*This (very long) post was written by Engine 2 team member, Natala.
I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m at least 100 pounds heavier than everyone on the Engine 2 Team. I’m fortunate, my team is really great. Specifically, you can’t get much better than working with Rip, he is probably one of the most kind people I’ve met when it comes to being sensitive and understanding regarding weight issues. It’s kind of funny, because if you know Rip, you know the guy is healthy, not an ounce of fat on the guy. But to talk to him, you never really get any bit of arrogance or feel like he’s looking down at you.
Trust me when I say, I would not be involved with Engine 2 if it were any other way. And I’m not just saying that to make you like Rip, I’m saying that as someone who has gone through a lot of pain because of my size, including in the workplace. Not to say I wasn’t nervous about being on the team.
I always feel the need to tell people I’m already down over 200 pounds. It’s hard to believe, because I’m still obese. I work hard at it. I eat a plant-perfect diet, I workout, I do everything I’m supposed to be doing. But I still feel embarrassed by my weight, I still REALLY do not like speaking in front of people, I’d rather just sit behind my computer screen and talk to all of you lovely people from here.
I’ve always felt bad about my weight. I mean, I fought through it a lot, joined advanced gym classes being obese, tried out for sports teams, ran for homecoming court, I figured I might as well just go all out in my life as much as I could.
But I always felt bad for being fat. And maybe you are reading this, and you feel the same way. Ashamed, embarrassed, convinced you have no self control.
However, I realized something not that long ago when I was at True North Health Clinic in Santa Rosa, and it was something that one of the Doctors said. The difference between someone who is 100 pounds overweight and someone who is at their ideal weight is about 3 extra Oreo’s a day. That’s it, over shooting by just 3 cookies a day. It doesn’t really take that much to overshoot on calories. We’re programmed to seek high calorically dense foods, that’s what we look for. If this were a jungle, all of us obese people would totally rule the land, we’re good at finding calories, and we’re even better at storing them.
I kept going over this 3 cookie thing, over and over again.
*I know all of you are wondering where my math comes from so let me break it down:
3 cookies = 120 calories * 365 days = 43,800 calories/3500 calories in a pound= 12.51 pounds per year * 8 years = 100 pounds.
It doesn’t have to be cookies, the point being that if you overshoot your calories by a little more than 100 calories a day for 8 years you will be 100 pounds overweight.
Not by eating buckets of fried chicken or gallons of ice-cream, it could be as simple as 100 calories.
*it should be noted that it’s not going to be the foods that are low in caloric density that are going to cause this as much as the foods that are higher in caloric density that our brains can’t calculate as well. More on that in a bit.
Now, there are a lot of other factors in this, but you get the point, it doesn’t take much to gain weight. And just look around us, food is everywhere, there is so much of it, readily available. Combined with our nature to seek calorically dense foods, we are in a lot of trouble.
So what do you do? How do you overcome this? And should you feel bad?
1. Eat foods low in caloric density. This is the number one thing that has helped me with my weight loss. Not just me, my husband has lost over 100 pounds doing the same thing. What foods are low in caloric density?
What is high in caloric density?
Oil (being 4000 calories per pound it is the most calorically dense food we can eat)
If you want to lose weight, the most simple solution is to eat food that is lower in caloric density and stay away from the foods higher in caloric density.
2. CHEW!! This is something else I learned at True North. Chewing slows down how quickly we consume calories, it helps the digestion process and it burns calories. If you blend your food too much (like you are doing blended drinks as meals) you let the blender do the work for you, rather than the natural process your body has set up. You also consume a lot more calories when you drink them. If you are doing smoothies, try this: the next time, put everything you are about to put in your blender into a bowl and eat it. If you cannot eat it in one sitting, you should not drink it in one sitting. The other part of liquid calories is that they are not as filling, they literally take up less room for the amount of calories consumed and people find themselves hungry faster. But don’t take our word for it, try it. Try chewing more. It seems so basic, but you’d be surprised how many e-mails we get from people who are having trouble losing weight, and when they take out the liquid calories, all of a sudden the weight starts coming off again.
3. Cut out the salt. Aside from puffing you up like a Macy’s day parade ballon, salt does a lot of damage to your insides (high blood pressure, strokes, artery damage to name a few)
As for weight loss, when we salt our food, we tend to eat more food. This is not to say that saltless food is not good tasting, however if you can’t eat something without salt, it’s time to really look at what you are eating. Have you trained your taste buds to crave and want salt? If the answer is yes, it’s time to go on a salt free fast. Don’t worry, the food you eat has natural sodium in it, you will be just fine. Remove salt from your diet and salty seasonings and dressings for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Try tons of salt free seasonings, start using spice instead of salt, your body will love you.
*give your taste buds time to change, over a couple of weeks you won’t even notice that you’ve given up salty foods.
4. Watch sweeteners! Sweeteners can also cause a little bit more over indulgence. And don’t make the mistake I made by using ‘organic’ or date sweetened desserts. It’s still high in caloric density, it still causes me to eat a cake if I wanted to, doesn’t matter if that cake is made with dates, raw organic cacoa from the mountains of Peru, organic beets, oats, carrots, raw nuts and sunshine, if it is high in caloric density, and sweet, guess what? I’m eating that cake, and I’m going to eat a lot of it.
*This doesn’t go for everyone, some of you crazy people can eat one date and call it a day, or a slice of beet chocolate date cake, but if that is you, you probably don’t need to be reading this post.
5. Start right. I wish I could go back and never taste some of the really indulgent things. It wasn’t until I fasted for 30 days (water only) at True North did I get all my taste buds back to where they were supposed to. Funny thing, when you don’t eat for 30 days, all of a sudden you could care less about chocolate sunshine Peruvian beet cake, give me a slice of watermelon! Now, you don’t have to fast (and if you do so it should only be in a medically supervised clinic like True North), but you can get your taste buds back. How? Clean eating. Really buckle down and eat clean for a few weeks. When you crave something sweet have a piece of fruit, when you crave something salty have some celery.
6. Eat oats. This is my favorite Ann Esselstyn tip. Oats are wonderful for your health, and so simple to make. Cook your oats so they will fill you up a lot more (raw oats are great, but sometimes not as filling). Cook your oats in water instead of non-dairy milk. For goodness sake, please don’t make your oats unhealthy by adding something like veg. butter or sugar. Add fruit and a little ground flax seed. Skip the nuts and dried fruit if you are trying to loose weight.
7. Skip the more calorically concentrated foods like crackers, pasta and bread. There are definitely plant-strong versions of some of those foods, however, if you are like me, it is very easy to overeat on those things. Have a potato instead of bread, have spaghetti squash instead of pasta.
8. Read “The Pleasure Trap”. I cannot emphasize this one enough. This book makes sense of everything that does not make sense about weight gain.
9. Stop the feeling bad cycle. I’ve spent so much of my life regretting every extra bite of food, and being depressed about my weight. So much so that I’ve skipped out on seeing old friends, going to meet new friends and more. I know more than most that being overweight is not a nice experience. But you know what? There is nothing you can do about all of those extra bites of oreo’s over the years. Absolutely nothing. We can’t go back, we can only go forward. Will there be bad days again? More than likely. But it doesn’t mean you should feel bad about who you are right now, and all of the great things you HAVE done in your life, and the great things you are about to do. Everyday, work to feel better about yourself, work to make some good choices, work to not dwell on the past and look toward your shining bright future.
10. Remember, it is your choice. One day I was talking to Rip, talking about my even more restricted way of eating. I told him (exasperated) “Well, it’s not like I have a choice Rip.” He, in his very Rip stern voice said “YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE NATALA, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS.” And he was right, I do have a choice, I could choose to be a severe out of control diabetic who was morbidly obese if I wanted to. I realized that I’m choosing something different, no one is forcing me, no one is making it hard on me, this is all my choice. When I’m feeling like I want my Peruvian chocolate cake, I say to myself “I’m choosing not to eat this, I’ll have a piece of fruit instead.” I do the same thing with negative things, lets say I don’t want to workout that day, I say in my head “I’m choosing not to workout.” I’ll tell you, most days after I say “I’m choosing” I make better choices. I own my choices a lot more as well. I stop making as many excuses.
11. Plan, plan and plan some more. The best thing you can do for yourself is to plan. Make it simple, eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains/starches and beans. There are 1000′s of combinations you can come up with from just those food groups. No need to complicate anything at all.
If you are not the planning type, find someone who is. A spouse, friend, or find someone to pay to plan for you (if you can). Everyone has that one friend in their life that just loves to sit down with an organizer and organize their little heart away, find that person, and ask them for help.
12. Follow Jeff Novick on Facebook. I mentioned Rip being great to work with, but Jeff is just as cool (sorry Rip!). Jeff tells it like it is, cuts through all of the muddy waters of health and nutrition and gets to the point. Specifically, go read all of his notes and check out his recipes. Most importantly, like Rip I have never once felt like Jeff talks down to people who have weight to lose, he is respectful and most of all understanding.
*Just so you know, the entire team, Dr. Esselstyn, Doug Lisle and Ann are also equally as kind and compassionate when it comes to people who have to lose weight. It is the reason why I can do what I do, and why I love working with all of them.
If you have stuck with me to the end of this post, congratulations! We’re going to giveaway a copy of Pleasure Trap! Just leave a comment and tell us the one change you think you can make to help you in your health journey.
*for a little comparison.
and my husband:
My husband is at his ideal weight. Together we have lost over 300 pounds (and counting)
A few years ago Natala was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She decided to take her life back by adopting a plant-based diet, and has since lost over 200 pounds and no longer needs medication. Natala became passionate about nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, and now works with Rip Esselstyn and The Engine 2 Diet team.