What can you do when you’ve gained so much weight that serious health problems have manifest and you’re desperate to lose as much as you can as soon as you can? Here is a solution that does not involve any commercial diets but does place the onus on you. Are you ready for it?
What got me writing this was a message from a lady in just such a situation who needs help and rather than just sending her a personal email, I decided it would be nice to share my reply with people reading this blog in the hope it might help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
Without revealing the name or contact details of the person, I will reproduce a portion of their letter here:
“I really do need help. I have type 2 diabetes, thyroid problems (my thyroid has quit working), fatty liver disease, degenerative disc disease, and numerous others which deeply affect my health. If I had a diet to follow, I think I could curb my hunger feelings and lose some weight. At this time, I am at 225 lbs. I have never weighed this much in all my life. But the problem was them putting me on steroids. I am hoping that you will give this woman the means to maybe lose 50 lbs. By that I mean the meals and any snacks or material that I would need to lose this weight. I live on a fixed income and barely have enough money to pay my bills…much less buy groceries just for myself.”
Here is what would have been my reply:
Well, the first thing I need to say is you’re not alone. There are many people in your situation and there are some things you can do that don’t involve doing any commercial diets like Nutrisystem or Medifast for example, or spending a load of money on special groceries.
First up is I need to be direct, a little hard even, and not all PC and treading softly, so I hope you accept this advice in the spirit it is given — to help.
Nobody ever lost weight from dodging the realities of how they got there and putting into action what they need to do to make it right again. The people that DO lose weight are the ones that figure out for themselves they need to help themselves and then do it for themselves — no excuses!
Step 1: Get Educated
There is a wealth of useful nutrition information on the Internet from professional sources like www.webmd.com and several government health sites like www.nutrition.gov and medlineplus.gov. You should also gen up on food labeling here: www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm.
Read up on what’s in food that causes weight gain and when you next go to put something in your mouth, make sure you know what’s in it — everything! You’ll soon learn that even an innocent-looking sandwich is really another potential hike in your weight coming along!
Step 2: Get Tough with Yourself
If your fridge is full of great looking packages of food, cans of this or that, desserts, pizza, ready meals etc.
Throw it all out.
Take it to the trash and say goodbye and good riddance. Never replace it with the same food!
Likely what you have in there is a lot of store bought packaged food that is full of additives (you need to learn what every additive is and what it does to your body). It will contain hidden combinations of additives that together will cause weight gain and more importantly, the increase in the level of stored visceral fat.
Visceral fat is your greatest enemy in the fight to lose weight. Once it gets stored in your abdomen, it locates around your major organs and starts secreting hormones that make you feel hungry.
The cells that make up visceral fat have a kind of rudimentary intelligence that causes them to use chemical means to force you to eat more of the things that feed those cells so they can grow and multiply. That’s right. This kind of fat wants to grow and grow and most people don’t know it or how it happens.
All they know is they get hungry more often. Even after eating a full meal, they still feel compelled to eat a high-sugar snack or dessert of some kind, like a cream cake, chocolate pudding, packet of cookies – you name it, you’ve probably eaten it after a meal!
Well, it’s time to fight back and stop feeding those fat cells!
Step 3: Change What You Eat
It probably sounds obvious, too simple and maybe feels like a “duh moment” but changing what you’re consuming is the only way to beat the visceral fat and make it shrink. The end game is to reduce the level of visceral fat stored in your abdomen to the minimum so it can’t trick you into feeling hungry for high calorie, high sugar snacks or foods (or drinks, come to that).
How you do that is back to Step 1 where you educate yourself about nutrition, food and what it contains. When you know what you’re eating (I mean REALLY know), you actually feel empowered and even a little excited at taking control of your eating.
You’re actually taking control away from the fat cells and giving it back to you.
I probably don’t need to go into great detail about nutrition here, but to keep it short and um, digestible, here’s what you MUST do:
Never, never, never buy any food product that comes in a packet (any kind of packaging), a can or a jar!
Are you surprised? You better be.
Also (and I’m sure you’ll agree with me, very important) you must not buy any packets of snacks like potato chips; nachos; pretzels; roasted salted nuts; sweet snacks like cookies; cup cakes; pastries… I think you get the idea. NO SNACKS!
Can you prepare and cook food in your kitchen? If yes, great. If not, learn how. Now. No excuses.
You must (and I mean MUST) buy fresh produce – fresh vegetables, fruit and lean meat from the butcher’s counter in the store or if you have a farmer’s store nearby, go there. If you have an organic farm store near you, that’s even better.
Fill your fridge up with fresh vegetables and fruit. You can allow some nice things like a few pots of plain live yogurt (not flavored, or low-fat because low-fat = high sugar), a little cheese maybe, eggs, fresh strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries etc (you can add fresh, sweet berries to plain yogurt to make it interesting, by the way).
“But I can’t afford to buy groceries.”
I can tell you that fresh vegetables bought from a farm store or even the fresh section in the supermarket is cheaper than buying packets of junk food off the shelves, even if the store is trying to trick you by offering a “Buy 2 get 1 Free” kind of promotion.
When you see special offers in the store, walk away from them. They are NOT saving you money, they’re making you spend MORE money by buying something you would not have otherwise bought!
One the flip side, a pound of fresh kale; carrots; broccoli; green beans etc is CHEAPER pound for pound than any packet foods of any quality. Granted, there is sometimes really cheap stuff that comes in packets that looks tempting, but you cannot afford to buy that garbage because it is going to make you fat!
The whole point of this step is to buy fresh food that you prepare and home cook yourself for yourself. That way, you get to know exactly what you’re eating and what’s in the food.
In the case of home cooked meals, that’s exactly zero added sugar and zero artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and other chemical poison that are loaded into processed foods you buy at the store or from takeaways.
There’s a trick you can play on yourself here: When your fridge has no easy-to-eat-right-away snacks and you don’t have any stashed away in the larder or cupboards, you won’t be tempted to eat snacks!
Remove temptation and you’re halfway to winning the battle!
Did I hear someone say “Yuk!” to fresh vegetables?
Step 4: Learn to Like Fresh Vegetables
Did I mention someplace that you’re going to need to get tough with yourself?
Well, this can be the making or breaking of you. Fresh vegetables must make up at least half of what’s on your dinner plate at main meals.
I’m not necessarily advocating becoming a vegetarian or vegan — that’s a choice you can make if you want. It can be a surprisingly good choice but it’s not essential.
There is a problem with factory-produced meat, dairy and eggs:
Intensively farmed animals (that’s where almost all the meat you buy in stores comes from) are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to make them grow faster, bigger and produce more meat. They are fed on unnatural “feed” that further taints the meat and can result in all kinds of health problems down the line for people who eat it.
But that’s a story being told by many so-called eco-warriors already. So I don’t need to make a crusade here.
Suffice it to say, if I want to eat a nice juicy steak, I make sure it comes from an organically farmed, grass-fed cow. It costs more, but as it’s an infrequent treat, it’s not a problem.
Step 5: Goodbye Bread and Refined White Flour Products
Oh this is going to sting:
You must stop eating bread, pasta and any other products made or baked using refined white flour.
These are refined carbohydrates that the body converts into sugar that feeds visceral fat.
You don’t need refined carbs, you get all the good carbs your body needs from fresh vegetables and fruit. Yes, fruit contains sugar (sucrose and fructose), but it comes as a complete package that the body can digest much more easily and convert most of the sugar to usable glucose before it gets stored in fat cells.
What’s not to love about a nice shiny apple? Or a juicy pear or peach? Or a delicious banana?
You can eat all those fruits and more in place of sweet, processed snacks and satisfy your sweet tooth without loading on empty calories. The best part is fresh fruit tastes great!
Step 6: Goodbye Soda
If you drink soda or other flavored drinks that come in cans or plastic bottles, STOP!
No more sugar-laden drinks at all for you!
When you realize how much sugar is in one regular can of soda, you’ll be astonished. That’s a lot of empty calories helping your visceral fat nemesis to grow faster and larger day by day.
Well I say, “Starve that enemy of yours!”
Wait: If you’re thinking to just switch to diet soda, don’t. That’s another fat trap lurking behind a ton of clever marketing lies. Diet soda contains the artificial sweetener, “Aspartame”.
This stuff is poison to your system in a number of guises (just Google: “the dangers of aspertame”). The one you need to be concerned with here is that it stimulates appetite, making you crave more sweet foods.
No diet soda or for that matter any foods or drinks that claim to be sugar-free. They may have no sugar, but I certainly believe they’re not danger-free!
If you want to drink something that will quench your thirst and taste good, here’s a tip I got from my grandmother many years ago and I pass it on to everyone I meet:
Get a fresh lemon and squeeze all the juice out of it (into a container). Pour the lemon juice into an empty pint bottle (glass is best) and fill it up with fresh water.
Put it in the fridge and drink a glass of your own cool, homemade lemon drink whenever you’re thirsty.
It tastes good, it’s refreshing and wait for it… it can help you lose weight!
Visceral fat cells do not like alkalinity in the body. Lemon juice metabolizes into an alkali in the body. As surprising as that sounds, it’s true!
Know what else? Cancer cells do not like alkalinity in the body either. They certainly do not like lemon juice… it kills them! But that’s a topic for a whole other article, I do believe.
Step 7: Sunshine and Fresh Air
So far, everything I’ve written about in this article can be done by just about anyone.
Anyone can learn stuff, like how to prepare and cook home cooked meals using fresh produce. Anyone can lean about nutrition from the Internet instead of wasting their time watching pointless videos or reading pointless online magazines full of gossip and nonsense.
Anyone can choose to stop buying and eating unhealthy snacks and foods and switch their eating habits to only include healthy, fresh foods you cook yourself. Anyone can stop drinking soda and anyone can squeeze a lemon and mix it with water and drink that instead of commercially produced drinks.
Here’s something else just about anyone can do.
A lot of overweight people I come into contact with tend to spend a lot of their time indoors, sitting down. They’re either sitting in front of the TV for hours and hours, or they’re sitting playing computer games or wasting their lives on social media.
Without saying one word about exercising, I’m going to suggest you try taking this important step to losing weight.
Get up off your butt and get out of the house (or the office) into the sunshine and fresh air!
Take a walk to the local park and then walk around the park during the day (if the weather is OK of course). This is important because the body manufactures its own vitamin D when exposed to the sun and you need this vitamin to help you lose weight. Medical studies have confirmed this – getting as little as a half hour of sunshine per day can make a big difference (a positive difference) in the way your body metabolizes food.
While you’re out of the house, the fresh air and extra oxygen getting into your lungs also helps with metabolizing food. Oh, and to get from your house or office to the park involves an activity called “walking” — it’s something that helps your body use more of the glucose it gets from food instead of storing up in fat cells.
If you want to walk to the gym or to the swimming pool for a swim in your lunch hour, go right ahead! But I’m not saying you really have to. I don’t want to scare anyone here.
The point is to start to reduce your body’s fat store. And keep reducing it until you achieve your ideal weight and body size.
Do that by using good old fashioned common sense mixed with some determination and true desire to help yourself. Don’t expect anyone else to help you because only YOU can lose your excess weight!
Start by eating less, eating almost zero added sugar either directly or from refined carbs and eating fresh whole foods (the right food can be thought of as a health booster, after all). Then make friends with nature by getting outdoors into the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine (sunshine is free, by the way).