Lose it Right!
Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind is now on sale.
Lose it Right – Excerpt from the Introduction
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.”
—Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate in physics
Here is part of a rejection letter I received in the early days of pitching this book, sent to my agent from the editor of a major publishing house:
“There’s so much I really like here, David. James has a brash and audacious voice, and a sensible and straightforward message. His column in the LA Times is great, and I like the way he approaches the material … But my main concern, I hate to admit, is the sensible, measured nature of his program. Despite his flashy prose, he actually writes like the informed journalist that he is … sane, levelheaded, with proven advice. And while that’s great journalism, I worry that it’s not as salable of a diet plan.”
And people wonder why they can’t lose weight.
I know how it goes: your boss is channeling Linda Blair to the point that you’re waiting for the green vomit to fly, your kids are whining that they have so much homework it qualifies as a hate crime, the dog won’t stop peeing on the rug, your in-laws are coming for a visit, the toilet seat got left up and you fell in.
Life keeps serving up lemons that someone fished out of a dumpster until you want to start main-lining Häagen-Dazs and plowing through a bag of Doritos as if the apocalypse is imminent.
The food environment has programmed you to glue your butt to the couch and scarf pizza dipped in chocolate sauce because today sucked, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are real, science-based approaches to behavior change that are not the fluff and nonsense spouted by some Oprah-endorsed “emotional eating guru” whose qualifications amount to been there, done that.
Sorry, but no amount of group hugging or “empowerment” is going to help change your eating behaviors. There is no quick and easy way to learn to control what you consume. Following a calorie-conscious and nutritious diet is not comfortable at first, especially since we have 24/7 access to hyper-yummy junk food. And yes, resisting the sugar-coated grease blobs and making wise food choices is a skill that must be learned, because we’re not evolutionarily programmed to instinctively know what’s best for us to eat. Being toilet trained isn’t a natural instinct either; I’d argue it’s worth the effort.
Getting in shape is also worth the effort. You are worth the effort.
It’s going to take effort.
Here’s why: evolution programmed us to be fat storers. Most of the inherently skinny cavemen and women got naturally “selected out” as tasty treats for carrion eaters millennia ago. Those of us who stuck around, genetically speaking, got saddled with brains wired to crave pleasurable food. We also share the common trait of not wanting to be active if it isn’t critical to survival. We’re all about conserving those hard-earned and much-needed fat stores. Even today, our bodies are planning for the next big famine. (If evolution talk offends you, imagine that your ancestors rode dinosaurs and all of this happened only 6,000 years ago.)
In a nutshell, this is what Stone Age people thought about diet and exercise:
SO HUNGRY—MUST STUFF FOOD IN FACE HOLE!
DON’T MOVE EXCEPT HUNT OR FLEE SABER-TOOTHED MURDER BEAST!
Today, that mentality hasn’t changed much; it’s locked in our genes. But the problem is that now we have much more than all the food we need—and it tastes so good—and there is even less motivation to get off our expanding butt cheeks, because somebody invented the grocery store and machines do our labor for us. Most of us bitch if the drive-through window is closed, and the only place we see a murder-beast is on the National Geographic Channel.
In other words, circumstances used to watch our waistlines for us, and circumstances have changed.
Skepticism Can Make You Strong
Our troglodyte DNA wants us to be fat, so how do you combat your genes to get and stay slim? First, you must become skeptical of all things weight loss. It’s a dirty, dirty industry full of male bovine droppings promising quick and easy results.
I am a shovel.
Who wants to lose weight slowly? That’s lame. It’s got to be fast, dammit! Guess what happens when I Google “lose weight fast”? I get almost 10 million results and ads that include words like “magic” and “miracle,” plus Dr. Oz flogging octopus spleens to burn belly fat, or something. Then I Google “lose weight slowly” and get only 13,000 results (and no ads), and most talk about things like “how to lose weight with a slow metabolism” or “to lose weight, slow your eating.” Not the same thing.
Losing weight fast doesn’t happen except in cases of significant obesity, but everyone—even if they are only a little overweight—really wants it to be possible. And the weight loss marketers take that desire and warp it, package it up all pretty and ram it down your throat via a massive deluge of advertising/brainwashing that permeates our society via every possible media outlet, often using celebrities, because …
Sex Sells Slimness
If you have an Internet connection and poor impulse control, you know why Kim Kardashian is famous. One hint: it’s not for her knowledge of pharmacology. This is why I was surprised to see her on 20/20 talking about QuickTrim diet pills, which she and her sisters endorse. “We helped formulate this,” she said.
Really? And that’s a selling point?
And Kim wasn’t just talking about diet pills. She also flogged Skechers Shape-Ups—the shoes that allegedly burn extra calories and tone your butt. That’s the same Skechers, by the way, that agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class action lawsuit for false advertising.
If you want to know how to achieve “celebrity” by leaking a sex tape, Kim is the one to look to. When it comes to the intricacies of sustainable weight loss for the population at large, however, I am suspicious of her qualifications.