Secrets to Success

These rules are few in number and straight forward to understand. It is important to focus on these rules and the simplicity will help you focus. They are challenging for all of us.

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Our resistance to change will be our main obstacle to our success. If you give up the resistance you will find them easy. However, giving up the resistance is not easy. Our eating habits did not develop overnight and will not resolve overnight.

You will need to develop the mindset to embrace your resistance and chip away at learning these rules. This is the first and most important step to fitting into those skinny jeans. Learning the nutritional value of food is impor- tant, but put all your focus and energy here first.

Think back to a recent outing, event, vacation, family crisis or just a busy week. We live in a time where there is event after event after event. We all have them. Most likely if you had spent months developing the mindset to follow these rules, one, two or all of these events would have sabotaged your rule following. This is not a good time to beat yourself up. It is a time to look back and ask yourself, what could I have done differently?

What im- personal tool or technique could I use to allow myself to follow rules in any of these situations? Set yourself up for success next time. And if it was un- avoidable – and sometimes they are – then celebrate your understanding of the importance of these rules and know how to get back on track.

I have been a certified scuba diver since 1972. One of the key concepts is plan your dive and dive your plan. It also applies to long term weight loss surgery success.

In scuba diving it saves lives. By following success habits and doing what it takes to fit into those skinny jeans – it may save your life as well.

I ask patients, “Are you good planners, maybe even a little obsessive about planning?” It’s fun to watch their body language. Usually the patient, and sometimes the friend or family member start nodding their heads up and down in agreement. These patients easily plan, and in general do very well with long term success.

Most of us have good intentions about planning our day, but we act hap-hazard. We live in a very busy time. We need to go to bed at night and know exactly when and what we are going to eat the next day. Set your cell phone alarm to go off when it is a planned eating time and eat – hungry or not. Do it just like it was an important pill. Adjust those eating times for the next day if needed. The most important part is planning your meals and following your plan.

Go no more than four hours without eating a planned something

Most people need a small meal mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or both. It all depends on when you get up, when you can schedule lunch, when you can schedule dinner and when you go to bed. I have many patients that are school teachers and often their scheduled lunch is 10:30 A.M. And then the family eats around 7:00 P.M. They definitely need something mid-afternoon, even if it’s just something like half a protein bar or half a banana with peanut butter. Otherwise they will be too hungry.

You should go no more than four hours without eating. Once you have got- ten to the point of being crazy starving hungry you have already messed up.

It is then time to learn from your mistake and plan better for tomorrow. It is not a time to blame yourself for being weak, but a time to learn from your mistake and take action tomorrow. Chip away at it and eventually it will be- come what you do, a habit that you don’t even need to think about.

No unplanned eating

We have to eliminate unplanned eating for long term success. No un- planned eating. No unplanned eating. No unplanned eating has to be the mindset to eliminate this sneaky habit. I call snacking unplanned eating – the see food eat food diet.

You should not let food touch your fingers unless it is a scheduled meal time. You may have three, four, or five scheduled meal times, all OK de- pending on your lifestyle at the time.

It seems counter intuitive. What is the difference between eating several things unplanned through the day and planning several times to eat? It is the mindset much like the day to day spending of pennies on things of little or no value. They add up and cost us dearly.

We have to eliminate unplanned eating for long term success.

No liquid calories

If you can put something with calories in your hand and it will eventually flow out of your hand, then it is in the physical state of a liquid. Liquid calo- ries sneak up on us. Examples of liquid calories are soup, milk, orange juice, sweet tea, and alcohol.

So what to drink? Water, unsweetened tea, or Crystal Light – anything without calories built in are ideal. We want to spend our food calories on food that gives us something of value.

Visualize food that gives up fullness and nutrition. Liquid calories rarely have the fiber built into whole foods. Tell yourself you will not drink any- thing with calories.

And yes there are exceptions.

Do not drink with your meals

Liquid calories go in and out of the stomach pouch or sleeve very quickly and at best provide a brief sensation of fullness. Have you ever watched an eating contest on TV? The method they use to eat a gazillion hot dogs is to drink lots of water in the process. They simply wash the food out of their stomach and into the rest of their gastrointestinal tract which has lots of room. This is not healthy nor is it the way we were built to eat, but the way to win the contest.

We need all the calories that we eat to be calories that make us feel full and satisfied for about four hours. We need to eat solid food that makes us full and satisfied on a small volume of food. Meats that are moist and very chew- able are good choices along with a couple small servings of whole foods.

The most important value we can get while eating is getting full and satis- fied on a small volume of food that lasts for four hours. I think that fullness sends messages to our brain that tells it to burn calories instead of conserving calories. In other words, a whole different biochemical pathway goes into action.

Avoid carbonated beverages, diet or otherwise

Have you ever noticed all the people that are overweight drinking diet car- bonated soft drinks? Have you also noticed how those people that are fit rarely drink diet soft drinks? I do not have a scientific reason to suggest why you should not drink them. But simple observation tells us the diet drinks do not work in our favor.

I think the carbonation tickles the stomach making it less sensitive to full- ness and the sweetness drives us to snacking. And more importantly, right or wrong about this theory, this is one of a small number of rules to follow that are associated with success. You need to develop the habit of following the simple rules and not pick and choose. Possibly the most important thing we can do is to learn to give up the resistance to following rules. This is a good time to test your self.

Learn to feel what fullness is

In the chapter on inner secrets I talk about the amygdala and how when we focus on something, we can become very aware of it. So is true with the sen- sation of fullness. If for example we wanted to become more sensitive to touch, we could do so by focusing on touch. Take your index finger tip and touch things around you. Think of colors as you touch, translating to your touch; red, blue, or orange. Very quickly your finger tip touch would become more sensitive. Learning to become aware of the sensation of fullness is a very important tool for success.

I remember about twenty years ago eating at a fast food place with one of my fellow chief residents and good friend. I sat in amazement as he told me he had never felt full in his life. At the time, I thought that was very odd. It turns out to be common, but in different degrees.

Think in terms of having an ongoing conversation with your stomach as if it were a friend and keeping asking, “Hey, stomach down there, wake up, how do you feel? Start talking to me. Was that one bite too many?” Pay attention to how feeling satisfied, but not overly full feels. Visualize it and tell your brain you want to remember that sensation.

Get comfortable with the wasting food rule

We live in a time of food abundance, yet we have difficulty wasting food. We have to learn to get comfortable wasting food for success. So at every meal try wasting some food. Over time the habit becomes easy, at first there is resistance. No matter how good something tastes, never eat all of it. That inner drive to clean your plate is present in all of us. We blame it on our mothers and fathers telling us to clean our plate. I however feel we are hard wired from our ancient ancestors who had to eat all they could eat when it was available because it may not be available tomorrow.

The habit of wasting food will help you learn proper portions to eat. The habit of learning to feel full and satisfied on four to six ounces of food is important to long term success. It is portion control and it works.

Eat slowly

If you are a fast eater, learning to eat slower will take time and practice and will not happen over-night. It will however help you have long term suc- cess and is worth the effort. So what to do? Try letting go of whatever tool you are eating with after every bite, whether is a spoon or fork, chopsticks, or something you are eating with your hands. Set it down. You will feel an inner sigh of relief and relaxation.

Think of this almost like you are taking recess at school as a child, recess from intensely pursuing your goal. Feel that. Remember that. We tend to be chewing one bite and have the next bite locked and loaded ready to enter our mouths as soon as we swallow. If setting your utensil or food down for a recess does not get the job done, then try eating with child size utensils or better yet, switching to your non-dominate hand. Switching to your non- dominate hand has the extra benefit of rapidly teaching you to be ambidex- trous,

while serving the purpose of slowing you down. Never mind the fact that it might add a little humor to your meal.

Celebrate your success

These habits do not develop overnight, but stay focused, chip away at them and celebrate your success of fitting into those skinny jeans. You can do it!

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Disclaimer: Please note that there's no guarantee of getting the same results as each of these patients. Specific results vary by individual patient.