As you might have guessed, Holy Blasphemy doesn’t usually give health tips like how to diet, lose weight, exercise, burn fat or look good in a bathing suit. We do, however, deal with topics like self-control, using your will power to achieve your goals, mind-power and visualization techniques, etc. And if you’ve ever tried dieting before, you know that trying to lose weight and keep it off – trying not to eat another cookie, slice of cake or chocolate bar – is 1000 times harder than ‘being good’, loving your neighbor or following the 10 commandments. Therefore in this article I’ll propose 6 fundamental, absolutely effective techniques to control your diet and lose weight easily and effectively.
The difficulty and challenge posed by the overpowering carnal desires of the human body is one of mankind’s most troublesome existential dilemmas. As St. Paul reflects in Romans 7:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Paul is probably struggling with desires like coveting someone else’s wife, or being jealous, angry, proud… falling victim to the very real human weaknesses that religion aims to combat. But he’s got a few things going for him. He believes that God wants him to improve, that God cares whether or not he is good, and that if he fails to control himself, he may face an eternity of pain and suffering! Those are powerful motivators.
What do you believe about losing weight and your body? Whether or not you are religious, you might have some beliefs like this:
1) God/The Universe doesn’t give a damn if I eat too much or am too fat.
2) This body doesn’t really matter anyway, everything passes away.
3) The most important thing in life is being a good person and human relationships. Worrying about my weight is just a selfish and egocentric waste of time.
If you have any of these beliefs, or agree with them on the surface, you can start to understand why it is so difficult for you to lose weight and keep it off. While you worry and obsess about your body and appearance, at the same time you’re telling yourself that it really doesn’t matter. You’re allowing your conflict of belief and ideology to become the problem. This means instead of just focusing on losing the weight, you’re secretly wasting your energies divided about whether or not losing the weight should be important to you!
With that in mind, here are 5 eternal weight loss “secrets” which I’m sure you’ve heard before – the difference is that I’m going to teach you how to maintain the mindset to make them work for you.
But first, a confession: I’m fat. I’m drinking hot chocolate and eating chocolate cake, enjoying my last day of 2010, because I’m serious about losing weight and getting in shape in 2011. My New Year’s Resolution is to lose 15 pounds in January and keep it off. My girlfriend’s favorite joke is to point at my belly and ask “Who’s baby is that?” Last week I ran into an old friend (beautiful, tall, slender) who didn’t recognize me because I’d “gotten so fat.”
So let me tell you, that I understand how much it sucks to be worried about how people are looking at you and reacting to you. If you want to be a Buddhist sage or monk, get into heaven quickly and teach yourself not to give a damn by refusing to care what other people think, that’s one thing. But for the rest of us, you body does matter. And not only because losing weight and eating right is healthier for you in the long run: being satisfied and happy with your body will help you by giving you more self confidence and positive self-esteem. And that’s really, really important. (How can you be ‘good’ if you don’t like yourself?)
Furthermore, I know a lot of people say that you should learn to accept your body as it is – and that’s true as well. But let’s get this straight: being overweight is NOT natural. It’s not “just the way you are”. It’s not normal. It’s not something to be accepted. (Although, I’ll admit, there are people who genuinely suffer from health problems which cause obesity). For almost everyone, being overweight is the consequence of living a modern lifestyle filled with very little exercise and way too much disgusting (but delicious) unnatural food products.
The first step in losing weight, maybe the most important step, is acknowledging that it is OK to want to lose weight.
#1 Decide to lose the weight
“Duh” you might be thinking. But this is a serious and often missed point. Many people attempt to lose weight because they think they should, or their spouse or family thinks they should – but they only decide to lose weight or diet with half of themselves. We all know we have an ‘inner child’; a sullen, angry and resentful little kid inside us screaming for candy and icecream when the rational adult side of us is trying not to cave. Your diet success depends on getting that kid to go alone with your plan, which means you have to be very firm, and very clear. At the same time, you have to learn to treat the kid to something as well – a give and take agreement – which we’ll talk about in the next point. You decision must be do or die: never give up, never surrender. No fall back plan, no “well I tried”. Make a goal and stick with it.
#2 Reward Yourself
A diet program is usually like a punishment; you feel like you’re suffering which is why it is too easy to quit. You need to counteract this tendency by indulging in other areas of your life by permitting yourself small (and large) pleasures. This goes for both your kid self and your grown-up self. Every day that you might your goal, allow yourself something nice. If you fail (that day), punish yourself by taking something away. The easiest thing to do this with is an enjoyable hobby. Maybe your routine at night is a glass of wine and an hour of the news, or CSI. If you don’t cheat on your diet – go ahead and continue these small comforts. If you do cheat – don’t let yourself. Do something else instead. You could also limit your use of Facebook or the internet, for example. After a couple days of missing your favorite TV shows or less internet time, you will find new resolve not to cheat on your diet, because you’ve made it about more than just what you put in your mouth.
You can also think of long-term rewards. Something you really want to buy; some new clothes, a new computer or camera. Something you want but aren’t sure about and haven’t bought yet, but intend on buying in the next few months. This could also go for vacations. Make a list of several of these things; for every month that you stay on your diet or exercise program, reward yourself by shopping and buying the thing you desire. If you didn’t do so well one month, pick it up again the next month, save your money for awhile longer, and then buy it when you are successful. If you’re worried about money, keep in mind that your diet will probably include spending less on snacks (Starbucks, etc) which should save you enough cash to spend on these treats.
Remember at the same time to keep your child-self happy and occupied by allowing yourself to do some ‘childish’ things: a great resource for this is “the artist’s way”. Basically, pick something silly or fun that you know your inner child would enjoy and do it everyweek (or day). Finger painting, coloring, running in the grass, playing at the beach, etc. Keep yourself entertained and happy, and the diet will be much easier.
#3 Change your beliefs
One of the most powerful weight loss techniques is to condition your mindset and reprogramming your subconscious beliefs to lose weight. If you’ve heard of “The Secret” then you know what I’m talking about. I strongly suggest Kelly Howell’s “Weight Loss” mp3 program. The idea is, by listening everyday, you change your core subconscious thought-habits, which will nullify a great deal of your cravings and the mental rebellion you face whenever you try and diet. (Plus, listening to mp3’s when you go to bed is literally the easiest thing you can do in your weight-loss regime.)
So – search around the net, buy or download some mp3’s and listen to them everyday.
#4 Set a goal; create a lifestyle
The biggest reasons diets fail is because people have no “end-game”. They aren’t thinking of the end result. In this sense the very term “diet” is bound to fail: it signifies a short period of time where you alter your dietary habits – after which you’ll go back to your normal way of eating. Of course you can’t keep weight off like that! So don’t “go on a diet”. Instead, change your lifestyle. This is a fundamental aspect of weight loss. You need to stop eating some things that you usually eat and replace them with other things – and you need to keep doing it, forever. This doesn’t mean that you can never enjoy your favorite foods; just limit them. The main change will be in snacking habits. You really don’t need to eat all the junk that you do it, and it is possible to give them up.
The trick is to set a smart goal. (SMART = specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) Don’t say “I’m going to lose 50 pounds before 2012.” That’s too vague. Instead focus on the positive things you are going to do TODAY. Make a list of the things you will eat and the things you won’t it. Actually, just by cramming yourself full of healthy foods, you’ll be much less hungry for the junk food. Instead of saying “I will not eat a donut” why not start with “I will eat a salad for lunch”; remember to reward yourself everyday that you succeed with this small goal. Once you’ve mastered one new habit, you can add more: “I will eat a salad for lunch, drink 5 glasses of water, and skip snacking between meals”.
Basically, focus on food that is available around you that you have the choice to eat, and make sure you eat that first. You are training yourself with new habits. Start small – change one small habit at a time, not an entire overhaul. Make one small change until it isn’t difficult, then add another one. This isn’t a “crash course diet system” (those don’t work anyway). This is about rebuilding your lifestyle from the ground up in a way that will keep the weight off.
Have a long term game plan. Don’t think of your diet lasting for three weeks. Think of small, lifestyle changes that you can make and keep. Plan long term rewards for yourself (big rewards) if you can keep up these small goals for longer periods of time. At the same time, don’t worry about the rest of your life. The only time we ever really have is right now. The critical moment of choice is always happening right now. At this moment, you can control whether or not to break your diet or indulge in something you shouldn’t eat.
#5 Eat better, eat less, build your willpower
There’s no escaping it: the way to lose weight is to eat better and eat less. No amount of special dietary pills, products or exercise routines will make you lose weight without eating less, and eating better foods. But it doesn’t have to be a HUGE change from your current lifestyle. All you have to do is eat a few less calories than your body is used to, and your body will start burning fat. So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t totally change your diet overnight. Focus on changing one small thing at a time. Instead of your morning coffee, have a cup of tea. Instead of a bagel or donut, have some fruit or oatmeal. Even if you do this every other day, you’re already cutting down your calories. Don’t COUNT your calories and worry about this so much; just cut out some things you are used to. You’ll know its working when you get uncontrollable urges to go out and buy junk food; your body is literally addicted to getting its fix.
Your body is like Scrooge, who’s very happy with his hoardings. Asking it to give up what it stored away so carefully is difficult. Instead of making it just about the food, it helps to view each moment as will-power training. If you’re just worried about the weight, you’ll tell yourself “this one little bite doesn’t really matter” or “I can start my diet again tomorrow”. As long as you have a rational reason not to eat the food, you will think up a just as rational reason to eat it. Reason won’t help you.
This is the secret of religious ethics: they are powerful because they don’t give you a reason – they give you a commandment. You MUST listen to God’s rules, because He’s God and He said so. End of story. Every small decision about what to eat in the grand scope of things doesn’t matter – except in a way that you haven’t thought about. Every time you give in, give up, or quit you are giving up or weakening your will-power. The next time you really want a bite of something naughty, don’t rationalize why it is or isn’t OK. Think of it as an exercise of will-power. Even if you’re sure you’re going to cave, test yourself. Don’t eat it NOW. Look at the clock and say I will eat it in 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you can make the choice again; eat, or don’t. This is not a waste of time – you are exercising your will power, which will help you to achieve anything else you want in life. Understand what’s really at stake is not your belly, but your ability to make decisions and follow them through, to be in control of your own life.
The craving for sweets or junk food is always an opportunity to strengthen your resolve.
Exercise is another absolutely obvious item that is notoriously difficult to keep up. There are millions of ways to exercise, and yes you do need to establish a habit of doing something several times a week. Don’t be too drastic, cutting out a few calories and being just a little more active will already start burning fat.
Here’s what I recommend:
Don’t do “exercise”. Like most people, I hate exercise, I never do it. Some of the things I do enjoy, however, is swing dancing, rock climbing or going to a night club, getting drunk and shaking it on the dance floor. All I’d have to do is allow myself to do some of the things I already enjoy once or twice a week to see results. Pick something you like, or something you’ve always wanted to learn, and start doing it. Form a club or group. Shoot for once a week to start.
Another thing you can do to easily add more exercise into your schedule is consider your mode of transportation. Where do you go everyday? Are any of those places close enough that you could walk or ride a bike to? Instead of going out and “doing exercise”, get in the habit of GOING somewhere. Ride a bike or walk to a nearby park, movie theater, shopping district – have a destination and alter your means of getting there. Let it be somewhere you enjoy. Love window shopping? What a great way to exercise! Go to the mall and walk around for 4 hours – you’ll never even realize how much exercise you’re getting.
If all else fails, get a “wii”. They’re fun and addictive, and have some neat games. Not the best form of exercise but certainly exciting.
You can lose weight, but it may be one of the most difficult struggles of your life. Make it a priority, take small steps, and commit to a new lifestyle. These 6 steps will work for you; but if you’d like a more substantial weight loss plan, diet or guide, here are some extra popular weight loss resources:
- The Diet Solution Program
- Fat Burning Furnace
- No Nonsense Muscle Building &/or Your Six Pack Quest
- The 31 Day Fat Loss Cure
- Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle
- Cheat Your Way Thin
- Update: 1000 Calorie Challenge
- Eat Stop Eat- The New Expanded Version!
- New – 7 Minute Diet
- Every Other Day Diet
- Fat Loss Secret
- Muscle Gain Truth No-Fail System &/or Real Deal Fat Loss System