Once Upon a Time, When I Was Thin . . .
I remember reading a government report which analyzed and summarized studies done on over one hundred diets. And while I am not a fan of simple statistical analyses, this report did peak my interest. Not surprisingly, they reported that one hundred percent of these diets failed to do what they claimed to be able to do. Not that they wouldn't work if you had unlimited will power. But they failed for all but the most extremely dedicated people. Sound familiar?
Then in 2009 I lost a kidney and my doctor told me I needed to lose weight. Picturing myself on dialysis, I threw myself into the search for a way to do this. Having struggled with my weight for most of my life, I felt beaten before I started. The thing is, for the first half of my life, I struggled to gain weight, not to lose it.
Then in my early thirties, I stopped smoking. Overnight, began to gain weight. Thinking back, it was like someone threw a weight-gain switch. And from then on I continued to gain weight, this despite my many temporary, weight-loss dieting successes.
What I did differently this time was that I made this mystery my focus. Why had I been unable to gain weight for so long and then overnight, unable to lose weight? And yes, I ate and exercised differently in the times when I gained and lost weight. But it was as if my body responded to food and exercise differently in the second half of my life than in the first.
It turns out that by answering this question, I accidentally discovered why so many of us struggle to not become obese. Indeed, when I realized this answer, I felt as if I had discovered something so obvious, anyone could use it to manage their weight. And in theory, this is true. But there's a catch. In order for this discovery to lead to weight loss, a person needs to have two epiphanies, not an easy task. But I did and I lost 40 pounds. And one of my clients did and she lost 125 pounds. More important, neither of us dieted—and both of us have kept the weight off. How did we do it? First the story.
I can clearly picture the day my doctor told me I needed to lose weight. Like all my life changing moments, this one visually burned into my brain. At the time, I hadn't a clue as to how I was going to accomplish this. But I'm pretty sure I assumed I'd need to starve myself and exercise like mad again.
Two events then changed the course of my life even more. I got a prepress copy of a diet book that surprised me by how good it was (The Full Plate Diet). And I also discovered Jon Gabriel's site and bought his book as well. In both cases, these are things I normally never do. I don't buy diet or weight loss books, and I don't go to weight loss sites. But the fear of death can be a strong motivator.
Know this weight loss was also supposed to bring my cholesterol down. I didn't want to take a Statin and it had been over 260 for many years. On top of all this, there were also some abnormalities in my liver. So I was going through tests to rule this out.
Know I mention all this because in part, this onslaught of medical worry is what changed my life. The fear of death, yes, but also the broad spectrum of possible medical problems. This spectrum led me to ask questions about how these conditions connect. For one thing, I began to ask myself if there was any connection between lowering one's cholesterol and losing weight? After all, cholesterol is fat in your blood. So would lowering the amount of fat in my blood help me to lose weight?
Let's start with the Full Plate Diet book. For one thing, it's beautiful. Full color pictures of amazing meals, one more appealing than the next. Moreover, like all diet books, this book has a theme—a secret to losing weight. This book's theme is to eat more fiber. No surprise, all the meals in the book focused on this idea. Know this idea is not what made me take this book seriously. What got me to take this book seriously was a sidenote which appeared on page 23 in the prepress version (but which was later moved to the end of the book in the final version).The sidebar said it's not that fiber makes you thin. Rather, it's that the fiber in foods indicates that this food, eaten correctly, can help you to be thin, by helping you to feel full.
Okay. So this idea is obvious. Foods rich in fiber can make you feel full. Ostensibly, this means you'll end up eating less and in doing so, lose weight. Know that this idea has nothing to do with the aha I gained from this book. Nor does a second idea not mentioned in the book but related to the first—the idea that foods rich in fiber, especially water soluble fiber, cause the body to digest food more slowly.
Indeed, I've known for years that the problem with processed foods is that, in a sense, they're predigested. In other words, they're broken down before they reach your mouth. So the body digests them quickly. Indeed, the body digests them so quickly that it barely knows it's eating. Thus processed foods shock the body into unconsciousness. Hence their inherent lack of health.
So waht was my aha? The idea that fiber is a tipping-point based indicator of healthy food. This is true because the body has to work harder to digest these foods than it does with foods with less fiber. The result is a naturally slowed rate of absorption which allows the body more time to process the food. And this natural rate is a must for anyone wanting to eat consciously.
Not coincidently, a tipping-point based indicator for conscious eating is the question, "are you in a hurry?" If you aren't, then you're eating consciously. But if you're hurrying, you're not eating consciously. So, are you beginning to see a patterns here? When it comes to the real world, tipping-point based measures are everything. And I am claiming they hold the key to losing weight naturally. How? Read on.
Last time I looked at Jon Gabriel's home page, he had changed it quite a bit from the first time I visited his site. That first day, my initial reaction was that what he was saying was too good to be true. He claimed he'd gone from 409 lbs to 183 and more importantly, had kept the weight off. But despite my inital skepticism, something made me read further, perhaps his video. He didn't seem like a con man or a bullshitter. Rather he seemed like he was genuinely trying to help people. As I continued to read though, a question hit me that I couldn't stop asking. Gabriel talked about weight changing as if there was a "fat switch" in our bodies. One day you're losing. Next day you're gaining. And when you're losing it seems like you'll keep losing. And when you're gaining it seems like you'll keep gaining.
This struck me not only as true but also as the heart and soul of what everyone's been missing. Ironically, with regard to this switch, Gabriel offers little in the way of how to effect this switch which hasn't been said before. So while I agree with him that healing injuries is a part of losing weight, no amount of healing will lead you to be naturally thin.
So what's important this time? It should be easy to see. His suggestion that it's as if we have a fat switch is a another tipping-point based measure. You can clearly see this at work when one day you feel like losing weight is easy and a day later you feel it's next to impossible.
What does constellated science tell us about fitness and body weight change? To start with, this map explains it all. At least, the theoretical explanation for fitness and weight change. It turns out that like all maps, there are only two factors. These two factors are the basis for the two sine qua non questions.
No surprise, you already know these two factors—eating and exercise. What you don't know is that excessive will power is the cause of obesity and the lack of fitness.
How do you achieve a naturally thin attitude? The simple answers is, you must have two epiphanies. One—you must have an epiphany in and around how deliberately forcing yourself to eat small amounts when you're not hungry affects your desire to eat less. Two—you must have an epiphany in and around how deliberately holding yourself back during exercise affects your desire to exercise more.
Now before I go on to describe this process, first I need to tell you this. There is a great difference between what you must do to naturally lose weight and what you must do to naturally maintain weight loss. So while in both cases, you need to have and use the same two epiphanies, the way you use these two epiphanies is different during and after weight loss.
What are the two epiphanies?