Ahhh, a new year. A time to celebrate the memories of the past 365 days. A chance to rejoice in the possibilities that lay before us. A precipice that we stand on, overlooking a vast empty void that we fill with hopes and promises to ourselves, only to ignore, forget, or some how else dash those hopes asunder and replace them with laziness and regret.
But it’s also an opportunity to work off all of the pounds you may have gained over the holiday season, what with it’s mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, buttered rolls, so much ham and turkey you morph into a part-man-part-bird-part-pig mutant, wine and beer; where the most extreme physical activity you take part in is trying to unbutton your pants before you pass out on the dinner table and your face lands in the gravy boat. And don’t try denying you didn’t put on weight. If you spent both thanksgiving and Christmas (or their equivalents if you practice another faith or live in a different country, in which case explain to me kilometers because I don’t understand the metric system) with your family, odds are you ate tons of food without exercising that much because it’s hard to go for a jog when you’re stomach is so full that food is coming out of your ears. I myself gained about 15 pounds since the beginning of the holiday season and am I depressed about it? Fuckin A’ I’m depressed about it, but let us not wallow in the negatives. It’s a new year, by God, so let us look forward to better days and all that crap.
I’ve talked about attitude, education, the food groups and why the food you thought was bad is actually good for you. This is important stuff to know, but none of it speaks directly to the actual act of dieting. I have avoided the topic of a diet regime on purpose because although you may be beginning to understand food, you are missing a key element in the “Dieting for Weight-Loss” chain. But I also understand that you may be sick of me just talking about losing weight instead giving you insight on how to actually do it, so to appease both your need for knowledge and my need to show off, today I will give you one of the most important weight-loss components while sating my appetite to be long-winded.
Before we begin talking about what and how much you should be putting into your face, we need to discuss how your body is going to process all that food. The procedure in which your body converts food into energy and how that energy is used is called metabolism. How fast you turn food into energy, how fast your body uses that energy, and how it stores energy for later use is all dictated by your metabolism. This is a word you’ve probably heard many times before and it’s usually given credit for being the key factor into how big or small a person is. This is a partial truth, as your metabolic rate (or the pace at which your body burns calories) plays a crucial role in your overall weight. But many people use metabolism either as a scapegoat for not being able to lose weight, or as a cover for not understanding why they are able to stay thin. From what these people say, your metabolism is a set and done deal. If you were born with a low (or high) metabolism, it’s going to stay that way for the rest of your life.
This isn’t true. While your metabolism is affected (sometimes greatly) by genetics, age, sex and body mass, it isn’t set in stone. Your metabolism is malleable, changeable, possible to alter and boost. Because the science behind metabolism is complex and riddled with words I could never hope to understand, I am going to use one of my patented similes/metaphors to help the misguided masses understand how to control your metabolism. The comparison is also going to make it easier for me to find humorous pictures to heighten the entertainment value of this post, as when you type “metabolism” into google, you get pictures like these:
Your metabolism is like a campfire within your body, trying to burn bright in a cold forest night (how do you like THAT rhyme for poetic prose?), the logs on the fire is the food that you put into your body, and the poor, freezing campers around the fire is your body.
Depending on how big and how hot your fire is, the happier your poor campers are going to be. Likewise, the bigger and hotter your metabolism is, the more fat you’re going to burn. Now if you have never been camping nor built a sustainable fire, you might think that to control the fire is as simple as lighting a match and placing a log on top of it. If you do think that, go outside and try it out. Don’t worry, I’ll wait, I have a crossword I want to finish anyway.
Does anyone know an eight-letter word for “Egg Sucker”?
Did you try it? Yeah, that didn’t work too well, did it? You see, unless you already have a roaring fire, placing a big log on top of it is going to make it burn slower as the fire tries to convert this huge chunk of wood into useable energy. If you’re not careful, your fire will slowly die to a few burning embers and a lot of smoke. This is what it’s like when you eat a big meal: it’s like tossing a huge log on a tiny fire. Your metabolism is going to slow down and stop burning so it can concentrate on converting the food into energy. If you’re not careful and you put more food into your body before it has had time to process and use the energy from the previous meal, it’s going to store that previous meal instead of use it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is putting too little on your fire. It’s a simple equation: Fire + Wood = Heat. You take wood out of that equation and you won’t even have slow burning embers, you’ll have a pile of ash. This is why starvation doesn’t work; sure, your fire will start to burn the fat that’s there if you don’t put in any more, but it’s going to die before it can finish the job. What you need is a middle ground, portions that aren’t so big they smother your metabolism but big enough that they will keep your metabolism going.
And this is where my very first piece of practical dieting advice comes into play: Eat small meals, but eat moreof them. If you eat small meals (the actual size of the meal should be able to fit into the cupped palms of your hands) –
– every two or three hours, it will be like feeding your fire dried leaves, twigs and sticks of all sizes just at the time when it’s finished burning off the previous wood. This will keep your metabolism very hot for the entire day which is a great thing because the hotter and longer that fire burns the more fat your going to lose.
Ah crap, I think I’m losing my grasp on this metaphor.
I’ll get into what these meals should be comprised of next time, but I want you to start getting used to the idea of eating five small meals a day, spaced about two to three hours a part. In the beginning it’s going to drive you batty. First, you’ll have to get used to planning your days completely around when you eat. To really lose weight you must be fanatical about eating exactly on time, and the schedule can take some getting used to. Second, you’re going to feel hungry all the time. Trust me when I say that you’re not really hungry; our brains are fantastic at making us think we feel things when we really feel the exact opposite. This is because you have constructed habits over a life time that say you need to eat three big meals a day, with maybe some snacks in between. After awhile of eating this way, our brains become convinced that it’s the way it should be and will make you feel hungry even if you have met your caloric intake for the day. It does this because we taught it to be that way. Plus, our brains are dicks.
But after your body and your mind adapt to the new regime you’ll find yourself having more energy throughout the day. You’ll also find that you are starting to slim down.
So stoke that fire a little bit more and then throw these leaves on there. You’re on your way to losing that weight in no time.
But seriously, an eight-letter word for “Egg Sucker”. Anyone?