Being a doctor and working with people for over 20 years, trying to help them get healthy has given me a different perspective on obesity . I think I have heard every excuse in the book. Because of this, I no longer tell people what they want to hear, but rather I tell them the truth.
The truth begins by finding out the reason for overestating. Your own personal reason may be different than that of anyone else. In dealing with obesity it is important to understand why you are overweight. If you do not deal with this issue, you will not be successful in your efforts to lose weight.
In one case, a woman came in to see me saying she wanted to get off of her diabetes medications because they took away all of her energy. I explained that since she weighed over 250 pounds the fat would prevent her from achieving her goal and we would have to deal with that. She came in faithfully every two weeks for over a year, but did not lose a single pound. She said she was doing everything I suggested, but it just was not working. Finally, in frustration I dropped my head into my hands and asked, more to myself, "Why are not you losing weight?" She timidly answered, "Because I do not want to." I looked up, amazed, "Why not?" She went on to explain that she had seen a man on TV who had lost a hundred pounds and they showed his skin hanging down from his arms, legs, and abdomen. "I do not want to look like that!" she blurted out in tears.
Another woman who was not losing weight on a supposedly 500 calorie per day diet offered that she kept the fat on to keep people away. "I do not want to get close to people and risk getting hurt, and the fat is a very effective way to keep my distance." This included her family and friends. She was sabotaging her own efforts on multiple diets over years because of her emotional fears.
Over the years I have collected some of the most common myths that obese people believe that prevent them from getting healthy. Many of them are actually touted in the media, and even by doctors!
1. Exercise can make you skinny.
This is a huge one. If it were true, then Sumo wrestlers would be thin. They exercise all day, every day, and are able to maintain over a hundred pounds of fat because they eat over six thousand calories per day. They eat their big meal at night to and maintain their weight. Many believe they can eat what they want and just exercise more to "burn up the calories" and prevent weight gain. We were told that a calorie is a calorie and
(calories in) – (calories out) = (stable weight)
Not true! If you do not curb your intake, exercise can actually make you more efficient and cause more fat deposition . Do not get me wrong, exercise is important for maintaining health and strength, but just do not believe the myth that you can lose fat by exercising.
2. Eating less fat causes weight loss.
Another common myth is that low-fat diets cause weight loss. This idea was started over thirty years ago, allowing for an experiment on the whole society. As people eat less fat, they eat more carbohydrates. In fact, since the 1970's sugar consumption has gone up dramatically from about 30 pounds per person per year, now, the average American eats its weight in sugar every year! This has caused an epidemic of obesity, as well as diabetes. Over 60% of the population is overweight, and about one fifth of the entire population is either diabetic or pre-diabetic! Low-fat diets do not lower body fat.
3. Low thyroid causes weight gain.
I am amazed by the sheer number of people who still believe that they are overweight because of a "thyroid problem." Clinics in the 1980's for weight loss that wave people high-doses of thyroid hormone were unexpectedly unsuccessful. Multiple studies on the effects of thyroid on weight have failed to find a connection – and yet the myth persists. There are many medical doctors and other practitioners that perpetuate this myth, telling people, "It's not your fault, it's your thyroid." They are then given thyroid hormones to take, but do not lose weight.
4. Do not look at the scale!
When people refuse to allow my office staff to weigh them, I know there is a defect problem. These are the people who do not want to look at where they are to know where they want to be. They feel they will get discouraged if they find out that they are not losing weight, if their efforts are in vain. Not looking at the scale when you are trying to lose weight is like getting on the plane and hearing the pilot say, "We're not sure where we're going, and our fuel gauge is not working so we'll just see what happens. " I do not know about you, but I've got right off of that plane! I find the real reason people do not want to know how much they weigh is because they know they are not doing what they feel they need to do and do not want a reminder. In order to determine if your efforts are working you must have a way of measuring progress. Weight is not the best measure of health, but it is a good indicator of improvement. If you are serious about getting healthy, it is a good idea to weigh yourself every day and write it down.
5. Diet pills help you lose weight.
Last week I had a woman in my office who was taking diet pills over ten years ago, which caused memory, focus and weight problems. She is still feeling the effects of brain dysfunction, as well as obesity because of that. "The pills worked to keep the weight off." She told me, "but I would rather be fat than have all these problems with my brain!" I have many come in asking for diet pills, but all of the studies done on diet pills show a short-term loss of weight with a long-term gain. Moreover, they cause brain dysfunction. Why are they still used? Because of public demand. People are trying to appear to be healthy with drugs that are actually harming their health. Believe me, diet pills, whether over-the-counter or prescription are not the answer to being overweight.
6. Dieting is the solution to an obesity problem.
In the 1880's Mark Twain quipped, "Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it a thousand times!" I have many people who have tried "a thousand" diets with only short-term weight loss. The number of diet books could have stacked from here to the moon, and there are several more that come out every week. Dieting has been a national obsession for almost a hundred years! Ironically, over this time people have become fatter and fatter. Getting off of the "diet treadmill" means making permanent lifestyle changes instead of temporary ones. Instead of "being on a diet" you may need to make rules to live by for the rest of your life. These rules should include eating whole foods, avoiding processed foods, eating more in the morning and less at night, limiting snacks, and drinking only water. All of this will be modified according to your taste and lifestyle.
7. Thin people have more willpower.
Most people who remain thin make a decision to do so. Yes, it requires a change, as does every gain in life, but a little knowledge is very helpful. Start researching what it means to be healthy and have a healthy body. Life is about sacrifice, and we have to choose every day to sacrifice either our health or our taste, we can not have both. This is not just in the area of food, it's a part of everyone's life. I find this issue with tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, stress, and every possible desire that human animals have. Not everyone is so tied to their taste buds that they gain weight, just like not everyone likes to smoke tobacco or drink coffee.
If you feel that you need willpower, then you have an addiction. The only way to overcome an addiction is with the help of God. Multiple studies have proven that any other way is temporary, at best. In these cases, prayer is an essential part of any weight loss program.
8. Fasting is bad for you.
The single healthiest thing anyone can do, especially if they are overweight, is fasting. Multiple studies on every species of animals, including worms, spiders, and yeast, cats, rats and monkeys, have shown a longer and healthier life in those who fast. Monkeys who fast every other day live longer healthier lives than their counterparts who are fed daily. There is no nutrient, food, pill, or juice that can boast the invigorating power of fasting. For weight loss the benefits are fabulous. The weight comes off – about a pound per day – the hunger and cravings disappear, the stomach shrinks, the digestive system is more effective, and the weight does not come back easily. Fasting is the "reset button" for your metabolism.
One man in Scotland who weighed over 470 pounds went to his doctor and said he wanted to weigh 180 pounds. The doctor said, "Quit eating," so the man did. He started drinking only water and taking a vitamin and electrolyte (salt, potassium, minerals) pill. After a year and 18 days without food he weighed 180 pounds. He began eating sensibly, and nine years later he still weighed 180 pounds.
You can start with just one day of drinking only water. Sometimes it takes as long as a week to begin your fat-burning metabolism. Be careful of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. You may want to have some raw almonds carrots handy in case you get headaches, weakness, or cold sweats. There are many good books on fasting. I would recommend getting information if you do not have any experience with this most healthy diet change.
9. High-nutrient-and-low-calorie foods are expensive!
Of course, ounce-for-ounce you will find that organic foods cost more than those smothered in pesticides, and prepared foods seem to cost less than their unadulterated counterparts, but this is not the whole picture. Eating smaller amounts of grass-fed meat, or wild-fish fish maybe twice per week, and having organic fruit and vegetables instead of packaged snacks is actually less expensive. People who are eating nutritious foods do not eat when they are not hungry, whereas snack foods are eaten for taste and hunger does not matter. That's why people get fat on snack foods. Moreover, preparing the food in your home will save lots of money over going to restaurants. The average American eats in a restaurant five times per week. This is significantly more expensive than bringing food from home – and it's more nutritious.
10. You can eat anything you want and still lose weight.
People are often told they can have their cake and eat it too! After trying this for many years one would think that people would catch on to this scam. These are telling people what they want to hear. This is the big lie of lies in human metabolism. The fact is, without sacrificing food there is no way to be healthy. Mostly, we just have to change our thinking to begin eating for nourishment instead of for taste. Over time, nourishing foods become tastier, and the engineered foods become nauseating.
"I eat hard anything and I still gain weight." A young, overweight woman explains in tears. She had written down her diet for the past couple of weeks – everything – and could verify that she was eating about 1200 Calories per day (the average is almost 3000) of whole foods, and was indeed gaining weight. From the diet record, however, we found that she was eating a lot of fruit, and having a metabolism that was positive to sugar, this made her gain weight. We took out the fruit between meals and substituted nuts, celery, and cucumber, and she started losing weight for the first time since she hit puberty! But, it required the sacrifice of all sweet things, including healthy and natural sugars like fruit.
Another of my patients came in looking for a diet pill. I explained the risks and benefits and she said, "That's not worth it! What can I do instead?" I told her the myths above, and then explained the principles of maintaining a healthy body. Several months later, she came back and I did not even recognize her because she had a nice figure! I asked her how she did it, and she said, "I just did what you said. I determined that if there was no easy way out, I would just have to change my diet."
The 10 real rules of weight loss are simple, and everyone knows them:
1. It's all about the food! Do not eat processed foods, especially those with chemical additives: colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
2. Only eat whole foods, especially lots of green vegetables.
3. Eat small portions.
4. Fast one day per month.
5. Limit sugar in all forms. This includes "natural" sugars like fruit and juices.
6. Drink only pure water.
7. Eat as much raw, fresh, organic food as possible.
8. Buy grass-fed, free-range meat and dairy and eat it sparingly.
9. Avoid restaurants.
10. Use lots of spices
With these principals in your arsenal, you can win the war against fat , become healthy, and truly live a long and happy life.