1. Eat less.
2. Exercise more.
It really is as simple as that. But most inhabitants of the developed world are getting fatter by the day, feel bad about it, and would pay a fortune to look fabulous.
And many do. Pay a fortune that is. Trouble is they don’t research the problem. They buy the latest diet books, believe advertisements promoting diet pills and potions, or click on internet advertisements that promise to reduce their fat stomachs with “1 Wierd Old Tip”. But no way do you get that tip without parting with money, and getting bombarded with endless emails offering help. Help that requires you to part with more money. There are a lot of very convincing “experts” out there. Handing out good and bad advice, and making people feel guilty about things that are okay in moderation.
Let’s take one of the most famous: Patrick Holford. If you google “patrick holford scam” you should come across a website (http://holfordwatch.info/2009/02/)) that gives the following valuable information:
“Myth: Holford is a highly qualified nutritionist
(Former) Visiting Professor Patrick Holford has no accredited degree-level or postgraduate-level qualifications in nutrition. He has never taken any exams or been subjected to a critical appraisal of his knowledge of the sort one might expect with qualifications. Holford’s sole university degree is a BSc in Psychology from York (he earned a 2.2). Holford registered for an MPhil at Surrey University with a view to converting to a PhD (which is the normal pattern) but failed to meet the conversion requirements for a PhD. Unfortunately, whatever work he had submitted, in combination with his poor conversion viva, does not seem to have been sufficient to attain the basic level of work that would be necessary to have obtained an MPhil award. Holford’s only ‘qualification’ in nutrition is an honorary one. He must have been especially gratified when he was awarded an honorary DipION from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, while he was Director. However, Holford can legally call himself a nutritionist in Britain – ‘Nutritionist’ is not a protected title in the UK, and anyone is free to use it – unlike the term, Registered Dietitian (Catherine Collins RD has some very interesting observations on this point).”
Now let’s think logically about a lot of advice that gets handed out and accepted by the gullible. Such as, “You can combine food but never protein and carbohydrate”, or “Eat raw fruit and vegetables before every meal” or “Drink eight glasses of water a day”.
Why would man evolve into a being that had to live by such rules? Or, if you prefer, why would a Creator design such a finicky creature? Perfectly healthy people have lived in different parts of the world for thousands of years eating whatever they could get their hands on. Few of them got fat because they had to spend a lot of energy each day getting enough food to fill their bellies. They ate when they felt hungry, drank when they felt thirsty, and slept when they felt sleepy. Animals in the wild still do, and it seems to work for them.
I have a well-thumbed copy of my grandfather’s favourite book in front of me, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It contains a famous stanza in two different versions, which I have combined into one “improved” version:
A book of verse beneath the bough
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and Thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness
And wilderness is paradise enow
That sounds like a contented man who has his needs sorted: mental stimulation, delicious food and drink, a loving companion, and music, all combined in a beautiful setting. What’s not to like. Omar (who was a famous mathematician and astronomer, as well as being a philosopher and poet) died in 1131 at the age of 83. Now the inhabitants of his country think it is a sin to drink wine (which was first invented there about 7000 years ago), and also sin to eat pork. Not what I would call progress.
A few years ago I paid to have a consultation with the renowned sports scientist, Tim Noakes. I asked him about the ideal amount of exercise and he said it seemed to be between two and five hours per week. Mainly cardiovascular. “Do what you enjoy; running, cycling, walking or swimming are all good”. (The experts tend to be non-dogmatic.) I also gathered that there had been no scientific study concluding that we should drink eight glasses of water a day. “Drink when you feel thirsty” was the gist of it. (Noakes caused a storm of criticism in the 80s when he said that many runners were drinking too much during marathon events, and that several had died from this, particularly in the USA. Now his research has been validated.)
The body is an extraordinarily adept organism that can survive for 40 days without food, 4 days without liquid, but only 4 minutes without air. We really don’t need to walk around with bottles of water, sipping away as though we’re going to dehydrate if we go for an hour without water.
Last year I went to a lecture by a South African who had run the Great Wall of China (a good way to lose weight). If you click on http://www.southafrica.info/features/milesforsmiles.htm you can read the whole story, starting with this paragraph: “South African endurance athletes David Grier and Braam Malherbe arrived home in time for Christmas having spent four months covering around 5 000 kilometres and some of the harshest terrain on the planet to become the first people in recorded history to run the Great Wall of China from start to finish, in one go, on foot.”
Can you imagine how tough it is to run a marathon nearly every day for four months?
During their run they came across villagers who were so poor, and had such limited resources, that they seemingly existed on a diet of potatoes. And had a little meat about once a year. The human body is an amazing thing that doesn’t need all the mollycoddling that modern “experts” try to shove down our throats. But, if you really want to get healthy, lose weight and keep it off, do what I did. Go and see a registered dietician. She will find out what food you like, help draw up a diet that includes your preferences, email you recipes, suggest suitable exercise and generally help you to make the process enjoyable. In a nutshell you’ll be encouraged to eat more fish, fowl and fibre; eat between meals and try to achieve a 90 % adherence. This means that, of the 21 main meals a week, 2 can be decadent. I lost 5 kg in a few months. And got great satisfaction when I took a pair of trousers to a seamstress to have the waist taken in, and heard her remarking to a customer, “See how nice he looks!” Next time I’ll tell of a few sumptuous meals Hot Chick and I went to. (She knows about diets, but prefers hers. It seems to consist of wine, chocolate and cocktails; and the occasional meal in a restaurant. She looks fantastic, but admits that she is now a bit more voluptuous than she would like to be.)