The Biggest Winner

After the release of my May e-newsletter, From The HealthShrink, I received the following note from a dedicated reader, Anne. She was inspired to write after reading a front page article in New York Times on 5/2/16, entitled, “That Lost Weight? The Body Finds It,” by Gina Rolata.

 Here’s Anne’s note and my response:

 Hi Susan.

Thanks for the newsletter, which I look forward to reading.  Did you see the article in today's Times about how difficult it is to keep weight off?  Quite depressing, actually.  A topic for another edition!


Anne L.

Good morning Anne,

Nice to hear from you! Yes, the article in the Times is telling the truth. It’s what I’ve been saying all along; stats show 97% of us who lose weight will gain it all back and more usually within 2 years. The Biggest Loser is no exception. The reason for that is fairly simple.

This reality show, like most of us, continues to operate under the misguided weight loss guise of calories-in /calories-out and excessive exercise. The truth is, this is a trick. We can very, very rarely maintain weight loss acquired this way. Restricting our food and calorie intake is an unnatural and even punishing way to live. Eventually our brain will send out very strong hunger messages and craves for food. Most of us become miserable and ultimately, we give up, give in and eat. Then, quite often, we start to feel guilty, angry, and hopeless.

As long as we’re alive, eating is actually normal. Self-induced starvation is not. In reality, our brain is just doing its job when it makes our metabolism sluggish to counteract the reduction in food consumption. This is the brain’s way to protect us and our survival.

In my view Anne, most of us are still way too focused on calories and calorie reduction. This strategy to lose weight will at best bring temporary weight loss results. At worst, and what is not often spoken about, is that we risk harming our metabolism in the long-run to lose weight in the short run. Sad, but true.

When we deprive ourselves of calories, the brain interprets this as threatening, a famine perhaps. The brain with all the best of intentions will deliberately slow down our metabolism to help us to survive the “famine”. The problem that has been unveiled is even when we go off a low-calorie eating plan, frequently our metabolisms do not bounce back to where they were before we began the diet. After the fact, we burn calories more slowly which means we generally not only re-gain all the lost weight, but chances are, we end up weighing more than before.

Losing weight and body re-shaping for the long-term is really about managing our hormones. I’m not saying we should eat as much as we want endlessly. I am saying though we should never be hungry. Ever.

It’s honestly more a matter of eating the foods that enhance and nourish us overall while not raising our insulin levels too high. In fact, eating styles high in healthy fat, moderate in protein, very heavy in vegetables, and limited sugar/starches are the way to go in my mind. Also, the cleaner the food, (pasture-raised, grass-fed, free-range, wild, organic, local, and seasonal) is more often than not the much better way to go.

As per my May e-newsletter, avocado is just one wonderful, healthy fat. Other types of healthy fat include: coconuts, olives, nuts, seeds, fat from healthy, clean land animals, (beef, lamb, poultry, bison, elk, boar, pork, etc.) and fish, (wild salmon, cod, sardines, anchovies), ghee, grass-fed butter, cacao butter, olive oil,  macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, and 85% or higher raw, organic chocolate.

Forgive me for expanding here, but I’d hate to leave out the importance of doing our best to reduce stress while eating and throughout the day. Chronic angst and pressure will put us into Stress Mode Dominance which activates the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol will cause us to gain fat, and it will undermine our attempts to reduce weight, even if we're eating the healthiest foods out there.

In essence, long-lasting good health and body re-shaping are not about eating as little as possible, (reacting to food as though it were the enemy and best avoided), and working-out as hard we can. Instead, slowing ourselves down and embracing food, our ally, and trusting in it to bring us health, pleasure, and emotional warmth is the honest path to re-gaining our authentic bodies. Great tasting, smelling, beautiful looking, quality food, when eaten with calm, mindfulness, and appreciation will never let us down.

It really is time to turn “The Biggest Loser” myth right-side up, and re-write that claim-to-fame to, “The Biggest Winner”.  I hope this brings some clarity to what you’ve read in the NY Times article Anne. Thanks for writing in!



If you haven’t seen the article I’ve referred to above, you can find it here. Let me know if you have any comments on it as well.

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