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Controlling what goes in

What it all comes down to, of course, is this: if you want to lose weight, you have to eat less. Eat less. It sounds like a sentence handed down by a stern faced judge to a forlorn prisoner in the dock. ``Look, eating is one of the few things in life that's pure, simple, pleasure. Now you're going to take that away and tell me I have to be hungry all the time?''

The stark reality is that permanent weight control requires permanent attention to what you eat. Life long, permanent attention. The monumental pile of nonsense, mysticism, and bad advice associated with dieting stems from the all-too-human tendency to deny this simple fact. But fact it is, and like most unpleasant facts, it's best faced squarely and treated as a challenge to be overcome.

Many people have little or no difficulty controlling their weight. Slim people aren't that way because they're willing to go hungry all the time. They're slim because they're eating the right amounts of food at the right times, putting in just the amount of food their bodies are burning. Because they're meeting their bodies' needs, they aren't hungry: the hunger signal goes off only when too little goes in. Even most overweight people maintain a constant weight without hunger. It's just that the weight they're at is way too high.

This book shows you how to join the ranks of the slim people. Thereafter, you need never be hungry again. As you'll see in the next chapter, people who never get overweight have a mechanism in their bodies that tells them when to eat and when to stop. We who have trouble with weight either seem to have that mechanism broken, or else we're eating too frequently or too much for other reasons; we're eating not because our bodies need the food but to satisfy psychological needs the exposition of which in various bubbleheaded psychobabble diet books has leveled vast forests.

I prefer to focus not on why people may tend to eat too much, but rather on how to stop doing it. Once they've stopped overeating, and in doing so cured their weight problem, they may find, as I did, that a lot of the other more subtle problems simply melt away, just as the fat did.

Another unpleasant fact of dieting it's worth facing up front is that while you don't need to go hungry to maintain your weight, you will need to go hungry in order to lose it. It's the rubber bag again. The only way those fat cells are going to be persuaded to dig into their reserves and start dumping them back into the bloodstream is by eating less food than's needed to fill the bloodstream with nutrients. When you do that the hunger alarm is going to go off: ``Hey! Up there! Not enough food down here! How about sending down some pizza?''

This is not at all pleasant, but it needn't be incapacitating. Further, you only have to put up with it for a limited amount of time and, with this plan, you'll be able to watch your progress, know how long you'll have to spend to achieve your ideal weight, and build ever-growing confidence in your ability to control your weight as you wish.

Many things in life are unpleasant. Most are far more irritating than the day to day process of losing weight, and few yield comparable benefits. Controlling your weight holds the key to a reward no amount of money, no degree of knowledge, no position of power or influence can bring: a longer life and better health to enjoy it more.

And as with many challenges, you can turn the discomfort of dieting into an advantage once you've succeeded. For what better motivation is there to maintain your weight than recalling how awful you felt when overweight and what you went through to shed that excess poundage?

This isn't to imply that losing weight, even many pounds in a relatively short time, is akin to a stint in the Siberian Gulag. Cutting your food intake by 250 calories a day, the equivalent of foregoing french fries with your lunchtime burger or passing up your mid-afternoon ``pick me up'' candy bar, is enough to tilt the balance so you'll lose two pounds a month. Weighing the prospect of being 25 pounds lighter in a year against that little morsel of food each day shows how effectively you can manage major changes in your weight once you master the tools that allow you to make such decisions intelligently.

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Next: Input/Output Up: Seizing control Previous: Controlling what you

By John Walker