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Monday, July 4, 2011

The F A T Onion: peeling away the layers of bad habits that keep people from lasting weight control.

My favorite Facebook status update of all time was by a friend who said, “Mike is...still working on my before picture.” 
I remember laughing out loud when I read that. No, I am not saying my friend looks bad. I just mean it typically takes a great amount of time to become overweight, and it is going to take some time to reverse it. Jim Rohn, famous author and speaker, said, “Failure is not one cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.”
So why do we so often feel like we need to drop the weight immediately by going on some drastic calorie restriction diet? The concept that needs to be grasped is that weight loss should be a decision to live life well, not just to look good as soon as possible. I often think of when we go on a diet to shed some quick weight. We lose 20 pounds in a couple months, and look great! But then, the diet ends, and we go back to the old way of eating. Within a year, we are back to our old weight. What did that diet actually do? According to obesity research, it actually makes us LESS successful at weight loss in the future!
With that said, I want to introduce to you my philosophy of gaining control of your health.  I call it the “Fat Onion”. The idea is simply that, just like peeling an onion layer by layer, you “peel away” the things that have contributed to the weight you are now....for good. Well, we at least want to eliminate them as constant, habitual acts.
Here is how to do it:
  1. List every “vice” you have that contributed to your “before picture”. Each one will be represented by a layer of the onion. 
  2. Try to prioritize the list from the thing that is easiest for you to let go of to the hardest. 
  3. Start eliminating these habits (ie: peel the onion), with a new layer every thirty days. 
  4. There are NO SUBSTITUTIONS. You can not replace the onion layer with a new contributing habit. For example, one admirable layer that people like to peel is soda. However, they then replace that layer of the onion with other sugary choices like lemonade or sweet tea. In all likelihood, they are just eliminating a bit of carbonation, but no calories. If you are eliminating soda, I would recommend drinking a lot more water and have a sporadic glass of unsweetened tea or Crystal Light. That way, you can actually see a bit of progress for all your suffering! :)
The idea is, we must make changes and eliminate (or drastically reduce) things that have gotten us to where we are now, and substitute new habits to replace them that will help you move in the direction of your “after” picture.
For example, my wife and I were talking today and she was a little dissatisfied with her amount of belly fat. She just is at a loss for what to do. I said, “well, let’s talk about what you do that contributes to the problem.” One of the first things we mentioned is the extra calories we both get in food preparation and nibbling off the kids’ plates. 
This can easily be an 300 extra calories per day. Since 3500 calories equal a pound, that is potentially an extra 31 pounds per year! So, we decided this was an unnecessary luxury and we are going to eliminate it from our “fat onions”.
At the end of the 30 days, we can evaluate. Are we happy with the choice we have made? Have we made progress? Have we made progress but reached another plateau? As long as you are happy with your continued progress, you can just continue on as you have. Congratulations! You have created a new habit. If you have reached a plateau.....you guessed it....pick another layer of the onion.
This may not be the fastest or most dramatic weight loss plan. However, it is effective. If you can keep these unnecessary evils out of your life, it will also be long lasting. 
Now, finally, Mike...and you...can start working on your AFTER picture!

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