We love to make dieting complicated but the reality is the 95% of the obesity epidemic can be blamed on one thing: we eat a lot of junk. You’d never figure this out looking at the diet section of your local bookstore, though, where it seems like everyone on the planet has a different opinion on why we’re fat and thinks you need to read 300 pages and redesign your beliefs and lifestyle in order to eat healthy. Truth is, eating ain’t that complicated. So today I present three steps that will lead to weight loss if you follow them with common sense.
First a little background. The three steps are presented in my latest article, Fit For Fall in 4 Weeks over at DPM Climbing, along with some training for climbing. The plan is a simplification to one of my early articles for Beachbody in 2001 that has been revamped many times and was also the basis for the nutrition plan for Yoga Booty Ballet. It’s essentially a less OCD version of all of Beachbody’s diet plans that leads you to the same outcome, eating natural foods and minimal junk.
This isn’t a knock on all those books or other nutrition plans. Most can be helpful. One might be exactly what you’re looking for, since there are as many ways to eat healthy as there are personalities. I’m all for reading about nutrition, especially since I write about it for a living. I’ve written thousands of pages about it. Reading them all will certainly help you learn (in the mood, start here). But since many of you have other interests in life my goal is always to keep things as simple. For those of you disinterred in become nutrition experts here are three simple steps to weight loss.
Step 1 – Drink water
Drink a gallon of water a day for a week. Plain water only. We spend most of our lives chronically dehydrated, which does two big things leading to us getting fat. First, it makes you hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Second, it causes your body to retain water, making you heavier. There are a lot of other unhealthy things associated with this condition but today we’re sticking to the basics so this is all you need to know. The best way to stop retaining water is to drink water. Lots of it. The obesity trend began with the rise of soda as our de facto beverage. Soda is the worst food in the world. Drink water, not soda, and you will be smaller.
Step 2 – Cut out junk food
Cut out junk for a week. Okay, here’s the rub. We eat junk—a lot of junk. Most restaurants are junk. Fast food is junk. Most of the aisles at your supermarket are filled with junk. “How do I even know what junk is?” is a common excuse. But you do know, don’t you? When you chose fries over a salad you chose junk. The cookies your friend brought to the office, junk. KFC on the way home because you were in a hurry, junk. Big Gulp to take the edge of the heat, et al. You know.
I wrote this dismissal of the USDA’s food pyramid because the pyramid-now-plate ignores what’s wrong with how we eat. We don’t really need to nitpick carbs and fats and proteins. We certainly don’t need to bicker over what kinds of fruits are healthy. We’re fat because the stuff we live on isn’t on the USDA’s pyramid, or plate, at all. Eat meat from animals and plants from the ground. Avoid foods with words you can’t pronounce, drive through restaurants, and shopping at the gas station.
Overeating real food is actually pretty hard because you’re getting fiber and nutrients and your body sends signals to your brain that it’s full. Junk, devoid of nutrients and stuffed with calories, does the opposite. You’re always hungry because you’re lacking nutrients even though you’re eating way more calories than your body can burn. Simply cutting out junk will fix your issues most of the time.
Step 3 – Have liquid breakfast and lunches
Finally we address habits. Not only do we eat junk but we eat too much. In the land of “all-you-can-eat” we’ve lost touch with reality. For one week have a juice or smoothie for breakfast and lunch and then eat a normal dinner. The catch is that the above rules are still in play. You’re drinking loads of water and you can’t have junk.
This is a version of something we do at Beachbody called the Shakeology Cleanse, though I’m making it less strict. You can put anything you want into your smoothies (or juices if you have a juicer) as long as it isn’t junk. This means that you’ll likely start with a protein or meal replacement base and then add fruits, veggies, and maybe seeds. You can’t add sugar, or ice cream, or Skippy (read labels). Dinner isn’t regulated, so you can fill yourself up, but with the no junk rule in effect you’ll likely stop eating when you’re no longer hungry.
The trick in all of this-—if you want to call it that—-is to learn a lesson about your body’s relationship with food. Food is fuel. It’s there to help our bodies work better. Eating well improves your performance, which is something society has forgotten. Instead, we tend to eat because we’re bored, or depressed, or happy. We’ve turned it into a crutch instead of a tool. Yes, eating is fun. It can, and should be, rewarding. But the reward should be for a life well lived. And we live a lot better when our bodies function like they’re supposed to.