This country has developed a weight problem of epidemic proportions. 70% of Americans have a significant weight problem. Research studies and the media have recently begun to highlight the pessimistic notion that once you are overweight, there is nothing that can be done. The medical community has focused on reducing body weight by about 10% for a significant health benefit vs. the dismal prospects that people face without such weight loss. The idea of substantial and sustainable weight loss is all but gone from the public agenda.
The problem is that our culture is using the medical / scientific model to address the issue. The medical model deals with probabilities and outcomes. It looks at societal lifestyle issues, what is known about food from a scientific standpoint, what is known about exercise, etc. What the medical model does not do is look at the existence of the actual problem as it unfolds.
We gain weight for one simple reason - in the present moment, we do not properly register the signals our bodies provide on how to eat and exercise. The problem exists in a series of moments where we make decisions that contribute to our plight. It therefore cannot be dealt with in any other way. To solve the problem, we must look at how we live our lives moment to moment.
The medical model misses two key issues. The first is the entry point for dealing with the problem - the present moment. The second is the very good news that if we truly pay attention to our lives, losing weight and maintaining it is actually a lot more fun than our current plight!
They have a saying in Zen Buddhist practice: “When hungry, eat.” This very simple statement covers a lot of ground. It shifts the focus to “internal cues.” Research shows that people who respond to internal cues on when/how much to eat can lose weight and keep it off. It is a practice of listening to the body and responding naturally to its needs.
But this simple saying originated in an era before processed foods were developed. Science has shown that many of these processed foods are engineered to be addictive. They disrupt the body’s natural mechanism for hunger and satiety. Living for long periods in such an environment leads people to forget how they are supposed to eat. So when the potato chip commercial spouted the slogan, “you can’t only eat just one,” they really meant it.
We start by calming down our external environment. We clear out the more addictive foods and moderate our habits. When we have calmed our habit energies to the point where we can see clearly, we take a close look at our real situation. Some have said that the truth will set you free. What if the truth is actually good news? Surely that is worth taking a look.