Who am I to be giving advice on weight management? I’ve been overweight most of my adult life, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. However, I have succeeded in losing a lot of weight, put most of it back on (like most people), but have managed to lose a total of 70 lbs over the last 10 years, and I think I finally understand how to do this.
Michael Pollan in writing a very good, simple book on nutrition (Food Rules), set out the most basic eating advice I’ve ever encountered. It is, simply:
Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much
Now, while healthy eating, good nutrition and weight management are really as simple as Mr. Pollan’s epigram suggests, there is nothing easy about getting and keeping our weight under control. Anyone who has succeeded in losing weight who claims that it was easy are simply finding a way to be judgmental without seeming to be so, and are doing their part to promulgate the idea that obesity is a character flaw.
Losing and managing our weight requires planning, determination, and a fair amount of self-education. If you’re depressed, anxious, stressed-out or otherwise not in a good place emotionally, changing your eating habits is going to be very difficult to do. The things that it takes to improve eating habits and maintain a proper weight requires a considerable amount of mental energy. The first time I succeeded in losing weight I’d just escaped from a bad marriage. I no longer had the concerns and effort required to maintain that relationship, and I had the mental and emotional resources to concentrate on doing what I needed to do.
Before I close out this post, I want to point out that I keep referring to “weight management”, not weight loss. So many people fail to manage their weight despite being able to lose weight, because they can develop a strategy to lose weight that is not sustainable in the long term. We can only permanently change our eating habits (and thus manage our weight) if we do so in a manner that is sustainable. That means that whatever new habits we adopt must not be to only lose weight, but to maintain that weight over the long haul. Anything that leaves us feeling deprived or denies us the pleasure that most people derive from food is not something that I can live with, so I needed to find a better way.