Survival of the Smartest

So you want to get healthy or lose weight? Good luck…very few win in this game. We’ve all heard that 95% of dieters fail. Although some have questioned that number, I haven’t seen anything convincing to tell me otherwise. I’ve seen one study that mentions an 80% failure rate, but either way, the failure is high and only a few will survive. And no, working out harder or starting a new diet, detox or cleanse won’t help you win. If you look up ‘diet books,’ Amazon shows 63,203 results and Google shows about 218,000,000 results. And when you consider the innumerable opinions by pretty much everyone these days, you’re only scratching the surface of the many challenges. And what’s up with that? Why does everyone act like they are an expert on this topic? The truth is people don’t need more information, they need better information. Not only that, they need to learn how to think differently. 

Most people who want to lose weight are preoccupied with all the wrong ideas and it’s literally killing them.

I work with pregnant women & new mothers (yes, I have the best job in the world). But the stories they tell me of other parents with eating issues or putting kids on diets are disturbing. And when girls learn to diet at a young age, they will have mental & metabolic problems throughout life before they become infertile.

Whether it is the unwarranted fear of food (saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, carbs), infatuation with celebrities, new age nonsense (wishful thinking for weight loss), subordination to authority figures, the plethora of excuses, emotional issues, the dogma of different diet camps, the glorification of sado-masochism from the fitness industry, or the real complexity of obesity … you’ll have to be smart to make it through this matrix. Real smart.

Here are some tips that will help you upgrade your brain so you can successfully navigate the complex and often psychotic world of health & weight loss.


1) Education is Empowering

The most successful clients I (as well as my friends/colleagues) have seen have a few things in common:

A desire to learn.

They manage their expectations. It boggles my mind when I meet women who have dieted for years, haven’t had a regular menstrual cycle in months; yet expect to see magic in just a few weeks.

Think independently, be courageous and question everything.

Your desire to change must be greater than the social pressure to keep you the same.

Don’t take anything personally.

2) Diets Still Suck

I really wanted to say ‘Duck Fiets, JERF’ but not sure how many people would get it. Dieting is an eating disorder behavior that causes long-term damage.

3 out of 4 American women have disordered eating LINK

‘Restricting calories increased the total output of cortisol, and monitoring calories increased perceived stress. Dieting may be deleterious to psychological well-being and biological functioning, and changes in clinical recommendations may be in order.’ Low Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol Psychosomatic Medicine (2010)

Solution – Obviously, don’t diet. Just Eat Real Food (JERF). Eat 3 or 4 times a day. Meals/snacks should have a protein (i.e. red meat, eggs, seafood), fat (i.e. butter, coconut oil) and carb (i.e. fruit, veggies). Eat to the point you are satisfied. Enjoy your meal. Chew your food. Slow down and be mindful when eating. Do not watch TV when eating.


3) Better Body Image = Better Results

Here is an awesome study demonstrating what I’ve been telling clients for years. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (2011) showed ‘…improving body image, particularly by reducing its salience in one’s personal life, might play a role in enhancing eating self-regulation during weight control.’

Translation: love yourself now. Don’t make such a big deal out of it. Get better results.

This is where exercise comes in handy; it gets you out of your head and into your body. Also, please stop obsessing about the ‘ideal diet,’ the ‘best exercise class’ in the city (which are usually the worst) and learn to love yourself now – no matter what your body looks like. Meditation, journaling and social support are also helpful in this circumstance.

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4) Mindful, not Mindless

A recent study (2012) Mimicry of Food Intake: The Dynamic Interplay between Eating Companions gives us a clue as to one (of the many) problem people face: ‘Numerous studies have shown that people adjust their intake directly to that of their eating companions; they eat more when others eat more, and less when others inhibit intake… They were more likely to take a bite of their meal in congruence with their eating companion rather than eating at their own pace.’

Solution – Wake up.

5) File Under ‘Low Self Opinion’

Some people eat in an attempt to keep others comfortable. Seriously?

Another recent study (2012) from the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. ‘If you are a people-pleaser who strives to keep your social relationships smooth and comfortable, you might find yourself overeating in certain social situations…’

‘Students high in people-pleasing were those who tended to put others’ needs before their own, worried about hurting others, and were sensitive to criticism, among other behaviors.’

Solution – stop it. Listen to Henry Rollins, not Dr. Phil. Or read this article, and apply the tips.

6) Meal Frequency

The ‘eat 5 to 6 small meals to stoke your metabolic furnace’ myth is still in circulation. Most people will do fine eating three times a day, sometimes four. For someone with blood sugar or cortisol issues, they may benefit from eating more than that while they restore their metabolism. But the goal should be to get to the point where they can eat three meals.

Yes, I fast occasionally. And I have friends that teach Intermittent Fasting (IF), and we do know that it can provide some important benefits for some people. But I do not encourage it for most people. Maybe I am biased working in an industry where I’ve encountered women starving themselves for years on every diet imaginable. From what I have seen – many people are NOT EATING ENOUGH. They have a history of dieting, skipping meals, living in fear of tasty food, tortured by cravings & hormonal imbalances and confused by their body’s signals. And to top it off – an occasional binge is followed by the next day’s extra long cardio session to ‘purge’ them of their perceived sins. This sh*t is dysfunctional as hell but the solution is they need to develop a healthy relationship with food & eat more of it.

For beginner’s, I don’t think it’s wise to fast. For people who have damaged their metabolism or low blood sugar, it may be the final nail in the coffin.

Also, my friends and me have been getting results with clients without IF for years. Thankfully, IF proponents are not as dogmatic as many low-carbers or veg*ns, regardless, there are problems with IF for some people: An Objective Look at Intermittent Fasting

7) Gluten Free
I could care less about how ‘trendy’ this topic has become. And yes, most people going ‘gluten free’ are still eating ‘gluten free’ crap. I have been gluten free for almost 12 years, and there are many good reasons why most people may want to avoid it. The Case Against Gluten: For Everyone

And no, that doesn’t mean I am ‘low carb’. I eat up to 300 g of carbs on some days (tubers & fruit) and no; I am not overweight or pre-diabetic. And yes, I do occasionally eat white rice and corn tortillas, but I haven’t eaten grains for over a decade.

Rice Good, Wheat Bad

‘Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.’ Mitch Hedberg

8) Education not Indoctrination

Can you guess the only product I buy (or suggest) in this ‘dairy’ section? I think it’s a fair to neither say the vast majority of people would choose the industrial products nor realize that their ‘reason’ is simply a regurgitation of corporate propaganda.

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Solution – eat grass fed butter.


9) Not everything can be counted counts

You have to measure in order to manage. But many people are measuring the wrong things. I still encourage people to throw the scale in the garbage. Instead, focus on energy levels throughout the day, you can get your body fat tested, take before/after photos (you do not have to share them with anyone), take circumference measurements or take your temperature.

ScreenHunter 45 Jan. 28 15.54 Survival of the Smartest

ScreenHunter 46 Jan. 28 15.55 Survival of the Smartest

Finally, stop looking for the ‘next best thing’ – there isn’t one.

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” — Jim Rohn

If you don’t already have my Healthy Urban Kitchen program, I am doing live conference calls for the month of February. Click the image below to get it now and never diet again.



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