The Schwarzbein Principle, The Program; Losing Weight the Healthy Way
By Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.
In recent decades, our nation's eating habits have swung from a high fat/high protein/low carbohydrate diet to a low fat/low protein/high carbohydrate diet and back to a high fat/high protein/low carbohydrate diet. Along with these eating habits, people have taken numerous diet pills, overexercised and gone through almost every type of torture to try to lose weight. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves when all the data tells us that diets, diet pills and overexercising don't deliver the promised long-term results?
The answer is that Americans are obsessed with being thin, even if it is only short-lived. The first reason for this is fashion. Society has dictated that men and women should look a certain way, and we are all falling for it. How else can we explain the craze of changing eating patterns at the drop of a hat as soon as the latest "scientific" information states that eating a certain way will make you lose the most weight? Whatever happened to balance and moderation in all things?
The second reason for our obsession is health. Many intelligent and conscientious people will change their habits abruptly when any new information comes out regarding habits and health. They will eat vegan, vegetarian, raw foods, food combining, low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets in the hope that they have found the fountain of youth. They will take up running, spinning, cardiovascular types of yoga or kickboxing because these forms of exercise are being touted as the most healthy. Unfortunately, because these meal and exercise plans cause the body to use up more than rebuild, the person just gets tired, not results. This starts a new search for the latest and greatest program, which usually does the same thing.
How many times in the past twenty years have you heard that eating a low fat, high carbohydrate diet would lower your risk for heart attack and help your weight issues? And that if you were thin you would have less chance of developing high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol problems? Were you at all shocked or dismayed when the same "experts" began recommending that you change your eating habits 180 degrees and eat fewer carbohydrates and more fats to achieve the very same results?!
When a program doesn't work we tend to blame ourselves. We weren't disciplined enough, we didn't follow the program exactly or we aren't good enough. But none of your rationalizations are true. You were disciplined, you did follow the program and you are good enough. It is the popular program that is to blame, not you. If you have a bad program, there will he bad consequences. The actual results will not match the promises.
I cannot say this simple truth enough, so I will say it again: being thin doesn't mean you're healthy. Even if you're losing weight, or near your ideal weight, you may still have an unbalanced metabolism that is sapping your strength, breaking down your body, and leading to degenerative diseases of aging and a shorter life.
The diet industry would have you believe quite the opposite. They are still promoting weight loss above all else, and they are still advocating the simplistic idea that "calories in" need to be less than "calories used" in order for you to achieve your goal-rapid weight loss. By now you should understand this is flawed thinking that leads to flawed results.
The reason the diet industry is still thriving is that it feels good to lose weight rapidly. Not only will you fit into chic clothes, but you will initially experience an increased sense of well-being and increased energy levels. When your metabolism is in using-up mode, you release anti-inflammatory chemicals, neurotransmitters and endorphins. All of these chemicals make you feel better-less stiff, less depressed and more alive. This all sounds and feels extremely good, but what comes up must come down, and your body will run out of these "feel good" chemicals. When this happens you will be stiffer, you will be more depressed and you will feel more dead than alive.
At this point, most people try something new just to get the original high again. Of course, this is what the industry is banking on. Unfortunately, like almost any drug-and yes, dieting is in many ways a drug-the highs get harder and harder to attain. This is especially true as you get older, because when you are young, your body responds to using up quickly by rebuilding quickly. As you age, it gets harder to rebuild and you no longer have the chemicals needed to make you feel good.
Everyone has a two cents approach to the best way to lose weight quickly, especially when it comes to eating. There are many popular diets that have come and gone throughout the ages, but in the end analysis most are just repeating the failed plans of the past. After all, when your goal is to eat less, there aren't that many ways to change the combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that make up the "caloric" part of a diet.
A Closer Look at Some Popular Diets
No matter what diet program you follow, if you follow it precisely you will initially notice weight loss because the first result of all of them is that you will pay more attention to how much you eat. The net result, though, will be that you use up your chemicals faster than you can rebuild them. You'll lose weight at first, but ultimately you'll crash and burn. The end result will be that your body becomes so unhealthy that you can actually start to gain weight because of your diet!
Am I saying that all these diets will, in the end, have the same result? That a low-calorie diet can decrease your health and hurt your waistline in the same way as a low-fat diet or food-combining diet? Yes, I am, because in the end they all have the same flawed premise: your body is forced to eat itself up so that you can lose weight.
But with most of these programs the flaws go much deeper.