If you’ve ever ridden in a car with a GPS satellite navigation system, you know how it works. Plug in your destination, and the system—using satellites to plot your current and final points—tells you exactly what to do and when to do it. If you miss a turn or head down the wrong street, the GPS doesn’t berate you for the mistake. It doesn’t tell you that you might as well drive off a cliff just because you missed First Avenue. Instead, it simply says: “At the next available moment, make an authorized U-turn.” YOU-reka! The GPS recognizes the mistake and tries to help you correct it.
That’s the kind of mentality we want you to have regarding your health. You are going to make wrong turns. You’re going to turn left at the cookies, make a right at the blueberry pie, and occasionally merge onto the interstate at banana nut pancakes with a side order of sausage patties. Does that mean you should steer off the cliff and onto destructive behaviors? Of course not. You can make a YOU turn and get back on the right path.
Something else that’s critical is having a buddy who can help be your personal GPS system. Buddies help each other make those YOU turns, get back on the right road, get healthy together and enjoy their passions longer.
In fact, we believe the most important fitness tips we can give anybody are to:
⇒ Understand you get a do-over; it’s not that hard and it doesn’t take that long if you know what to do.
⇒ Start with walking and a buddy.
⇒ Learn how to make YOU turns.
Now let’s get to one of your most frequently asked questions—and check next month’s column for more questions and answers.
Q: I was on a diet last year and was doing great. But after a while, I felt like I deserved a break, so I overindulged. I’ve been too discouraged to start the diet again—especially if I’m just going to fail again.
A: How long can you hold your breath under water? Exactly. You see, most diets promise commonsense solutions to tight-pants problems: Eat less and you’ll weigh less. Keep your mouth closed and you’ll keep the pounds off. Sweat like a sauna-dwelling sumo wrestler and you’ll wind up skinnier than a sheet of paper. Straightforward enough. But if it really worked that way, then most diets wouldn’t fail. Or it could be that most diets have it all wrong.
We believe it’s the latter. You know why? Because, with most diets, it’s you versus food in a lifetime heavyweight fight. But in that scenario, the fight is always fixed—and not in your favor. That’s because the battle against extra pounds isn’t won with force, with sweat, with trying to diet. It’s won with elegance, with smarts and with healthy choices that become as automatic as a Simon Cowell barb.
When it comes to dieting, trying to whip fat with our weapon of willpower equates to holding your breath under water: You can do it for a while, but no matter how psyched up you get, at some point your body—your biology—forces you to the surface gasping for air. And with most diets, your body forces you to gasp (or gulp) for food. No matter how hard you try not to eat, some hidden force deep inside is always prying your mouth back open, making it impossible for willpower to win. Instead of sparring with your waistline, it’s time you made your body an ally in the fight against fat.
Our process is to look at our overweight bodies the way scientists would: Identify the underlying biology of the problem then find the cures. The scientific world has just now started to unlock the biological mysteries that have caused us to store fat and gain weight. By making this knowledge simple and accessible, we’re going to give you tools and actions to crack the code of true and lifelong waist management.
In fact, our plan will help you avoid the dangerous yo-yo cycle of weight gain and weight loss. We’re going to help you reprogram your body so that you can keep off the weight forever. Through the years, many of us have been led to believe that our weight problem is about two things: calorie counting and mental toughness. While some of us may say that the weight problem is too much of the 12-cheese lasagna, the real problem is that most of us have no clue about how our bodies work. Remember the YOU Diet mantra: Diet Smart, Not Hard.
Here are some tips to help you do that:
Walk. Begin walking 30 minutes every day, more if you can. Your ultimate goal is 10,000 steps every day—no excuses! Walking positively affects all the body’s systems and establishes the behavioral and motivational foundation you need for success. It is also the most important thing you can do to effect weight loss.
Dump Your Fridge. Read the ingredient labels on everything in your kitchen cupboards, refrigerator, breadbox and everywhere else you stash food. If you find any of the following items in the first five listed, throw it out!
You: On a Diet Rule of 5 Food Felons
1. and 2. Simple sugars and syrups. This includes brown sugar, dextrose, corn sweetener, fructose, glucose, corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, raw sugar and sucrose. Keep a little table sugar, honey and maple syrup handy, because you’ll use some for recipes. (Read more about sweeteners from our book YOU: On a Diet on success.com.)
3. Saturated fat. This includes most four-legged animal fat, milk fat, butter or lard, and tropical oils, such as palm and coconut.
4.Trans fat. This includes partially hydrogenated fats, vegetable oil blends that are hydrogenated, and many margarines and cooking blends. (If you must, use cholesterol-fighting sterol spreads such as Promise and Benecol.)
5. Enriched flours and all flours other than 100 percent whole grain or 100 percent whole wheat. This includes enriched white flour, semolina, durum wheat and any of the acronyms for flour that is not whole wheat—they should not be in your kitchen.
Go Food Shopping. The first week, you’ll have a larger-than-normal shopping list because you’ll stock up on essentials as well as ingredients you’ll need for this week’s recipes. We want to fill your kitchen with good-for-your-waist foods that make it easy (and automatic!) to eat right. (For a specific shopping list that works with our suggested seven-day schedule, see YOU: On a Diet.)
Coming next month, we’ll answer more questions on making YOU turns and employing a buddy as your personal GPS system.