10 (Healthy) Ways to Lose Weight (& Feel your Best).

Via on Jul 14, 2013

waylon lewis noodle & company

All my life, even as a little boy, I’ve struggled with my weight.

I just wrote this, it may or may not be really good, it’s a bit raw for me to write, but I thought it would be helpful. Hopefully not adding more confusion. ~ ed.

All my life (yes, men go through this stuff, too—you’re not alone, whomever you are), I’ve eaten rather indiscriminately. If I’m around food, I’ll eat it. If I’m not around food, I won’t.

I got into a bad habit, in my athletic days as a young whippersnapper with an endless appetite and a 0-60 in five second metabolism, of showing off how much I could eat. 12 Dunkin Donuts in one sitting? Watch me! Full pizza? No problem! Cleaning off the unfinished plates of an entire table? Happy to help. Babe Ruth did this too, he of the infamous potbelly seen around the world.

Nine meals a day was standard in my high school years (if you counted full servings of seconds: breakfast, breakfast, snack, lunch, lunch, teatime, dinner, dinner, dessert).

Now, I’m 38, and I’ve wrestled the hungry bear of my discursive eating (and, emotional eating—if I’m stressed, tired, sad, depressed…food is pleasure) for a solid 32 of those years. It’s sad how much mental energy I’ve put, daily, into wanting to diet, wanting to eat…at the same time.

About 8 years ago, or 11 years ago going further back, I discovered adult exercise. When I was a young punk, I exercised a ton—for fun. We called it sports, or just plain running around doing stuff. But when you grow up—well, at the age of 25, I suddenly found myself sitting at a desk all day. Luckily, my girlfriend at the time, a co-founder of sorts of this Journal, saw what was happening.

“Where’s the handsome boy I fell in love with? Now you’re all pudgy, with skinny arms.” And she imitated the walk of a (handsome) gorilla. And she took me to the gym. On my own, I fell in love with bouldering. On my own, or through friends…over the years, I’ve fallen in love with cycling, and now running. I still play a little basketball. I do my morning calisthenics. And I do my yoga, usually, which might be the most challenging of all my workouts.

Anyways, I found that exercise, instead of binging and dieting, was a means to even out the crests and troughs of weight gain and loss. I spend less energy, now, thinking about myself, and more energy thinking about how I can best be of service.

And that’s the point of all of the mindful life. To be of use to the world, and have a good time doing so.

10 Mindful Diet* Tips from One Who’s Been There:

1. Exercise. Every day. Something. Something you enjoy. If you want to eat more, then

plan ahead (see #10). Schedule exercise to balance against your business lunch, or dinner date,

or date with yourself and House of Cards and a big bowl of vegan nachos (looking at you, Lewis).

Most effective exercise? It’s not in a gym. It’s whatever you love.

Most effective exercise of all? It’s practical: it’s bicycling, or walking, instead of driving. Move. You’ll find yourself in the sunshine and fresh air, your mind will wake up, life will be good.

runsonfat

1a. Get a dog, if you’re a responsible human being: dogs have to pee and dogs need tons of exercise (the backyard is not enough, folks) so they’ll get you to go outside and move, regularly—and in so doing they’ll change your life, and health for the better.

There was a study released recently that showed that those with dogs lived longer, and more healthfully. Duh. Hope they didn’t spend to much on that study: we coulda told ‘em that.

2. Don’t diet. Relax. Stop it. It’s okay once in a blue moon not to eat if there’s no good food around—like, if you’re in an airport or on a mindful cleanse (but beware of cleanses, they’re often a fancy excuse for purging). But dieting is a great way to starve your health, and the fat will come roaring back. Stop it.

3. Don’t binge: ever. And if you do, which you will, because that’s the nature of neurosis, it’s like a 12 year old boy who just has to challenge any and all authority…well, that’s fine, because you saw it coming and [refer to #1] or you didn’t see it coming and it’s time for [#1].

4. The Michael Pollan Diet: Eat Real Food. Mostly Plants. Not too Much. The better food you eat (ie, food with, say, five ingredients or less), the more you’ll enjoy it, and the less hungry you’ll feel. And the healthier you’ll be, and you’ll be helping your planet, or at least hurting it a bit less.

obesity, America, United States, fat, overweight

Click to watch this amazing video.

5. The Tom Cruise Diet: this could also be called the Oprah Winfrey Diet, but we know better. Don’t eat after a certain time of night. I don’t like this rule, because rules are made to be broken,

Photo: theimpulsivebuy
Photo: Ben & Jerry’s, I love you long time. Just not too late at night.

so I set my time at…midnight. I stay up late, but even I don’t really ever want to eat after midnight. So keep this rule in mind, but be gentle about it. Just remember that eating late at night is a great way to gain unwanted weight, and it’s harder to digest ’cause you’re not moving, and it’ll mess up your sleep. Bad, bad, bad. But don’t be heavy about it. Which brings us to…

6. Maitri. You’ll fall. You’ll fail. You’ll eat two pints of vegan ice cream. You’ll fail again. Constantly. That’s the nature of the beast. Having an eating disorder is perhaps even harder to manage than being an alcoholic, because you can’t go cold turkey. You eat the cold turkey.

Of course, having an eating disorder just means that you’ll gain weight, starve yourself, harm your health, take years off your life, mess up your sleep, avoid going swimming, avoid yoga, avoid sex, avoid dating, and feel bad about yourself minute after minute after minute, day after day. Which isn’t nearly as bad as the effects of unaddressed alcoholicism.

Anyway: Maitri. Read the link. Read about it. Learn to make friends with yourself. There’s so many benefits from this one, it’s almost as if your suffering was all worth it, because it gave you a doorway into loving life fully.

7. Water. Drink it. If you’re neurotically hungry (as in you feel hungry, you want to eat, you’re gonna eat, but you’re not actually physically hungry), drink water instead. Often we’re just dehydrated, and that dehydration is the feeling of “hunger” that fools us into eating crappy food.captain haddock drinking drink water

8. Cook. Again, as Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Cook them yourself…It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”  I’m a bachelor, and I don’t cook much. But I make stuff at home, mostly Mexican stuff and salads and pasta (which I guess is cooking) and sweet potatoes and popcorn and now stirfries, which I learned how to make (so easy) from an ex-girlfriend. Learn a few simple dishes. Learn to make things you actually like to eat. As an added bonus, while things are cooking, I love to do dishes, laundry: whatever I’ve been avoiding. It’s like there’s a race clock, a stopwatch that’s gone off and I only have so much time to do whatever in, and suddenly domestic tasks are fun. And suddenly my sink is clean and my sheets are clean and my bed made and my recycling taken out and my dining table clean and…

walk the talk show meditation hike with waylon lewis

Video: You can meditate (make friends with your own mind) while hiking (exercise). Here’s how.

9. Wear well-fitting clothes. Trungpa Rinpoche, the great Buddhist teacher, said that well-fitting clothes give our egos less room to hide. That’s not a lofty, spiritual observation: it’s a practical one. When we’re depressed, who doesn’t love to assume a bad posture, curled up, hiding our open heart, to dress in comfy sweats with elastic bands…and to eat comfort food? It’s nice, for about three minutes. Then, it’s a good way to fall down the rabbit hole of food depression.

food pollan10. Here’s a slightly embarrassing one: but I figured out how to eat mindfully after, like, 36 years of my life. I literally count meals vs. exercise, each day. Every. Day. Why? Because I’m not like those fit, healthy people: I have to be mindful of every bite I take, and every exercise I make.

So I say, okay, if I don’t exercise much, I eat on average 1 meal and three snacks (.33 each) a day. I know that seems low, but that’s what I generally need. Maybe I have a slow metabolism. Who knows. Who cares. If I eat that much, I’m strong and healthy and anyone who knows me knows how much energy I have. I could power a generator, if they could plug me in.

So I wake up, have a small meal–like half a cantaloupe, say, with peanut butter in it—all organic—and then I’m down from 1.99 to 1.66 for the day. Then, I go work, and around lunch I’m actually hungry, so I have a healthy yummy meal. I’m at .66. Then, maybe around five, I have a snack. I’m at .33. Then, come dinner time, I have another snack. I’m at .0. I go to bed, and I haven’t lost weight, or gained weight. I’m balanced. It’s all good.

But what if I want a full dinner? No problem: see #1: exercise. One good session of exercise (running, yoga, basketball, whatever—I don’t count walking or bicycling unless it’s a long bike ride, those basic habits figure into the basic 1 meal and three snacks a day equation) equals one meal. So if I know I want to eat 2 meals and 3 snacks in one day (total of 2.99), I just make sure I exercise once. That brings my total for the day from 1.99 up to 2.99 (two meals valued at 1, each, and 3 snacks at .33, each). Capiche? Works for me.

11. We go to 11, around here. Tips from you? Leave ‘em in the comments, below.

*a mindful diet does not involve dieting.

Bonus: Here’s a photo of me in my undies, by one of my bromance buddies, Robert.

These days, whether I’m fit or not so fit, it doesn’t matter. The discipline of coming back to the present moment—or, in this case, a mindful diet—is what I practice. Failing is okay. Coming back—getting back on the saddle of maitri—is everything. It’s everything because it allows me to stop self-obsessing, and enjoy life fully. This life is short, and precious, and meant to be used to be of benefit, with joy. You in?

Bonus: if you don’t like the advice above, leave a comment. If I forgot something, leave a comment. I’m not expert—in that I’m not perfect. But I’ve been there, and I am there, and I know this terrain intimately. So, in that sense, I’m there with you. But there’s a thousand other blogs on elephant. Just search, top left, words like “binge,” “cleanse,” “dieting,” “bulimia,” whatever—you’ll find dozens upon dozens of (more or less) mindful takes on it. Ultimately, however, always trust the principle one. It’s up to you. Jolly good luck, sweetheart. You’re not alone.

 

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

26,794 views

If you liked this, you might like these:

23 Responses to “10 (Healthy) Ways to Lose Weight (& Feel your Best).”

  1. Diana Love says:

    I absolutely love this!! Informative and funny!! Thank you Waylon, I can identify and needed the reinforcement!!

  2. Jennifer White says:

    I love this—and it's all true. All of it. Learning to eat mindfully takes commitment and dedication, and it often takes an awfully long time to learn. Also, I agree on the exercise. Moving from the city back to the Midwest where my own two legs were not put into such frequent use—let's just say it was surprising to fully realize that this is where much of my calorie burning was coming from.
    Hmmm, I have a lot of tips because as a recovered anorexic and exercise addict I've spent entirely way too much thinking about this subject. And I think you nailed all of the big ones, so I'll just elaborate/add on.
    11. Don't over do the exercise (as in, don't spend hours with few or no days off to rest—learn how to relax too). I'm often at my easiest, healthiest weight when I do exercise a good amount but not so much that my appetite sky-rockets and becomes hard to deal with.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Some FB comments:
    Jessie S: Love this: "I spend less energy, now, thinking about myself, and more energy thinking about how I can best be of service." Wow. So simple, so true.

    Sherri Rosen Excellent!

    Jennifer Marie Newell Ah and shameless promotion of you in your undies. Love it.

    Kristin Currie Learning to make food u enjoy….such a good way to be mindful of what you eat. I find cooking a very therapeutic exercise with tasty rewards at the end.

    Jessica Moore-Irvin Never would have guessed that, Waylon.

    Jen Myronuk Thank you. Well-timed + well written

    Jennifer White It is really good. Sometimes over-thinking leads to over-editing and your honest, raw thoughts were necessary for an article like this. great job!

    Jenny Sansouci Thanks for sharing this Waylon. It's really good.

  4. andeejo says:

    i can't wait until i can have the company of a dog again… that was my favorite point :)
    since ADD allows me, maybe 3 rules i thought someone might find them helpful also…
    -here is one that is FANTASTIC and a few of my patients are trying it out with me from my blog… so far it's been rather miraculous, we shall see: http://centerforsustainablemedicine.com/dont-just
    -the second is walk twice a day if i can, up hills in my neighborhood, 30 minutes each, after an injury, this is working quite well an costs zero :)
    -the third is: go to the farmers market, get a silly amount of fruit (and eat it away from other food), and eat as much delish fresh home-made things as i can from that. otherwise, just attempt to stop eating when i'm half full. 80% of the time i'm all the way full 15 min later. :)

  5. Rebecca says:

    I honestly cannot tell if you are being sarcastic about eating disorders not being nearly as bad as unaddressed alcoholism. I assume it is in jest…as (I would hope you know) eating disorders are both severely damaging to your health, potentially deadly, and impact all aspects of your life–just like alcoholism

    • elephantjournal says:

      Having been affected by one, obviously, my whole life, and reading more of my articles, you will find that rare quality among "spiritual" "yoga" types: humor. It may not be good humor, but the important thing is to try to never take ourselves or our problems or our dreams too seriously. To care deeply and to laugh are not mutually exclusive.

      As I say above, my lifelong preoccupation with my fucking belly or diet instead of the rest of life, and service, is deeply sad to me. I feel robbed—and my habitual patterns are the thief.

      And I shared this because I know many others are in similar, or different situations, and might learn something from what little I have learned.

      • Rebecca says:

        Of course, I totally get that being preoccupied with a few extra pounds (or something similar) is something that robs you of both your own happiness and service to others.

        Full-fledged eating disorders are whole other ballgame. We are not talking about someone who is annoyed with their diet or body shape–but, rather, an obsessive and/or compulsive preoccupation and an *intense* hatred of oneself. Oftentimes it starts out as trying to fix a few things you are unhappy with but then you start to "see" imperfections that are not really there.

        At one point I was 105 pounds/size 0 at 5' 9" and *every single day* I still saw tremendously fat thighs in the mirror. This was not just letting the little things get to me…it was severe anxiety about things that were not truly there. A whole different ball of wax.

        Humour isn't a rare quality–it is simply that we all have slightly different senses of humour. What I find hilarious might not even register on someone else's radar and vice versa. I say this as I often feel like a total nut almost peeing in my pants about something while everyone else around me isn't even cracking a smile at whatever hilarity has just ensued.

        That being said…my response is, true to form, way too serious! Done.

  6. Alexa GK says:

    hey waylon, really really appreciated this article. Thanks for sharing on such a personal subject! Totally right there with you. I think you could catagorize #1 and many similar things as "lifesercize", as I like to call it… anything that isn't seperate exercise but a means to a non weight-related end! Such as: transportation to work (biking, running etc) and so on.
    I really liked your midnight cut-off rule, I've always secretly hated on myself for not following some ridic Oprah-enforced 6pm cut-off eating time. Team Maitri!

    • elephantjournal says:

      To your last point, my experience is that my rules love to be broken. If they're softer, and common-sense, they stand a chance.

  7. Ariella says:

    Amazing! Just amazing. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, and I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that I would rather be of service than thinking about my next meal, my next workout, or how big my damn butt looks in my jeans. And I've always said food addiction is sometimes harder than drug addiction because you CAN'T NOT EAT. I can't avoid food, I can't cut it out of my life. But the beautiful thing is, because of this, I have to make peace with it, I have to learn to use it properly, to see it for what it is, and use it in moderation. Thank you for being open, for giving great tips, and being real. I love food, I love my big butt, and I love EJ! <3

    • elephantjournal says:

      Loving our [big butt or whatever our hangup is—our belly roll, our weak arms, our wrinkles, our zits, our chipped tooth] is a profoundly difficult thing, hey!? It seems so simple and silly, but so many of us are at war with ourselves. It's really sad.

  8. Katt C says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, #6 gets me every time, it reminds me to be kinder to myself and in the process I don't worry about the weight or how my clothes feel. It reminds me to accept myself and spend more time focusing my energy outwards instead

  9. Tabitha says:

    Just to say thank you! You bring humour & wisdom to a subject that many make more complicated and less mindful. Keep up the positive mindset & enjoy life

  10. Good stuff, Waylon. Thanks for sharing this. I would add:
    11. (or perhaps #1) ENJOY and SAVOR your food!! Enjoy how it looks, how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth and be so, so grateful for it. And savor it by eating it slowly. LOVE your food — whether it's a salad, a plate of fries, or a pint of ice cream — love it all and it will be (even more) nourishing for you. :)

  11. Jamie says:

    Thanks for this, it's brilliant. I love what you've advised about being mindful and I totally agree. I think there's the tendency to always undereat (some crazy diet scheme or other!) or overeat (bingeing – yay?) when really, if we just listened to our bodies, we would eat just exactly what's right for us. Easier said than done of course. Mostly my body tells me it doesn't need that extra extra cupcake but my eyes, my nose and my brain tell me i do. Balance… balance…!

  12. Lisa Avebury says:

    Really great piece. Very practical advice and nice to hear it coming from a man not afraid to be honest about his own struggles with something, I believe, we all have issues with. Kudos and Thank You.

  13. Vanita says:

    I loved it! Thank you.

  14. Amie says:

    What an enjoyable read and it made me smile because it is all true. Many of us have had similar relationships with food, emotional eating and weight problems. I agree that our diets and health have suffered since we stopped preparing meals from scratch at home with wholesome ingredients. It's all too easy to buy a pre pakaged meal full of fat, salt and preservatives or to get a take away and then finish off with some processed high carb snack or ice cream.

    But some doctors also say that for many people with emotional eating, the underlying probelm is with low serotonin levels in the brain. When you have enough serotonin, the signals to your brain telling it you are full are restored and your mood is elevated which stops the cravings and binges. There are natural plant supplements you can take which naturally increase serotonin. Healthy eating, portion control and exercise then become easier and you will be able to maintain a healthy weight.
    Thanks for sharing all your struggles and tips with us.

  15. Joy says:

    Hey Waylon, thanks for providing this practical advice and also for sharing your struggling moments with us.

  16. Kaye L says:

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing and yay you for that undies pic!

  17. Stef says:

    What is the .33 and .66, etc mentioned in #10…did I miss something?

  18. Andrew says:

    I loved this article! It is so appealing . You describe all the problems we all facing but somehow pretend not to. You have a very healthy approach to life and your tips are really practical. Thank You for sharing!

  19. Sophia says:

    I love an honest male perspective on eating disorders. Us in recovery or recovered or still suffering are not alone! I also think it’s okay to eat three meals and snacks in a given day if you didn’t have time for exercise and feel hungry (as I do! And am at a healthy weight) but that just goes to show that we are all different! Anyways, thanks :)

Leave a Reply