Forgive me for being so facetious in the book about weight loss, I do know there’s more to it, even if what I said is the fundamental truth. So, here are some additional thoughts on the subject, tapping in to what I’ve learned as a success coach, a fitness fanatic, and as a practical evolutionary psychologist.
Thanks to an ingenious evolution of human biology, our genetic programming tells us to consume foods that taste sweet, like ripe fruit, and to consume all we can when we have access to it because we don’t know when we will have access to this energy supply again. Thanks to insulin, any surplus sugars we don’t burn off
at the time of consumption will be converted into fat storage to get us through the times when food is scarce. Today, this works against us as we walk down the candy aisle in the grocery store.
Watch people “free refill” their plastic barrels of soda at gas stations, on their way to the pharmacy to pick up insulin injections, all so their primal taste buds can be tricked into keeping the economic carousel running. The problem is that the food manufacturers have us all addicted to sugar, and it’s hiding almost everywhere and where you least expect it. Yes, I said addicted. In controlled experiments, sugar has been proven to invoke the same brain responses as cocaine, and cocaine-addicted laboratory rats are even proven to prefer a sugar addiction to a cocaine addiction. In the absence of Sugar Rehab Clinics, we are going to have to create our own.
I’ve heard some medical doctors sensationally “myth bust” that sugar doesn’t cause diabetes and actually it’s fat that does, and they’re right, but they’re also wrong because they’re not explaining the whole picture. To explain, fat in the blood causes type 2 diabetes because the fat blocks sugar from supplying energy to muscle cells, so the sugar stays in the blood, leading to insulin resistance and diabetes. But here’s the other part of the story: the very purpose of insulin is to turn sugar into the fat that’s causing the problem. So, yes, sugar does lead to diabetes, but not directly.
A calorie isn’t always a calorie from the point of view of gaining weight, a.k.a. fat storage. Some sugars are naturally in whole foods, and those aren’t the problem; the problem is the added sugar in most processed foods we consume. Sugars that occur naturally in foods, such as fruit, when consumed in moderation don’t have the same effect because the fiber in the whole food pulls the sugar into the digestive system, which is why it’s better to blend fruits and vegetables, not press or squeeze them. Conversely, when you consume something like a soda (virtually pure and unnatural sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup), the sugar hits the liver practically directly, triggering insulin production almost immediately with the subsequent conversion of it to stored fat. Carbohydrates consumed to a degree more than needed also get broken into sugar, which is still a sugar. There is no magic bullet; you just have to check in to rehab.
It’s not about calories as much as spikes in insulin production. The higher the Glycemic Index of the food (G.I. Index), the more likely the insulin spike, and natural sugars such as honey are still sugars (not to discount their health benefits in small doses). When you consider the biology, you appreciate that it’s also as much about the rate of consumption, so in theory you could enjoy a candy bar without much consequential fat storage, but the catch is that you’d need to take all day to eat it, crumbs at a time to avoid insulin spikes.
It helps to become conscious of how our ancient genes can work against us. What else can we consider…?
A great deal of what modern society does today is a reflection of being deeply dissatisfied with life, and comfort/over eating is one of many symptoms. Whether asked
consciously or unconsciously, people are wondering what the point of it all is. Indeed, the most important question you can ever ask yourself is “Why am I here?” and the answer isn’t written on the drive-thru menu. When you discover and energize your true purpose in life, when you create a life around this central reason of why you’re here, you will feel less inclined to overindulge. I answer this question for you directly in The You Code (available here https://amzn.to/3G0zIqj). It’s a large and delicate subject that is different for different Genetypes. Know thyself!
Finally, habits. It takes approximately thirty days to make or break habits, but those thirty days can be rough, and our ancient biology is once again to blame. Much like the proverbial laboratory rats, humans are animals who are programmed to seek an instant reward for any given action (or inaction), for our survival. In other words, we expect our progress on a diet- by making/breaking habits- to have instant rewards, to have a linear progression. In reality, the progression is cumulative, not linear, so it’s about having faith and sticking it out for those thirty days.
The same goes for bad habits as much as good habits. If I eat a hamburger and fries for lunch today, I won’t see any consequence of my actions, I get a pleasurable (calories) feeling for eating it, so the bad habit is in danger of becoming ingrained, but one day it will catch up with me. Similarly, if I eat a small salad for dinner tonight, I won’t see any consequences of my actions, I get a bad feeling for this (little to no calories), so the good habit is in danger of not becoming ingrained. Same applies for going to the gym! One word about going to the gym that I’ve found helps: if we work out first thing in the morning, we feel less inclined to waste all that hard work for the rest of the day by eating the wrong stuff.
There’s also a Pavlovian element in play; just like Pavlov’s dogs who salivated after simply ringing a bell, we program our digestive systems to eat at certain times, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy whether we’re hungry or not. However, what most people don’t know about Pavlov’s dogs was that when the dogs were placed in a different room to the one that the experiment was conducted in the dogs did not salivate when the bell was rung! So, consider ways to be somewhere different and/or doing something different at mealtimes. Think about times when you forgot to eat at a usual mealtime, chances are that you were out of the usual environment.
So, the trick is firstly to be mindful of what’s going on at least for thirty days while you form the new habit and break the old habit. What also helps with this is to use our reward-seeking psychology to give yourself something you want in exchange for the new habit each time you exercise it, and not food! Instead, perhaps buy yourself something online as closely timed as possible to your good actions.
Once the rewards finally catch up with your actions, the whole thing becomes self-reinforcing in a good way. Have faith!