I am a reasonably modest man. I don’t claim to have made many scientific discoveries. Yet there is one tremendous secret that I have discovered.
They say that if you discover the cure for the common cold, you will become a millionaire. The cure for overweight should definitely come in the same league? If so I still have a chance.
The secret is a small exercise. A sort of Zen exercise, if you will.
Sit up straight. If you are already standing, remain so, but keep a steady and strong air. Bring a semi-determined expression to your face. Slight smile is ok, but make sure that you convey the impression that you are serious. Look straight if you are alone or into the eyes of the person with whom you are engaging at the moment.
Move your head horizontally to the left. Then to the right. Do it again. Repeat this exercise many times in rapid succession. Increase the speed towards the end for emphasis. You would have got it now. It is a simple shake of the head. It is not this activity per se that gets your weight under control. It is the timing that is crucial.
Do it whenever someone offers you any junk food. Do it to yourself if you are alone and the thought of that large bag of potato chips or chocolate pastry in the fridge intrudes into your mind. Use it with passion whenever a friend calls you out in between meals for a quick trip to the bakery for a snack of cutlets and cold coffee.
Vigorous use of this exercise is recommended when the item on offer is a cigarette or a second helping of an alcoholic drink. In fact, employ it whenever a second helping of whatever, even healthy food, makes its appearance.
In short, eating less is the secret to weight loss. Eat healthy foods. Follow the Mediterranean diet. Whatever you do, if you ingest more calories than you expend you will put on weight. If you eat less than you lose by way of routine housekeeping functions of the body and by way of exercise, the body will burn fat and weight goes down. We have discussed that exercise alone is not a good way to do this. So eating less is the only option. Scientifically done in a safe manner, it may have other benefits also. This is as simple as basic arithmetic.
Why are you not thrilled? Why is not everyone jumping up and down with excitement? Why am I not being nominated for the Nobel Prize?
The reason is, I suspect, that you knew it all along. The entire world knows it, I believe. It is just a matter of putting things in perspective and calling a spade a spade and not a ‘funny looking agricultural implement of uncertain use’. It is just a matter of realising that the Emperor is actually walking around in his ugly, hairy nakedness.
One has to do it in a safe manner. If you are really obese and the BMI is above thirty, you need professional help. A doctor has to do a medical check up and some blood tests may be needed. A nutritionist may be useful in planning the daily calorie intake. Graded exercises may have to be started.
If you are just overweight, reducing portion sizes and sticking to healthy food is all that is necessary. If one does a net search, the calorie requirements for your height, gender and activity levels are given. Some sites even give measures for percentage of calorie restriction. You can set your daily calorie restriction for ten percent depending on your height, and daily activity, for example. That is a relatively safe limit. Let us say, an average Indian male may put his daily quota at 1800 Calories, while a woman can put it at 1500. It is a guaranteed weight loss program.
How do you calculate Calories? For that, a little bit more effort is needed. Again, it is superfluous to list it out here. The internet provides the measures of Calories of common foods that can be calculated. If the measures are in grams, there are tables listing the approximate amount equivalent in tablespoons. Believe me; the information is all out there. After some days of daily counting, measuring and calculating, it becomes automatic to look at a meal and get the total calorie count.
As an example, let us take a typical South Indian breakfast- two Iddlis, One urud Vada, some chutney and a plate of black Bengal grams in coconut gravy.
Two Iddlis- 150 Cal
One moderately large Vada- 100 Cal.
One plate of curry and Chutney- 200 to 300 Cal. So, the total is 750 Cal. Yes- it can only be approximate.
Sounds like too much work? Well, we have to work for some things. A trim body and robust health does not come cheap. And still, there is no guarantee that you will be healthy. Or even safe from lifestyle diseases. You can only improve the chances. Not interested? Stop reading then. But from the experience of dealing with thousands of patients over many years, I can assure you- the work may be worth it.