I’m down 50lbs! Woohoo! More importantly I have kept it off for over half a year now. While there is no one right answer, I have found a collection of things that work, after spending years and years documenting all the things that don’t work! Hopefully, you can skip past all the mistakes I made, and past my learning curve, and grow this list yourself as you discover more things that work!
1. You Need to Workout AND Eat Healthily.
Weight loss with diet alone is difficult; weight loss with exercise alone is impossible. You need to add exercise to your regime because it’s good for you, it builds metabolism-speeding muscle, and it adds a couple of calories to your overall allowance, and having a bit of leeway in your food allowance is going to improve your chances of success. You need to eat heathily for a zillion reasons, many of which are outside the scope of weight loss. Specific to the weight loss, you need to eat healthily (as opposed to some fad diet) because a healthy body, with enough vitamins, minerals, fiber and water will feel full longer, perform better and lose weight in a sustainable fashion. Healthy eating is sustainable for the longterm, so you will keep the weight off once it’s gone, where crazy and unhealthy diet plans won’t offer you long-last results.
2. You Need to Eat Enough.
So, you starved yourself all day so now you can plough into a triple-layer chocolate cake? Great plan! That’s exactly what sumo wrestlers do in order to gain weight before a match. Eating too few calories sends your body into famine mode, which means it lowers your metabolism. Any calories you do eat will hit you like a ton of fattening bricks. And it doesn’t stop there. You’re brain will stimulate your appetite, so you will be spending your entire time miserably battling an urge to binge on junk food. Not fun, and not the path to success. The number of calories you need is dependent upon your gender, your current weight, and your weight loss goals, and should never drop below 1,400 calories/day. In lieu of obsessive compulsive calorie counting, you can find far more success with whole-food, plant-based diets such as a low-meat version of the DDP Yoga Nutrition Plan.
3. Cut Down on Your Meat Intake.
Why low-meat? Because meat is fattening in two ways. 1. It’s the most calorie-dense thing in the food supply. That means you’re going to be hungrier sooner, despite consuming a heavy calorie load. Second, it has been shown that meat intake positively associates with weight gain, and this associate persists after adjusting for total energy intake, and a decrease in meat consumption improves weight management. Eating 250 gram meat/day gives a 422 gram gain extra compared to a diet with the same number of calories but less meat! In other words, if you have two people both eating exactly 2,000 calories per day amd doing the exact same amount of exercise, one vegan and one meat-eater, the meat-eater will weigh more than the vegan. Again, there’s a slew of health-issues outside of weight loss where meat is concerned. For more information, check out the science-based information at nutritionfacts.org! Also, this goes for any animal product (dairy, eggs, meat). Full disclosure, I am a vegan. That said, I am not a proselytizing vegan; I spend precisely 0% of my time thinking of ways to convert people to veganism. I am more interested in the science of nutrition, and finding ways to enable people to be the healthiest they can be.
4. You are Dairy- and Gluten-intolerant
Dairy proteins and gluten are the most inflammatory things we put into our bodies, and cause a host of issues, both weight-related and other. Sadly, when people try to eliminate these foods from their diet, they tend to cut either dairy or gluten, not both, and they don’t cut them for long enough. The problem is that these intolerances tend to go hand-in-hand so if you don’t cut them simultaneously, you won’t reap the rewards of cutting them. And what are those rewards? Again, we’re limiting this discussion to weight, so on top of relief from bloating and discomfort, you will reduce gastrointestinal inflammation. A healthy digestive system will properly absorb nutrients. As a result, your brain will get the message that whatever nutrient your body wanted has been received and stop triggering your appetite.
5. Take a Multivitamin
In a similar vein, taking a multivitamin first thing in the morning will set you up for less random hunger pangs during the day. Aside from the great benefits of having a well-rounded vitamin and mineral intake, you will avoid falling of the wagon into consuming empty carbs and sugar-loaded junk food. Here’s why: as a protective mechanism against famine and other food-shortages, our brains are little sugar-crazed junkies always craving the next simple-carb fix. When our body runs out of a nutrient, let’s say Vitamin B12, it sends a message to our brains to make us go fetch some. However, that message gets passed via the fidgety sugar junkie huddling in the corner of our brain who rips it up and replaces it with a message saying we need to go get some refined carbs. One large fries or Cinnabon later, we feel sated for about half an hour until our body remember it still needs that B12. So, it sends another go-get-B12 message to our brain, and the whole cycle repeats again and again until we either accidentally eat the nutrient we needed in the first place, or go to bed! Word to the wise, if you are going to take a vitamin with iron, make sure you take it with food… trust me!
6. Good Bacteria
While you’re in the supplement aisle, pickup some probiotics. Acidophilus is great, but it’s worth investing in a multi-strain probiotic. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself buying probiotics, I found a great 6-strain probiotic at the local grocery store for $10 per 60 capsules. It’s a good idea to keep probiotics refrigerated once you get them home, they contain live cells, and the cooler temperatures slow down their activity until you get them into your digestive system! So, what is a probitoic? It’s bacteria… Aagh! Before you freak out, you should know that we all contain bacteria in our digestive systems, and it’s not just there; it’s an active part of our digestion. In fact, people who completely lose their digestive bacteria suffer from malnutrition and diarrhea, and ultimately require fecal bacteriotherapy (which is as gross as it sounds). More interestingly, the bacterial makeup of your digestive system can determine whether you are obese or thin. Studies have shown that when bacteria are taken from humans —overweight or thin—and transferred to mice, mice with bacteria from a thin person stay thin while mice with bacteria from an obese person gain weight! A probiotic can help you develop healthier bacterial flora, and can also help with Candida overgrowth. Candida is a yeast that likes to grow in our guts, and when in excess, can cause bloating and sugar cravings. Bacteria and yeast battle for the same resources, and you can tip the scales against candida with the bacteria of a probiotic (and by cutting out refined sugar and carbohydrates).
7. Food Doesn’t Come in Packages
In the average grocery store, there are only about 3 or 4 places actual food is sold, and the remaining 90% of the floor-space is dedicated to selling you food-like substances that are chock full of weird and strange chemicals that have never been demonstrated to be safe for human consumption. When you’re shopping, start in the produce section and fill your cart 75% full. Then, head over to the organic section and buy some dried beans/lentils, oats, raw nuts and ingredient peanut or almond butter. Technically these will be in packaging, but that’s because stocking loose lentils or globs of peanut butter on shelves is problematic at best. Then, and only if you must, pick up some organic meat and eggs… but only if you must! Note, you didn’t buy any juice. That’s nature’s answer to soda, i.e. a lot of sugar with no fiber to slow its absorption. Similarly, you didn’t buys any gluten-free flour, vegan mayonnaise or low-fat/sugar-free anything. Don’t replace unhealthy gluten-ful products with equally chemical-laden gluten free versions. Instead find a whole food alternative in the produce section (replace lasagne noodles with zucchini strips, replace cookies with an apple). Et voila, you found the needle in the haystack that is actual food in a grocery store!
7. Drink Your Water!
Your digestive food is extremely similar to a garbage disposal; you put food into them to be broken down, and you would never dream of using what comes out the other side! We all know that you should never run a garbage disposal without running water into eat, so why would you ever eat food without first drinking water? Drink at least 8 oz of water before you consume any food. This serves a number of important functions in weight management. It stops you from overeating by contributing to an overall feeling of fullness. It also slows down your food consumption and forces you to be more mindful about eating which is known to help people lose weight. Finally, it helps food transit through your digestive system without causing constipation or bloating. So why did I underline the “before?” Imagine an icing bag with a relatively thin nozzle. If you pour in a large amount of (gluten-free) flour, add the water in second, and then start squeezing, the flour will clog the nozzle, and nasty cement will form at the interface of the water and flour, and most of the water will remain at the top not mixing with anything. If you had pre-filled the bag with some water, and also premixed the flour with some water before putting into the bag, everything would have flowed through easily. Drink a large glass of water before you eat, and continue to drink while you are eating and afterwards too*. And continue drinking throughout the day. 3/4 of the time we think we are hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Dehydration is responsible for most mid-afternoon fatigue… you know, the slump that makes you feel like you need to hit the vending machine for an energy jolt?
8. There is NO Such Thing as a Superfood
One week we are meant to eat acai berries, the next it’s almonds, then kale, then pomegranates. Each one is lauded as the quick fix to all your health and weight woes, and is usually packaged into a highly processed and refined pill form for your convenience. But here’s the thing, there are no free lunches in nature. Here’s how super-foods are born: Some study looks at an ethnicity or population that tends to have longer lifespans or lower rates of a disease and figures out what they do differently. For instance, we figured out that Chinese men drink a lot of green tea and tend to have lower rate of prostate cancer than men in the US. In response, we spend millions of dollars studying what about green tea offers a protective activity against cancer, and everyone rushes out to buy all the green tea Target has on its shelves. Here’s the rub. Yes, green tea is probably good for you, and probably has a small amount anti-cancer activity. But adding it to your daily intake of triple cheeseburgers, soda, ice-cream and french fries probably isn’t going to ward off cancer. The simple fact is that the old guys in China pair the green tea with a diet of organic, whole foods, mostly vegetables and small amounts of meat and fish. Similar misguiding information is rife in advertising. I saw an ad for some ghastly, refined, sugar-addled cereal boasting that it now contained whole grains, and added that people who eat whole grains tend to weigh less. But that doesn’t mean that eating the whole grains is what makes those people thin. Before cereal corporations started shoving nominal amounts of whole grains into their food-like products, the people who were consuming whole grains were probably also consuming large amounts of whole fruits and vegetables while avoiding animal products, refined sugars and artificial additives. The simple fact is that no one food will get you thin or healthy, nor is it good for you to overdose on any one food. There are no shortcuts to losing weight and warding off disease. You have to overall your entire diet and focus primarily on whole, plant-based foods.
9. Meditate, Sleep
In the late 80’s/early 90’s there was a huge craze over meditation and self-hypnosis tapes. There were all sorts of promises made of self-hypnosis tapes. They were going to help you attract the opposite sex, lose weight, quit smoking and land a job. Needless to say, none of this worked out; if it had, we’d all be swinging pocket watches in front of our faces to lose weight. However, self-hypnosis or meditation does have some practical applications. Self-hypnosis can be used to relax yourself, relieve stress and anxiety and curb physical pain. I used it to deliver my daughter painlessly without medication, and just today employed those same skills to get through having a rather large tattoo placed on my shoulder. But back to the weight loss! Taking the time to relax and unwind can help relieve the issues that have you heading to the fridge to overeat. There are some great hypnosis tracks available on iTunes and Amazon that specifically target overeating or sugar addiction. Others are available to help you get to sleep, which we know is an important part of weight management for numerous reasons. While hypnosis may not be your thing, find something that helps you to relax while you are awake, and make sure you are getting plenty of sleep.
10. Do Your DDP Yoga
When it comes down to it, it works. I tried numerous systems and lost nothing (other than hundreds of dollars in copays for psychical therapy resulting from injuries). With DDP Yoga I lost 50 lbs, and (more importantly) found the motivation to make it a long-lasting and meaningful part of my lifestyle, both the exercise and nutrition components of DDP Yoga. And I have heard that same story over and over around TeamDDP. More and more people who couldn’t find success with weight loss are shedding pound after pound with the DDP Yoga system. Are you the next success story?* If you are prohibited from drinking while eating, I recommend building up to 16 oz of water before eating and a similar amount after your meal.