Follow the money: why are we not teaching people how to naturally lose weight?

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I’ve heard it said many times that when you want to find the reason for something, whether its a crime, a regulation, rule, or law, follow the money. This is a cynical way of looking at things, but in today’s world, unfortunately, following the money can lead you to the motivations behind most anything that happens in our government, business, and society. It seems to me that following the money will also give you the reason that nobody is taught how to lose weight naturally and safely.

There is a huge industry around weight loss. Ironically, the companies that sell the weight loss products are the very same companies that sell the food that makes us fat. It is in their financial best interest to keep fattening us up while then selling us the illusion of a cure, or a way out of obesity. Sadly, the vast majority of these products are snake oil at best, with minimal benefits and questionable efficacy. What they all have in common: high profits and big promises.

I used to be a member of the demographic they marketed to, and I would watch with rapt attention as the promises were spewed from the mouths of shills who extolled the virtues and efficacy of these products. I would do research on them to find out the veracity of the claims only to find that all of these products would say, “Coupled with a healthy diet and exercise.” It seemed that the truth was there all along: healthy diet and exercise. Yet people think that it’s the product that is helping them lose weight and get fit.

Why am I such a cynic when it comes to the diet and fitness industry? Because I have made more progress without using a single product than many people I know, some of them close to me, who have been using these products. They place so much of their faith into the products (because they make the promises) that they allow themselves to let down their guard with their diet which erases any weight loss they could have achieved had they stuck to their eating plan.

I know that it’s hard to be disciplined when it comes to eating. You’re not telling me something I don’t know; I lived it. I still live it. My relationship with food is complicated, at best, and I will likely be recovering from my eating disorder for the rest of my life. If anything, it’s harder for me to not eat something that it is for most people. But then again, I’m honest with myself and I know that I have a problem with eating. Many people try to fix their health through dieting without addressing the real problem in the first place that got them overweight: their relationship with food and their eating habits (or disorders).

What people need to realize is that without addressing the cause of the weight gain, no product, diet, or even exercise will get you permanent weight loss. It’ll be temporary, at best (if at all). Don’t buy a solution. Find it within yourself. That’s where the problem is, anyway.

What keeps me up at night: nutrition ignorance

I was trying to fall asleep the other night, and quite literally, this kept me awake. I was thinking about how poor a job we have done in the US to educate our people properly about nutrition, and how big money has gotten in the way of that education and is now causing the largest epidemic of all time: obesity. (No, I don’t think about this EVERY night. I have my own problems to think about most of the time. lol)

I’m always surprised when people don’t know that orange juice  has roughly the same amount of sugar as the demon of the nutritional world, soda — about 5 to 8 teaspoons per cup. I watch people who are trying to lose weight switch from sodas like Coke or Dr. Pepper to orange juice or apple juice. They’ve literally traded one flavor for another.

There are many sources online that can point you to the real nutritional value of the foods you imbibe. Be careful and make sure they are neutral; there are many sites available that extol the virtues of orange juice as being healthy and good for you (it’s not bad in small amounts) as compared to sodas. A slice of pizza won’t kill you either, but a diet of pizza daily likely will.

Do the work. Look up your nutritional choices and make decisions based on fact, not on propaganda. I want you to be healthy, and to get there, you need cold, hard facts.

Paleo? Live like a caveman? Why?

So, this is something that comes up every now and then. I am a huge fan of the Paleo diet, but not the diet of cavemen. I don’t, for a minute, believe that cavemen were healthier than us because they ate less beans, soy, dairy, sugars, etc. What I do believe is that this diet that is called Paleo hits upon some food restrictions and recommendations that work for me. They have allowed me to get healthy and, in a roundabout way, get fit.

I know that what I’m saying here is sacrilege to those who came up with the idea and many who wholeheartedly believe in it. I’m sorry. I just don’t believe that part of the origin story of Paleo.

I heard once that Paleo is a good diet but a terrible religion, and that’s how I feel about it. I follow the diet, I believe in the diet, but not necessarily in the origin story. I don’t think I am healthier now because I live like a caveman. I believe I’m healthier now because I live a low-carb life without sugar, dairy, grains, soy, and legumes. That’s all.

What’s in a name, anyway, if it works? It seems so many people get offended by the name of the diet or the idea behind eating “Like a caveman.” Heck, I’ve even seen people shy away from the Paleo diet because of their religion not believing in evolution (therefore, Paleo man was not human). I don’t really care what it’s called. You could call this the PaleoMarine Diet if it makes you feel any better. I won’t be offended.

I’m not the Paleo Police; Don’t apologize for not eating Paleo if you don’t want to

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Yummy blueberry pancakes made by Sherry.

I get this all the time; “I’m sorry I’m eating cookies in front of you.” Don’t be sorry! Eat your food the way you want to! I won’t judge you!

I also get told by people who normally eat Paleo, “I don’t normally eat this, but I am going to just this once.” It’s okay. Eat what you want. It doesn’t offend me, and I won’t think any less of you for eating what you are eating.

I’ve heard, “I feel sorry for you because you can’t have any of this cake or ice cream.” Again, it’s okay for you to eat what you want, and by all means, don’t feel sorry for me. Enjoy your food! I enjoy mine!

One of my favorites: “Well, I’m going to eat this anyway even though you think it’s bad for you.” Don’t let my presence pressure you into not eating something you would otherwise eat. I make my food decisions just as you make your own. Just because I think it’s bad for me doesn’t make it bad for you. That’s a decision for you to make for yourself.

I’m not missing anything by not having regular cake and ice cream. I’m not missing out at all, in fact, because I do have cake and ice cream and cookies and many other goodies. Only, I have them very rarely, and even when I do, they’re Paleo. I will make the occasional exception for a birthday cake or holiday celebration, but normally I’ll just say, “No thanks.”

I am an advocate for Paleo and for Whole30, and it seems I’ve become an advocate for running as well. I am not, however, someone who will guilt or shame anyone else for not eating Paleo or running. Those are very personal decisions and it’s not my place to impose my decisions on anyone else. If I’m asked, however, I will give you my opinion and the best pitch I can for you to eat well and get some exercise. That, I can promise.

Why Ask if You Don’t Care?

dohI get asked every few weeks or so, “So, you never eat bread anymore?” and many variations on this question with bread replaced with the things I don’t eat anymore. I take that as an invitation to discuss diet, so I tell them, “No. Not anymore.” So far, that has always been followed by, “But why? I heard bread is good for you.” I then go into why it’s really not good for us, how the food lobby has paid for studies the government cites as sources of why we should eat more grains and how sugar isn’t as bad as some of us say it is. These people nod, smile, and tell me how shocked they are and then they go (literally, right before my eyes) and take a bite of a donut and wash it down with orange juice.

Really?

Maybe I’m just a curiosity to them. I really don’t know. Ultimately, like I tell people all the time, I’m not the Paleo Police, and I honestly am not going to give you crap for eating whatever you chose to eat. It’s your decision, and I respect that. But if you ask me my opinion on the food you’re eating, you’ll get it. And most likely, unless you’re eating Paleo, it won’t be what you want to hear.

Maybe they’re trying to be polite and have conversation on the only thing they know about me. I’ve become “That health nut guy” or “That Paleo guy.” Now, I have added to that, “That fitness guy” and “That guy who runs.” I’m okay with these labels, I guess. It’s better than, “That really heavy guy,” “That overweight guy,” or “That fat guy.”

The Paleo Fad

dohI’ve been asked from time to time if I’m following the “Fad Diet” of Paleo. Whenever I hear this question, I have to sigh. These people don’t understand the difference between a diet and a weight loss diet.

Adkins is what most people know of as a low-carb weight loss diet. It was designed for people to adopt with the sole purpose of losing weight. The Paleo Diet, on the other hand, is a lifestyle that is intended to be adopted for life. It’s a diet that promotes the eating of meat, vegetables, and fruit while avoiding sugar, grains, legumes (including soy), and dairy.

People think that because the Paleo diet has become very popular lately that it’s a fad. They also believe that people will only achieve short-term weight loss followed by a gain of weight. I haven’t experienced that in my 13+ months of being Paleo. As a matter of fact, I lost weight steadily for the first 12 months, got stuck on a plateau because I ate too little, and then started losing weight again once I realized I was under-eating. My  body will hit a low point one day where equilibrium is reached between my calorie intake and utilization, but until I reach that point, I will continue to lose weight. I look forward to reaching that low. It’ll be a final victory.

Let there be no mistake: this is no fad. This is a diet that is rooted in good, solid science. The detractors who don’t take Paleo seriously come into the discussion with preconceived notions and a predisposition to dismissing any argument that shows that the Paleo diet is efficacious and safe. I just read a blog post from a blogger who is a nutritionist, and her understanding of the Paleo diet was atrocious and dangerously misinformed. She tried to take apart the Paleo diet and show how it didn’t make sense. Well, based on the incorrect information she had, of course it didn’t make sense! But she didn’t take the time to actually visit a Paleo website or even try to understand the actual foods we eat and avoid. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered far more medical professionals with the same view as this nutritionist. This is horrible, because instead of treating the root cause of so many of our obesity-related maladies, they choose instead to treat the symptoms. I guess there’s more money in it.

I am not Paleo because it’s a fad. I am Paleo because it’s made me healthy, helped me get fit, and probably saved my life.

That face you make when someone on Facebook who always posts about their weight loss journey posts about eating something horrible followed by a post wondering why they aren’t losing weight.

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Are they trolling, or are they really oblivious?

Weight loss is 90% diet. Eat right, and your body will reward you. Eat crap, and your body will respond accordingly. It’s a pretty easy concept.

Please, for the love of all things, if you’re going to post about how hard you work out and how hard you’re trying to lose weight and then post about the awesome Cinnabon you ate and a few hours later post about how hard it’s been for you to lose weight, know that while I’m not judging you, I’m making the face in the picture above. You know what to do. You know the right way to do this. You’re making a conscious decision to sabotage your progress. And for that, you get no sympathy from me.