If you’re a citizen of America you have a lot to be proud of.
Besides being the wealthiest country on the planet in terms of total GDP and having the most powerful military and the home to the world’s top tech companies and a few other things.
Hollywood should probably make the list too, but looking at the kind of movies that are coming out these days… Well, maybe that is a discussion for another time.
The point is America as a nation is renowned for a lot of good things. And with good reason. However, it is also known for a number of other negatives. Among the most infamous is the obesity of its populace.
Whilst America is not the most obese nation in the world as a percentage of its total populace (that place goes to the island nation of Nauru).
It is however the most obese nation in the OECD, holding that spot with Mexico and New Zealand. With around 41 per cent of Americans being classed as clinically obese (1).
Meaning the US is a nation where more than a third of the populace falls under the heading of ‘fat’.
The term ‘fat’ has become something of a bad word these days. But for the wrong reasons.
As the social justice inclusivity and diversity mantra spread far and wide, even calling out someone whose physical state poses a possibly immediate and definitive long-term risk is classed as bigotry.
This is a subject for another time. As our focus here is on the age-old Western, and certainly American question of How to lose weight. To which we have added the key and often overlooked component: how to keep it off.
In sum, what we are talking about is the question of How to stay fit?
And if you want to find out how, especially if the reader happens to be a guy, and not just any guy: The sort of man who wants to be on his mission. Working to build something of value, and aims to reach his fullest potential in life. For which a healthy body and healthy mind are vital.
So if you want to know how, read on.
But before we get started, note this is not to be read as prescriptive health advice. Understand your medical history, and consult your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle.
Leave those ‘Cakes’ Alone!
Actually, you can pretty much substitute any candy or item with added sugar to the above heading.
When it comes to the plot of losing weight, keeping it off, staying in shape and virtually any damn thing that relates to fitness, sugar is a big No No.
OK. We understand. It is kinda impossible to be totally rid of this happy indulgence.
Consuming sugary stuff: whether it is coal, candy, ice cream or good old chocolate is one of those guilty pleasures of life.
The problem is the guilt part of the equation is often not felt strongly or at all by many. Particularly those who have set themselves the goal of getting fit and healthy.
Given the banality of this point, we will keep it simple for you: when it comes to leading a fit and healthy life sugar is always the enemy.
Not too much sugar (i.e. gorging yourself on candy every day), but sugar period. Particularly the refined and added variants.
Sugar, besides its relationship to insulin resistance and later Type 2 diabetes, is associated with a host of coronary and metabolic conditions. Not to mention that sugar, or specifically glucose is one of the favourite energy sources for cancer. In addition to guaranteeing frequent trips to the dentist.
Critically, a high-sugar diet is just an all-around bad bet when it comes to losing weight, keeping it off, and being healthy.
But we recognize the satisfaction that comes from eating sugar. Since that is the case, limit the consumption of sugar to once per week or better once per month.
And substitute fresh fruit, and freshly squeezed juices, whenever you think about stuffing yourself with that sweet dessert.
Games aside, this is a serious point. Sugar is a bad bet when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.
Eat Less but Eat Healthily
When it comes to weight (fat) loss and fitness there is a lot of attention these days on the type of diets.
Diets come in many shapes and forms:
Diets that help you lose fat.
Diets that help you build muscle.
Diets that help you control blood sugar levels.
To diets that claim to help you live longer.
If you look at all of these diets (and admittedly we haven’t mentioned all of them) there are a few factors that stand out.
That is leave out or avoid junk/processed foods as much as possible. Try to minimise foods with added chemicals and preservatives, and if possible opt for organic foods. And yes, minimise or remove the sugars.
In terms of differences, from the paleo diet, carnivore diet, ketogenic diet, and low-carb diet to one meal a day (OMAD), the differences vary in kind but not so much in degree.
The principle of moderation: eat only when you need to, not whenever you want to, remains. And this is a principle of life. Anything, no matter how good, in extreme, is bad.
When it comes to weight loss, here we are talking about shedding that excess fat, not muscle. Though for many, losing weight is the primary consideration, with such distinctions meaning little. As muscle building part is still far down the line.
So to shed that extra weight you need to eat less. Plain and simple. This might not sound like revolutionary advice. However, the times are such that it indeed seems so.
In January of 2023, a health expert in the Biden Administration claimed that obesity is primarily a genetic issue. Implying that there is very little that could actually be done in terms of lifestyle (2).
Meaning changes to your exercise routine (or to have one in the first place) with improvements to your diet will have little to no effect on the overall weight, and apparently the health of the person.
Considering your weight, provided that you are within the clinically obese range and over, which puts you at risk for a host of health conditions this is a curious observation to make.
When it comes to losing weight and starting your journey towards a fit and healthy life, nothing beats the principle of controlling what you eat. As Tim Ferris, pointed out: ‘you cannot outwork your mouth’ (03).
Think about it. If you put a big guy in a cell and keep him away from food and high-calorie liquids for a few weeks, he is going to shed weight. No two ways about it.
The only difference when it comes to you and me is that there is no compulsion. As free citizens, and speaking of those who live in the United States and other developed nations, with access to resources and food (not to mention food on delivery), the temptation to gorge is greater.
And way too often that is what people end up doing.
But why though? Why do people keep eating, often a lot of (tasty) junk, even when it is not good for them?
Right. So now we are getting to the crux of the matter.
The subject that is rarely if ever recognized let alone engaged in the debate on fitness, weight loss and longevity. Make no mistake these things are all interconnected.
The Mindset for Weight Loss and Building your Physique
Unless you have subscribed to YouTube premium if you happen to click on health, fitness and diet-related videos you are bound to run into ads featuring some fitness guru or expert in the field who is selling some cutting-edge weight loss programme.
These guys are all over the place.
Understandably so. Given that health is a major concern for any serious citizen, and that much of the learning and interest regarding wellness is shifting online. And health-conscious users of social media channels are a natural target.
And considering that a vast proportion of America’s healthcare cost is taken by expenses related to heart disease and diabetes-both ailments that are connected with diet and fitness-it is natural that ever greater interest be directed towards this arena.
But besides the lucrative potential, there is the basic human question. Once again returning to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States(4).
This is a real problem. And depending on your present health (and body mass index – BMI), it is not something that is too far on the horizon.
The adage that health is wealth is true for more reasons than one. And if you wish to lead a healthy, productive and prosperous life, one that will continue decades into the future, the time to take action is now.
And make no mistake, we are not just talking about the fat boys. Getting fit and healthy is not a consideration that is limited to visibly unhealthy. It applies to all.
The question is where do you start?
The Mind and the Body Work Together
Let us summarise the core argument of this post for you:
When it comes to getting fit and healthy, losing weight (fat) and looking sexy, and getting on a health plan that gets you to your goals in fitness and beyond, the core point is what you believe in, what are you going to do, and how committed are you to the cause.
Much of what goes on in the health space today: from diet programmes, fitness routines, personal trainers, and health coaching, more broadly often comes down to training the mind of the service user.
The problem with losing weight and getting fit or fitter, which is fundamentally about getting into a state of caloric deficit, whilst ensuring that your body gets the vital nutrients and trace minerals that it needs with adequate levels of rest, is about being able to train your mind to do something that it ought to.
Rather than what it WANTS to.
Think about it. If good health and the many benefits that result from it were a function of eating healthy, controlling your caloric intake, limiting sugars, and exercising whilst getting the needed hours of sleep per day. It comes down to a rather simple equation seemingly.
In which case, pretty much everybody would or ought to be following it. But…
But they don’t. In the case of America that amounts to tens of millions of citizens of this country.
The question is why?
Why are countless people in the United States and around the world not able to commit to the diet and fitness routine that advances health and well-being?
The word that we getting to is discipline.
Discipline and The Stoic Principle of Voluntary Hardship
The mantra of the Stoic way of life is that there is no gain without pain.
But this principle in fact is less about Stoicism or any philosophy and is more about the way life is.
If you are not willing to give something up: in terms of short-term pleasure, unearned rest or lifelong comfort you will not stand to gain anything good. Period.
However, the principle of pain as an integral component in a person’s growth and development goes much further.
The great Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius observed that: ‘We should discipline ourselves in small things, and from these progress to things of greater value’.
The term discipline may seem like a simple word: implying the need for restraint, self-control and the pursuit of order.
However this deep Stoic belief is not just about controlling what lies within ourselves, but it is also about viewing the idea of restraint, moderation and the pursuit of order in your life as one that involves hardships.
You see life is full of trials. The story of life is one of challenge. The question is how you develop yourself to face the many and varied trials that come your way.
Ill health, loss of overall fitness and the diminishing quality of life that are tied to poor weight and overall fitness is such an example. For the Stoic, such things are not to be feared. And they certainly are not meant to be ignored, or put away as problems of tomorrow. Rather they are to embrace. Welcomed even!
You got that right for the man who embraces the Stoic way of life challenges are opportunities, and pain or the possibility of pain is just another hurdle for him to face, overcome and emerge stronger.
When it comes to your diet, health and fitness the goals that you are seeking are not going to come easy. To do things that you need to:
Greatly limiting or eliminating proceed sugars
Minimising processed foods
Eating organic meals
Having a workout routine and sticking to it
Getting enough Sleep
These require sacrifice, self-control and a lot of mental strength.
Meaning they are going to take something out of you. But that is OK!
You see, for the Stoic, the reward for leading a fit and healthy life does not come at the end when you have shed all your weight, and built the physique of your dreams. But in the process itself.
Unlike these ‘Biggest Looser’ contestants, who lose a lot of weight for its showbiz effects but the long-term outlook remains a question mark (i.e. do they manage to keep the weight off?).
Our philosophy for fitness is that the process that you undertake to shed that extra weight and get in shape IS the reward.
The process is what matters: The extra hours that you go without eating, the time spent at the gym, and the less sugar in your meals are all part of this journey towards personal, and yes, in case we forget it, also professional growth. And not to mention your dating life.
Make no mistake these things are connected.
To lead a healthy life in terms of your personal fitness will have an effect on your stamina and energy levels when it comes to how you operate in the business world.
And needless to say, an overweight guy (or gal) will have a harder time in the dating market. Just saying.
As we mentioned at the start of this post, we are not here to provide certified health advice with guaranteed results. What we are providing are key pointers when it comes to reaching your health and fitness goals.
And what lies at the centre is the mindset that embraces change and necessary hardship. A mindset that is willing to do the hard work, and views the process as a reward.
The question is are you willing to make the change? If you are, that is if you want to reach not just your health goals, but also your objectives in finance, and success in relationships, let us know: we have something that will make it worth your while.
Understand what we are proposing here: the main hurdle when it comes to meeting your diet and fitness goals is ultimately not one of the specific programmes you opt for (though that does have an effect, especially if you make a bad choice), but how firmly are you willing to commit to it.
The fact is in life, there are certain fundamentals when it comes to health and fitness that need to be followed. Once you know it, then it is just a question of sticking to it long-term.
- CDC. 2020. Adult Obesity Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. [Accessed 28 February 2023].
- Daily Mail. 2023. Controversial expert is appointed to Biden food panel after claiming that obesity CAN'T be treated with exercise and good diet because it's genetic – will now tell Americans what to eat. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11675875/Gov-panel-tells-Americans-eat-says-look-evidence-equity-lens.html. [Accessed 28 February 2023].
- YouTube. 2018. The Two Most Important Habits For Fat Loss | Tim Ferriss. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSdoidIMGNk. [Accessed 28 February 2023].
- CDC. 2021. Leading Causes of Death. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm. [Accessed 28 February 2023].