We are a nation obsessed with calories. And why shouldn’t we be? After all, if you just practice self-control and eat fewer of them—or, better yet, burn off that extra cookie on the treadmill—you’ll magically have the body you want and all your dreams will come true!
For someone struggling with their weight, counting calories is tough. Not only are you forced to stare at food labels and keep track all day, but every second spent doing so chisels away at that day’s willpower. Willpower is a finite source. At some point during the day, you will get hungry. Do you eat? If so, do you eat as much as you want? Do you eat what you want, or do you eat the “healthier” choice that has fewer calories? Do you eat by yourself to be good and avoid the temptation of eating what your friends or coworkers are eating?
And then, even if you “slip” and are “bad” and have a little something extra, it’s OK because you can just go to the gym afterward. No guilt necessary. The treadmill: the great equalizer. Simply hop on, and then don’t hop off until that little calories-burned counter reaches the amount of one small piece of cake.
That might make you feel better for the time being, but the next day, you’ll just be even hungrier because of the exercise. You’ll have to struggle even more to keep those pesky calories in check.
Now imagine going through this—all day, every day—on top of the rest of the stress in your life: the kids, the mortgage, the job, the boss, the traffic, the schedule, the relationships…the list goes on. Or perhaps you don’t even have to imagine it – perhaps you’ve lived it yourself. Pretty miserable, right?
So what’s the trick? If counting calories is out, how on earth do we lose weight?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Well, it’s not really a secret, but hardly anyone is talking about it. All anyone seems to do nowadays is spew out the same old eat less/exercise more garbage advice that’s been floating around for decades. Some might even try to sound smart by quoting the first law of thermodynamics (or, more likely, just saying the words “the first law of thermodynamics”). And they do this for several reasons:
- It’s common knowledge. Everyone knows it, so there’s no need to question it.
- When advice sounds legitimate and adheres to what you’ve heard in the past, the person giving the advice automatically sounds credible.
- With advice like “eat less/exercise more,” failure is very easily attributed to the person who is supposed to be adhering to the advice rather than the advice itself or the person giving it.
But that's not our style.
If you can get your head around this simple concept, then the next steps in your fat loss journey will be much easier:
Our bodies do not rid themselves of excess fat once we’ve burned or denied ourselves a requisite number of calories for a certain period of time: our bodies rid themselves of excess fat once we’ve given them the signals that it’s ok to do so.
And how do we do that?
I’m glad you asked...