For the masses, everything in moderation works poorly.
Let's take a VERY brief history lesson to support my point:
Back in the early days, we were hunters and gatherers. At the time's food was abundant we ate like dogs. Packing down calories whilst we had them because winter was coming and snow covered pine cones aren't super nourishing or easy to chew. We did this for about 9,750 years. That's a long time. Let's say this is a "habit" at this point.
Then came farming. We worked out how to plant stuff and be relatively self-sustaining. The golden age of farming led to the golden age of nutrition. We were all farming and building stuff, getting strong by doing so and replenishing our body's with simple meat and veg we farmed. What a time to be alive.
Then about 80 years ago came the dawn of hyper-palatable food like mass produced cane sugar drinks and quick ways to cook (aka the deep fryer) and everyone started getting fatter and fatter because they were eating more and more calories. Big companies cottoned on to this and sold their morality when they hired super smart perspicacious types to pull together a blueprint for the worlds most palatable grub. Now add in a brief cynical rant about marketing and creepy/invasive targeted Facebook ads and there is no wonder we struggle with self-control.
I was recently sent an NY Times article by a friend and Ethos member. The premise being that instead of relying on willpower to help you out with what to include in the genre of "moderation", we can and should avoid situations that we have little to no control over. The avoidance approach employed in the study and one that I employ personally is neither novel nor contradictory then.
Some avoidance approach scenarios:
- If you don't like someone you try and avoid being around them.
- If your job sucks, you try and fin a better one.
- If you have a drinking problem and want to get better, then you should stay away from the pubs.
If you wanna lose body fat then, the best place to start is by keeping clear of high-calorie, hyper-palatable foods and subsequently the environments in which they exist.
This means that you may have to forgo lunches with friends or drinks at your favorite bar for a few months or so.
If this sounds to be the kind of royal pain in the arse that you just don't want to endure then that's fine. It comes down to actions following priorities.
There is nothing wrong with preferring to run the gauntlet and take calorie overconsumption head on with your mates at the bar if that's what you ACTUALLY want to do. If you aren't all that concerned about letting things (mainly your waistline and ability to take the stairs without heaving) deteriorate for a while then as much as it's not ok with me personally in my journey, it may be fine for you. I am cool with that. just as your pals will hopefully be if you choose NOT to do this.
The true conundrum hits when people have the correct information at their disposal, have the skills to implement change, have the support to hold them accountable and encourage adherence to a plan, but take the action to not do it, and then make excuses for why things aren't working/fair siting "everything in moderation" as a valid tactic for fat loss.
This knock-on effect of the everything in moderation approach is the reason that for the vast majority of people I've ever worked with, it just doesn't work. Because at some point they read an article or saw a motivational post/BS TV ad that said: "you can eat what you want and still lose body fat". When in actual fact. You can't.
That's conflicting information and as humans, we have a way of believing what we want to VS what we should do some research on. Let's call it "convenient news" shall we?
"Oprah says I can eat whatever I want and still lose fat. So I just spent a week eating really well (whatever that means to the individual) with only a few bars of chocolate/glasses of wine here and there because moderation is part of my plan. But I just weighed in and I didn't lose a single pound."
No offense to Oprah because I'm a big fan other than the weight watchers ads, but this kind of ambiguity isn't helpful for the masses. Weight watchers success lies not in "eat whatever you want" but instead the points system that reinforces science.
Calories in < calories out = weight loss. This should be the tagline of weight watchers (and EVERY OTHER DIET EVERY CONCEIVED FOR THAT MATTER. Yes ALL CAPS because I am shouting).
Just tell people the truth. Don't try and make it seem like magic. This kind of nonsense crosses over to every other walk of life and makes success seem like luck instead of hard work and sacrifice. I wrote an IG post about this recently.
We as humans respond well to rules and structure (whether we NEED this is a different question). Moderation isn't a rule it's a guideline and we love taking liberties with guidelines.
I don't believe in gimmicks or soft rules. I believe in honest truth, compassion, persistence and hard bloody work. If you over consume calories you will gain body fat. Fact. No need for a points system here.
If you don't want to gain body fat. Stay away from hyper-palatable foods and subsequently places in which they exist. You'll be less likely to find them in your mouth that way.
If you don't care about gaining body fat as much as you care about socializing or enjoying the taste of the foods you're eating that's perfectly fine. But stand beside your decision. There's no pity party here. Just adults making adult decisions in their adult pants.