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Mind Games For Better Health

Okay, back to evening number one. You've had your first full diet meal and are standing on the scales staring down. Even if you have apparently put on weight, the stuff you have eaten will be metabolised eventually and won't be around forever - that is, as long as it didn't contain heaps of fat, carbs and sugar. In fact, much of it - the bulk of the vegies and fruit - is fibre and water, very little of which will be retained. Now, resist the temptation to eat more, go to bed and dream of the new clothes you are going to have to buy when the diet eventually kicks in. It will, but the full, lasting effect is going to take a bit more work than one day of depriving yourself.

Although those on a sensible weight-loss diet really are eating sufficient, the seemingly forever-hungry part is, I believe, why many elect to go with quirky diets that recommend some high-cal foods like bacon. Dieters love the stuff and if some nutritionist recommends it, why not? The answer to that is simple - it's loaded with fat, salt and preservatives. If you believe eating lots of fatty, salty foods is going to help you get healthy, you must be really desperate to keep the weight on; which, of course, you are not. If you really must have bacon, save it for the odd treat - that way you'll enjoy it more and it won't do you any harm. You can always try sticking to the lean cuts and boiling them in water for five minutes before frying in a non-stick pan - this will remove some of the fat and salt, and you might even discover it tastes better, different certainly. This should be another consideration for your new diet - variety, hopefully of the pleasant kind. If you make up some interesting combinations that prevent you from eating the same dishes day after day, you are less likely to get bored and the metabolism won't know what's coming. Be prepared, however, for a time of awakening. This might be around the third day when it is beginning to dawn that thoughts you had yesterday of being happy to eat this salad stuff ad infinitum isn't quite true. I can almost guarantee you will eventually be groaning at the prospect of what you are about to receive. And you won't be alone in this.

If you have reduced your fat intake, or maybe cut it out altogether, the body will initially ask politely for some, then start screaming for it. Resist surrendering by having the usual binge, but don't deprive the body either: give it a little of what it wants: perhaps a small bag of chips, a single cake, a low-cal pastry topping on the meat you were going to have with just a few green vegies - but that's all ! You should find the internal discomfort will lift or disappear, for a while anyway. That small amount of fat in the snack will have gone straight to the storehouse because it is supposedly needed, despite the fact that this isn't true - there's plenty hanging around already in the form of lumps and bumps you are trying to get rid of. By providing just a tad, you may have added some to it, but nowhere near as much as you have been in the past, and it can be worked off during the day's normal routine exercise. The important thing is that the metabolism is satisfied for the moment, allowing you to carry on with your chosen diet plan.

The internal complaints will, of course, come again, maybe next day, certainly quicker than they did the first time - your metabolism is beginning to realise there's a deception going on here. At least it thinks there is; but you are smarter and in control. Next time it asks for goodies, you'll wait a bit, perhaps an hour or two, then give it some - same small amount as before. It may well complain later that day, but to no avail: you'll simply refuse and make it wait till tomorrow - or not, if that's what you decide. In effect, what you are trying to do is disrupt the metabolic pattern so that the body never knows what kind of food it is going to get, when, or how much.

Just so that you know I'm not merely speculating with this theory of mine, I have actually been testing it out myself. The fat is gradually disappearing, presumably thanks to the daily exercises (Healthy Living HL10), and I have been losing around a kilo (2.2 pounds) a month. At least, that is, until last week when it jumped back up more than I would have liked. Football was the reason - not playing, but watching it on TV. It never seems quite as enjoyable unless accompanied by a few drinks and snacks, all of which the metabolism swooped on like a seagull on a sick prawn! Needless to say, I wasn't proud of myself and made up my mind it was only going to be a temporary lapse. So, I went back to the diet. In just two days I'd knocked off the extra 4 pounds, a surprise in itself, but I was also pleased not to be experiencing those earlier withdrawal symptoms. The strategy, it seemed, worked even better by coming off the diet entirely for two or three days, then going back to it. Another thing I noticed was that I couldn't eat as much as I had in the past without feeling very uncomfortable. I put this down to my stomach shrinking. Whatever, it did mean that I was satisfied with just a few naughties instead of a whole heap. Presumably, my metabolism was happy too, because it didn't complain. From now on, this will be part of the mind games - stick to the diet, introducing the odd fatty snack, sometimes before it has been requested, then hop off the wagon once every two or three weekends as a reward for myself and to confuse the metabolism even further. I will, of course, keep checking the scales as a reminder to stick with the plan and return to it sooner rather than later - I don't want to have to start all over again!

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