Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sarah's sexy secrets to weight loss (?!)

I figured that this post needed a sexy title.

Now, before we go any further, think about your reaction to that title. What did you think? How did it make you feel?

One of my favorite quotes from my qualitative research course in the fall semester was, “Research shows that 100% of people who engage in the practice of eating eventually die.” (I forget who wrote it.)

The point of the quote was to make us think critically about what we read, not to believe everything, and not to be satisfied with an answer (however logical it may seem) until we have the whole picture.

Lately, I’ve noticed myself getting angry when I read certain articles about food. I just got a newsletter that said to “eat more grains rich in water-soluble fibre”. It’ll help lower cholesterol and aid digestion. Good idea!

Another article in a magazine that made its way into our kitchen touted the benefits of eating more protein. That one went on to give suggestions in the number of grams of protein a person should eat a day, giving an example of three eggs at one meal as a suitable portion of protein.

“Three eggs at one meal?” I thought. “Maybe if you’re an Olympian… and even then!”

I forget exactly how much protein it recommended per day… I remember thinking that it seemed like an enormous amount. There was no mention of caloric intake relative to body weight, nor any reference to daily activity levels with respect to nutritional needs.

I ultimately tossed the article aside, disgusted.

Really, how do things like this get published? People take this stuff at face value and then go on rampages, stuffing their faces with whatever fad seems to be the flavour of the day.

What gets me about these “Eat more X!” articles is that they rarely talk about what to cut out… Sure, eating more whole grains is a good idea… but not if it is in addition to half a loaf of Wonder bread for breakfast. Instead of “eat more”, how about “choosing differently”?… I personally like the articles that talk about “choose such and such more often, and this other thing less often.” I mean, no one can be good all the time, right?

If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you know that not only has my weight dropped somewhat since the last school year, but that it is a result of being on a quest for a healthy lifestyle, rather than a mission to lose weight. In fact, I’ve become somewhat of an advocate of healthy living (though I do try to refrain from preaching, so I appreciate you indulging me a bit here...)

The other day at work I ran into a woman I hadn’t seen in a good long time. We exchanged pleasantries and she said, “You really must tell me your secret!! What eating plan are you on? LA weight loss? Jenny Craig? There’s got to be something…!”

I said, “Um... not really... Just more active and trying to eat better in general..."

"Oh come on, now!" She said, "I know you've done something! What is it?"

Fearing questions about liposuction and stomach stapling (which yes, I have been asked and no, I have not had... anyone who has seen me struggle through the process knows that) I quickly came up with, "Well, I did hire a personal trainer and that helped… I go to the gym regularly now… But as far as eating… I’m afraid it’s not very sexy… Just the
Canada Food Guide.”

She looked at me and said, “Oh… Go figure.” And she walked away, a bit dejected.

And the truth is that I have found there is no “sexy secret”… Eating healthy is not rocket science… Vegetables, fruit, grains, protein… every day… Treats in moderation…

And believe me, I am far from having a perfect diet... And just for the record, I am still classified as overweight, so it's not like I am some runway model or something... But I like to think I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle, most of the time. And trust me, I have my vices, like anyone... and I'm the last one to criticize others for what or how they eat. Not to mention that I firmly believe in a daily dose of coffee laced with cream... screw the skim milk! I like dairy fat with my caffeine, thank you very much.

What gets me is the stuff we are being fed by the media. Why do we gobble up myths like, “You will be healthier if you eat a million grams of protein a day!” or “Eat more whole grains!” And who cares if you increase your caloric intake by 300% as you down a loaf -- or five -- of whole wheat bread?

For some reason, we seem to think that empty promises, like empty calories, are sexy. And sex sells, as they say... In this case, magazines and newsletters that are supposed to educate us. (See the quote at the beginning about thinking critically...) But deep down... we know those empty promises are going to leave us feeling unfulfilled... still hungry.

Personally, the thought of a reasonably portioned piece of top quality beef, grilled to perfection (rare) and a crisp salad with lots of crunchy veggies is pretty damned sexy. Three eggs and a loaf of bread in one sitting… uh… not so much.


robtherunner said...

Hey, isn't common sense sexy?

My Psychology professor lives off of reality shows and fad diets. She was telling us about this one she is trying now where she drinks water mixed with honey and cayan pepper and it is supposed to cleanse your system so you can lose weight, but you have to drink so much every day for like 10 days straight. This is a woman with a PhD.

ipodmomma said...

absolutley spot on!!!!

couldn't have said it any better than you. well done!

Granny said...

Of course I always have a theory.

Not original however.

People are looking for a magic cure and these publishers know it. It's simple and cheap to throw together a book, hype it, and sell it.

If a person believes they canlose 50 pounds in a week by eating 3 eggs a day (or whatever stupidity that particular tome promotes), of course they;ll do it.

It's so much easier than planning meals and exercising.

Although that being said, I was in Weight Watchers years ago and liked it.

William said...

“You really must tell me your secret!! What eating plan are you on? LA weight loss? Jenny Craig? There’s got to be something…!”

I think people believe weight loss is impossible so there has to be a trick to it.

Hey Rob, I don't think common sense is sexy for most people. I think it pisses people off. People want pills and tricks, not hard work.

Great post Sarah. I feel the same way!

backofpack said...

I'm with you Sarah! Being a vegetarian, the whole Atkins thing really got to me. One of the guys at my husbands job was following it, so he'd eat an entire bag of (ugh) pork rinds every day. Gross! Of course, he is now heavier than ever.

I think the whole idea of weight loss and exercise is overwhelming to some. That's why your comment about "choose more of this and less of that" makes so much sense. If it can be broken down into smaller chunks, and the changes can be made a little at a time, then it becomes possible. Of course, this is common sense, and as Rob points out, that's too hard.

Good post!

olga said...

Rob, not funny! My coach put me on that very thing that your professor was on:) And yes, it's a total bs!
Anyway, way to go, Sarah! Sigh...for me.

D said...

I would say the average American believes what the media is putting out there - whether it be nutrition, politics, crime....etc. The media is not always accurate or if they are accurate, they are not giving the entire story; they are simply giving a one-sided slanted story. If more people chose to read up on these things and educate themselves rather than relying on the media or books on fad diets, we'd all be better off. Great post.

Jeremiah said...

Right on, S. I've tried a few of the diets and nothing has yet been more satisfying and effective than eating whatever I want, in moderation and with an eye toward nutrution, and whooping my butt in the gym three days a week. There. That'll be 17.99 US/20 CAN.

Robb said...

I feel sexy just reading your blog today. I'm in love with my sexy mistress, the Canada Food Guide.

And, to think I can interact with her free, online! This internet...I gotta tell you - it's amazing!

Susan said...

ummmm, steak, salad . . . don't forget the wine.

Turtle Guy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Turtle Guy said...

I know where the "sexy secret" lies. You have a beautiful mind! ;)

M A F said...

I'm still at a loss with respect to the posts title.

There is a reason why the weight-loss industry makes billions of dollars every year, people want a "sexy" quick fix weight-loss program. I don't think any such magic pill exists otherwise the industry would not continue to flourish.

You have made the effort, worked hard, and have seen the results that many want but are unwilling to make the personal changes, or sacrafices needed to get the results they seek in a little magic pill.

"Sarah's sexy secrets to weight loss" is clearly all about the effort one puts forward.

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

Oh thank God, when I read your title of your post I thought--is she doing Belly Dancing now?

A few years ago they put a bunch of diet guru's in a room, and they all had something different to say about what to eat; The vegan diet guru--no meat, the Dr. Atkin's--no carbs just meat, etc, etc. But they all said one thing the same bread is bad!

So I try to eat very little bread and a balance of meat and vestibles and fruit. Lately I've been working in the yard, so that's been my exercise.

I'm still way over weight wearing a size 20 in pants, but at least I feel healthy.


madcapmum said...

I agree with Rob - common sense is sexy. Listening to what our bodies are telling us is pretty sexy too. But Sarah, really, eggs can be nearly as sexy as a good steak. Really! Chive cooks a mean omelette.

megz_mum said...

All the dos and don'ts get a bit silly - but they are sometimes packaged so that we almost (not quite!) believe them. Water, honey and pepper??? That's a new one! Maybe it makes you so sick you can't eat!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

love it

everyone grills me..."how'd you do it?!" and I tell them, "I ate less and exercised more. I like to run long distances." and they don't like that answer. They are looking for a magic sexy pill!