• Sumo

We are obsessed with becoming thin these days. Worse, we’re obsessed with the quick-fix. If we can’t have what we want at this very second, then we throw a fit. Call it spoiled or reckless or whatever, but we just can’t stand the thought of not getting what we want when we want it. So when it comes to losing weight and becoming the thin “ideal” that is only truly possible for a select few with the genetically disposed body types, we want the fastest and easiest solution that doesn’t involve difficult diets or months of exercising. The unfortunate conclusion is that starvation is the simplest and most effective way to get to a slimmed-down physique, but it’s one of the absolute worst things you can do for yourself. Here’s how starving yourself to get thin can lead to the opposite effect.

There’s a certain sort of simplistic thought that goes into starvation as a good means of losing weight in a very easy way. We’re programmed to think that food is really the only thing that causes us to either gain or lose weight, so that if we eat a lot we’ll become fat whereas if we eat very little well get healthier. The “if I don’t eat anything I’ll be come very skinny” notion just makes logical sense from an illogical standpoint, so I can get why someone would think it would work.

But, to be blunt, it does not. At least, not how you’d assume. Giving up eating, one of the basic needs humans have, isn’t a simple task. Those who try it and stick with it past the initial week will tell you that it’s incredibly difficult to maintain and takes an extreme level of dedication and willpower since your body will literally scream out for nourishment. So this idea that it’s “easy” isn’t really true, but try telling that to someone who’s tried everything else.

Before I go any further, I’m not trying to suggest that someone who lives an anorexic lifestyle is more devoted to the method and therefore succeeds at the goal. Anorexia is a serious condition and is one that demands medical treatment immediately, both for the physical ramifications but also the mental needs as it’s half in the body and half in the head. If you know anyone who’s anorexic, get them help. If you’re anorexic, go get help.

Back to the problem with losing weight by starvation, it’s a quaint thought that doing away with food for a week or two will help “solve” your problem in a permanent way. Truthfully, you may experience some of the desired effects as your body will begin burning fat, loosening your pants just a bit. But the notion of a permanent solution get tossed out the window as soon as you start eating again as your body sort of laughs and undoes all your work at an alarming rate, then punishes you for your transgression.

See, the human body isn’t stupid, so when it’s not getting food, it panics and assumes that the brain has stopped feeding it like it used to and therefore kicks itself in to high alert for food conservation. It will begin sucking more and more out of every bit of food it gets and storing everything as it assumes that you aren’t going to give it anything to work with, so it needs some reserves. You could have spent a month starving yourself and lost 10 pounds, only to then start eating regularly again and find that you’ve regained that weight, plus some added bonus, all because your body assumed you stopped caring about normal eating habits and overreacted, becoming almost too good at holding onto everything you put into your mouth. Therefore, your goal was to lose weight and you did just that, only to gain even more when you tried to get things back to normal.

Besides having the reverse effect in the long run, depriving your body of food means you’re also depriving your body of nutrients that it so desperately needs. All the vitamins and minerals that you’d normally be consuming can’t come from nowhere and your body isn’t capable of producing the vast majority of them on its own, meaning you will suffer from deficiencies of not just a few things, but everything. Your body will burn through its reserves and leave you weak, tired, and generally sickly.

However, if you’re looking for a more effective means of losing weight and keeping it off without any severe consequences to your health or happiness, a vegetarian diet may be just what you’re after. Make it a very strict vegetarian diet that doesn’t include soda or salty snacks and you’re half way to the goal. Then just stack on some regular exercise and presto, you’re set up to be rather healthy and slimmed down! Is it easy? No, it’s not going to just happen overnight or by sitting around. It’s hard work, but it does get easier.

So, how do you typically look for ways to slim down? Is it all about subtraction for you (losing snacks and sweets)? Or is more about addition (exercise and more exercise)? Leave a comment and let me know! In the meantime, you know, I may just grab my Game Boy and hit the exercise bike again. Hey, no one said I couldn’t enjoy myself while working out!