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Friday, December 2, 2011

To lose weight, think of the human body as a system, but with a mind of its own

What with the holiday season approaching, many of us will face the chore of managing our body weight. In 2003, I had been able to lose 30 lbs by thinking my body as a system and making abrupt changes to its inputs--food intake and exercise intensity. Here’s how.
Being an engineer by training, I thought of the human body as a system that takes in food and exercise and produces a body weight as output. In 2003, after seeing a show on public television (“The Perricone Prescription”), I decided to change my diet -- primarily by replacing the carbohydrate (rice) with lots of vegetables, mixed leaves, etc. and by starting the day with a hearty breakfast soup. I also stopped drinking coffee with creme and sugar, and switched to black tea. At the same time, I increased my exercise level abruptly -- from running on treadmill at 12 minute a mile pace to 10-minute miles for 30+ minutes. I made sure that the volume of food at each meal (with mostly veggies now) was similar to what I ate before so that I didn’t feel hungry and could sustain this diet.

As you can see in the graphics, my actions caused two abrupt changes in the body’s inputs -- somewhat less food and somewhat more exercise, both at the same time. Consequently, the body weight did drop and, for those of you with engineering background, the body behaved in a manner similar to many systems --  the weight dipped down and up and gradually settled at a steady level. I lost over 30 lbs this way.
The problem, however, is that the body is not a dumb system -- it has a mind of its own and it reacts to loss of fat etc. and, after the initial shock of weight loss, tries to preserve and regain fat and weight, even though I continued to eat and exercise about the same. So the weight does tend to creep up over time, but this seems to happen slowly over many years -- e.g., a gradual gain of 5 lbs or so over 8 years for me.
In summary, you can initiate weight change by thinking of your body as a system and making a small, but abrupt change in diet composition and exercise level. BUT the body has a mind of its own and will fight back, so it’s a constant struggle, but hopefully a pleasant one :-)
Here's some more information to help you...
Typical plates of food and bowl of hearty soup :-)
Mixed greens with grilled chicken breat
Mixed greens with salmon, avocado, and grape tomatoes
Hearty soup (veggie, bean curd, salmon, sausage)

Here are some books by Dr. Perricone that got me started... in case you want to check it out:

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