Weight Loss and Dieting Tips


We are vigorously opposed to the obsession with weight loss and appearance that is consuming America. Eating disorders are extremely dangerous, in the short run or in the long run. If you are a constant dieter who is constantly checking the mirror and the scales for signs of being overweight, it is mandatory that you have someone giving you input. It is also mandatory that you believe them! When people say, “You look fine,” take their word for it! When they tell you that you are looking skinny enough to be unhealthy, then definitely take heed.

We believe the weight charts available on the internet and in magazine articles (and just about everywhere else you look) are terribly unreliable. If you are going to follow a weight chart, then you had better have other evidence that the weight chart works for you body shape and size. Having a six-pack is not necessarily a normal condition. If you're body is fighting you when you try to maintain that six-pack, it may very well be because it's not healthy for you to have that little fat.

That said, obesity is a problem in the United States, and the availability of food at all times of the day or night has caused us to tingle our taste buds to the detriment of our health. The desire to tingle your taste buds is natural. It is not natural to turn your nose up at a feast. With feasts so readily available in the United States, it is wise to have a strategy to combat the good and natural desires of your body, which was designed to overcome a scarcity of food, not to deal with a surplus of it.

One additional note: Fat on your belly is a bigger concern than fat anywhere else. The fact is that the fat on your hips and thighs are producing chemicals that are good for your heart. Really! (Discover Magazine, Feb. 2007, "Killer Fat")


The Basics

The goal is to be healthy!

It's important to remember that. You can diet and keep your weight down where you think it ought to be and still die of poor health. Eating a wise and healthy diet can make a chubby person healthier than a slender one. And no matter how many commercials tell you that skinny is attractive, and no many how many actresses starve themselves into eating disorders, the truth is that we are programmed to find health attractive. You will not only be healthier eating well, you will look better as well. Your eyes, your color, and your skin will announce to those around you that you are healthy, and they will find it beautiful. Health isn't as beautiful as happiness is, but it is beautiful1.

Most of us already know a lot about how to eat right. You may not know the perfect diet. You may not be informed on the latest scientific studies. But you do know that brown rice is good for you and a candy bar isn't. You can almost certainly sit in a restaurant and do almost as good a job lining up the menu items by how healthy they are as a nutritionist. You know that gravy will clog your arteries and that choosing a sweet dressing on your salad will make the salad less healthy. I have seen numerous people lose weight rapidly, lower their blood pressure, feel better and more energetic, and get sick less often just by deciding they were going to eat healthy and doing nothing else.

There are probably things you can learn about healthy fats. Fat has been demonized in the media, and low-fat diets were very popular a decade or two ago.

The most important thing I want to remind you of in this section is to eat healthy. If you are dieting, it is all the more important to eat well, because it's hard to fit all your vitamins and minerals into a limited diet. It can be done, though, and I generally eat healthier when I'm dieting to lose weight because I'm so careful to eat nutrient-dense foods (covered in the Counting Calories section of this page).

The other thing to remember is exercise. I've read articles before that said it's even more important than eating right, though I'm not sure I agree. Since you can do both, you don't have to worry about which is more important. Do both!

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Working Up the Willpower

An old man once told me, in a cracking voice, “I have plenty of willpower. What I need is some won't power.” I suspect most of us can identify. I know I can.

When I was a child, I was very small. In 6th grade, at 11 years old, I was four-foot-six, and I weighed 67 pounds. My daughter reached that size at age 9. I remember getting hand-me-downs from a third grader that year. If something fell in a small, confined space, I was always the one sent after it. I got tired of being so skinny, so I started eating more. It worked. In 7th grade I weighed 100 pounds. I was average weight, but I was still only four-foot-nine, so I was very pudgy. My dad told me, “No one your age should be that flabby.” I was even more mortified when the lady across the street looked at my flabby chest and said, “Yours are bigger than mine.”

Those comments provided willpower. I cut my evening meal in half, literally. I made myself accept every invitation to play sports with my friends, no matter what else I was doing and no matter what time it was. A year later I took up running. I didn't lose any weight, but I didn't gain any, either, and I got taller. By my freshman year I was back to being skinny, but I was in great shape and reasonably strong. I was under the mistaken impression that my experience in Jr. High was going to be enough to keep me from getting overweight the rest of my life.

In my mid-twenties my knees started bothering me enough to make me stop running. I got married, ate better, and began gaining weight. For a while I worked at a health spa as a maintenance man and that helped, but eventually I got a desk job. Then I really gained weight. I'm five-foot-eight. As I approached forty years old I ballooned to 220 pounds. I'm not even of medium build. That weight is nearly double my high school weight of 115 to 120 pounds. I picked up sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which you stop breathing when you dream and wake up. I had it badly enough that people who saw me sleep feared for my life. People who rode with me while I was driving feared for theirs, because I was exhausted all the time.

One day I read a web site giving the health dangers of sleep apnea. It scared me so badly that I didn't go to sleep that night, an accomplishment for someone as tired as I was all the time. The next day I began a crazy starvation diet, eating only when I couldn't bear the craving. I drank coffee to stifle my appetite. It was horribly unhealthy, but once I dropped below 190 pounds, the sleep apnea went away.

The fear of sleep apnea is enough to motivate my willpower once I hit 180 pounds, but the rest of the time I am as lacking in motivation as anyone. My best weight, an average between what I wish I weighed (150 pounds) and what my friends say I should weigh (170 pounds), is about 160 pounds. Getting and staying there is very difficult for me. Here's what I do to help my willpower. I hope it will help yours.

1. Wait

The first thing I do is wait. I've found that if my weight starts increasing and my eating habits are out of control, I just need to start feeling bad about it. When I first notice “hey, my weight is up to 170 and increasing, and I'm binging at night, doing things like eating three bowls of cereal before I go to bed,” I don't suddenly have the willpower to control my eating. However, as it starts being on my mind, my motivation grows. There comes a point where I think, “I am ready to face the first few days of dieting. It is now worth it to me to press through the cravings and work on better eating habits.” Only then do I begin working on my eating. Starting before that is a recipe for disappointment.

I should point out here that I've been a jogger again for several years. I got past my knee problems by learning about how to take care of myself. www.julstro.com is a great resource for that. You might even want to pick up their book, The Pain-Free Runner. It will help you not just for running, but for all other aches and pains you might have. However, despite running, without a proper diet, I gain weight. I've gained weight even while running 30 miles per week. My eating habits occasionally get pretty bad. I like feeling full.

So my first recommendation is think and wait. Repeatedly starting to diet and failing is counter-productive. It's easy to get to think that you are a person with no willpower. The issue is really not willpower, or even won't power. The issue is motivation. Give your brain some time. Give thought to what you need to do and why, and your motivation will grow. Then and only then, begin to make changes. I've waited up to six months, making only very small changes that I knew I could succeed at, before beginning a purposeful diet. Again, let me remind you that dieting is not just doing without food. It's eating healthy. Almost everyone knows how to eat healthy. You just have to get yourself doing it, and your weight will take care of itself.

2. Inform Yourself

When I'm in the think and wait stage, I put myself in positions to get all the positive input that I can. If I see an article on eating healthy or on dieting, I read it. Your brain is an amazing organ. It does a lot of things that you don't know about. Your subconscious brain activity greatly outweighs your conscious activity. Feed it, and let it work for you. It will. You are not so different from everyone else. While people may vary in their level of willpower and self-control, we are all still basically people, and there are things that are true for all of us. In every area of our life, we defeat ourselves by believing we've been dealt a worse hand than we have. You cannot trust yourself. You are more like other people than you are willing to admit, even in the good qualities. You are not powerless. That's a lie you tell yourself so you don't have to be uncomfortable. It doesn't work. You will be uncomfortable eventually. It's much better to choose when you'll be uncomfortable.

3. Do All the Easy Stuff

Every one of us have things that are easy for us. For me, for example, avoiding soft drinks is an easy thing. In fact, avoiding sugar in my drinks is an easy thing. I get almost no calories from the things I drink. I know it's easy for me, so I at least avoid sugar-laden drinks even when my eating habits are awful. There are other things, too. It's easy for me to avoid potato chips. So I do, all the time. I rarely eat potato chips, and when I do, it's normally because I know I've been eating well enough that it won't be a problem.

There are things that are easy for you to avoid. Avoid them. There are good foods that you like to eat. Eat them. Do this all the time, even if your other habits are bad.

This is also true of exercise. I read a long time ago that exercise doesn't only happen when you are doing a routine. You can park a little further from the door of the grocery store and walk across the parking lot. You can get up to turn the channel on your TV rather than using a remote. You can walk places nearby rather than driving. You can get up and visit a friend rather than sit and watch TV. You can do a chore that you've been putting off. There are many small things like this that would be easy for you. They repay you more than just your small walk or chore. It gets your heart rate up and tells your brain that you are not in nap mode. One small thing like that can boost your energy and motivate you to do more things. Even if you don't do more, your metabolism will have gotten a shot in the arm. That is true even if you just get up out of your chair for a few seconds, ending your “relaxation mode.”

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Counting Calories

One truth that's becoming more and more known is that weight loss always boils down to the simple matter of eating less calories than you burn. (See the Scams article below.) Even low-carb diets are successful not because of the low carbs, but because of reduced calories. It can be argued that low-carb diets are healthier than low-fat diets or vice versa, but in the end if you want to lose weight, it will happen only because you burned more calories than you took in.

When I diet I count calories religiously. You do not need to do this. You do need to think about calories, however. Eating calorie-dense foods is not a good strategy when you want to lose weight. Calorie-dense foods are foods that provide a lot of calories for the amount of food that you're eating. Nuts tend to be calorie-dense foods, even though they are very healthy. A pound of nuts will probably give you over 2,000 calories. A pound of apples, on the other hand, will only give you about a hundred. Apples are an awesome diet food. It would be good to learn which foods are calorie-dense and which ones are not. Chicken, for example, is usually a terrific food, even if it's fried. It's both healthy and low in calories compared to a lot of other foods. You just have to avoid the skin, which often doubles the calories.

So even if you only learn about calories in a general sense, it is good to know which foods are calorie-dense and which are not. Some foods make up for this by being filling, despite having a lot of calories. Fats will leave you satisfied for much longer than carbohydrates will. Some fat with a meal can be a great idea, despite the calories, because the fat will make you digest the meal slower. Both fats and proteins can do this, which can help prevent the blood sugar drop that can result after a quickly-digested, sugary meal. That blood sugar drop, called an insulin reaction, can slow your metabolism and make you terribly hungry. Potatoes, for example, can increase your blood sugar rapidly, promote the insulin response, then leave you depressed and hungry. So maybe that calorie-dense dollop of butter or sour cream is a good idea with your baked potato. So is the skin.

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There Are No Bad Foods, Only Bad Diets

This is a phrase I read often when I subscribed to the Nutrition News in Focus newsletter, now discontinued. It was put out by the editor of Nutrition, a journal for nutritionists. I've forgotten the name of the author, a well-known nutritionist.

The idea behind the phrase was, simply put, that one bad meal or one bad snack was no big deal. It is only the long-term, ongoing diet that matters. Percentages matter. One bowl of ice cream at your child's birthday party does not crash a diet. In fact, if your diet is good, it will have no ill effects whatsoever.

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Write It Down!

One day as I entered a grocery store—remembering which grocery store it was reminds me that I was probably going to buy jelly doughnuts—I picked up a magazine with an article proclaiming the one great secret of dieting. Of course, I figured it was some scam, but in this case I completely agree with them.

Their one secret was writing down what you eat. They said a study had been done on people who were told to write down everything they ate. They were not told to do anything else. At the end of some number of weeks, they weighed the people and every last one had lost weight!

This re-emphasizes what I've been saying. We all know what we should be eating. We're just not doing it. You may need a little bit of education, but if you're American and read a newspaper or watch TV, you have a pretty good idea of what healthy eating is. Writing down what you eat forces you to face what you're eating, and for most of us, obviously, that's enough to motivate us to eat better.

Any diet you are on will work better if you write down everything you eat. It will work even better if you go back and read what you've written.

My experience has been that it is painful to write down what I eat when I know I'm not eating right. However, there's nothing like pain to motivate a person. All of us keep our hands off a hot stove because we know about the pain. Pain is nature's preferred motivator. Go through the effort. Write it down. It will help you.

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Eating at Night

Nighttime, after-supper eating is a problem for dieters. A wonderful way to sell diet pills is to advertise that if a person will just take your diet pill and then eat nothing after 6:00 p.m., they will be guaranteed to lose weight. For almost every overweight person, this will work no matter what is in your pill. The not eating after 6:00 p.m. will take care of the weight loss on its own.

I have successfully lost weight several times by controlling my nighttime eating. If this does the job for you, rejoice. You will be able to do the basics: eat healthy, avoid between meal snacks except fruits, vegetables, or nuts, and don't eat at night, and you will almost certainly maintain a healthy weight.

I, however, have never been successful at not eating at night. It is horribly difficult for me, and I get ravenously hungry. Worse, I live in Rose Creek Village, so I live with two other families. Several of the people in our house can eat at night and maintain a reasonable weight. So they do. When I don't, I notice them eating, making it even harder to overcome the hunger. It appears that Ben Franklin's old adage is true. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy (I don't know about wealthy or wise). If I made it to bed between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. every night, I think I could make it. That's not how my life works, though. I'm lucky to get my children in bed by that time.

I've found that I do better if I plan to eat at night with the friends in my house. That way, I have a specific meal or snack in mind, and I am much more likely to stick to something reasonable. A bowl of cereal or even a sandwich is very satisying and is not overwhelming in calories. I make up for the extra 300 calories or so at times of the day when it's easier for me. I don't find it difficult to eat a light lunch, and it's my habit to have apples or vegetables mid-morning and mid-afternoon. At my size and activity level, it's no problem to eat a thousand calories at every meal. Dropping breakfast or lunch to something under that, while still eating healthy, works for me.

The best thing of all is if you can avoid eating at night or if you can get by with an apple or a couple large pickles. Pickles have almost no calories, and an apple is well worth the 50 calories you're taking in because it's so healthy. However, if you have the sort of problems I do, it's better to plan well than to struggle on and on and then binge when your will caves in. You'll have to figure your own best times and plan, but it can be done.

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Healthy Fats

Fat gets a bad name nowadays. Not all fat, however, is bad. The fact is, if the fat content of your diet runs under 20%, you are endangering your health. Fats “help nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, maintaining cell membrane integrity, etc.” That quote comes from http://www.healthcastle.com/goodfats-badfats.shtml, which I recommend you look at. It has the sort of information that you will find at the best sources, but I think their page says it shortly and concisely.

It has always stood out to me that there are nutrients called “essential fatty acids.” The “essential“ part there means that those fatty acids are, well, essential. There are also vitamins that are fat-soluble. That means they dissolve in fat, which means that you need fat to process those vitamins. Even the actual excess fat on your body can be good for you if it's not belly fat (from Discover Magazine).

The Mediterranean diet, a very popular diet among dieticians and one that we can all tell is actually healthy, is relatively high in fat, but the fat of choice is the monounsaturated fat, olive oil. Monounsaturated fats lowers your bad cholesteral while raising your good cholesterol. It is a good idea, as much as possible, to replace your saturated fats with monounsaturated fats. Canola oil is another monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are found in many nuts as well.

Omega 3 fats can help brain function and reduce your risk of heart attack. They are found in nuts as well. The source of choice, though, is fatty fishes. Salmon is easily the best choice here. Don't bother with the tuna can from your local grocery store. It has no fat at all, so it can't have any Omega 3's. Many people take fish oil pills. It's better to just eat the fish, though. Most things I've read recommend two to four ounces twice a week.

One other benefit of fat is how filling it is. If you are careful about the fats you consume and when, they can be a great tool in your diet arsenal. When you feel like binging, get something heavy in good fats, tell yourself the cravings will go away in twenty minutes, eat something fatty and wait. It works. Since you're an American, you're going to have to get yourself to wait the twenty minutes. At first the food in your belly won't satisfy the cravings, because your body is used to a rush of sugar in your blood after eating, whether that's from something that's actually sugary or from a rapidly-digested carbohydrate doesn't matter. Most of us Americans are addicted to the sugar rush, and we plan our meals accordingly, even if it's subconsciously. A fatty meal will not provide that rush. Once it's had some time to slowly release nutrients into your bloodstream, though, you'll find your cravings subsiding.

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Exercise and Moving

I don't want to recommend a particular exercise program. I just want to address some principles.

First and foremost, all movement constitutes exercise. Every day you are faced with numerous opportunities to move. Take them; they will help you. Park further from the door at the grocery store. If you sit at work, then walk around during your break, even if you stay in the break room. Get up and change the channel rather than using the remote. Get your own glass of water on purpose. Not only are you burning just a few extra calories, but you are momentarily kicking up your heart rate, energizing you and boosting your metabolism for a few minutes.

Second, almost no one sticks with an exercise program, including the people that you think are sticking with it. Yes, runners often stay runners, and there are other habitual exercises that work. Almost no one, however, sticks with a calisthenic program. Nor do they stick with aerobic videos, pilates, or yoga. If you want to stick to an exercise program, change it regularly. Do calisthenics for a while, then play with a dumbbell a few minutes a day. Afterwards, find an exercise program on the internet. Later, get a book from the bookstore. I once found an old log on a trail that I used to run. I dragged it back a mile to my house. It took a month going just a few feet each day. Those few feet were great exercise, though, and nothing else I've ever done has produced the results in the mirror that did. Make yourself some memories. For a couple months I walked every day with a 50-pound bag of sand I bought at Lowe's for about $2.50. My wife ended up sewing me a thick cloth pillowcase for it. She infused it with aromatherapy oils. It was very sweet...literally.

Exercise research is always learning new things. Not long ago everyone would have agreed that 30 minutes of jogging or walking was much better than 10 minutes three times in the same day. The prevailing wisdom was that you needed to keep your heart rate above 120 for at least 20 minutes to get aerobic benefit. It turns out it's not true. The 10 minutes three times a day may be better for your heart. In the end, once again, you just need to move. Get out; walk; clean the house; clean the car; rake leaves. Do something!

Here's some additional notes. If you take up running, make sure to stretch. Stretch afterwards, not before. Stretching before exercise is old wisdom. All the best coaches will tell you now that you should never stretch cold muscles. Stetching is not a warmup. Instead, you need to warm up before you stretch. Warm up for jogging by walking for several minutes or doing the first five to ten minutes of your jog very slowly. Stretch afterwards to get blood into the muscles to clear out waste and begin the healing process. You also need to learn how to take care of your muscles so that you don't have joint problems. The Runner's World Guide to Injury Prevention.

If weight lifting is your exercise of choice, it's a great exercise. It'll build your lungs and heart more than you realize. A good set of weights will definitely get you breathing hard. Heavy lifting releases chemicals into your body that promote health and muscle growth. However, the ridiculous claims of some recent exercise gurus that one extra pound of muscle burns 30 or 40 or 50 calories a day is nonsense. That would mean that a 140-pound man, who probably burns around 2400 calories on an average day, would suddenly be burning 3000 calories or more if he muscled up to 160 pounds. That's a nice thought, but it won't happen. Instead he'll burn an extra 200 calories or so, which is more like 6 calories per day per pound of muscle, not 30 and certainly not 50.

I would encourage you to read about exercise. There's a lot of interesting information out there, as well as some wild theories. Be careful what you try. You don't want to risk injury, but if you find an exercise that's fun and that you want to do, that's probably the one to do. An inefficient exercise you do is better than an inefficient one you think about doing.

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The Incredible, Edible Egg and the Amazing McDonald's Hamburger

What's amazing is that there's something good to say about a McDonald's hamburger. It's just this. A McDonald's hamburger has only 250 calories. If you're going to blow your diet for a moment, you might want to try doing it with a hamburger rather than a candy bar, which has almost the same number of calories, but at least has some protein. The bun may be devoid of nutrients, but it does have carbohydrates for energy, and if you burn those calories off exercising, there's not necessarily any harm done. You can make up for the nutrients by eating something nutrient-dense, like an apple, later. The fat in the hamburger will help prevent a sugar rush from rapidly digesting the fiber-less bun, and you'll feel more full than you would with the candy bar.

Now, please, I'm not recommending a McDonald's hamburger. I'm just telling you that if you have to blow it, there may be better ways to blow it than completely losing control.

I keep a mental list of such items. Ramen noodles, which I love, are out. We already know that Ramen noodles are just a step up from rat poison, which probably tastes good as well or the rats wouldn't eat it. When you find noodles that are 40% fat, you know there's a problem. However, there are cheat items which, while not necessarily healthy, are at least several steps above poison and provide the added benefit of actually sating your cravings.

For me, a bowl of tomato soup and crackers does the job. Even if I eat a whole can of Campbell's Tomato Soup™ and fifteen crackers (whole-wheat, please, the fiber's very good for you and is filling), I've gotten away with barely over 400 calories, and such a meal fills even me up. I've used that as lunch when I'm trying to lose weight. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is another favorite of mine. I go a little light on the peanut butter, and I can get away for just over 300 calories. Not much above the candy bar in calories, but it's much healthier (whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, and all-fruit preserves and it's all healthy) and much more filling. If you trade out the peanut butter and jelly for a good lunch meat, lettuce, tomato and whatever else you want to put on there (except mayo), and now you've got a prize meal that probably has less calories than the candy bar.

If you just have to have the candy bar, at least choose Snickers™ or Payday™ for their peanuts. I don't know how redeeming the health value of those peanuts are, but at least they're filling. The fat will also help slow down the sugar rushing into your bloodstream.

Finally, I need to mention eggs. I don't buy, and never have, any of the hype that eggs are bad for you because they contain cholesterol. Your body makes cholesterol. Too much saturated fat will cause your body to make too much cholesterol. Eggs are not going to drive your cholesterol up by putting a little in you, and several studies have backed me up on that. Eggs have awesome benefits. There are not many calories, but what are there are almost all protein. They have numerous nutrients in them. WH Foods has a page on egg health benefits, including a report on a study that showed eggs' benefit for weight loss. Even if you fry them, do it in olive oil, and your breakfast is still a winner. I find it hard to say enough good about eggs. What a great food! Hungry and don't want to ruin your diet? Try two boiled eggs. Barely over 100 calories. Walk while you eat them, and you'll just about burn off everything you eat as you eat them. That doesn't do the job. Fry two up in olive oil and throw them on whole grain bread. Add a light coat of butter and some seasoning to one of the bread pieces, and you'll have a 300-calorie, filling, healthy winner of a sandwich.

Do some reading on the internet about healthy foods and create your own list of low-calorie, healthy, and filling meals that fit your taste buds.

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The Starvation Response and Metabolism

I've heard much about the starvation response. Go on a diet too long and your body will think you're starving and slow your metabolism, making it almost impossible to lose weight. That may be true, though I don't know that it is. What I do know is the relationship between metabolism and movement. If the starvation response is real, there is a way around it.

It takes around 100 calories to travel a mile on foot, whether you're walking or running. It takes more the more you weigh. There's nothing that can be done about that. It's like moving a car with gas. It takes a certain amount of gas to move that car, and there's nothing you can do about it. You won't find a way to move that car with less gas than that. If there were, we all would have found it. (This is not an article about getting better gas mileage by accelerating more slowly and keeping your tire pressure accurate, so, please, no emails with suggestions.)

If your body goes into starvation mode, there's only one way for that to happen. You have to move less. It's possible that if you diet for too long, you may begin feeling lethargic. If you sit around more, you will definitely burn less calories, and it will be harder to lose weight. This can be a big deal. If I run six miles, at my weight I'll burn around 700 calories. If I'm a janitor and I push a broom all day, then I'll probably burn at least a thousand calories. Movement burns more calories than we realize. A construction worker and a receptionist need a vastly different amount of calories. Construction workers, if they're hard workers, will find they can eat just about whatever they want and not gain weight. The difference between all those slim teenagers of the 60's and all those chubby teenagers from the 90's is how much they moved. Active teenagers can easily burn a thousand calories a day. That's worth about four scoops of ice cream, every day. The active teenager can eat about 20 Oreos more than the inactive one without gaining a pound.

If you're worried about the starvation response, move! Get up. Walk around. The starvation response can't happen without you noticing. If you do have the starvation response, you'll be sitting around—or laying around— more. Don't do it! Why wrestle with your self-control and deny yourself foods you want, then defeat your purpose by laying around? Clean the house. Get up and walk around the block. The starvation response won't just be gone while you're walking around the block but also for at least a half an hour afterwards. It will probably motivate you to do even more. Weren't you intending to clean the garage? or rake the leaves?

One more thing. It seems likely to me that the more nutrition you're getting in your limited amount of food, the less likely you'll face low energy, which is what the starvation response will feel like. Make all those reduced calories count. Make them as nutrient-dense as possible. You know already what foods are packed with nutrition. Fruits and vegetables all give you lots of nutrition in return for the few calories you're investing. Seeds can be packed with oil, and thus be calorie-dense, but they are also packed with minerals that you might be missing in your reduced eating. Seeds can transform the way you feel when you're dieting. Pumpkin seeds are especially notorious for supplying trace minerals. Sprinkle them over your salad or just eat a handful a day if you like them like I do.

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What got me thinking about this was an advertisement for hoodia that I saw on the Google ads on this page! What seems certain from news reports and web sites I can find on Google is that most hoodia products are scams. Many, if not most, contain no hoodia at all. There are plenty of web sites pushing hoodia products that claim to separate the scams from the real thing. It's important you get good information.

Hoodia is a cactus-like plant from South Africa. Kalahari bushmen have been eating its stems for centuries to limit their hunger and thirst during long hunts or when traveling. I read a news report many months ago from a guy who actually had gone to South Africa and tried some hoodia there. It was very effective at suppressing his hunger for 24 hours. However, he was eating the plant directly, and he ate a piece about the size of half a banana. How much will you be getting in a pill you bought from someone trying to get rich quick?

I have found that National Institutes of Health is a great web site to go to for sane information on health products. I checked hoodia on their site, and all they can say right now is they have no idea whether it works or whether it's safe.

Either way, do you want control of your life or do you want to be taking diet pills for the rest of your life? It seem to me that if you need an appetite suppressant to lose weight, you can count on gaining the weight back as soon as you get off the pills.

Muscle Gain for Losing Weight

I'm all for gaining muscle if you can do it naturally, without steroids. I am not for your being fooled. Extra muscle will burn calories for you each day. However, numerous exercise programs have recently been claiming that each pound of muscle burns 30, 40, or even 50 calories per day. This is nonsense. A muscular 190-pound man does not burn 2,000 calories more per day than a thin 150-pound man. This web site at about.com says it's more like 6 calories per pound. optimalhealthpartner.com gives similar figures and some reasonable arguments as to why it just ain't so.

Like the articles I reference, I think gaining muscle is great. I think America's obsession with big muscles is a waste of a good life, but regular exercise is good, and if it produces muscle, all the better.

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1 I've said this already, but even all of America's commercials can't change what's programmed into us. Beauty is not found in an attractive figure and face alone. Nothing will make your face as attractive as happiness. It doesn't matter how prone to acne you are; if you are happy and healthy, you will be attractive to almost all human beings, because we are programmed to recognize those things. If how you look is a concern of yours, then those are the places to start. Add neatness, which is a sign of discipline, and you will be more attractive than all the unhappy and undisciplined people with perfect features and figures. Of course, if you're consumed with being attractive, you may find happiness a difficult quality to possess. Return to text