Posterior factual extraction

You know, it'd be kinda nice to be able to do some kind of food/nutritional reading on the web without hearing about that damned Atkins Diet all the time. It would really make my reading and research a bit easier, when sometimes all I want to know is the approximate calorie/nutrient breakdowns for some foods and instead I get 46,582 versions of

"I Lost 243 Pounds In Seven Minutes With The Atkins Diet!"

God. Shut up already before I deck all of you. (I've earned these new biceps. Don't taunt them. They hit back.)

In my research, my studying, and through the occasional posterior factual extraction, I have come up with a radical new idea, which I plan to patent and sell to the world:

"Burn more calories than you eat and you'll lose weight."

It's a radical notion, I know, but sometimes it's hard to see over the four-foot signs being erected in a meat department near you that announce that beef is good for you -- because it's low-carb. Every time I go into the meat department in any local grocery store, I keep hoping that there will be a pile of cluesticks hidden behind the low-carb signs, but so far, I've not been in luck. I may be forced to resort to pulling up the signs one by one and sharpening them with my teeth.

When you're in desperate need of a cluestick, just about anything pointy will do.

Remember this, ladies and gentlemen: disco was once king, tulips were once nearly priceless, and one of these years, people are going to wake up and remember that the Japanese are eating carbohydrates and, as a nation, are far healthier than Americans.

* * * * *

Judging by the mind-boggling sales of diet books in the U.S., I think it's safe to say that I'm one of approximately fifteen people in this country who are terrified by the concept of a "diet." But the concept of a 'diet' is terribly attractive, isn't it? (Admit it. It's okay. I won't tell.) It's far easier to check your brain at the door, follow The Rules, eat the foods pronounced 'good,' and just watch as all that weight (which, we must point out, did not magically paste itself onto our asses overnight) magically floats away in a month or less.

It's easier to follow the quick fix of a book than it is to look inward, re-examine your life, and admit that you're eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise. Not because you're lazy, but because, in this country at least, trying to live and eat in a healthy manner takes serious, deadly effort.

The sad, painful truth is that I don't know anyone who went on a 'diet,' lost weight, and kept it off. The only people I know for whom weight loss stuck were ones who learned to eat a balanced, moderate diet - coupled with exercise to burn more calories than they ate.

I wish I could say that our drive for quick fixes boggles my mind, but that's not true. I know how powerful the desire to be attractive, to feel good, to be at our best, is, and I understand how easy it is for that desire to cloud reason and judgment and make us seek the quickest and easiest solutions to weight loss. After all, we want to look our best. Not now, not next year, but tomorrow. Next week. Before the big date, before the class reunion, before we have to put on a swimsuit and show our faces in public.

Before we have to look in the mirror again.

When I'm twenty minutes into a 45-minute cardiovascular workout, after my legs have limbered up but before the 'high' has kicked in, it's awfully easy to wonder why the hell I'm going about this in what seems to be the longest, hardest, most painful way possible. It's easy to ask the question, "Why am I sweating madly five, six days a week when I could just buy a diet book, follow the rules, and be done with it?"

My answer is the same every time: because I only want to do this process once. Every time I have to go out and buy a new pair of jeans or couple of shirts because none of my old ones fit properly any more, I want to feel confident when I take my old clothes to Goodwill that I will never have to buy anything in that larger size ever again. Over. Done. Finito.

I don't want to be chained to a book for the rest of my life. I want - for the first time in years, and what sometimes feels like for the first time ever in my life - to be able to make conscious, self-informed decisions about the food I put in my body. Not decisions based on a book, a 'diet,' not someone else's guide. Just the knowledge that with moderation and variety, all foods are acceptable, up to a reasonable calorie limit - while coupled with a lifetime exercise program.

I'm still scared on nearly a daily basis that I'm going to fail, but if I have it my way, this trip is going to be a one-way journey.


From what I gather, "diets" don't work, but lifestyle changes do. Like you said, if you learn to balance what you eat, and work out, then it'll work. I think you would have to keep both up to keep everything off. And yeah, these diets are annoying. We have 20,000 copies of the South Beach Diet at Barnes and Noble (that is an exaggeration, but there are a LOT). I think even with the Atkins and South Beach diets, that they are also supposed to be lifestyle changes and not just something you do to lose a few pounds. I know there are reasons they think carbs are bad. The South Beach diet promotes that, but also promotes good fats, so going to KFC and getting greasy chicken isn't neccasarily good just because it's low carb. Um yeah, all of that said. I don't follow any diet, even though I need to to keep my cholesterol down. I also don't work out, which I also need to do for my cholesterol. But, even though I do need to be more active, I still don't think my diet is all that bad. Maybe I'm kidding myself? I dunno. Um yeah, that was the longest comment I've ever made on any site... ever.

Actually, 90% of what is out there calling itself "Atkins" is nothing more than marketing hype. The actual Atkins "diet" is a complete change in eating habits that was originally developed in the 1950's for pre-surgical patients needing rapid weight loss followed by a healthy eating pattern to mantain their ideal weight. It's only "low-carb" until the ideal weight is reached. "South Beach" is essentially an updated version. It's been around since the early 1990's and was developed by a cardiologist who liked Atkins but who applied updated information on what we've learned about different types of fats since Atkins was developed. The equation of "burn more than you consume" is extremely over-simplified. How your body treats different types of nutrients is a very individual thing. The important thing is to figure out what works for YOU and then stick with it. Sticking with it is the most difficult part. Changing eating habbits that you've developed over the past 20-some (or in my case 30-some) years is not easy.

Amy, we're going to write the next diet craze book. Thermodynamics, baby.

PEPs. Positive Eating Plans. That's what I'm trying to find for myself. I'm never going to "diet" again. I tried that for a little while. It didn't work. I stressed myself out so much about it that what weight I would have lost, I didn't because I was stressed out. Instead, I'm making conscious decisions based upon research and experimenting with how my body reacts to certain nutrients and I'm changing my lifestyle. I'm creating a positive eating plan for myself. It'll take me a while to completely customize it to myself and I realize that it will always be changing a little bit as my body changes, but at least now I'm not concerned about trying to make my body act the way someone else's body acts. Like Suzan said, each one of our bodies is different and treats nutrients differently. That being said, I'm really glad to see you on the path that you've set for yourself. You'll be happier in the long run, even if you're wondering why you do this to yourself as your legs attempt mutiny. ;)

The problem with diets like Atkins was sort of touched on by Suzan -- it's only no- or low-carb until you hit your goal weight (I feel the term "ideal" weight carries too much baggage... :) ). Most people only either hear of Atkins through the media or through friends, or don't read past the first chapter of the book. They don't realize that it's no-carbs for the first couple of weeks. I'm in favour of the "eat healthy and do some exercise" diet regime. It's extreme but seems to work.

Well others have said it before me, but I will just add to that voice. There is nothing wrong with the low-carb plans as described in Atkins, South Beach, or many of the other variations. It is the oversimplied, read the first page only of some people that make this look bad (including media people). If you couple low-carbs and GOOD Protein (chicken, Whey Protein Isolates, etc), not only are you able to loose the weight (as I am currently doing), but providing nutriets to your muscles that are stressed by a good workout regiment (which is why many shakes, energy bars, etc for the weight lifting crowd is based on a similar metodology... Whey Protein to help muscles recouperate without the excess carbs (sugar) that is not necessary.