- Rodale Press, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt
Making It Easier to Get the Fat Out
First of all, let's begin by recognizing that we're each fighting an uphill battle against our own biology. You have to deal with your day-to-day hunger and stress levels, for example. These two formidable forces make high-fat foods so irresistible and exercise so, well, resistible that you might be a bit dismayed. And if you've tried valiantly to "starve" your fat cells by skipping meals or dieting for weeks on end, you've discovered the real truth: It doesn't work.
Why? Because the brain and body have an ancient, inherent drive to form and store fat. This drive seems to shift into high gear with maddening ease whenever you try some of those old, well-intended techniques for losing weight. If you try to slash calories, carve out time for hour-long exercise sessions and skip crucial meals like breakfast, lunch or between-meal snacks, you're not really losing fat forever. You're just fighting a battle of the bulge that you'll probably have to fight again.
Although nationwide surveys indicate that today millions of us want to succeedpermanentlyat losing fat, it just plain isn't happeningand we're frustrated.
The Low-Fat Living Program will, quite simply, help you unravel two mysteries that boggle most fat-fighters: how to turn off the switches for fat-making and how to turn on the switches for fat-burning. Throughout this book you'll discover practical new ways to become healthier and stay that way. You'll find out how to outsmart your innate cravings forhigh-fat foods. You'll be able to reduceor turn offyour body's ancient biological tendencies to form fat and store fat.
At the same time, the program will enable you to take greater, hour-to-hour control over your metabolismthe energy-burning processes that go on in your cells 24 hours a day.
You'll learn a variety of specific and practical techniques to healthfully raise your own metabolism. You'll master the various ways your body can burn calories to produce energy to carry out essential functions. And when you switch on those metabolic processes, you'll be switching on a fat-burner. It's that simple.
If you think fat's your fault, it's time to reconsider. You don't have to blame yourself. The fact is, we're overfat because fat-makers are part of our lifestyle and fat-burners are not.
Few of us actually have the right tools to help us win. And that's why the Low-Fat Living Program gives you tools rather than tricks.
It's skillpower, not willpower, that really makes the difference. You don't have to master a big, complicated plan for fighting fat. You can choose your tactics from a whole menu of possibilities.
And to use your skillpower, I recommend very specific action steps. Each of the action steps is based upon sound theories about the body's processestheories that are being researched extensively.
You can do these action steps on the spot, throughout the day, anytime, anywhere. Each one represents what scientists call a leverage-point skill. It's a small, well-focused choice that requires awareness and timing rather than brute-force struggle. And none of these steps has anything to do with deprivation.
According to researchers, we don't achieve permanent self-change by setting lofty goals. It's nice to have those goals, but that's not what matters most. Instead we need to make well-timed choices. No matter how insignificant each one of these choices may seem, they add up to the most powerful way to achieve immediate and lasting results.
Small Steps to Big Changes
With the Low-Fat Living Program, you'll be using the powers inherent in your brain and body to trim down and get healthier. The result: more lifelong vigor and a far greater sense of well-being. As soon as you practice low-fat living, you'll find that it easily becomes a natural part of your days. Before long, you won't even need to think about it.
Unlike other programs you may have tried in the past, the actions that I recommend in the Low-Fat Living Program focus on the crux of the problemthe way your brain and body adjust your energy and metabolism in response to the choices you make.
All day long, from the moment you awaken in the morning until you climb into bed at night, switches are going on and offmaking fat or burning it. Not just at mealtimes, and not only during formal fitness sessions, but all day, every day.
And that includes right now.
Yes, whether you know it or not, you are now sending specific cues or "signals" to billions of your body cells. You are telling those cells to do one of two thingsto form and store more body fat or to burn more fat for energy and healing.
Which are you choosing? As you read these words, are you sitting or lying down? When was the last time you ate? What, specifically, will you be doing during the next ten minutes?
Your decisions aren't passiveyou're making active choices.
To help you learn how to activate the Fat-Burner Switches, I encourage you to practice the "Switchbreaks" you'll find throughout this book. Each of these Switchbreaks describes an immediate and easy way to start burning more fat.
Want an example? Just read the Switchbreak on page 6.
But reading about it is just the first step. Then you have to take a real break and do it.
It won't take long. And if you can practice each Switchbreak while you're reading this book, you'll start to swing into the habits that can change your life.
Switchbreak SKILLPOWER NOT WILLPOWER
Is there some ice in your refrigerator? A glass nearby? You have everything you need to switch on a fat-burner right now.
Take a moment to get some ice from the tray, put it in a glass and fill the glass with cold water. As you're reading the rest of this chapter, pause every now and then to take a sip.
As simple as this action seems, your body is responding in two very important ways. First of all, it's spending some extra energy to warm up the ice-cold water. And second, any time you drink liquids, you're helping to "fool" your stomach into feeling full. That, of course, is an instant damper to appetite.
You'll find out more about the power of staying hydrated when you read about Fat-Burner Switch #3 (page 91). But right now, take a break and get that glass of ice water before you go on.
Why Skillpower Counts More Than Willpower
According to the results of more than 50 research studies involving over 30,000 subjects, effective self-change depends on doing the right things at the right times.
One review of more than 80 research articles indicated that a leading element in successful self-change is perceived control, a sense that you can take charge of the steps required. According to one leading research team, "People who rely solely upon willpower set themselves up for failure." That's why the Low-Fat Living Program is based on the theme of skillpower, not willpower.
Whenever you learn new skills, of course, you're more likely to make a habit of using them if you understand why they're so effective. The skills of low-fat living are no different. What happens to your body when you switch off the fat-makers and switch on the fat-burners? Why are your cells storing fat sometimes and releasing it other times? Why do you have to be careful about eating carbohydrates as well as fat? And why do you have to keep an eye on calories as well?
Not surprisingly, if you've previously put your faith in willpower, you may not know the answers to these questions. When we rely on willpower, we're more likely to test ourselves, constantly saying things like "If I can only skip this meal or stop this craving, I'll prove to myself I can do it, and that will help me cut fat from my diet and shed fat from my body for ever and ever."
But your body really doesn't care about your win/lose battles with willpower. In fact, if you're locked in a daily power struggle with your will, your body may be waiting for you to give up and pay attention to your fat switches instead.
Nor does it make sense to focus on one aspect of fat-burning at the expense of another. Why fight fat by going off on a tangent with an exercise-only or nutrition-only program? And vet many people do just that. According to one study, most people who watch their diets are physically inactive. And conversely, many people who focus on exercise simply disregard the need to eat healthy low-fat meals and snacks.
If you eat certain foods, exercise in specific ways, rest and awaken in particular patterns, you automatically program your efficient and responsive body to burn more fat rather than making or storing it. Understand that program, and you no longer have to think about success or failure in terms of losing weight or gaining it, overeating or undereating, feasting or starving. In fact, you never have to use such words again.
Cook Up Something Good
The Low-Fat Living Program will help you make sure you don't get on a gain-again/lose-again program. The principles in this book are based on theories that have been developed from a wide range of the latest research. And that research encompasses not only medicine and nutrition but also exercise science, psychology,, chronobiology (the influence of daily biological rhythms in the body and brain), sleep patterns, neuroscience, environmental factors, stress dynamics and much more.
Along with the other skills required for low-fat living, it's critical to learn low-fat cooking skills. Whether or not you're the person who starts the steamer and wields the spatula in the household, you need to know how to stock your pantry with delicious low-fat fare, how to cook low-fat meals everyone in your family will love and how to browse a menu for fat-free flavors when you're dining out.
Low-fat cooking techniques are not complicated, but it's essential to learn them. Shop smart, substitute wholesome low-fat ingredients for high-fat ones, measure serving sizes and tiptoe around the fast-food traps. Beyond that, you need low-fat meals that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and other nutrient-rich ingredients. These foods help bring out the very best flavors, so every meal is an experience to enjoy.
In parts 3 and 4 of this book, you'll find information on the skills you need to begin mastering a complete low-fat cooking program. There's a practical guide to help you shop and eat low-fat whether you're dining in or out, along with scores of recipes for implementing the Low-Fat Living 3-plus-4 Eating Planlow-fat meals, desserts and snacks that take off from traditional favorites and offer a panoply of new flavors.
Best of all, you'll discover that there's nothing elaborate about switching to the low-fat kitchen. As you'll see, all it takes are a few extra kitchen tools and a few easily learned, basic low-fat cooking techniques.
In fact, low-fat shopping, food preparation and cooking are among the most pleasurable pastimes you can discover. Far from avoiding foodthe dead-end route of so many restricted diets of past popularitylow-fat eating gives you the very best meals to look forward to. Once you've tried some of these recipes and you're hooked on the bonus of more flavors with less fat, you'll be eating so well and enjoying it so much that you'll never look back.
The program you'll discover on the pages ahead is the one I've followed with my own family for more than a dozen years, and I have shared it with my professional colleagues and many friends. Each aspect of this program is based on scientific or medical research or the advice of specialists, and I've provided hundreds of references to substantiate the guidelines you'll be learning.
I credit low-fat living with making a major difference in my own lifeimproving my health, fitness and levels of energy and work effectiveness. Over the past decade, this program has transformed my family's weight-control efforts into something surprisingly easy and automatic, a plan that literally takes care of itself, without so much as a second thought.
My wife, Leslie, has experienced lasting benefits from this program. While we were developing the Low-Fat Living Program, she was steadily shedding excess body farso much so that she gradually changed from a dress size of 12 in 1984 to a size 5 (her natural size) just two years later. Even after her pregnancies in 1990 and 1993, she restored her natural weight and figureand, even more important, her energy level and stamina. Ever since we've made low-fat living an ongoing part of our lifestyle, she has maintained her weight and energyand she still wears a size 5.
All the recipes you'll find in part 4 were created by Leslie, right here in our kitchen. We love them all, and so do our childrenincluding our picky 16-year-old and the even-choosier 5-year-old. (Note: We also have a 2-year-old, but she's not ready for low-fat eating. Nutritionists agree that children under 2 should not be on a very low fat diet.) The advantage of right-at-home, family testing is that these meals and snacks have all been tried by stern criticsand revised whenever necessary.
So they're no! just low-fatthey're also delicious. And nearly all of them can be prepared in a hurry.
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