What happens if you eat fat-free cakes and cookies instead of the conventional fat-filled kind? What if you eat bagels instead of croissants? What if you have jelly beans for a sweet instead of a chocolate bar, or pasta instead of a burger? Isn't weight loss guaranteed for people who adopt these fat-cutting strategies?
If that's what you've heard, and you've moved over to a low-fat or fat-free diet, then you may wonder why the scale isn't moving downward. Where's the flaw in the low-fat reasoning?
Here's the problem: A fat-free cake, as advertised, is probably free of fat, but it is high in refined carbohydrates. And the carbohydrates that it contains can easily turn to body fat.
Carbohydrate calories are very real calories. Like fat calories, they can either turn into energy when you exercise, or they can go to the fat cells in your body, where they're stored away. That's why food products that are advertised as "fat-free" do not by themselves help you get thin.
When I speak with people who have had lifelong struggles with weight control, I tell them that the program they will begin is not a short-term effort but the beginning of a journey during which their relationship with food will change. Even experienced dieters are surprised to discover that they don't have to stick with the foods that they thought were "good" for themfoods they might not even likebut that they can eat a wide array of foods that they really enjoy. Nothing I can say, however, drives home these points as powerfully as the food demonstrations.
A Male Message, Too
In the past, the overwhelming majority of people who came to see me about weight control were women. Their number one concern was appearance. Many women just didn't like how they looked in jeans or bathing suits, and they wanted to change that.
Few men seemed to share the same concerns. But that's starting to change.
Several years back, most of the men who came to see me were concerned about some health problem associated with weight. Some had heart problems, and their doctors had told them that they absolutely had to lose weight to help prevent future heart attacks. Others were threatened by what they found out about their family histories, which suggested that they might be in line for future health problems such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, or other weight-related problems. Again, their doctors' warnings gave them an urgent nudge toward my office.
These days, more men are concerned with appearance. Yes, health concerns are still the dominant issues, but I am seeing many more men than I used to, and they have other issues. Some top executives, for instance, now make room in their crowded calendars to visit my office to deal with their weight.
The Costs of Being Overweight
Why are more men visiting me than before? Well, for one thing, there's been a change in our society, and men are no longer embarrassed to admit that they care about how they look. I see a lot more men working out, going to spas, coloring their hair, having cosmetic surgeryand coming to me to deal with their bodies.
The appearance factor is more than skin deep. Many male professionals have learnedsometimes the hard waythat no one has a lifetime guarantee of employment. It is not unusual for a top executive and even a CEO to be let go. If you are in the position of having to present yourself as a job candidate in competition with young people in good shape, you want to look as youthful, fit, and healthy as possible.
Fair or not, in many competitive business environments, people who are trim and in good shape are perceived as being disciplined. Being overweight is more often seen as having a lack of willpower.
Reprinted from Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss: The Visual Program for Permanent Weight Loss by Dr. Howard M. Shapiro, Copyright 2000. Permission granted by Rodale, Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800)848-4735 or visit Rodale's website at www.rodalestore.com.
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