Everything About Diets is Wrong, Part 3

Posted: August 31, 2011 in Diet & Nutrition

See the Intro, Part 1, and Part 2 here.

You know how many calories you typically burn on an average day.  Now comes the hard part: actually keeping track of what you consume.

There was a very succinct statement I found on another blog: “That which is measured gets improved.”  In fact, that article is so spot on that I’m just going to encourage you all to read it instead of me essentially repeating most of it.  But before I do, I’ll point at least this part out:

  • No, it’s not easy.
  • No, it’s not simple.
  • No, it’s not fast.
  • Yes, it’s tedious as hell.
  • Yes, the slow pace of progress can be discouraging.

But here’s the ultimate reason behind it all.  If it was fast and easy, we’d all be doing it, and it wouldn’t be such a big problem the way it is in reality.

This excerpt from the blog above really puts things into perspective with regard to eating:

If you’re overweight, you probably don’t realize how many calories you consume on a daily basis.  If you’re underweight and “can’t gain weight no matter what you eat,” you probably don’t realize how many calories you consume on a daily basis.  Americans have such a warped sense of reality when it comes to proper “portion size” and what constitutes a meal.  We need to be better informed.

In a nutshell, we kid ourselves quite often.  Typically, men underestimate the caloric content of what we eat while women overestimate.  Speaking from the man’s perspective, we also have a tendency to lie to ourselves about not only the foods we eat but our activity levels and body composition (some women do it too, to a degree, but I don’t know what goes on in their heads quite as readily as I do what goes on in men’s brains).  We men like to believe that when we gain weight, we’re gaining muscle mass, that we need this excess food for all of our hunting/gathering activities.

Unfortunately, hunting/gathering on X-Box doesn’t count.

Another excerpt from this article that’s quite accurate:

You CAN’T outrun your fork – 80% of your successes or failures will be a direct result of how you eat. Although the quality of your calories consumed is incredibly important, the quantity of calories you consume is the first thing that needs to be fixed.  Think of your stomach as a muscle that adapts to its surroundings.  If you continually shovel 4000 calories down your throat, your body will start to crave 4000 calories even though it doesn’t need that many.

But this doesn’t mean that if your diet currently consists of about 4,000 calories that you should drop to 2,000 and see the pounds melt right off.  That’s just unsafe.  Gradual changes are not only best, but will also ease your body into its new routine without the pangs of cravings and hunger.  Again, if your body is used to 4,000 calories, then it’s used to that amount of food.  It thinks that’s normal.  The hard part is convincing your body that it isn’t normal (and at this point, be extra cautious of excuses that creep up in your head; you may think “but athletes eat that much or more!”  Yes, but athletes already know this information.  If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a regular, average person and that excuse doesn’t apply).

Track everything, don’t lie to yourself.  It’s a simple statement, but difficult to do unless you get into the right mindset.

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