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Interesting idea of how to lose weight relatively effortlessly without counting calories… Read more and share
Mind over matter: psychology over calorie-counting
Interesting idea of how to lose weight relatively effortlessly without counting calories (warning: you still have to watch what you eat) by letting your own body dictate how much you eat. Seems pretty sensible and worth a try.
byMichael Graziano (is a neuroscientist, novelist and composer. He is Professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University in New Jersey. His latest book is Consciousness and the Social Brain (2013). Edited by Ed Lake | 18 January, 2016 | Aeon
Hunger isn’t in your stomach or your blood-sugar levels. It’s in your mind – and that’s where we need to shape up…
…If weight were a matter of calories in and calories out, we’d all be the weight we choose. Everyone’s gotten the memo. We all know the ‘eat less’ principle.(Read Why diets don’t work and what you can do about it and Diets and exit strategies.) Losing weight should be as easy as choosing a shirt colour. And yet, somehow it isn’t, and the United States grows heavier. It’s time to consider the problem through an alternative lens.
Whatever else it is, hunger is a motivated state of mind. Psychologists have been studying such states for at least a century. We all feel hungry before dinner and full after a banquet, but those moments are the tip of the iceberg. Hunger is a process that’s always present, always running in the background, only occasionally rising into consciousness. It’s more like a mood. When it slowly rises or eases back down, even when it’s beneath consciousness, it alters our decisions. It warps our priorities and our emotional investment in long-term goals. It even changes our sensory perceptions – often quite profoundly.
You sit down to dinner and say:
That tiny, little hamburger? Why do they have to make them so small? I’ll have to eat three just to break even.
That’s the hunger mood making food look smaller. If you’re full, the exact same hamburger looks enormous. It isn’t just the food itself. Your own body image is warped.
When the hunger mood rises, you feel a little thinner, the diet feels like it’s working and you can afford a self-indulgence. When satiety kicks in, you feel like a whale.
Even memory can be warped. Suppose you keep a log of everything you eat. Is that log trustworthy? Not only have you drastically misjudged the size of your meals, but you’ve almost certainly forgotten items.
Depending on your hunger state, you might snarf up three pieces of bread and after the meal sincerely remember only one.
One recent study found that most of the calories people eat come through snacks between meals. But when you ask people, they deny it. They’re surprised to find out just how much they snack…
…Let’s say you decide to cut back on calories. You eat less for a day. The result? It’s like picking up a stick and poking a tiger. Your hunger mood rises and for the next five days you’re eating bigger meals and more snacks, perhaps only vaguely realising it…
… I’m not denying the physics here. If you take in fewer calories, you’ll lose weight. But if you explicitly try to reduce calories, you’re likely to do the exact opposite. Almost everyone who tries to diet goes through that battle of the bulge. Diets cause the psychological struggle that causes weight gain.
… Let’s say you try another standard piece of advice: exercise. If you burn calories at the gym you’ll definitely lose weight, right? Isn’t that just physics? Except that, after you work out, for the rest of the day you’re so spent that you might actually burn fewer calories on a gym day than on a regular one. Not only that, but after a workout you’ve assuaged your guilt. Your emotional investment in the cause relaxes. You treat yourself to a chocolate chip muffin. You might try to be good and decline the muffin, but the exercise revs up that subtle hunger mood lurking under the surface and then you don’t even know any more how much you’re overeating. Meals grow bigger while seeming to grow smaller. Extra snacks sneak in.
…But the most insidious attack on the hunger mechanism might be the chronic diet. The calorie-counting trap. The more you try to micromanage your automatic hunger control mechanism, the more you mess with its dynamics. Skip breakfast, cut calories at lunch, eat a small dinner…
be constantly mindful of the calorie count, and you poke the hunger tiger
All you do is put yourself in the vicious cycle of trying to exert willpower and failing. That’s when you enter the downward spiral…
Don’t put a plastic bag over your head. Likewise, don’t eat the super-high death-carb, low-fat diet. Don’t micromanage your brainstem by counting every calorie. You might be surprised at how well your health self-regulates.
Michael Graziano is a neuroscientist, novelist and composer. He is Professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University in New Jersey. His latest book is Consciousness and the Social Brain (2013).
I recently attended an all day event at the USC Campus, specifically at the USC Davis School of Gerontology to learn about the latest science on healthy aging from several of the world’s top aging experts. I feel inspired to share with you all what I learned. Many of you may have come across the information that I am about to share, but in case you have not, it’s never too late to learn something new!
1) One of the “hottest” question presented was “Does caloric restriction extend lifespan?” Answer: only sometimes. But if you compare a low fat diet versus a Mediterranean diet (which includes nuts and olive oil), the Mediterranean diet wins! It was shown to prevent cognitive decline and heart problems.
2) Sitting is the new smoking! Incredible to believe but the more hours you spend sitting on a daily basis decreases your health span. It is important to use your break time to get away from your workspace. And if you don’t get any breaks? Get up and take a walk to the bathroom every hour or two. Sitting can cause a multitude of heart problems, whereas smoking can cause lung problems/lung cancer. I guess you pick and choose your poison, or avoid them altogether.
3) Ovaries removed after normal menopause lessens a woman’s risk for dementia. Ovaries removed before normal menopause increases a woman’s risk for dementia.
4) A low protein, high carbohydrate diet is recommended for everyone below 65 years of age. Once you reach 65 and older, moderate (not low!) protein intake is recommended.
5) If you want to live longer and spend your later years without getting a disease or being disabled in any way, adhering to a plant based diet that includes high levels of legumes, vegetables and healthy fats (olive oil, other monounsaturated fats, nuts) is recommended. Waist goals for men to have should be less than 40 inches, and less than 35 inches for women.
6) Take care of your teeth! Get regular dental checkups! Edentulousness (having no teeth) is directly related to nutritional issues and health problems.
7) Watch the BBC video: The Men Who Made Us Fat.
8) Recommended weight loss programs are: weight watchers and TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly).
9) Create your own individualized diet/meal plan that takes into consideration your age, gender, weight, and activity levels.
After we reach 30 we generally get more clarity about ourselves, other people and the world around us. We start leading a fuller life, and have deeper, more stable and enduring feelings… For many people, life assumes a different hue, and experiences are more colourful, and in a sense, more vivid – even more ‘real’. This concentration of the sense of being alive can be equated with a deliciously thick hot-chocolate or, if you prefer, sipping a wine of the finest vintage. Everything enters a new, more advanced stage. Everything, that is, aside from our physical selves.
It has been proven that thirty is the age at which all bodily processes begin to change. Before that time we can easily gain muscle, and be extremely lean without too much effort. After thirty, we gradually become aware of having to buy larger clothes sizes, and our first wrinkles and grey hairs begin to appear. Unfortunately our beach holidays can also become far less fun as a result. As we approach middle age we increasingly become what we ‘eat, do, and read’.
Sarcopenia (skeletal muscle degradation with age) is an inevitable process. Our body become limited in its protein synthesis and utilization abilities as soon as we cross the thirty-year threshold. According to Runners World research, once people reach thirty they lose, on average, about 15% of muscle mass every 10 years. Our metabolism naturally slows as well. Another important point is that the human body never really loses anything without some sort of compensation. Lost muscle tissue is replaced by fat. It is exactly for this reason that we become chubbier with age.
Fat gain and metabolic slowdown are the natural consequences of age, which brings us to a point where we have to run ‘twice as fast as we can’. Don’t panic though. Awareness is the first step toward success. “A healthy and active 60 year old can have the muscle mass of a 30-year old, while a sedentary middle-aged person who eats a primarily processed food diet and struggles with insulin resistance or diabetes may have the muscle quality of a 70-year old”, sais Dr. Mercola, a physician and blog contributor to Fitness Peak.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid age-related muscle degradation, and keep yourself energised, fit and healthy after the age of thirty, and for the rest of your natural life.
Hormones determine harmony
“Other factors, such as age-related changes in circulating levels of muscle anabolic hormones and growth factors, must also be considered as contributing mechanisms underlying the sarcopenic phenotype” – Alex Hatchinson, nutritionist and physician, and contributor to Runners World.
We primarily age as a result of hormonal and biochemical changes. Some endocrinologists believe that production of the human growth hormone (the hormone responsible for cell formation, regeneration, and general recovery) already starts to decline after the age of 25. Muscle loss and excessive fat formation could be the first symptoms of GH (somatotropin) deficiency. Somatotropin is a prescribed drug and available in any pharmacy. However, its use as a supplement requires extensive research, and should only be taken under medical guidance and supervision. But there is some good news. When taken together, widely available amino acids such as l-Arginine, l-Lysine, and l-Ornithine, act as GH’s precursors and theoretically increase natural somatotropin production. The right supplements in the correct dosages, taken with other requisite healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals, could postpone aging and have a tremendously positive effect.
Estrogen and testosterone are two other important youth hormones. As long as the body can produce them in adequate quantities to support the reproductive process, youth and beauty will be maintained. When estrogen and testosterone production is suppressed by certain factors such as incorrect contraceptive methods, stress, overload, lack of sleep or irregular sex, malnutrition, and so on, the body’s aging processes accelerates. I am not going to cover this highly complex topic within this particular article as it worth looking at separately, and in more depth, another time. Perhaps only one tip can be given: be attentive to your wellbeing and private life. Sufficient rest, inner peace, regular physical activities, sex, and balanced nutrition are the key factors to maintain hormonal health and youth. Consult your physician and nutritionist if you have any pressing questions on the subject.
Build the body in advance of ageing
Anabolism (muscular development and maintenance) gets more complicated after thirty, reinforcing aging and resulting in metabolic slowdown and fat gain. However, a recent study by the National Center of Biotechnology Information showed that “(even) mobility-limited subjects between 70 and 85 managed to add an average of 1.3% to their lean mass after six months of high-intensity resistance training and protein supplementation”.
So, don’t miss the opportunity to start building your muscles as early as possible while your hormones are working at their peak and supporting high anabolic muscle response. Remember, the earlier you start the longer you last. Include 3-4 sessions of resistance training such as weights lifting, Pilates, TRX, pole dance, or body pump classes into your fitness routine. Don’t forget about taking supporting supplements to quicken your recovery, and to help create precious muscle tissue to overcompensate for inevitable aging muscle loss.
Magic youth bullets
First and foremost, I would like to say couple of words about whey protein (WP). I’m asked every day by my clients and friends if it is worth taking whey supplements. The answer is an unequivocal YES. I add 1 scoop of high-quality, vanilla-flavoured, whey protein into my morning oats and take two more after my evening workout, mixed with simple carbs such as fruit or maltodextrin and BCAA into my traditional post-workout shake. According to research conducted by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, “whey protein supplementation may augment resistance levels and boost exercise-induced increases in muscle strength and mass”. So don’t miss your shake. It will help you to recover more quickly and to retain your muscle mass.
Now, let me shed some light on whey manufacturing processes, as this question is very sensitive to a majority of health-conscious people. According to research conducted by the Imperial College MBA Group Consulting project for GST Nutrition, certified whey protein available on the US and the UK markets is made of the same best and cleanest MPC-80 (milk protein concentrate) and MPI-80 (milk protein isolate) as various high quality baby formulas (I personally took part in this research at the end of my MBA program). Also, the majority of premium WP’s are suitable for people with lactose intolerance and vegetarians.
Another beneficial substance massively helping to postpone aging muscle degradation is BCAA complex. Branch Chain Amino Acids is a combination of three naturally occurring essential amino acids Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine, that make up over 35% of overall amino acids concentration in muscle tissues. Research shown that under conditions of stress, injuries, intense exercise and after the age of thirty, the human body requires up to a four times higher consumption of BCAA to maintain positive nitrogen balance. For more detail, read: How much protein should be eaten.
The International Sport and Science Association recommends an intake of BCAA of up to 6 grams a day depending on a range of factors including the physical condition, age, body weight and composition, and gender, of the subject. The type and level of their physical activity is also important, as are their general lifestyle choices. It is also recommended that BCAA is taken 30 minutes before and directly after meals, and throughout the day together with meals, to maximize its value for the body.
One more important group of substances helping to postpone aging muscle sarcopenia and related derogative processes, are antioxidants. Vitamin E, Omega3, Selenium and Choline are just at the top of a long ‘must take’ list of antioxidants. Read about antioxidants in another upcoming article How to keep your fleeting youth (magic pills and herbal rhapsody) and consult your nutritionist to calculate best dosages for your needs.
Glucosamine Chondroitine is one more necessary ingredient in the process. Read How to keep the fleeting youth (magic pills and herbal rhapsody) for more details.
Another suggestion in this topic of discussion is, surprisingly, don’t run! Stop crushing your joints and back bone, and torturing your veins. Moreover, long steady state cardio sessions exacerbate muscle degradation turning your body’s green light to sarcopenia even more. Everyday Health noted that “aside from the toll it (running) can take on your knees and joints, recent reports of things such as “runner’s face” and ‘dead butt syndrome’ could send some running devotees sprinting in the other direction”. Great alternatives to running could be light jogging, hiking, spinning, horse riding, skiing, water skiing or sprints (my personal second-favourite year-round activity, after the delights of seasonal skiing). If you are a gym lover, the rowing machine, curve, climbing ladder or lively aerobics/dance/body combat classes are all super solutions.
Do not forget to hydrate the body taking at least a glass of water 30 minutes before, during and after a session. Keep it sweaty, and have as much fun as you can.
The statement “You are what you eat” is even more valid after you hit thirty. If before that your body was able to metabolize almost all the rubbish you consumed, after your thirtieth birthday the picture really changes. Now five minutes of food indulgence can stay permanently lodged in your tummy or thighs. So take care of your body, and do yourself a favour by hiring a competent nutrition advisor.
Flexibility is another area to focus on. Allocate 10-15 minutes for stretching after any fitness activity. It will increase the blood flow to your muscles and will help to reduce joint and ligament load.
Stress, overload and constant tissues hypoxia (lack of fresh air) are few other important factors that quicken the aging process. A good eight hours of sleep, regular holidays, meditation, 15 –minutes of active rest every 2-3 hours during the day, and decent fresh air exposure (at least 1 hour daily) will help tremendously in the tough fight to retain your youth. Read Dream and Walk the youth back.
When you wake up with a smile on your face it is good indication that you are doing something right. Our simple emotions are like litmus paper – the best indicator of what is going on in our lives. But what if you wake-up drained, apathetic, scared about your future? There are five crucial fields you should check daily.
The body reacts first
The body is born to serve our basic needs and act as a box for the soul (our essence or spirit). Ayurveda practitioners believe that the body is “older” than the mind. Indeed, when one is born he/she is not able to analyse things, because cognitive skills are as yet undeveloped. This is the probably the best period of our existence, as we are still free from that constant, irritating and uncontrollable churn of thoughts that plague us later in life.
The body is the only real means a new-born has of indicating his or her feelings. Being adults we always put rationality first, not paying enough attention to our body’s signals. This is a huge mistake, as the body never lies! All the signals it sends us should be accepted, acknowledged, and taken into account. So, if you suffer a lack of energy, poor focus, or constant fatigue – it is time to change your routine.
Sufficient Sleep + Healthy Eating + Physical Activities + Fresh Air + Sex = Body Wellbeing.
It’s a pretty simple equation, but at the same time, one which is surprisingly difficult for most of us to put into effect.
However, this apparent complexity is just an abstract construction of our mind. If you walk instead of taking the train, car or bus, you have already met two fundamental needs at the same time (activity and fresh air).
Sex is the most well-known source of both endorphins and serotonin (happiness hormones). Of course, not all of us have the possibility to have regular sex – but this isn’t a problem. I don’t believe it was an issue when you were 15 (at least for most of us!). There are so many other ways of getting your daily dose of happiness: Weight training, yoga and deep relaxation, 5 HTP (naturally occurring amino acid acting as a precursor of serotonin), deep tissue massage, and proliferations of other methods, to name a few. You should aim to a rule of thumb to get two separate happiness experiences a day, topping up your levels of endorphins and serotonin.
Healthy Eating is also fundamental. Doing nutrition consulting over years I realized that 99% of people have difficulty in telling apart basic carbs, fat and protein sources. Very frequently we suffer from minor and major food intolerances: Major intolerances can inflict a great degree of pain, and so we are usually aware of them. Minor intolerances are not so obvious, but could nevertheless cause serious health problems. The best way to tackle the problem is to conduct an allergens and food intolerance test to identify the core problems, and then hire a qualified practitioner to design a well-balanced flexible diet to meet your needs. Even if you have a perfect body and don’t plan on losing or gaining weight, a balanced bespoke flexible diet could help you to maximize performance, boost your energy and immune system, and even extend your youth.
So, keep your body in good order and always listen to its signals: It will definitely pay off!
Monster in your head
Have you ever caught yourself thinking almost obsessively about something very unpleasant? I bet your answer is yes.
You are not alone. Obtrusive thinking is a major “defect” of the human brain.
Eckhart Tolle, the author of bestseller “The Power of Now”, and “The New Earth” compares this trait of human cognitive processes with the concept of original sin. In other words, all of us suffer from obtrusive negative thinking. It could be snippets past conversations, fighting with invisible “enemies”, or simply anxieties about possible future events that, most likely, will never happen.
It has been scientifically proven that obtrusive thinking is very energy-consuming. I compare it to a hungry vampire, sucking out your energy, draining you of life. You should remember that this ugly, greedy vampire only exists in your own head.
To many of us it seems like a trap from which we can’t escape, but wait: There are some people who are able to beat the Monster, for a while, at least. How? By focusing exclusively on the present moment. All your negative feelings, fears, anxieties and regrets dwell in the past (which you can’t change) or in the future (that you can’t control). So the present moment is the only safe place you have. Next time when the Monster attacks, do something that immediately requires your full, undivided attention. According to Zen principles and cognitive behavioural therapy practitioners, humans are not really able to successfully multitask, as we tend to believe. It’s an illusion. We are really able to do one thing at any one time, and this is a potent weapon in battling our Monster.
My personal method of combatting my inner, negative voice was to start lifting heavy weights, for instance, and counting reps. Doing this slowly, by flexing my muscles for 10 seconds during every rep, didn’t allow me to pay much attention to the Monster. Try this technique, or your own, and send me feedback.
Through controlling your emotions and managing that inner Monster, you will be able to save your energy for far more exciting and inspiring moments in life.
Just do it
When living each moment, try to extract maximum value from the present. Try to accomplish more, try to get new experiences, learn something relevant and useful to your life, visit new places; do something that you’ve never done before.
You’re probably thinking that you could be disappointed, that the experience may not live up to expectations. You might also worry about being put down by negative people, or failing in some way. Those possibilities exist, certainly, but why don’t we simply accept them, move on, and focus on the positives instead? There will always be experiences in life that disappoint us, which may be unpleasant or cause us to be upset. Your Monster is waiting for these feelings to surface, never sleeping, always ready to thrive on negative emotions. So be smarter than your Monster, and collect only beautiful pictures for your life album. Would you keep an ugly picture next to your bed? I don’t think so. Why are we so selective for our physical environment and not as selective for our inner peace?
Don’t be afraid, and open yourself to new and exciting experiences:
A life filled with wonder is a wonderful life.
Vampires feed your Monster
Celestine Chua, the author of the bestselling book Personal Excellence, states that your level of consciousness and energy levels are an average of the 5-10 people you interact most often.
Keep in mind that having negative, greedy, jealous, judgemental, aggressive or constantly moaning people in your circle is not good for you for three key reasons:
They drag down your level of consciousness. Remember, misery loves company. If you see that someone is suffering from personal problems, and you are in a position to help, don’t hesitate. But in majority of cases such people don’t need your help at all. It is ultimately their life choice to struggle. Try to help, but don’t get stuck in fighting a futile battle – if after a month or two you’re making no progress, walk away. They are simply draining your energy, benefitting neither of you.
Such people feed the Monster in your own head, multiplying anxieties, fears, jealousy and complexes. Have you ever noticed they are always keen to give you so much negative ‘food for thought’?
If you interact with negative people too often, you may also start to perceive other people negatively. If your close ‘friend’ is never grateful, doesn’t appreciate what you do, always tries to diminish your achievements – run away. Otherwise, very quickly, you will start seeing the world as a place full of people like them.
The Power of Words
Words have an incredible power to form our reality. Even the Bible begins with the sentence:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
Nowadays all of us are drowned in information. We read countless meaningless articles, snippets of news here and there, newspapers, magazines and text messages. We absorb all of this noise, again providing sustenance for the Monster.
On the other hand, books are the best teachers. Reading meaningful texts from positive and reliable sources could help you to acquire new useful knowledge and deeper insights. So, read, read, read, but be selective at the same time. Try to minimize your exposure to negative and meaningless information, or things written by negative people. Take care of your health, energy and purity, and spread positive vibes around to make our world a better place.