In light of the above, doesn’t it seem as though nature actually opposes the notion of weight loss by anyone, anywhere, at any time?
Now couple the hard-wired and deeply ingrained eating habits of our species with an endless supply of food that did not exist even 100 years ago, ever-growing portion sizes at restaurants, and a barrage of ads and commercials promoting the newest triple-layered food sensation.
No wonder losing weight seems like the most unnatural activity on earth. And billions of dollars are spent worldwide on diets, supplements, exercise equipment, gym memberships, weight-loss clinics, books, DVD’s and the like, all because they promise weight loss. And for those of you looking to jump-start your weight loss regimen, there are even some new trend diets, like the 17-Day Diet and the Dukan Diet, that even promise to help you lose weight without compromising your health.
Still, I believe that you should think of weight loss as something natural, even though it’s difficult.
Many concepts have been promoted to guide people in their quest for natural weight loss. In the 80’s, diet gurus promoted the idea of thinking of food as fuel. While that is true, it’s also inaccurate, because it misses the point of good health. Almost any food is fuel, but not all food is nutrition. Food as fuel is just so…80’s.
It’s your view of food that has everything to do with weight loss. And how should you see food? Here are four words that will change everything:
It’s All About Nutrition!
If I had to give you one major concept to consider, it would be this: see your food as nutrition. Every food choice you make, every time you cook, every bite you take, ask yourself the following question:
“What kind of nutrients am I getting?”
Nutrients are everything in any weight loss plan. For instance, there is not a single vitamin or mineral that does not play a role in regulating blood sugar. If you can’t regulate blood sugar, you will not lose weight. Nutrients are responsible for synthesizing hormones and neurotransmitters. If your hormones or brain are out of balance, you cannot lose weight
In addition, nutrients are your only defense against disease. Your immune system needs all the essential vitamins, minerals micronutrients in order to fight off disease and function best. Which includes the ability to exercise—a crucial component of losing weight.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you in your quest to lose weight naturally. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are important big picture rules that can help you get on track and stay on track.
Five Do’s for Natural Weight Loss
- DO eat the highest quality food possible. That may sound like a given, but it’s rarely as easy as it seems. By high-quality food, I mean food with the most nutrition, the least amount of adulterants, and as fresh as possible. Try to eat mostly organic food, as it is usually higher in nutrition and less contaminated. This applies particularly to meat and dairy products, which are often loaded with hormones, steroids, antibiotics and pesticides.
- DO eat close to the ground. Eat your food as close to its natural state as possible. This means fresh, simply prepared and even raw from time to time. The less processed your food, the more likely you are to get all of the nutrients available in the food. Cooking, processing and packaging all degrade the nutritional power of your food.
- DO eat breakfast every day. There is overwhelming evidence pointing to breakfast as the most important meal in terms of weight loss. People who eat breakfast every day are much more likely to lose weight and keep it off, but still, too many of us skip breakfast. One way to make sure you start every day off right is to add a little variety, and try out different a different healthy breakfast recipe every day.
- DO make lean protein your priority. Protein is from the Greek word protos, meaning “first.” Protein is the primary building block for hormones, neurotransmitters, and your immune and detoxification systems. And by the way, the protein rule applies to breakfast as well.
- DO make your diet about color and variety. And by color, I do not mean white and brown. I am talking color—red, yellow, orange, green and purple. This means fruits and vegetables. These foods contain the antioxidants and phytonutrients that are crucial for heart health, brain function, keen vision and more. You need them. And make sure to eat a variety of foods. Not only does eating variety help one avoid food sensitivities, there is an old Chinese adage that says for every food you add to your diet, you add 100 days to your life.
Five Don’ts for Natural Weight Loss
- DON’T keep “empty” foods, foods with little or no nutritional value, in the house. No one is perfect—almost everyone eats some empty foods every now and then. However, if there are no empty foods in your pantry, the less likely you are to eat them. If you have to get out of the house to indulge your cravings for the brown, white, empty foods, at least you’ll have to inconvenience yourself to eat them. Don’t make it easy on yourself.
- DON’T eat it if it’s not food. If it comes in a package, it is probably processed to the point of being bereft of nutrition. Read the label of any packaged food: if it contains something you have never heard of or can’t pronounce, it’s probably just empty calories rather than food, so avoid it.
- DON’T wait until you get ravenous. If you wait until you are starving to eat, you will lose the ability to choose wisely. If cheap, empty calories are available, your subconscious brain will lead you right to them, and your face will be stuffed with empty food before you realize it. Always have a nutritious snack or meal nearby in case of emergencies. You have to plan and prepare.
- DON’T eat out. First, eating out gives you a warped perspective on portion sizes. In an effort to seemingly give you more for your money, restaurants are serving up larger portions—usually of the processed, white, brown, empty foods. Also, you cannot know the quality of the food you are eating. Besides—eating at home is cheaper.
- DON’T “stay off the horse” when you get thrown. Everyone chooses poorly at some point. But some people use that as an excuse to give up. They start out saying I messed up, but I’ll get back on the program on Monday, next week, after the holidays. Usually they don’t get back on the program at all. I always say that you are only one meal or one workout away from being on track—the next one. If you fall off, learn from your mistake and get back on that horse!
These simple rules are a good start for any natural weight loss plan. Stick with them, and you will see results. And don’t forget my number one health and fitness principle: “The object is to lose WEIGHT, not your MIND©.”
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Kurt Chacon is a personal trainer and host of The First Step on Veria Living. Got a weight loss question for Kurt? Email him at email@example.com and maybe he’ll answer it in his next blog post.