Dieting and Weight Loss Challenge

Excerpt from Chapter 9 - Your Body

In Chapter 7, I stated that you likely have a lifelong task of "watching your weight" while any childhood food issues remain unresolved. Do not underestimate the persistence of these issues despite many years of growth and/or therapy! As I write these words, I have yet to completely resolve the food issues arising in my first weeks of life (being fed on my mother's schedule that did not respect my hunger or my fullness). Now, because of my psychological work, I am able to diet easily, but I have yet to achieve my own "natural body" as described earlier in this chapter.

Therefore, if you were overweight or had other weight issues as a child, then I think it likely that your best plan is to plan to "watch your weight" for the rest of your life. If you resolve enough issues from your past, then you may be able to eat what you wish when you wish using an affirmation of, "I weigh ___" (your ideal weight). Such an ideal outcome is anything but certain.

Love Handles, Belly Fat and Thigh Fat. These three areas are the ones that give us the most difficulties when dieting. Each of us likely has at least one of these areas that seems totally resistant to change. Most experts agree that specific exercises do not help us lose inches in these areas. So, what now? My suggestion is to try both strength training and interval training. Both seem to be necessary. Please read carefully what I have to say about your hunter-gatherer body; it is an intelligent machine that will not give up "starvation fat" readily. But, your body will give that fat up if both interval and strength training are happening.

Strength Training. Think of your body as an intelligent machine whose shape is dictated by the physical challenges you place upon it (i.e., form follows function). Without strength training, your dieting body thinks it's more important to lose your unused strength muscles rather than the fat from your favorite fat storage location (love handles, belly or thighs). Your hunter-gatherer body is programmed to keep that fat as protection from possible starvation, because starvation was a more likely threat to hunter-gatherers than muscles they were not using.

If you customarily challenge all major muscle groups to near-maximum-for-you loads, then your dieting body will finally select the love handles, belly and thighs as areas for losing inches/weight. Strength training requires little time, perhaps twenty minutes each session, twice a week. The machines at your local gym/fitness-center will do nicely.

Interval Training. Think of interval training as strenuous cardiovascular exercise varied with much-less-strenuous exercise. An example might be to be running for one minute at a heart rate of 80-85% of your maximum heart rate, then walking for a minute, then back to running, then to walking again, and so on.

Caution: most people need to ramp up to interval training over several months, preferably before dieting, and check with your physician first.

Doing such a routine teaches your intelligent hunter-gatherer body that you need all those muscles and heart capabilities for running. Therefore, what are lost during dieting will finally be the inches from the love handles, belly and thighs. (To find specific interval training routines, there are many library books and internet websites available.) Overall, very little time is needed for interval training, perhaps ten minutes twice a week; during that time only about half is spent at the highest heart rates. (Note: the exercise program at Curves does meet this goal of interval training, though they do not call it that.) Most gyms offer many cardio machines that can be used for this, such as elliptical trainers, stair steppers, and rowing machines.

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© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze


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