I love the free “natural” “health” magazines at the grocery store for a few reasons. 1. They’re free! 2. Recipes. 3. Blog fodder. The latest issue of sage did not disappoint. Not only does the quinoa salad look delicious but I can probably get at least two blog posts out of it.
They have this little “sage advice” feature in which unqualified contributors answer health and nutrition questions. The question posed in this issue was
“I need to desperately lose 30 pounds and don’t know where to begin. How can I set myself up for success?”
The answer was provided by a “nutraceutical researcher and product formulator”. Precisely who you want to advise you on weight loss, someone who makes money from sales of dubious weight loss supplements. <- Please note this last sentence was written in sarcasm font.
To be fair, his advice wasn’t completely terrible. He mentioned: goal setting (although I didn’t like the way he suggested formulating a goal). Nutrition (although his specific advice was crap, at least he mentioned nutrition). Exercise (we know that weight is lost in the kitchen, not at the gym but exercise is important for good health and can help with weight management). Science-based supplements (well, sure, if there were any but to date there are not). Consistency (absolutely, if you want to see sustainable results you have to make sustainable changes).
Now, I’d like to provide my own response to the question.
First, I’d like you to ask yourself why 30 pounds? Where did this number come from? Is it what you weighed in high school? Would it bring your BMI down from overweight to “normal”? Has your doctor advised you to lose this amount of weight for medical reasons?
Next, I’d like you to consider what effect it will have on your life if you lose those 30 pounds. Will you be happier? Healthier? Why do you feel desperate to lose this amount of weight?
Like the columnist, I’d like you to consider goal setting. Unlike the author, I’d like you to forget about the precise amount of weight you think you need to lose, and the “specific time frame” in which you aim to lose this amount of weight. I know, I know. It’s hard. But health, happiness, and self-worth don’t come from the numbers on the scale. Instead, I’d like you to focus on setting behaviour-based goals that you can achieve.
For example, bringing lunch to work at least four days a week, rather than eating out. Preparing most of your meals yourself (note: this doesn’t mean nuking a frozen dinner or dumping a can of soup in a pot). This means cooking the majority of your meals using primarily whole ingredients. Eating breakfast every day. Eating at least two servings of vegetables at every meal. Keeping healthy snacks on-hand to avoid vending machines and fast food fixes.
Just pick one thing you’re going to change about your relationship to food right now. Don’t try to make too many changes at once. Otherwise you’re likely to become overwhelmed and frustrated and give them all up. Only make changes that you’re willing to live with. Don’t forbid yourself from eating any foods that you love.
It’s quite likely that as you shift your habits to healthier ones that you’ll see weight come off. You may not see that arbitrary 30 pound loss on the scale but if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, whatever your weight, it’s likely to be healthy.
If you’re looking for some more healthy resolution ideas to get 2016 started off right, check out my latest column for Rustik Magazine.