Ignorance is Weight Gain Bliss

It used to be somewhat surprising when people new to The Wine Diet would tell me they were SHOCKED by how many calories they eat in a day.  But as more people talk about The Wine Diet, I have come to realize that people have just lost touch with what they really eat every day.  If you were to ask most people how many calories they eat every day, you would be blown away by how many people wouldn’t come close to the real number.  There are some days where my calories get away from me even though I am generally diligent about tracking what I eat.  The fact that the majority of Americans are either overweight or obese is no longer surprising to me.  People just simply stopped paying attention to what they ate and how many calories it contains.  As American meals have become more calorie dense, the American waistline has grown equally as much. 

To solve the growing obesity problem, it seems logical that the first step should be to educate ourselves on what we eat.  Hiding our heads in the sand isn’t going to help us in this case.  So any successful diet has to have some sort of calorie tracking component to have a chance at offering long term results.  Which is why tracking calories is an important step in The Wine Diet.  If you don’t know how much you really eat, how can you decide how or what needs to change?  Once you know what you eat compared to what you are eating, you at least have a chance to make a conscious choice to make bad decisions.  Consider this example.  Let’s say you and a significant other are walking after eating dinner.  Your partner asks if you want to stop for an ice cream sundae.  What do you say?  If you had been tracking your calories, you might have enough room in your daily calorie to allow a sundae.  And if you don’t you have any calories remaining for the day or a smaller amount, you might settle for something smaller or something different.  Or you might decide to speed walk and eat ice cream so you can burn the calories as you consume them.  But if you are not tracking your calories, what decision do you make?  The only real decision is whether a hot fudge sundae or a banana split sounds better.  When you don’t know how many calories you are eating compared to how many calories you should be eating there is really no real decision.  Losing weight means has to start with understanding.  Once you know what and how much you eat, then you can focus on making positive and lasting changes.


Why The Wine Diet Is Different

Most weight loss diets follow similar patterns.  Do this for the next ten days and lose so many pounds.  Or eat this for the next two weeks and lose so many pounds.  These types of diets have two obvious shortcomings.  First, they are often for only a short period of time.  Which is how most of us like to think about diets: as short as possible.  The problem with these diets is that they don't offer much in the way of helping you stay thin. Once you complete the diet, you return to the way you were eating previously and eventually end up back in your old fat pants.  The second short coming is these diets were invented by someone else.  This someone else probably has a completely different lifestyle and food preferences than you do.  Maybe they like working out more.  Or maybe they like eating fruits and vegetables.  Whatever the differences are, they are probably big enough to require changes on your part.  

The Wine Diet is based on the opposite philosophy.  Instead of trying to make extreme changes all at once, The Wine Diet helps you learn how to make small changes that add up to big results.  To make this diet both successful and permanent, The Wine Diet teaches how to examine your diet and cut calories in a way that does not require you to give up the food and lifestyle you prefer.  Which means, cake, wine, and Monday night football in, and strict dieting out.  Making these small types of changes takes a little bit of time.  But The Wine Diet uses time as an ally.  There are two great things that happen over a period of time: you learn more and you create habits.   Learning about what you eat is important for enjoying life more without eating 5,000 calories a day.  There are some foods you probably eat now that if you knew how many calories were in it, you might have chosen something else.  The more you learn about the calories you consume, the easier it is to make equally satisfying, lower calorie choices.  As you practice making choices, over time they become habits.  If they continue for a long period of time they become automatic.  These healthier habits is why The Wine Diet offers long term weight loss success.  And hey, if you are drinking wine or eating ice cream every night, are you really dieting?  It's time to have fun, drink wine, and get skinny!


How much exercise is enough to lose weight?

As I was on my afternoon jog today, I had an epiphany.  There is only so much exercise necessary for successfully losing weight.  Any extra exercise simply allows you to eat more.  Before I delve deeper into this idea, it is important to acknowledge that this post is written from the perspective of losing weight.  Your doctor may prescribe a specific level of activity for you depending on your health (my doctor prescribed an hour a day of exercise).   When I first started The Wine Diet, I didn't exercise at all.  The most exercise I got typically was 5,000 steps a day as I walked my daughter to one of the nearby parks to play.  Even though later in the diet I got more walking time in, I can safely say exercise is not absolutely necessary for losing weight.  

Back to the epiphany.  As I was jogging along, I started to wonder what the difference was between running two miles and four miles.  Sure running four miles meant burning more calories and getting closer to exercising for one hour a day.  But how much are those extra calories worth?  The difference in running two miles and four miles is approximately 300 extra calories burned.  Which is easily good for an extra dessert or two glasses of wine.  But is it really worth it?  For me, some days the extra effort is worth a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream and peaches or two glasses of wine.  On other days, it's a lot easier to run a little less and skip the extra dessert.  Which is a great thing because you have a choice.  You don't always have to run hard and push yourself to the limits.  Sometimes you can take it easy, drink wine, and know you are still losing weight.

To Lose Weight: (E)ffort < (R)eward

Before releasing the final manuscript of The Wine Diet, a number of people agreed to read the book and provide feedback.  It was very interesting to see what people found important about the philosophy of The Wine Diet.  Several reviewers were interested in the idea that the amount of effort you put into dieting has to equal the reward you get out of dieting.  Now it seems pretty obvious that this statement would have to be true.  If what you get out of something isn't worth the effort, then you wouldn't do it.  Like standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  If you didn't have to do it to keep your drivers license, why would you ever go to the DMV.  

Applying this idea to diet and weight loss is a little more difficult than standing in line at the DMV. The reward you get for dieting comes a long time later.  For example, if I have 10 pounds to lose and I lose 2.5 pounds per week, then it will take at least 4 weeks assuming I don't fall off the diet wagon.  Seems easy enough.  But life isn't that easy.  Every diet decision you make is on a meal to meal and day to day basis.  In the context of dieting, just like with overall health, when the rewards and penalties are moved far away from actual decisions, people tend to make bad choices.  Think about going to the dentist.  Right after you get back from the dentist, you might be okay with skipping an occasional brushing and flossing.  But as your next dentist appointment comes around, you might be much more likely to brush and floss.  Same with dieting.  When your goal of losing weight is far away, it is much more tempting to make bad choices today.  

This is where (e)ffort < (r)eward comes into to play.  When you have to do something for a long period of time, it is important that the amount of effort you put into an activity has a meaningful reward.  Not just a reward in the future, but a reward every day.  Each time you make a good decision you are expending effort.  After all, a good decision means eating less pizza and dessert (and I mean less not none).  To offset this effort, you need a daily reward that is equal to the amount of effort you have expended.  The reward can occur along with each meal but it is also sufficient to have a reward at the end of every day.  So at the end of the day, if you do eat the right amount of calories, you need to give yourself a reward.  I know it seems tough, but you just have to do it.  When you eat a dish of ice cream every night or drink two glasses of wine, it is pretty hard to convince yourself you are on a diet and makes all of the good decisions worth it.  So eat right and reward!

Lose Weight: Drink Water

One of the weight loss strategies in The Wine Diet is drink more water.  Drinking plenty of water is important for a number of reasons such as feeling fuller and keeping your body hydrated.  But most people have a hard time drinking enough water as part of a weight loss program.  There are some people who already drink lots of water and keep a bottle of water with them.  Then there are other people who start with coffee in the morning, switch to ice tea or diet soda in the afternoon and evening, and then it's straight to beer or wine.  Those types of people (I fall into this camp as well) have a hard time drinking enough water.  They simply are not in the habit of carrying water around with them.  If you are one of those people, here is a simple strategy that I found very helpful.  

Since you don't carry water around with you all day, try finding another cue to remind you to drink a glass of water.  These cues can be a cup of water every hour or other hour, specific times throughout the day (for example, 10am, 1pm, etc.), or before events like working out or running.  Personally, I like to drink two full glasses of water right when I wake up (before my first cup of coffee) and then one glass before each snack and meal.  This type of schedule ensures I get plenty of water all day and helps me to stay full.