By: Andreas Moritz
Posted: December 3, 2011 — updated 2016
Book excerpt: Feel Great, Lose Weight
No doubt, most overweight individuals have a desire to lose weight. But sometimes, the desperation is fuelled by the media, the cosmetics industry, pharma companies and food manufacturers. Driven by profit and with no scruples really, these multi-billion dollar industries stand to benefit from your sense of insecurity about your figure and weight.
They make you vulnerable and induce low self-esteem by setting so-called standards of health and encouraging a gullible population to believe that they need to keep shedding pounds to stay healthy and ‘look good’.
It is a simple yet beguiling logic that leads millions into a trap from which they cannot escape. Just when you reach the point of desperation, these very industries with their wonder products offer a solution to restore your body back to normalcy and health, and let’s not forget, ideal body weight!
As far as corporate predators are concerned, there is only one solution to your dilemma – one or more of the hundreds of weight loss products they sell either over the counter or as prescription drugs. Notions such as these have led millions of people the world over to adopt a blinkered medical view and self-defeating techniques in their effort to lose weight.
It’s somewhat like cultivating a collective psyche that works like magic to the financial gain of a handful of people. It works to pack the shelves of your local grocery store with more and more processed food. It works to create a nation of obese people.
If the food industry and pharma companies didn’t do this, who would buy the numerous pills, potions and programs they push to restore you back to a slim state of being?
Exercise and diet are the cornerstones of most weight-reduction programs, so most products and pills relate to these two aspects of health, though there are some imaginative techniques that offer ‘super-fast yet safe secrets’ to losing weight.
One of these recommendations, followed by millions of overweight people, is that you reduce your calorific intake so that you ingest fewer calories than your body burns in the normal course of the day.
The weight loss industry has in fact created an entire jargon that cleverly confuses the average intelligent human brain. Visit a dietician and terms such as low-sugar, fat-free, low-carb, low-cal, low-fat and high-fiber are almost certain to haunt your every waking hour.
If it is exercise that you have been advised, then you are likely to be hounded by some positively painful terms such as ‘burning fat’ while ‘building’ muscle; ‘hitting’ the gym; ‘high-intensity’ exercise; and phrases such as ‘no pain-no gain’, ‘getting enough cardio’ and ‘going the extra mile’.
Eat less, burn more and punish your body – the message is loud and clear.
Crash Diets: Putting an overweight person on a diet plan seems to bring down anxiety levels instantly. I am not quite so sure what that does to the complex nutritional requirements and overall health of the human body.
Nevertheless, crash diets and starvation diets, which shock the body, are a popular option. In fact, when certain low-carb diets swept across America and many other countries in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was estimated that 1 in every 11 Americans was on such a diet and 18 percent of the population was on a low-carb diet in general.
Sales of carbohydrate-loaded foods such as pasta and rice fell dramatically and there was panic in the food industry, especially among some major brands. Alternatively, as is their wont, some food manufacturers cashed in on the ‘low-carb craze’, as it was called, and began to market products that were low in carbohydrates (soft drink manufacturing companies released new aerated drinks which supposedly contained half the amount of carbohydrates, sugars and calories as compared to the standard ones!).
But as with all fads, the popularity of such diets waned despite controversies on the effects of drastic diets like these, and took a while longer to subside.
Exercise: For those who want to crank it up a little and dieting is not enough, the so-called experts have another formula – exercise furiously and follow a crash diet. Somewhere down the line, a miracle is supposed to take place. That is, if you have the stomach, determination and energy levels to exhaust and deplete your body — all at the same time!
Supplements: And there’s something for the diet-hungry weight watcher too – nutritional supplements, vitamin pills and energy drinks! Is it purely coincidental that there should be a ready made solution to almost every weight watcher’s woes?
Diet Pills: Also, can it really be all that simple? Take the darling of the weight loss industry – diet pills. Straight from the African desert comes a diet pill that acts as an appetite suppressant!
Imagine the excitement this generated in the pharma industry. Finally, modern science had discovered an ancient remedy, a magic pill, to treat obesity! It was an extract of a ‘cactiform’ plant of the Apocynaceae plant family. Called Hoodia, it contains a chemical compound or glycoside which goes by the innocuous-sounding term ‘P57’.
The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which first isolated P57, patented it in 1996. The Council then granted a UK-based company a license to synthesize P57 for commercial use, but it was later discovered that the drug they produced led to serious side effects and damaged the liver. The drug has not been approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), but it is prescribed and sold illegally, especially online.
Metabolic Enhancers: Metabolic enhancers are another favorite prescription for near-instant weight loss, or so it would seem. According to those who advocate these drugs, metabolic enhancers apparently speed up the body’s metabolism and, therefore, have a strong thermogenic effect. This means there is a sudden increase in body heat, which is supposed to cause lipolysis or the breaking down of fat.
Hypnosis: Another really imaginative quick-fix method to losing weight is, believe it or not, hypnosis! Advocates of this method – who charge exorbitant fees, no doubt – lead one to believe under hypnosis that certain foods are harmful while others are good for you. If only it were really that simple!
Smart Foods: Rivaling hypnosis as a weight-reduction technique is another creative promise to a slimmer way of life – healthy fast foods! Repackaging them as ‘smart-foods’, advocates of these ‘meals for the calorie-conscious’ would actually have you believe that fast food chains serve meals that could curb the number of calories you ingest while stopping by at their outlets.
Claiming that the cattle slaughtered to make burgers has been raised on a fat-free ranch, meals that use these meats can keep your calorific intake in check. No guesses as to who is sponsoring and spreading these incredible notions.
Body Mass Index: Another popular misconception of the weight-watching world is that one size fits all. To devise a standard of reference for weight-watchers and overweight individuals, experts came up with the concept of Body Mass Index or BMI. This is a benchmark used by the Department of Health, weight-loss programs, dieticians and nutritional experts to determine who is overweight and who is not.
Body Type: Mass Belief
BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, rounded to one decimal place, or weight/height2 or kg/m2.
Adults aged over 20 with a BMI of 25.0-29.9 are classified as overweight and those with a BMI of 30 or more are said to be obese.
Another conventional method to understand body size is to classify it into three body types – ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph, based on body shape and musculature.
According to the classic definition, the ectomorph is naturally lean and thin and not prone to putting on weight as these individuals have a high metabolic rate. They are overactive and not particularly strong.
The mesomorph is naturally athletic and muscular, naturally lean, loses fat easily and has an efficient and fast-burning metabolism.
The endomorph is podgy and has a rounded body shape. There is a tendency to gain weight and to store fat easily due to a sluggish metabolism.
Even though no dietician or weight loss plan will actually say this, most weight-reduction methods and crash diets are aimed at converting endomorphs into ectomorphs and mesomorphs.
Haven’t you noticed the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images used on promotional material for these programs? Quite by magic, women go from being overweight to having the perfect hour-glass figure while men go from downright flabby to trim and muscular.
If only all women who desire to lose weight could be converted into ectomorphs and men into mesomorphs! And yes, most weight loss programs claim they can indeed perform this simply amazing miracle. If they didn’t, who would sign up anyway, right?
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