The One Simple Trick That Will Help You Lose Weight

Petr Kratochvil,via Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

I was a fat kid growing up. Yes, I can say that because I was one.

I was bullied and picked on because of my weight by the other kids in school, but I was bullied at home as well. Most of the names and insults that I was called shouldn’t be repeated here or in polite conversation.

Family threatened to send me away to a “fat camp” so I would “learn to lose some weight” and I was even started on a radical diet, to be monitored in weekly visits to dieticians and doctors, when I was only eleven. One of my parents would often tell me that I needed to “go out and do some push-ups” and at one point even my kid sister asked why I had “boobs” after I took off my shirt to go swim.

Needless to say I wasn’t fond of swimming growing up. Or my body. I hated myself and the way I looked.

It wasn’t that I sat around eating all the time, or that I was that huge. When I wasn’t being insulted I was referred to as being “husky” or “big boned” and at my heaviest in high school I weighed close to 230lbs. Despite going on the doctor monitored diet years before and dropping close to 60lbs., I had regained the weight and then some.

One day when I was around 16, after years of being called names and not liking the way I looked or felt about myself, I made some changes in my life and my eating habits. I’d like to say there was a eureka moment; some single epiphany or critical decision I made in my life that allowed me to lose over 40lbs on my own and keep it off, but it was a process. It did, however, begin with a single question that I would ask myself before eating anything:

Do I need that?

It sounds simple and it is.

Diets don’t work and resolutions to avoid certain foods don’t work. This is because people have not changed their relationship with food and instead approach their diet as a list of items that they can or cannot eat. This is a rigid and inflexible approach, one rarely conducive to long term weight loss because, inevitably, there will be slip-ups. Life happens. Someone brings doughnuts into the office. The boss buys some pizzas for an employee appreciation day. Your niece is turning five and they want you at the birthday party for cake and ice cream. It’s the World Cup, Super Bowl, play-offs, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. You get the idea. Even worse, if people avoid “cheating” they end up getting bored of eating the same things and become tired of sticking to a strict diet.

By asking yourself if you really need to eat something before deciding to take in the calories, a shift happens in your relationship with food. Instead of eating for pleasure, or from boredom, or as a reward for something, you instead eat for sustenance. Food and drink become sources to nourish your body — not to satisfy a momentary craving. You start to think of food as fuel. Something to keep your body going.

Do you really need that chocolate covered candy bar? Or that piece of cheesecake? Or that bowl of ice cream? No, you don’t. Not really.

You begin to choose healthier options to snack on to satisfy hunger — things like apples, bananas, granola, nuts, or fresh vegetables. Your meals become more well-rounded and you begin to think in terms of getting adequate amounts of macro and micro-nutrients: protein, healthy carbohydrates and fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Before you know it, you’re losing weight. Your clothes are fitting a little looser on you — in fact you may even have to buy some new outfits. You still snag the odd doughnut at the office, go to town on some pizza and beer on game day, or grab that piece of strawberry cheesecake that has been looking at you from the dessert aisle, but you don’t make it a habit. In fact you surprise yourself when you discover that it sometimes feels really good to say, “No thanks, I’m good.”

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Lyndon Moore

Lyndon Moore

is a military veteran, nurse, martial artist, writer, and world traveler. He has been published in the O-Dark-Thirty Review, a literary journal for veterans.