times a day.”
“Wow! Okay, let me figure this out. Hand me your calculator. Alright, 150 times five is 750 calories per day… or 5,250 calories per week. If I divide 5,250 by 3,500, it comes to 1.5 pounds. So I would lose one and a half pounds of fat every week. Since you’ve calculated that I need to lose 42 pounds of fat, that should take 28 weeks.”
“Right. Now, the second way you can increase your metabolic rate with food is to control the volume that you eat. If you eat until you are full, your stomach will expand beyond its normal size. That will slow the process of mixing food inside the stomach, thereby slowing digestion. If your digestion slows, your metabolism slows down with it, making you tired and sleepy. It can be hours before your body breaks down the food and eventually processes it. During that time, your metabolism will be slow, and your body will not burn its own fat. Plus, as soon as the stomach shrinks back to its normal size, it will send a message of hunger to the brain. At that moment, even though you still have food inside your body, you will think you are hungry, and you will begin to eat.”
“So, you’re advising me to stop eating before I feel full?”
“Right. When you undereat, that prevents your stomach from expanding, which in turn speeds up your digestion and therefore raises your metabolic rate. You will burn more calories and won’t receive misleading messages that you’re hungry.”
“So, that’s why I get so hungry the day after I go to a party. I eat too much, my stomach hurts, I have no energy, and I get sleepy. Then, the next morning… in fact, the whole next day… I eat more than usual.”
“You got it! Now, the third way you can increase your metabolic rate is to eat nutritionally complete foods that is, foods that contain protein, fat, sugar, fiber, minerals, and vitamins in a healthy ratio. If you eat incomplete foods, some nutrients will be missing. For example, if you only eat carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, or grains, you will lack protein, fat, some vitamins, some minerals, and certain enzymes that are essential for the digestive process. If you only eat protein, you will lack carbohydrates, fiber, and some minerals and vitamins. If you only eat fat, you will lack everything but calories and traces of minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, or vitamins. To digest food, the body must take the missing components from itself. That depletes the body, slows down your metabolism, and makes you tired. Eating complete foods speeds up the digestive and eliminative processes. Your metabolism increases, and you feel energized and fresh.”
“Oh, so that’s why, after I eat a bunch of cherries, I get so sluggish and swollen. First, I get a rush of energy from the sugar. But then, half an hour later, I get tired because I’m not getting any protein and fat.”
“Correct. Now, let’s discuss the fourth way you can increase your metabolic rate with food. That is to eat high-quality foods. If you eat foods that are not produced organically ones that are full of hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides the body must first eliminate the poisons, which are unhealthy for your liver and kidneys. Also, nonorganic foods will not have enough vitamins and minerals because those foods are grown too quickly and therefore lack their full complement of nutrients. Again, the missing components must come from the body, which makes it tired and sluggish. If you eat organic food, on the other hand, you will avoid the poisons that age your organs and shorten your life. Organic food supplies the body with enough minerals and vitamins to promote healthy digestion and elimination. That increases your metabolic rate, and you feel energetic and fresh.”
“Now I understand why, when I go to Europe, I eat more, I lose weight, and I have more energy. I also move my bowels more often.”
“Of course, because Europeans still use far fewer hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in their food. Not only that, we in America dye, moisturize, and texturize our food; we fill it with artificial flavors and preservatives, and spray it with sulfites, nitrites, and acids before it is made into processed products.We then no longer have produce that is natural, pure and wholesome.”
“You see, when I come back from Europe and start eating American food, I’m constipated for days, gain back more weight than I had before, and I’m tired all the time.”
“So now, I guess I understand all the principles of The Happy Body program.”
Aniela, who had been listening to us for the past few minutes, said, “Actually, there’s another point. It’s not enough just to eat organic food it must be complete organic food. You could eat organic white bread, but that would still be empty calories. Complete foods are mixtures of proteins, fats, and vegetables or fruits. Complex carbohydrates, such as rice, wheat, and corn are also incomplete and should be complemented with vegetables or fruits.”
“By the way,” Jerzy said, “complex carbohydrates are exactly what we feed to pigs, which is why they’re forty-five percent fat, compared to wild pigs, which are only three percent fat.”
“Not only that,” Aniela said, “but to digest rice, wheat, and corn without vegetables or fruits, your body must use up its own vitamins, minerals, and enzymes when you do that, your metabolic rate drops, and you get tired. Then you think that your fatigue is due to hunger, not to missing nutrients. That message misleads you to eat more than you need, and you gain weight.”
“But,” Jack said, “I was always told that all food is good that what I need to do is to have variety, but control the amounts.”
“Well, as I said, not all food is good food,” Aniela smiled. “Even if you eat organic food, you still have to have controlled variety. Would you like to see how variety really works?”
“What kind of car do you drive?”
“Okay. Tomorrow, you’ll rent a Chevy Chevette and drive it the whole day. The next day, you’ll rent a Toyota pickup truck and drive it the whole day.
The third day”
“Alright, I get it! But food is not cars.”
Aniela thought a moment. “Well, then, let’s look at it a different way. Can you imagine a sprinter saying, ‘Running is boring, I think I’ll try boxing’? Or Mozart saying, ‘I’m bored with music, I think I’ll take up painting’? There would be no Picassos or Emily Dickinsons or Einsteins if people didn’t repeat the same things over and over without becoming bored. Perfection is what makes us excellent. As Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’ Whether you’re a musician or an engineer or an athlete, you must enjoy repetition for the sake of perfection. If you can master that habit, you will achieve more in life and have more fun.”
“You’ve convinced me!” Jack said. “I want my body to be happy, and you’ve shown me exactly how to do it. To lose weight, I must train anaerobically and eat the right amounts and kinds of organically grown foods every three hours.”
“You’ve got it!” Aniela said with a big smile. “Now you understand all the principles of The Happy Body program except one.”
“Yes. Relaxation. You actually lose more fat when you’re relaxed than when you’re tense.”
“No, there are good scientific reasons for it. Just as everybody knows that they lose fat when they sleep well and wake up rested, the same thing is true during the day. When you are relaxed, your body burns its own fat for energy. If you are tense, your body burns its muscle for energy. So, whether you only want to lose weight and be youthful, or you want to become an Olympic champion, it is wise to be as relaxed as possible.”
“I never thought about that. Maybe that’s why I’ve been tired all the time. To have a happy body, I must have a happy mind.”