‘Tis the dieting season

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It’s January and the weight loss industry is gearing itself up for the most intensive part of their year. Many have gained a little too much perhaps over the holidays and now they are resolved to losing some of it. An improved diet and added exercise can obviously bring many benefits, but if you are really serious about losing weight long-term I have some added suggestions.

First, you should try to understand why you gained the weight to begin with. Unless you understand this you are less likely to keep the weight off long-term. Factors such as stress, negative thoughts and negative emotions usually play a major role in weight gain, it’s not just about overindulgence or a lack of exercise. You need to go a little deeper.

Secondly, keep a diary of your thoughts and emotions, particularly when it comes to situations where you experience negative thoughts and emotions, but also what makes you happy and relaxed. By becoming more aware of what presses your buttons so to speak, you can avoid getting into the same situations again, so that your thoughts and emotions gradually become more positive.

Thirdly, try to have a mindset where you do things, such as weight loss, out of a positive perspective, i.e. as a reward and not as a kind of self-punishment. If you feel like your weight loss regimen is a punishment, it will probably not work very well.

Finally, learn to listen to your body and what is needs, don’t disconnect from it or view it as something dysfunctional. Remember that  there are always reasons your body has stored extra weight. If you can get to the source of the weight gain, the path to lasting weight loss will be much clearer.

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Is this what the solution for obesity looks like?

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Obesity has been a major medical, psychosocial and economical problem for decades. It really took off in the US in the 1950-60 and went from there all over the world, and now the problems are stacking up all over the world. I just read a report saying that Kuwait now the world leader in obesity prevalence:

But the rest of the world is obviously not very far behind the Arab countries, and I have yet to see any major breakthroughs in either prevention or treatment of obesity worldwide. That’s not to say that everything is gloomy: there are some encouraging signs that obesity prevalance rates are starting to level off in places. But it does appear as if the levels of obesity are quite high (around 30-40% but this probably depends on how obesogenic the environment is) before the curve starts to flatten. In short, we have not coped very well with obesity, and I haven’t really seen much that could start to reverse this trend.

We obviously need some major reforms to the way we live if we want to get rid of obesity, so what do we need to do? What does the solution for obesity look like?

Firstly, we need to drastically reduce stress levels. This means a major reform of the economy, so that we eradicate poverty and make sure that everyone enjoys a much greater measure of abundance and freedom. Contrary to what most of the media is telling us, I actually don’t think that there is a shortage of money, it’s just that the distribution of money is mind-bogglingly skew, leading to stress and other problems.

Getting rid of fiat currency, and reintroducing a gold standard will help to stabilize the economy and reduce rampant corruption. It would also help if our politicians realized that war never solves anything, and spent our taxes on rebuilding our societies instead. This would undoubtedly create a more stable, prosperous and harmonious living environment, as opposed to a society burdened by increasing debt levels, conflict and corruption, where many (if not most) are more or less in survival mode on a regular basis.

Personally I would also reform the school system, which seems eerily set up like a factory to create obedient worker bees. All children needs to be given much greater freedom and opportunity to cultivate their own unique talents and interests. Teachers’ principle assignment should be to inspire their students, as opposed to constantly pressuring them with never ending exams and grades from increasingly younger ages.

Improved nutrition for everyone is a no-brainer in this context, including a ban on many (if not all) of the current pesticides, steroids, preservatives and other toxins that we regularly consume. Processed junk food likewise needs to be seriously reduced, and hopefully people will not be drawn to this type of food once stress levels are lower. Nutritious food should be cheap and affordable for everyone, whereas junk food should be expensive, not the other way around.

Increased physical activity is likewise a no-brainer, and includes measures like more parks and play areas, and more bike lanes and less cars in our cities. We would also reform our school and workplaces so that we are more physically active during the day.

The list of possible solutions could go on, but I stop there for now. If you think that this list is completely unrealistic, I would encourage you to think about what the prize of obesity now (and the prize for other obesity comorbidities like diabetes, arthritis and depression) and is likely to be in the future.

Let me know what else you would like to see introduced as a solution to obesity. We can’t afford not to act.

Erik Hemmingsson