Monday, April 30, 2007

How to Keep a Food Journal

The first step in losing weight permanently is to keep a food journal, for at least a week, and maybe ongoing. You should include everything, even gum and hard candies. You'll learn a lot from this journal; reading it will help you be more objective about what you're actually eating.

Here's a good set of guidelines.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Reason 2 for being overweight

In recent posts, I've explained that there are 3 reasons for being overweight, and discussed reason 1. Today, I'll talk about reason 2, a compulsion to overeat.

A compulsion to overeat is more than a bad habit. It's a stress, lodged somewhere in your body, that makes you feel uncomfortable if you don't take that cookie and put it in your mouth.

Many people have a compulsion to overeat, although I'm not sure why. Well, I think I have an idea, but it's probably different for different people. In general, when people experience some anxiety, they find that eating makes them feel better. Over time, whenever that stress comes up, they continue to eat. Eventually, the sight of food triggers the need to eat and people lose control.

Most diet books and even dieticians ignore the compulsion to overeat. "Just eat a little bit less at each meal." " Take smaller portions." Yeah, right.

However, there are a number of tools for dealing with compulsion:
  • Rules: "I am not allowed to eat sugar."
  • Motivational techniques: One is fear. The kind that happens when your doctor tells you that if you don't lose weight, you'll be dead in a few years of a heart attach or stroke. But you can also be motivated by the desire to look good, be sexy, and so on.
  • Removing yourself from temptation, that is, food: An example is staying out of the kitchen.
  • Removing the temptation: An example is not buying fattening foods, so they're not in your house.
  • Desensitization: This is similar to the techniques used for people who have phobias.
  • Stress reduction: Here I can only recommend what I know, which is the Transcendental Meditation technique. There's lots of research on it.
  • Finding the stress point: If you can find where the stress is, you can put your attention on it and start to heal it.
So, all is not hopeless, if a compulsion is one of the reasons you overeat.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Evidence that diets don't work

I've said several times that diets don't work. Of course, if you look around you and aren't influenced by the hype and ads, this is obvious. But it's always nice to see confirmation.

The Project WeightLoss site has an article, Diets Not Working, Sometimes Causing Weight Gain, Finds New Study, that confirms my thoughts.

Here's one statement from the article, "In the case of obese people, studies followed them for three years or more and showed that eighty-three percent of them regained the weight lost with a diet."

On the other hand, 17% did keep their weight off. My guess is that those people were really on a maintenance diet and continued on it permanently. They also probably made other changes in their life.

Top 10 Bad Eating Habits

Here's my hall of shame for eating, in no particular order:
  1. Eating in front of the TV or while reading (my particular problem: eating while reading)
  2. Eating before bed
  3. Eating too fast
  4. Eating until you're stuffed (this could also be a compulsion problem)
  5. Eating more protein, fat, and carbs than veggies and fruits
  6. Eating a dinner that's bigger than lunch
  7. Not drinking enough water
  8. Eating too many snacks (not everyone agrees, but I'm going to stick to this one)
  9. Eating at fast-food restaurants (in fact, eating at most restaurants)
  10. Eating irregular amounts and at irregular times

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reason 1 for being overweight

In my first post, I listed the three reasons for being overweight:
  • Lack of knowledge about healthy living/poor habits
  • A compulsion to overeat
  • Slow metabolism/poor digestion
There is no special order to these reasons, but today I want to discuss the 1st reason: lack of knowledge and poor habits.

Remember the lady who sued McDonald's for making her fat, because she didn't know the food was bad for her? That's lack of knowledge.

Remember Governor Huckabee who lost 105 pounds after having symptoms of diabetes? That's a sign that he had poor eating habits. He wasn't really interested in controlling his weight before he got scared. Then he enrolled in a controlled weight-loss program and lost the weight without too much trouble (although he made a big commitment).

How do you know what you should eat? Where do you get that knowledge? Come on, every magazine and newspaper has articles about a healthy diet. Here's a concise article, 13 Keys to a Healthy Diet from the University of California at Berkeley.

So, what are you waiting for?

Bad habits are not easy to break, but not hard either. You need to make a commitment. Write it down. Then start. Don't delay. Start with a little and never strain or go overboard. That's going on a diet! Remember, diets don't work!

After about 3-4 weeks, you should find that you've created new, better habits. At least, that's what most experts say about habits. You can start by eating less sugar and more vegetables. Do that for a month. Then substitute fruit for some of the fats you're eating and do that for a month.

One thing I can tell you is that you'll feel better about yourself. You may feel a little scared about missing your favorite foods, but after trying this new way of eating, you'll be much happier.

However, don't foget my reason #2 for being overweight: a compulsion to eat. Many people think that overeating is just a bad habit, but if you have a compulsion, you'll have a harder time. In later posts, I'll get to solutions for compulsion.

If your only problem is that you haven't thought about what healthy eating means, or haven't read those articles, you can solve that problem easily. Just read a few articles.

To start breaking a bad habit, you need to make a commitment. And while you need to make a lifetime commitment, after 3-4 weeks, you'll have developed new, good habits of eating. So it's only hard at first.

Many people are overweight for more than one reason. For example, I know that both reasons 2 & 3 apply to me. Some people have all 3 reasons. Just know that reason #1 is the easiest to solve.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Why diets don't work

Why don't diets work?

Your weight is a balance that comes from what you eat (take in) and the energy you expend (activity). When you go on a diet, you eat less, so you lose weight until you come to a new balance. Then you stop losing weight. The lower amount of food you're eating creates a new balance level.

When you go off the diet, you eat more, so you gain weight again. It's that simple.

Their are many components to losing weight, including both what you eat and your level of activity. From the eating side, to lose weight permanently, you need to change the amount of food you eat permanently. This principle is so obvious, that it's hard to understand why more people don't understand this.

If it sounds depressing, it's not really. That's because you don't need to be "on a diet" all your life. Diets are too extreme. The change you need to make permanently isn't as extreme; it's much easier. Not easy, but easier than being "on a diet."

The right diet for you depends on your situation. I'll be talking a lot in this blog about customizing a solution, but some people feel they need rules to follow.

Follow rules is one of many techniques for dealing with compulsive eating. So, if you need to follow a diet, here's my suggestion:

Find a diet system that's healthy and includes a maintenance diet. Then, forget the diet part! Just go on the maintenance diet! If the diet is in a book, it's probably in the last chapter. The maintenance diet will be less severe, more healthy, and easier to follow.

You're less likely to boomerang back and regain the weight. And you'll understand that you need to commit to it for the rest of your life. That's what maintenance diets are for.

Diets seduce you by telling you you'll lose weight more quickly, but it's just a seduction. The diet won't keep its promise, so don't be fooled.

I'm switching URLs

I've decided to post on the Blogger server, instead of mine. So the next post will be at That's if I successfully transfer the blog!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Welcome to the Lose Weight Permanently blog

Yes, you can lose weight permanently.

No, it isn't easy.

The solution depends on the reason you're overweight.
There are three reasons for being overweight:
  • Lack of knowledge about healthy living/poor habits
  • A compulsion to overeat
  • Slow metabolism/poor digestion
Many people have two or even all three of these causes. In this blog, I'll discuss solutions to all three problems.

Research and common sense shows that going on a diet doesn't work. You may lose weight, but you'll gain it back. Just look at your own experience or that of the people around you.