Weight Loss is Easy, Life Screws Up Diets

Eat less, exercise more. It’s the answer nobody wants to hear, but any successful diet pretty much boils down to that principle. Is there a little more to it? Of course, but that’s not what this blog is about. 70% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and if you think that statistic is overblown just take a look around you. We know how to lose weight, it’s not as if obesity is this incurable disease like some cancers. Why the hell can’t we just stick to a weight loss program?

Willpower is often compared to a muscle, in the sense that the more you exhibit willpower the stronger it will become. This is true, but only to a certain extent. Willpower has its limitations. Think of it like a gas tank; some cars have big tanks and some don’t. The point is, your tank will eventually run empty. The book ‘Willpower’ by Baumeister and Tierney gives real examples of willpower’s limitations. It’s a pretty good book, you should check it out (not getting any kickbacks or anything so relax). They tell the story of a guy who hates his boss, and every day at work he holds back from ripping him a new one. Consequently, when he gets home he’s short-tempered with his wife and kids. He has to exhibit so much willpower at work that he has nothing by the time he gets home.

Stress works in a similar fashion. We can handle stress to a certain degree, but eventually it will break us. I’m not saying that you’ll necessarily have a nervous breakdown or anxiety attack. However, we will look for something to help us relax. We will look for pleasure. We will look for relief.

Pleasure comes in many forms and we all have our individual preferences. But when push comes to shove and life is kicking our ass, we want a form of pleasure that is easily attainable. Sex? Not always easily attainable (speak for yourself Sean). Even if you’re in a relationship, you’re relying on the other person to be right here right now and in the mood. Drugs? You may have them in your possession, but as far as I know it’s frowned upon to snort a line at your desk. Vacation? That requires planning, time, and money. Food? Oh, there it is.

Food, the perfect form of pleasure. It’s everywhere and obtaining it is completely within your control. It’s inexpensive and there’s no limitations on consuming it. It’s accepted by society. No one will look at you funny if there’s a bagel on your desk. You won’t turn any heads walking down the street eating a snickers. Food creates a vicious cycle of ‘feel bad, eat, feel bad about eating, repeat.’

Diets fail because life happens. I need to preface this next statement by saying that I’m only 28 and am completely making an assumption. But life seems much more difficult and complex than it was twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Depression is a major issue in modern society. Experts are trying to pinpoint what is causing obesity, citing things like processed foods, high carb diets, and saturated fats. No one wants to bring up life. Life is fucking hard sometimes. Find the real stressor in your life and change it. You are in control of almost every aspect of your life. If your job sucks then leave. If you’re in a bad relationship then leave. If you have a problem with someone talk to them about it.