January 6, 2012

Weight Loss Tactics for 2012 - Part 4


In Part 1, we talked about distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger because for weight loss we want to feed one while distracting the other.

In Part 2, we talked about losing weight slowly and steadily rather than trying drastic measures that can back-fire.

In Part 3, we talked about supporting your health and energy by moving around a lot and incorporating walking or other exercise.

Today, the subject is one people love to argue about: which type of eating pattern is best for your health and well-being in the long run. Please note that I very carefully did not use the word "diet." Any time I do use that word it will refer to "how you eat" versus "reducing calories." Let me be blunt: reduced-calorie diets don't work. You either don't lose weight or you make things worse and a year later you're heavier than you started. The goal is to find a mix and volume of foods that naturally moves you toward--and keeps you at--a leaner and more energetic (healthier) state.

You'll find people who swear by eating only plant-based foods. Some of them claim it's more humane or sustainable in addition to being healthy. They don't seem to notice how agri-business is raping the planet and wiping out wildlife while meat-producing land normally includes a bounty of wild animals and plants. Hmm. Also, plant eaters are a significant percentage of patients that medical professionals see.

You'll find people who swear by eating only meat/fat. They claim it's what we were meant to eat. They don't seem to notice that the only paleolithic people known to eat mostly meat were in harsh conditions where plant-based foods weren't much of an option. And over time a significant number of them seem to suffer metabolic/hormonal imbalances which they try to treat with supplements--think manufactured, highly processed supplements. Hmm. And while low-to-moderate carb intake seems to work for many, zero-carb makes me shudder with thoughts of rampant constipation. That might just be me.

I want it all, so I eat whole meats/eggs, vegetables and fruits with an occasional handful of nuts plus a little cream, butter and yogurt and my favorite probiotic food--water kefir. I will admit that if I could only afford to eat one type of food I'd go for meat for the protein/fat since, in a pinch, we can make whatever we need from them in an emergency.

When I say whole meat I mean the entire bird or a cut of meat from the animal. I love a rare treat of summer sausage, ham or even a hot dog but it must be said that they are processed and full of additives--the very things that give me fits. So, they make great treats but I don't consider them whole food. 

I eat whole eggs rather than just yolks or whites--you know when ancient people stole from nests they didn't throw half of each egg away! And I make yogurt at home so it's full-fat and has no additives other than my yummy fruit and cinnamon. If I had a local source of raw whole milk I might make my own butter and use the buttermilk for yogurt but since I don't eat butter often I feel comfortable going full-fat with the yogurt.

Okay, so why am I recommending the above approach? Well, for starters I tried just about all of the others with horrible results. I adore fruit but it takes less than 2 days of just fruit for me to start climbing the wall with cravings. The same is true of just-meat or just-plants. For me to be content and high energy I need a little of each AND I need to stay away from refined grains, oils, and sugars. Yes, I put a tsp of honey in a mug of coffee and I use fruit to sweeten my yogurt but that's it. Other than my morning coffee, any coffee/tea/chocolate I have is totally unsweetened. 

And there's a funny thing; when you're eating refined sugar every day eating unsweetened chocolate is unthinkable and for me coffee/tea were the same. After a month or two of no sugar, a grapefruit is sweet and unsweetened coffee/tea/chocolate may not taste like treats but they no longer seem inedible.

So, let me repeat that the goal is to find a mix and volume of foods that naturally moves you toward--and keeps you at--a leaner and more energetic (healthier) state. We don't want to be hungry/tired/sick all the time. You may need to experiment to find the best overall mix--you may do better with just a little meat and lots of starch or vice versa.

Have fun figuring out what's best for you!

In the final post of this series, we'll talk about the reality and importance of dealing with your emotions while trying to lose weight.

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