|Chapter 3. Setting the Stage
The explosion of obesity in the U.S. shown by the obesity maps is sobering. The maps graphically reflect America’
s growing obesity problem. But the maps understate the problem. The maps are based on self-reports. The
surveyors telephone homes around the country and ask the height and weight of the people who answer. If
someone surveyed you, would you tend to give an answer that reflected best upon you? Would you choose your
lowest weight within the past month, and maybe strive to be a half-inch taller than you really are? Studies show
that people tend to do both, they understate their weight and overstate their height.
Similarly, although almost 70% of adult Americans are either overweight or obese, a Gallup survey shows that
60% are perfectly satisfied with their weight. They do not believe that they should diet.
The same sort of denial exists on an individual level. Most fat people suffer from denial. Most do not step on the
scale on a daily basis. They do not stand naked and look at themselves in the mirror. They avoid photographs
that memorialize their health status. This reality avoidance makes it easier to continue doing what they are doing–
and what they are doing is engaging in behavior that threatens their health.
If you are afraid to step on the scale or look in the mirror, you are denying reality. The first step toward improving
your health is to honestly evaluate where you are now. The good news is that when you use the tools in this book,
you will lose weight quickly. The record you make now will be a reference point to measure your improvement.
The biggest step you have made is deciding to become healthy. A difficult step will be evaluating where you are
now, but soon being overweight will be a thing of the past.
Take a good look at yourself.
As you lay the foundation for the Simply Fit Diet, you should stand naked in front of the mirror and take a good
look at yourself. Do not imagine yourself doing this, actually do it. Bring along a hand mirror so that you can see
the rear view as well. View yourself from the side. Do you look like a wood plank (a healthy state) or a barrel (a
sign of obesity)? Does your stomach stick out more than your chest? Are there creases and folds on your belly?
Do you have saddle bags on your sides? Has fat climbed up your chest and spread to your back, neck and face?
All of these things will improve as you follow the Simply Fit Diet, but an honest self-evaluation will reinforce your
resolve to change. For some people, a photograph is a more effective reflection of reality. Modern electronics
make it easy to snap a photo of yourself and then to study it privately. Taking a good look at yourself is an
important way to start the Simply Fit Diet.
The contours of fat.
When most people think of fat, they think of the rolls you see around the middle of so many Americans. Although
these rolls are one of the most visible forms of fat, fat also accumulates within your rib cage, in your liver and
internal organs and in other parts of the body.
The fat the scientists tell us is most dangerous is the fat that grows inside of your rib cage and drapes over the
internal organs like an umbrella. You have probably seen someone with very little external fat, but with a bulging
belly, as if the person swallowed a barrel. Such a person is a walking example of internal fat.
Even without knowing the dangerous health consequences of being fat, common sense shows that it is not
healthy. Let’s revisit the city analogy for a moment and imagine that your body is like a city. Your arteries provide
nutrients to your body parts just the way the utilities provide power and water to homes in the city. Your body
carries away waste just as the sewer system and garbage trucks do in a city. A well-planned city can provide all of
the necessary services smoothly.
But imagine that you suddenly increase the population of the city by 37%. Suddenly the roads will clog with traffic.
The emergency vehicles will have a hard time getting through. On stressfully hot or cold days, the utility services
may become overloaded and you can suffer brownouts or reduced natural gas pressure.
The 37% population growth in a city is in many ways like the 55 pounds it would take for me to go from a healthy
weight to obese. Those extra 55 pounds require nutrients and waste disposal just like the other cells of my body.
My body will have to work harder to supply blood and oxygen to the new cells, and the liver and kidneys will need
to deal with the increased waste.
Also, thinking logically, the extra 55 pounds will put significant stress on my ankles, legs and back. It is likely that I
will have a harder time getting in and out of bed, and that I will feel sore and less likely to exercise.
But, your fat does not care about your sore ankles. Your fat does not care about your sore back. Your fat does
not care that it makes it harder for you to exercise. Your fat does not care that it is streaking your arteries with
plaque and that it is putting you on the course to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other problems. Your fat
is in many ways a monster.
In the movie Little Shop of Horrors, a blood sucking plant named Audrey (Audrey II, to be precise, but for
simplicity I will call her Audrey) caused havoc in the life of a plant store clerk named Seymour. In the dark comedy,
the plant grew larger and larger demanding more and more blood and crying out, “feed me, Seymour!” It is not
unreasonable to think of your fat as Audrey.
In fact, your relationship with Audrey is one sided and dysfunctional. Audrey does not care about you. She does
not care about your health. She does not care about your sore back and sore ankles. She only cares about
herself. Audrey wants you to feed her–an extra 1,025 calories a day for a man my size to support 55 excess
pounds. Further, Audrey is not satisfied with what you feed her, she wants to grow!
Getting rid of Audrey is not as simple as showing her the door. She will hang around for months and she will not
go quietly. She will beg and plead and scream, “feed me, Seymour.” And in the case of the majority of Americans,
she wins. She insists on being a part of you, even if your involvement with her will both shorten your life span and
lower your quality of life (Figure 7).
Like in most dysfunctional relationships, Audrey makes demands. So much of what you think of as hunger is really
Audrey demanding to be fed. But her cravings and hunger are easily distinguished. If you are craving something
from your list of favorite foods, it is almost certainly Audrey demanding to be fed. If you are hungry, your body will
be satisfied by food, most any food, but particularly healthful, natural foods. An apple will do. Audrey, however,
demands high-calorie, high-fat, high-carbohydrate treats. Do not let Audrey fool you that only fattening foods will
It may sound far fetched to describe fat as an evil intentioned foreign invader, but scientists are discovering
information that makes this story more realistic. Scientists have discovered that fat secretes and alters body
hormones. One of its purposes is to support and increase its size. Further, scientists have found that fat not only
can change how your body functions, but can also change your brain. Those brain changes make you more likely
to eat foods that, guess what, increase your body fat. The brain changes may be caused by inflammatory cells
traveling to the hypothalamus. The brain is then unable to accurately sense the amount of fat being stored. A
high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet causes your brain to think your fat stores are permanently empty, when in fact
they are full. The good news is that the damage to the brain can be reversed by switching to a healthier diet
Audrey is very much like a foreign invader because her goal is her gain to your detriment. She has
commandeered your body systems for her own purposes. She has sunk her roots into your chest, arms, face,
heart and liver. To protect your health, you must evict her, but it won’t be easy. The medicine you will have to take
is healthy food, exercise, and yes, occasional hunger. But the cure is worth it.
|Figure 7. Your fat is like a foreign invader, seeking
to grow, even though it hurts your health.
Step on the scale.
Imagine driving down the highway in a speed enforcement zone. There are speed cameras and police officers
giving out tickets. You are late for a meeting and you neither want to spend the time nor the money on a ticket.
Would you look at your speedometer? Of course you would. The consequences of being fat are more far
reaching than getting a speeding ticket, but a huge number of people never look at the speedometer–in this case
the scale–to monitor how they are doing.
Diet books and websites are full of recommendations about how infrequently you should weigh yourself. Some
say weekly, others say monthly and a few say never. Why the myth that not weighing yourself is healthy began
and why it is perpetuated is beyond me. What you weigh today is a reality you must face. What you weigh
tomorrow is part of that reality. How your food and beverage consumption affects your weight is important. Of
course your weight will vary from day to day. You should become familiar with the variance and face reality. What
effect does drinking a liter of water have on your weight? Might as well find out. What happens to your weight
when you go overboard and drink a six pack of beer and eat half a pizza? You did it, so face reality. If pigging out
on pizza and beer causes you to gain three pounds, you might as well know it immediately, instead of waiting a
week or month to see the results, and in which time you might repeat the experience three more times because
you did not face the consequences the first time.
A number of studies show that people who weigh themselves daily take off weight more quickly and keep the
weight off better. Daily weighing is a no-cost, low-effort way to maximize your weight loss. Just as the price of
liberty is constant vigilance, the price of fitness is constant monitoring. A key aspect of the Simply Fit Diet, both
when you are losing weight and later when you transition to maintaining your weight, is monitoring. Recording
your weight at least daily is a strategy you should adopt now and maintain for the rest of your life.
|Some common sense tips about weighing yourself.
To weigh yourself, you should have a good scale. Take your current scale and step on it three times. If the
weights are the same or very close, great. Unfortunately, many old scales show results that vary by pounds. If
your scale is inconsistent, buy a new one. Many modern electronic scales cost less than $40 and produce
amazingly consistent results. Heck, if health is worth a million dollars then $40 is a small investment.
A further tip about the scale, be sure to put it in the same spot on a flat, hard floor. Bathroom floors often have
squares and patterns. Choose a convenient spot, and then use the scale in the same spot every time. You can
even mark the floor with some tape if you move the scale after every use. Similarly, put your feet on the same
spot on the surface of the scale every time you weigh yourself and you will get more consistent results.
Always weigh yourself at the same time of day and wearing the same thing. Weighing yourself first thing in the
morning when you are naked and ready to shower is a great time. To achieve greater consistency, use the
restroom before you weigh yourself.
If you weigh yourself more than once a day, choose a weight to be your official weight. The first weight of the
morning is usually the best. That is the weight you will tell your spouse and friends–and any surveyors who call for
If you weigh yourself more than once on each occasion, or if your scale jumps around a bit, choose a convention
to select a consistent weight. For example, always use the highest weight, or the lowest weight, or the middle
weight of three tries.
Finally, record your weight (Figure 8. download a weight chart). Keep a pen and paper, perhaps in a waterproof
ziplock bag, near the scale. It is amazing how faulty memory is. With a written record, you can see what you
weighed three months ago. You can see if your weight loss is slower or faster this month. And you can see if your
bad choices are making you gain weight.
Weighing yourself daily will also be essential on the far end of your weight loss program. To lose weight, you will
alter the content and quantity of food you eat. When you reach your weight goal, you will be able to add more
food, or a wider variety of food, to your diet. Constant monitoring will allow you to quickly see the results of your
experiments and to learn which foods you can add without gaining weight.
A final benefit of weighing yourself at least daily is that studies show people who weigh themselves regularly are
more successful at losing weight and maintaining weight loss than those who do not. Whether the weigh-in acts as
a goal setting exercise, or whether the constant monitoring limits binges, is not clear; but it works.
Looking at other people can help you to lose weight. To do this exercise, find a day on which you have some
spare time. Go to a public building visited by a cross-section of the population, somewhere like a mall, movie
theater, or popular store. Find a bench out front, and watch the people walk in. How many of them look trim, fit
and healthy? How many look fat and sick?
Pay particular attention to people your age. At almost any age you will observe people for whom obesity has
become a burden. For older people, some resort to canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Pay particular attention to
those in wheelchairs. For how many do you guess that obesity contributed directly or indirectly to their being in a
wheelchair? Also observe how surprisingly young some people are whose fat makes walking difficult. Ask yourself,
which kind of person do I want to be, the one who has a hard time walking, or the one who strides with energy and
As I mentioned before, out of six children in my family, two have severe mobility limitations caused by obesity. Of
the remaining siblings, all have some mobility limitations related to obesity. I do not seek to be fit to live longer, I
just want to live better. I have made the choice to be healthy, and if you see me walking into the building, I will be
striding with pride. After you observe the high rate of obesity and its harmful effects, you will be more likely to
choose to be fit.
|Match the food with the shopper.
A variation on the people watching exercise you can engage in every time you go to the grocery store is to match
the contents of the shopping carts to the shoppers. Almost always you will find that the contents of the shopping
cart explain the shape of the shopper. Fat people tend to have carts with soda, chips and convenience foods,
while slim people tend to have carts with whole foods. This observation reinforces the fact that what you eat
affects your health.
Set realistic written goals.
Imagine that for some reason you need to drive to the geographic center of America: Lebanon, Kansas. Without a
map or a plan, you hop into your car and drive the speed limit all day. You can drive like crazy, but unless you
know the roads to get there, you could be going in the wrong direction and at the end of the day, be further from
your goal than when you started. Having clear, realistic goals draws you toward your destination in almost a
magical manner. I suggest that you set weight loss goals and mile markers along the way.
Looking to TV and movies for role models leads to a terribly distorted view of how Americans should look. To start
with, celebrities are selected because they are unusually good looking. Even the villains look good. Further, the
people you see on TV are as much the products of drugs and plastic surgery as they are products of nature. It is
unnatural for 50- and 60-year-old celebrities to be free of wrinkles and blemishes, but turn on the TV and you see
them every night. It is unnatural for men on TV to have washboard abdomens and for women to have perfectly
shaped lips, breasts and buttocks, but you see them every night.
|Steer clear of steroids.
For men, but also for women, special mention must be made of the role of steroids in modern life. Anabolic
steroids first appeared in Olympic-level sports in the late 1950's. Today, they have spread to even high school
sports. An incredible 11% of high school boys and 7% of high school girls have tried steroids. Fifty percent of
high school and college athletes take some kind of sports supplement. Sports stars like Lance Armstrong and
Alex Rodriguez have joined actors like Arnold Schwartzenager and Sylvester Stalone in acknowledging, or being
forced to acknowledge, that they have used steroids to gain an unfair advantage. Instead of labeling these
people heroes or role models, we should call them what they are–cheaters.
Steroids permeate the fitness industry. Many of the media stars who promote fitness are cheaters. Many of the
trainers at the local gym, both male and female, are cheaters. It is impossible to attain the degree of muscularity
these cheaters maintain, without using the same methods. Steroid users are not admirable, they are pitiful. They
jab needles into their rear ends and inject drugs upsetting the natural balance of their bodies and shutting down
their normal hormone production. The reasons these people do this are likely complex and may be rooted in
fragile self images and rough pasts. But the bottom line is that they are not admirable but pitiful. You should be
careful to not let your image of health be distorted by steroid users at the gym or in the media.
I turned on the TV the other day and saw a promotional advertisement for a reality show in which a lineup of
handsome young men competed for a marriage proposal from an attractive young woman. The ad featured all of
these men shirtless and tanned. I was appalled to conclude that not one or two, but every single one of them
used steroids. To find a more realistic picture of what men should look like, we can go back to the era before
steroids were widely available. No one will question the masculinity of the soldiers who fought for America in World
War II, but when you look at photos from that era, you will find the soldiers shockingly slim (Figure 9). Conversely,
if you look at pin-up models from that era, you will likely conclude that women like Marilyn Monroe would be kicked
off today’s reality shows for being too fat. Our current culture is distorted by the use of drugs and plastic surgery.
If you must look to celebrities for role models, you should ignore cheaters like Arnold Schwartzenager and
Sylvester Stalone, and look instead at men built like Mick Jagger or Woody Allen. Natural is better. The current
focus on muscularity is neither natural nor healthy.
Beauty bought with a needle or a knife is illusory. If your goal is to look like a movie star, you are consigned to
failure. You have neither the genetics, nor the professional chef, performance enhancing drugs and plastic
surgery the movie star has. You need to set a realistic goal based on you, not based on someone you see in the
movies or on TV.
Do not look to others for your weight goals, look to yourself. There was likely a time in your life when you
were fit. This could have been in your late teens or twenties. Choose a time when your skeletal frame had grown
to full size and remember your weight. Even if decades have passed, that weight is still attainable. Write down the
most healthy weight you have been in your adult life. That will likely be your weight loss goal.
Some people have never been at a healthy weight. If this describes you, you can usually think of a relative of the
same sex and a similar build who is or has been a healthy weight. Using someone with a similar genetic
background can help you to target a healthy weight.
If you have never been a healthy weight and you have no relatives who are or have been at a healthy weight, you
can use a BMI chart to set a goal (Figure 10). A BMI of 22 is generally considered a healthy weight. Or
alternatively, seek out an old insurance height/weight chart and use the weight suggested.
Beyond calculating these weights mentally, it is essential to write them down. When you write something down you
process the numbers through a different part of your brain. You also make a written commitment to work toward
|Figure 9. In the era before steroids, our heros were slim.
|Figure 10. Body Mass Index Chart.
|How low can you go?
A recent study shows that medical costs begin rising progressively from a BMI of 19. For
me to have a BMI of 19, I would weigh 128 pounds! Some people go even further.
Focusing on science that shows rodents served a starvation diet live longer, calorie
restriction (CR) proponents choose a similar course for themselves. It’s a free country
and people can choose the goals that make the most sense to them. With almost 70% of
Americans being overweight or obese, I think a goal of maintaining a BMI of about 22, or
alternatively, being in a shape similar to Leonardo da Vinci’s picture of man, is enough.
Take a few minutes now to do some goal setting. You can use this worksheet.
__________ Current weight.
__________ 93% of current weight (point at which the chance of diabetes is substantially reduced).
__________ Weight at BMI of 30 (dividing line between obese and overweight).
__________ Weight at BMI of 25 (dividing line between overweight and normal).
__________ Weight at BMI of 22.
__________ Personal Weight Goal.
$__________ One million dollars divided by (current weight minus goal weight) = how much value in health you
earn with each pound lost.
__________ After you reach your weight goal, the highest weight you will accept before going back on the
full Simply Fit Diet.
|When I started my diet, my figures looked like this:
____190___ Current weight.
____177___ 93% of current weight (point at which the chance of diabetes is substantially reduced).
____203___ Weight at BMI of 30 (dividing line of obese and overweight).
____169___ Weight at BMI of 25 (dividing line of overweight and normal).
____149___ Weight at BMI of 22.
____150___ Personal Weight Goal.
$__25,000__ one million dollars divided by (current weight minus goal weight) = how much value in health you
earn with each pound lost.
____160___ After you reach your weight goal, the highest weight you will accept before going back on the
full Simply Fit Diet.
Being overweight is the result of a long series of bad choices. However, you have the power to reverse the bad
choices by making better food and fitness choices. The body is naturally driven to heal. If you give it the right food
and environment, it will do so. But it is slow. Weight loss is like steering an ocean liner–it takes time. It is easy to
blame your weight gain on genetics, stress, work or family. But that is not going to make matters better. You must
take responsibility for where you are now and the decisions you have made. It is easy to say that you will start a
diet tomorrow, or on New Year’s Day. But there are a limited number of tomorrows. One of these days they will be
sawing your leg off and it will be too late. It is your decision to become fit and the time to act is right now.
|Figure 11. Struggling to lift packages of
meat equal to the weight I lost encourages
me to remain fit.
|Make a trip to the butcher.
Once you have calculated how much weight you would like to
lose, stop by the butcher section of your grocery store.
Assuming you have a bit of weight to lose, big box stores like
Costco or Sam’s Club work well for this exercise. Find the area
with big packages of boneless meat. I like the approximately ten-
pound tubes of pork they have at Costco. They look like an arm
or leg. Gather together packages representing the amount of
weight you want to lose and if possible, pick them up. Feel the
mass and heft of the meat. Think of how much work it is to carry
that weight everywhere you go. Think of how you look with that
quantity of meat glued to your belly, hips and rear.
This exercise sounds a bit silly and would be very easy to skip,
but it is extraordinarily beneficial. It makes concrete an abstract
concept like losing 40 pounds. It helps you to both realize the
burden the extra weight places on your body and the benefit of
being free of it. It is also an exercise you should revisit after you
lose some weight. After you have lost ten pounds, pick up a ten-
pound piece of meat and feel its mass and heft (Figure 11).
Feel proud that you no longer carry around this piece of meat.
Think about the energy your body will save no longer needing
to provide nutrients and waste disposal to the extra tissue. Most
importantly of all, when you consider breaking your diet, ask
yourself if what you think you will gain by eating unhealthy foods
is worth plastering that ten-pound package of meat back on
your body. Holding the amount of weight you need to lose
(or the weight you have already lost) and making it
concrete will help you to reach your weight loss goals.
Grab a handful of body fat before every meal.
This recommendation sounds strange, but it is highly effective. As you start your diet, before every meal, go to a
private place, lift up your shirt and take a look at your fat. Say to yourself, “this is why I need to diet.” You will
reinforce your goal of weight loss in a concrete way at least three times a day. Alternatively, if you are
not in a setting where you can do this, grab a handful of body fat before the meal and say the same thing. It is
easy to get off track on a diet, especially at work or in social settings. Reminding yourself of your weight loss goal
before every meal makes it easier to stay on track.
Get a good night’s sleep.
It may sound strange to talk about sleep in a diet book, but sleeping well is essential for weight loss and health. If
you think about it logically, sleep must be important to our bodies, we devote almost a third of our lives to it.
Scientists have long understood the relationship between healthy sleep and healthy weight. They tell us that a
good night’s sleep ensures essential hormones are secreted that affect not only what foods we desire during the
daytime, but also how we metabolize them. Similarly, a poor night’s sleep leads to cravings for high-sugar, high-
carb foods, and encourages our bodies to turn meals into fat.
One of the most interesting studies I read was conducted in Boston where healthy volunteers were fed controlled
meals and put in a sleep lab without clocks or windows, where the subjects’ sleep cycles could be manipulated.
The subjects included both younger and older adults who lived in the sleep lab for five weeks. Diet, room
temperature and exercise opportunities were all controlled. After sleeping on a normal schedule for six days, the
subjects were put on a 28-hour day, with the opportunity for 6.53 hours of sleep, over a three-week period.
During sleep manipulation, the subjects experienced a 32% reduction in insulin secretion after meals, leading to
inadequate glucose regulation. Some of the otherwise healthy subjects were becoming pre-diabetic. The sleep
reduction also led to a reduction in metabolism, such that with no other changes, a person would gain about 12.5
pounds a year simply by not sleeping well! There was little difference in the negative effect of sleep deprivation
based on the age of the subjects.
This highly controlled experiment using healthy subjects shows the importance of sleep in maintaining health and
demonstrates that sleep deprivation can lead to diabetes and weight gain. The good news from the study is that
with a nine-day sleep readjustment period, the harmful effects reversed. Applying these results to real life, with
as little as nine days of sleeping well, you can improve your health and lose weight with no other
changes in lifestyle.
A deep and restful sleep seems to come easily to young people, but is more and more difficult to obtain as one
ages. I like to joke that the challenge of youth is to get a date, but the challenge of middle age is to get a good
The best way for you to improve your sleep is to make a good night’s sleep a goal and to think logically about
your individual situation and how to improve it. Preliminarily, you should set aside an adequate block of time to
sleep. People like to boast about how little time they have to sleep, and for some it seems difficult to find more
time. However, anyone who watches television or spends time on the internet or social media has little justification
to say they cannot find time for sleep. Time is available, it is just not a priority. If you make sleep a more important
priority, if you acknowledge sleep is essential to your health, you will allot an adequate amount of time for it.
For some, there is an adequate time for sleep, it is just difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Sometimes an active
mind can keep you up at night. You may be worrying about a problem at work or a conflict with a family member.
Keeping a journal at your bedside and writing about your concerns can sometimes give you adequate peace to
fall asleep. Simple techniques like consciously relaxing can help. I like to count backwards from twenty to one,
while imagining I am walking down a flight of stairs and with each step I become progressively more relaxed and
sleepy. It is surprisingly effective.
Sometimes environmental factors hurt sleep. There may be light coming in through a window or from electronics
in your room. Once again, common sense dictates a solution; perhaps a room darkening shade, or turning off or
putting a box over a bright electronic device.
Pets can demand attention late at night, or their shifting and turning on the bed can wake you. Sometimes,
despite your love for your pet, it is better to give your pet its own bed close to you, rather than have it rob you of
sleep by sharing your bed.
Snoring is another problem, either yours or your spouse’s. Snoring, unfortunately, is an indicator of sleep apnea,
a much under-recognized condition that affects many overweight adults. Sleep apnea is where you stop breathing
during your sleep. It can be caused either by a physical blockage in the throat, or an electronic problem in the
body. When you stop breathing, your body awakens you with a start, reinitiating the breathing process but
perhaps waking you a hundred times during the night and preventing you from getting the most deep, restful and
healthful sleep. Sleep apnea is highly related to obesity. Even losing a small amount of weight can improve it
significantly. Further, as discussed in Chapter 5, avoiding grains seems to improve the quality of sleep and may
reduce the incidence of sleep apnea. By following the Simply Fit Diet you will significantly improve the quality of
Alcohol consumption also hurts sleep. First, over-consumption of alcohol makes sleep apnea worse. Second,
over-consumption of alcohol, even without sleep apnea, can make you sleepy in the short term, but the body puts
alcohol first in line for processing and around four hours after going to bed you may awake from the heat and
energy of the alcohol burning off. After that four-hour period alcohol acts as a stimulant that can make sleep
difficult. You can reduce these negative effects by cutting your alcohol consumption or at least starting it earlier in
Caffeine consumption can also negatively affect sleep. The extra cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage you
consume for energy during the day can come back to haunt you with sleeplessness at night. This often starts a
negative cycle where you have even more caffeine the next day and sleep even more poorly the next night.
Monitoring and reducing caffeine consumption, and limiting it to earlier hours, can help to improve sleep.
Liquid consumption, including coffee, tea, alcohol and other beverages can also interrupt your sleep cycle if you
need to wake up to use the restroom. Consuming beverages earlier in the day and emptying your bladder fully
right before bed can help. If you do need to use the restroom at night, use a gentle, indirect light, so as to make
falling back asleep easier. Also, interestingly, many people with sleep apnea report they thought they rose at
night to use the restroom when in fact they were being awakened by sleep apnea and then deciding to use the
restroom since they were awake. Losing weight and improving your sleep apnea may well remedy a perceived
need to use the restroom at night.
Napping can be a useful tool in getting enough rest. The body naturally lags after lunch. Most cultures in the
world take a siesta. Only the industrialized North sought greater worker productivity by skipping this nap and
many of us have learned to use caffeine and sugar to get through the early afternoon doldrums. Instead of
resisting, if you have time, consider taking a nap. It will help you to remain alert through the balance of the day
and allow your body to better follow its natural rhythms.
Some people take sleep supplements and prescription sleep aids. As I will repeat over and over in this book, I am
a strong believer that natural is better. Supplements like melatonin can get you to sleep, that is true, but four
hours later they wear off and you wake in the middle of the night facing the choice of taking more drugs or
missing more sleep. Further, melatonin can cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. Prescription sleeping aids
also have side effects. For example, Ambien warns that it can cause problems such as anaphylactic shock,
abnormal thinking and behavior changes, decreased inhibitions, hallucinations, complex behaviors such as sleep
driving, amnesia, worsening of depression, withdrawal symptoms if stopped, and dangerous interactions with
sleep apnea. One of the most extreme cases of overreacting to insomnia is demonstrated by the late singer,
Michael Jackson. He literally was dying for a good night’s sleep. He directed his personal physician to misuse a
powerful sedative to knock him out. That sedative killed him. I have often said that insomnia is a self-resolving
problem. Two or three nights of ordinary insomnia (not caused by some disease process) will result in your
natural defenses taking over, and you will sleep long and hard, whether you want to or not. It is best to seek
natural solutions to sleep problems, not to take a pill.
In conclusion, sleep is necessary for health and for weight loss. Make getting a good night’s sleep a goal
and use a common sense analysis of your individual situation to help you to achieve it. Occasional
insomnia is inevitable for many adults, but will resolve itself in a matter of days. Avoid using drugs to help you to
sleep. Seek a natural pattern of rest and it will help you with your health and weight loss.
Seek a positive health loop.
Sleep plays a key role in whether you have a positive or a negative health loop. Imagine the negative. You sleep
poorly, so you drink an extra cup of coffee before you leave home. At midmorning, you feel foggy so you reach
for the “quick energy” of a donut and a soda. At lunch, you decide to skip the salad you brought from home and
go out for a slice of pizza and another soda. In the afternoon, you fear falling asleep in a long meeting, so you
help yourself to a free muffin and another cup of coffee. After a long day at work ends, you realize that you have
blown your diet. You skip the gym and go home for a frozen pizza, a few beers and top it off with some ice cream
in front of the TV. When you go to bed at night, you find your head swimming from all of the caffeine. After you
eventually fall asleep, you wake a few hours later with the sheets soaked with sweat from your body burning off
the beer. The next morning, you wake up groggy and a little depressed, brew a big pot of extra strong coffee and
start the negative health loop over again. If it sounds like I am familiar with this negative loop, it is because I am.
Luckily, by becoming simply fit, I have established a healthier loop.
Consider a more positive loop. You block out some extra time for sleep and go to bed early. You sleep through
the night uninterrupted and wake before the alarm. You are so ahead of schedule that you cut up some fruit for
breakfast and take a short walk around the neighborhood. At work, you feel great and stick to your planned snack
of fresh fruit and a healthful salad at lunch. At the afternoon meeting you are on the ball and make a suggestion
that the boss praises, boosting your mood. After work, you prepare a healthy stir fry, then head off to the gym
where a cute guy or gal asks for advice on how to use the lat pull. You get home exhausted but pleased, hit the
sack early like the night before, and fall into a deep sleep quickly and easily.
There is an old saying in education, that nothing breeds success like success. The same saying applies to health.
One healthful decision encourages another and pretty soon you start stacking up successes so that their
combined value is worth more than the sum of the parts. “Synergy” was an overused term in the 1980's, but it
effectively describes the unexpected benefit when all of your health efforts affect your body and mind in a way
that is better than the sum of the parts. Look for and maximize opportunities for synergy as you become more fit.
For many people, the offer of free food is too tempting to pass up. Imagine that you go to the local home
improvement store and they are giving away donuts. You know they are bad for you, but you rationalize, “it’s free,
how can I pass it up?” It is helpful to ask yourself this question, “if they were giving away free heroin, would I take
it?” You know that donuts are bad for your health, and re-labeling them as “heroin” or “poison” in your mind will
make it easier to pass up the temptation of eating unhealthy free food.
Setting the stage conclusion.
To set the stage for the Simply Fit Diet, stand naked in front of a mirror and take a good look at yourself. Step on
the scale daily and record your weight. Set a realistic written weight loss goal and stop by the butcher to see what
that extra weight looks like. Before every meal, stand in front of a mirror and raise your shirt, or grab a handful of
fat and say, “this is why I need to diet.” Finally, make getting a good night’s sleep a priority and seek opportunities
to establish a positive health loop.
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