Six Things To Know About Dieting And Weight Loss

Six Things To Know Related To Diet

Eighty percent of girls in the US have been on a diet even before they are 10 year old! Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt talked recently at TED about the dieting frenzy in the western world and the problems associated with it. This article is based on her talk:

1. Know your inner thermostat

An “Internal Thermostat” inside our Hypothalamus in our brain regulates our hunger and energy use. If we try to cut our intake by eating less, this thermostat brings down our energy use to balance this. It works just like the thermostat in our homes. If we open the window on a cold winter day, the temperature drops temporarily. The thermostat detects this drop and kicks in the furnace and soon brings back the temperature to its programmed level. In the same way when we diet the weight loss is temporary- till our body adjusts its internal cycles of hunger and energy use and brings the weight back to where it was.

2. Dieting does not work

Because dieting does not change the “internal thermostat” settings no weight loss due to dieting is ever permanent. You could go on for many years on a dieting program but sooner or later your body will figure out a way to get back to where it thinks it needs to be. Five years after a diet most have regained their weight and 40% have regained more than where they started with.

3. Thermostat driven by stress

The typical outcome of dieting is that you are more likely to gain weight in the long run! The question then becomes: Why is this so? Another question: Why do we tend to progressively gain weight as we age? The answer to both questions is that our “internal thermostat” setting is impacted by stress. Since dieting adds stress to our bodies we are likely to gain weight as a result. Also as stress accumulates in our lives as we age, we tend to gain weight as we age. The secret to weight loss is that its not about Calories, its about Stress.

4. You may be better off working on your stress

A smarter strategy to change the temperature in your home is to change the thermostat settings rather than trying to outsmart the thermostat by opening windows. Similarly it is better to regulate our “internal thermostat” settings by reducing stress in our lives. When our stress levels come down and stay down for a few months, our body reacts to this by resetting its internal settings and allows us to lose weight. It believes “all is well” and there is no need to keep an “emergency stash” of calories. Our weight melts away automatically and it stays there permanently as this is due to a change in the “internal thermostat” settings.

5. Use Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation to reduce stress

There have been several studies that show that Yoga, Pranayama (breathing exercises) and Meditation reduce stress. When we are stressed we clench our muscles tight. Yoga stretches them and as a result relaxation sets in. Our breathing gets choppy and short when we are stressed. Breathing exercises to lengthen our breath give a signal to the mind-body to relax. When stressed our thoughts become scattered and jumpy. By meditating we clear our minds and control our thoughts. Relaxation sets in as a result. Practicing daily one or more of the three: Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation, keeps stress levels in check and eventually our internal thermostat resets. For most this is reflected as weight loss.

6. And Lifestyle changes help too

We all know that being overweight and obese increase our chances of death. But it is less well known that if we make certain life style choices then our weight has no impact on our chance of death. Sandra Aamodt also refers to this in her talk. She specifically talks about four life-style choices:

• Eating more fruits and vegetables.
• Being active and exercising regularly
• Not smoking
• Drinking moderately

If we can adopt at least three of the four life-style choices then our weight has minimal impact on our chance of death. This is an important insight. It takes away the burden of associating weight with health. Unburdened of this we can focus on things that are in our control rather than obsessing over our weight that we do not directly control.

To Sandra’s list of lifestyle choices we shall add the following since they have a direct impact on our stress levels:

• Watch funny movies and funny shows regularly
• Stay connected with friends and family
• Incorporate an attitude of gratefulness
• Take vacations and time-off regularly
• Practice forgiveness and learn to “let-go” of hurts.
• Sleep regular hours and for 7 to 10 hours

It is significant that multiple studies have corroborated the futility of diets. They do not work and they leave us in a much worse place than when we started. The focus instead should be on things that are in our direct control. These are: Eat healthy, reduce stress, and make life-style choices highlighted here.

Related: Sandra Aamodt TED talk: Why dieting doesn’t usually work

You may also like: The Yoga Of Weight Loss

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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Lemons To Lemonade

When life serves you with lemons what do you do? The answer is: turn them into lemonade! The recent “polar vortex” in the US was one such lemon that life served up which had people stuck indoors. Photographer Angela Kelly decided to turn it into lemonade instead. In a creative burst she and her 7-year old son decided to blow bubbles with soap water and see what -12°C would do to them. What they found was simply fascinating and captured in this fabulous photo series.

The two watched in awe the magical patterns created in freezing bubbles. The smaller ones would freeze immediately mid-air and would fall down and shatter like glass. The bigger ones would freeze slowly. Some held up:

Lemon To Lemonade2

While others shattered like egg shells.

Lemons To Lemonade1

When the sun rose the bubbles began to thaw.

Lemon To Lemonade3

And then some imploded:

Lemon To Lemonade4

And others deflated:
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The process and the results of the photo-shoot were highly rewarding for the photographer and her little one. “Are we ever too old to play with bubbles?” Kelly asks rhetoricaly. “I really think that this is the most fun, unique and beautiful series I’ve done yet!”

You may also like: Five Ways To Have A Ridiculously Amazing Life!

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You Have A Dream – Find A Way!

Diana Nyad had a dream. She wanted to be the first person to swim 100 miles of Open Ocean from Cuba to Florida. These are the most treacherous waters in the world with swirling currents and sharks, and worst of all jellyfish with their poisonous tentacles. She had been close to being poisoned to death in an earlier attempt. And yes she had attempted this before. Having tried and failed in four previous attempts. Others had tried too and failed. Now she was 64 and was told by everybody including doctors, scientists, her own team, and her coach that it was impossible. Yet she persevered and found a way through all the obstacles. This is a video that will describe her journey in her own words and will motivate and inspire you. This story tells us that the journey to success transforms us and in the end it is not what we get but what we become that matters.

Dianay Nyad Official Web site
Six Things To Put On Your Do-Not-Do List

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Food Resolutions That You Won’t Regret

Food Resolutions You Can Keep

Here are six ideas for your food resolutions for the year:

1. Stop Calorie Counting

If calorie counting means going hungry it may be time to stop. No food plan that keeps you hungry is going to work. As long as you remain within sensible limits there is no need to count and obsess about every calorie you eat.

2. Eliminate Sugar from your diet

Not all foods are made equal and sugar is emerging as the number one villain when it comes to body weight and health. Be aware that sugar is an addictive substance, so expect cravings to show up and be prepared for them. Remove all forms of sugar from your home including sweets, chocolates, cookies, juices, and sodas. Replace with fruits and when a craving hits, a few slices of apple or pear may do the trick.

3. Cook more at home

Cooking food may take you out of your comfort zone but it is something you will grow into. There are you-tube videos and you can find recipes easily by just googling them. Soon you will learn the tricks and shortcuts and you will find that home cooking is easy, fun, and healthy!

4. Add fruits and nuts

Don’t be scared about the sugar in fruits. This will help keep your sugar craving at bay and will provide you with healthy fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans are great for your health and can help keep you satiated. So add fruits and nuts to your daily menu.

5. Vegetables done right are fun

Many are daunted at the prospect of eating vegetables daily. But vegetables can be sautéed in readily available curries or you can bake them and eat them with a dip. Alternately you can steam or boil them and then puree them into a vegetable soup. Do not be afraid to experiment. You will soon wonder how you missed out on so much delicious and healthy eating!

6. Juice your way to nirvana

Juicing is a fast, delicious, and healthy way to quickly fix a meal. There are tons of recipes available to get you quickly started. Once you have a good juicer you will find healthy eating to be a snap!

Why turn your food resolutions to something that you dread and that is bound to fail? Instead use these tips and open the gates to joy, health, and discovery.

Related: A Need To Rethink Our Diet

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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To Be Is To Do

To Be Is To Do


Socrates once said, “To be is to do!” Transformation happens not by thinking but by doing. The journey to success is built one step at a time by actions you take. But it is not just about actions only. It is also about transformation.

The person who starts the journey to success is not the same one who finishes it. This is because during the course of the journey a transformative process takes place and changes us. These changes happen because along the way we are forced to face our shortcomings and our failures. Either we find the transformative process too painful to bear and give up, or we accept the pain and emerge transformed. This transformation brings about our growth and opens new frontiers. As Gail Sheehy said, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

Our transformation happens along many fronts but the most important one is the reduction in the size of our ego. Our success happens not because of the ego but inspite of it. Letting go of the ego is a painful process but the faster we are able to sideline the ego, the quicker we hasten along on the road to success. Without a super-ego we are able to build alliances and collaborators, and we become eager listeners and learners. As we do, we learn, and as we learn, we become. The journey to success becomes Karma Yoga, a journey out of the ego. So let us not be stilled into non-action by the fear of failure or change. Instead let us step forth into action and allow the forces of change to shape us. After all we got nothing to lose but our ego!

Related: A Butcher’s Yoga

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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