I’ve been overweight and working to lose weight ever since I graduated high school 40 years ago. But it’s only the past three years that I’ve been able to take off – and keep off – the 65 pounds that had been dragging me down, making me feel badly about myself and putting my health at risk.
So what has changed in my life … what has happened to finally lead me to what I believe is lasting weight loss? I humbly suggest it has had a lot to do with me turning to a higher power for the strength and guidance I’ve needed to switch tracks and stay the course of healthier eating and regular activity. After all, eating right and burning extra calories are the cornerstones of a healthier lifestyle.
I discovered this proven formula two decades ago when I became the head of content for my first national weight loss company. I had an army of experts at my disposal and yes, I did drop a lot of weight listening to their advice. But somehow the weight loss was never lasting. I would slip, then slide and ultimately free fall until the only thing I lost was my resolve to drop weight and keep it off.
It didn’t seem to matter what diet I embraced or which psychologist or fitness guru I followed. My weight loss never seemed to last. It’s been a discouraging and mentally challenging journey to where I am today – a relatively healthy man who accepts the fact my intelligence is no match for the truth that a higher power holds the answers to my questions.
Call it a spiritual awakening, if you will. But all I know is I am in a better place – and at a better weight – since I finally came to my senses and turned to my higher power for guidance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all you have to do is say a few prayers and your extra pounds will miraculously melt away. If only it were that easy, we’d all be at a healthy weight. Friends, you still have to do the work but most of it is not that tough. You need to learn the building blocks of a better way to eat and you do have to get a bit more active. It’s not as tough as rolling a boulder up a steep hill. Daily walking has served me very well, but I do plan to add in a short workout program once the Planet Fitness opens at the local mall.
Because I’ve now worked for four national wellness companies, I have the knowledge of what it takes to eat better and drop weight by doing so. My alliance with friend and chef Michael Davis is showing me how to take charge of my daily meals by making better food choices and by having fun shopping and cooking for myself and my family.
So, what are some of the reasons so many of us are overweight?
According to author and nutrition expert Beth Aldrich, there are seven reasons.
“The trick is WHAT you eat and HOW MUCH of it you eat. For example, instead of eating an entire chocolate bar, how about a one-ounce square of high quality chocolate. Savor and appreciate it and stay in control of portions,” Beth once told me.
It’s her humble opinion that many people are overweight because of a combination of factors that vary from one person to another. The unsavory seven:
Artificial ingredients in foods! Learn to read labels and if you don't know what it is put it down and walk away. Your body doesn't know how to process them so it messes everything up inside.
Something is lacking in your life and food fills voids and numbs the pain.
Over processed foods that offer NO nutrition whatsoever!
Lack of fresh, pure water! You need at least half your body weight in ounces every day (a 120-pounder would drink 60 ounces).
Lack of regular exercise! Incorporate movement into your day. Walk to meetings, take the stairs, and do stomach crunches, contractions or squats at your desk.
Boredom! Don't eat while driving, watching TV or sitting at your desk. Think about the food you are eating and be thankful for it!
Portion sizes! Read labels and learn that most of us are eating far too much food far too often.
So, what are the first steps for someone wanting to eat smarter and get healthier?
Keep a food journal to hone in on your eating patterns. Be honest and you’ll learn the feelings or "things" that trigger your overeating.
When we become accountable, we start to become mindful and when we become mindful ... well, that's the first step towards change.
It surely doesn’t hurt to drink fewer sugary concoctions like soda or fruit juices. Heck, studies have shown that diet drinks may be just as bad for you. So, instead, place your faith in good old water. A great way to kick-start your day is a glass of water with a lemon squeeze upon waking. That gets the digestive system moving and helps rids the body of toxins.
Next, take some time to evaluate what's in your pantry and refrigerator. Read labels and start to think about how your food intake impacts you and the planet.
I hope my initial blog for Michael and his Chef’s Diet initiative has whetted your appetite for a healthier lifestyle – mentally and physically. If you like what you’ve read, keep coming back. I’ve discovered the simple approach works if you work it.
Since 2000, John McGran has been the top content man for four national diet and wellness companies, including eDiets.com, Diet.com, Diet to Go and MealPlanMap.com. He’s worked with dozens of lifestyle experts schooled in the fields of nutrition, diet, fitness and the psychology of wellness. He believes his higher power has helped him use what he’s learned to drop weight and keep it off.