The Zen of Nutrition

by Brad Pilon

I’ve been reading the book “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra.

I’m about halfway through and had planned on working my way through a big chunk the second half last night.

But, right when I started reading I came across the following quote:

“Before you study Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers; while you are studying zen, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers; but once you have had enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and rivers again rivers.”

This quote stopped me dead in my tracks.

It was unbelievably eye opening because it perfectly parallels my experience with nutrition. With a couple small changes I could sum up my entire journey in health and nutrition with one (rather long) sentence.

“Before you study Nutrition, food is food and drink is drink; while you are studying nutrition, food is no longer food and drink is no longer drink; but once you have had enlightenment, food is once again food and drink is again drink.”

Back when I was a kid, food was food and drink was drink.

Then as I started studying Nutrition, food and drink became these complex chemical compositions that had these wondrous effects in the human body. Food and Drink were now macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients and polyphenols and volatile fatty acids, carbs, fats, essential fats, and on and on…

The more I learned the less the words food and drink meant to me, to the point where they were virtually meaning less. There was no such thing as food or drink. It was only protein, fat and carbs.

Now, after years of studying nutrition and learning I’ve realized that most of that ‘stuff’ …that ‘knowledge’…it’s almost completely useless.

It’s health and fitness mind-clutter.

And, it destroyed my relationship with food.

So now, food is food once again and drink is drink.

It does not have magical properties. It is simply there to

A) fuel my body when I need it

and

B) to be enjoyed

This realization has helped me break free of Obsessive Compulsive Eating and has made losing weight and maintaining a body I am proud of to be easier than I ever thought possible.

So this is what I hope you learn when you read Eat Stop Eat. Food is Food and Drink is Drink.

If you want to lose weight then Eat Less. If you want a stress free life then learn to enjoy food again.

It can be this easy if you let it be.

It’s amazing where you can find inspiration (I mean really…a book on Physics?)

I’ll leave you with what I believe to be the best long lasting health advice I can give. It has nothing to do with carbs, protein, fats, calorie cycling, hormones or anything of that nature.

It is simply..

Eat when you are hungry. Sleep when you are tired.

BP

{ 72 comments }

tortle August 14, 2009 at 12:42 am

Bravo. This mirrors my path very closely. I never delved quite as deep into “nutritionism” as you did, but it has an insidious way of grabbing you and consuming you, once you start “watching what you eat.” Confusing and conflicting reports on the benefits and risks of various nutrients hit almost daily. Nutrients go in and out of fashion more frequently than, well, fashion. When I learned to treat food as food, and not a science experiment, I became much healthier and happier.

Love your revised enlightenment quote. I’m saving that one, along with Pollan’s “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

caveman_2009 August 14, 2009 at 12:46 am

Bruce lee made a quote simular to that, a punch is.a punch a kick is a kick. These ideals hold very true to may aspects of our lives.

Mike August 14, 2009 at 12:54 am

Those are some pretty deep quotes Brad! I personally will quote you and just ‘Eat Less’!! It’s pretty simple when you think of it that way!

Ali August 14, 2009 at 1:07 am

Awesome. I have very recently come full circle in my fitness/nutrition quest as well! :-)

Doug August 14, 2009 at 1:08 am

Could be of a similar vein. When all the world’s complexities are studied, the simpliest things are the most beautiful and useful.

Jon August 14, 2009 at 1:09 am

Brad – as usual – profound – yet simple – why do we try to make it so hard?

Terri August 14, 2009 at 1:33 am

You know – this just hit a chord with me. I realize that I own about 200 diet/nutrition books, and seriously, for what? What has worked for me and always has worked for me, is cutting down on calories. I find it easiest to skip breakfast or dinner for a week or 2 until I get back to my weight, which I’ve realized is almost Eat Stop Eat, just not 2 full days. It’s that simple, but yet, I still go on a search for the “perfect” diet. WTF? I’m an intelligent woman, with a graduate degree, that should know better. Can you say obsession? Thanks, Brad for keeping it real…

Todd I. Stark August 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

Bravo! That’s the ultimate goal I think, to get to the point where you simply do what is right when it is right. Overcomplicating is a major source of waste, anxiety, and confusion.

It’s worth remembering also that there is sometimes an underlying legitimate reason why people complicate things: sometimes their learned habits are really bad, and doing what simply feels right is not the same as doing what is right at the time. Remember that people don’t simply turn on the Zen here and now mind, it is part of a discipline that involves learning what sort of temptations and distractions to allow swift and unencumbered passage through your mind without acting on them.

Nia Shanks August 14, 2009 at 2:54 am

Brad-

Simplicity at it’s finest. I love posts like this because they make so much sense that it’s crazy! The way society twists and bends “nutrition rules” is crazy. No wonder so many people have eating disorders.

My sister just started using ESE yesterday. I’ll keep you updated on her progress. FYI: I think my Mom is going to start it as well. I’ll let you know. : )

mike @ Fitness and Health August 14, 2009 at 2:57 am

I read The Tao of Physics about 12 years ago and I must confess I blew right past that quote. It is amazing how the place we are in – in our lives can put a different context and meaning on words.

What you are talking about has also been called flow. There are times that I’ve been in it. Time to go back now.

Tanner August 14, 2009 at 2:57 am

Love it. Forwarding to my sister who I think should read this….

Henning August 14, 2009 at 3:05 am

I think this is true for nearly every field of study. The more details you learn about something, the harder it gets to keep the big picture in your mind. You should base most decisions that you make on the big picture, not the little detail. But alas, this takes a lot of confidence, courage and experience I think, to know when not considering some details actually benefits the overall outcome.
This is true for economics, business administration, physics, the human body, nutrition etc..

But I don’t think that we (as an individual and a species) should stop to ask “why” and stop accumulating more information and details about the world we live in.

Ben August 14, 2009 at 3:11 am

You draw a very good point. I find the same happens to me: when I first start learning something I am interested in, I freak out and try to apply everything I have learned. But as time goes on and I keep learning more, I become more simplistic and begin to see the value of the basics.

Timea August 14, 2009 at 3:25 am

That’s great but we are still what we put in our bodies so if we put junk all the time, then there’s not much good to be expected… I think it is still recommended to watch the quality of what we eat.

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 3:41 am

Timea,

For that to be true we need to define ‘junk’ and ‘quality’. A lot of this is just marketing, current dogma, semantics and people using their diets to define themselves as people. Good and bad foods may be opposites, but they are polar opposites. All food has inherent ‘good’ and ‘bad’ qualities. Most if this depends on quantity.

B

Chains August 14, 2009 at 3:56 am

You know what I did immediatly after reading this quote… I started unsuscribing from all the people I used to grab some nutrition and fitness information from. You’re damn right and you know… I noticed that eating exactly what I feel like and when I feel like it.. simply makes me feel better and I can enjoy “again” every taste, even sugar, without feeling guilty…. It´s been only two weeks since I started ESE and I’ve lost 17 lbs… Believe it or not… and I know all of them were fat. Be sure I’ll get the entire package next month end.

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 4:15 am

You know, that’s a great idea, most of us would greatly benefit from getting rid of the nutrition-info clutter in our lives.

I’m doing the same thing right now.

B

Fernando August 14, 2009 at 4:43 am

Hey Brad,
I usually NEVER comment on anyone’s blog posts due to lack of time.

I am making an exception today because…I was thinking about this VERY SAME quote today, while I was driving into work, and was wondering how I could tweak it for exercise.

Funny, huh?

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 4:46 am

It’s weird how that works…especially since as I was just wondering how I could tweak it for exercise too.

I’m working on it. Let me know if you come up with anything.

B

Laurel August 14, 2009 at 5:21 am

This is so true and “the world” so gets in the way…

I realized yesterday that I was eating something because I “was supposed to” and I didn’t want to throw it out (would have gone bad).

Also, there is peer pressure to eat at certain times (which I manage to avoid most days)

Sleep is even worse – I wish I could sleep when I want to sleep but things like work and other obligations seem to get in the way.

Will have to work on this.

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 5:29 am

Yeah, the sleep part is what gets me.

How many of us go to bed at a certain time because it’s bedtime instead of going to bed when tired?

I think if we could all focus on eating when hungry and sleeping when tired for a month, the results would be profound.

B

Christina August 14, 2009 at 5:31 am

Fantastic… a zen quote in a book of physics used to blog by a nutrition and fitness expert. Gotta love the way the world is woven together ;)

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 5:38 am

One of the most eye-opening books I have read in years.

I’ll put it right up there with the Tao of Pooh.

B

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 5:39 am

Excellent points.

B

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 5:41 am

Why do we think that LEARNING about losing weight will change HOW, or HOW FAST our body loses weight. It won’t change the way we’re designed to work.

I wish everyone could start with the knowledge that they are already an expert at burning fat. It would save us all a lot of time, money..and well, eye strain from all the reading.

B

jarod August 14, 2009 at 6:03 am

i like the idea of only eating when hungry but if i only ate when i was hungry most of the time i would only eat dinner. i know your not big on calories but there is a certain amount your body needs to live and i think just eating dinner puts me under that mark. which is weird i would think if my body needed more energy i would feel like eating but generally i only feel like eating at dinner time.

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 6:05 am

I bet it would even out. After only eating dinner for a while…..you’d probably notice that you were hungry at other times too.

B

Bev Budig August 14, 2009 at 6:29 am

@Brad Pilon
My problem with not going to sleep until I am tired (which I do on weekends by the way) is I still have to get up early for work. And that would be fewer hours sleep and I would be tired the next day!

Pilbara Pink August 14, 2009 at 6:57 am

@Todd I. Stark
Thanks for that comment Todd – I have been trying to fathom why the simple approach has been so darn hard for me until recently. As you say, we need to learn what to allow to filter quickly through our minds and what to retain/act on. As a wise man said to me `you are not responsible for the thoughts that come into your mind – but you are responsible for those you chose to act upon’. Learning what hunger really feels like as opposed to having a desire to eat has been significant for me. And guess the best way to learn the distinction – why fasting of course :) Personally I work out every morning for an hour (cross trainer and weight training) and fast for around 14 hours (between dinner and eating again the next day). I mostly eat fruit and veges with some homemade bread and lean protein to round it out. At 47 I am healthy, fitter and have a better physique than at any other time in my life yet spend less time counting calories, carbs, weighing food etc etc etc ….

Art August 14, 2009 at 7:33 am

The words TAO and ZEN pretty much guarantee a nice response. Had you added Karma, it would have been a powerful trinity. ;o)

There is no greater feeling than when we are jolted into an unexpected new thought.

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 7:53 am

So true, and ‘Jolted’ is a great way to describe it. It was one of those moments were you just put the book down and stare off into space.

B

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 7:55 am

Yeah, work ruins everything.

The reminds me of reading “The Monk who Sold his Ferrari” where one of the pieces of advice was to ‘get up at the crack of dawn’. I remember thinking “Dude, I live in Canada, in January the Crack of Dawn is around quarter to nine!

I wish.

B

brian August 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

absoulutely agree with you brad.weightloss as i know now is as simple as eat less than you put out.no fancy protein shakes,calorie cycling,carb cycling,high protein,low carb.not necessary for weightloss.neither is glycemic index.i just hope brad comes out with a new book called fatloss and muscle building myths.because there is hell of alot of them.keep up the good work brad and fellow eat stop eaters

leftfield August 14, 2009 at 6:22 pm

i remember this weight loss forum i was reading once where everyone was posting complex fat loss programs & bouncing around a lot of bio-chem terminology explaining hormonal affects of this & that for weight loss etc, all very interesting i might add, but one guy, who seemed really out of place, was about 70 when i checked his date of birth posted ‘whenever i want to lose weight i just eat a little less, works everytime’, that kind of stuck with me, i remember thinking that can’t be right, it’s too simple

Johnno August 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Paul McKenna too has brought it back to basics.
Rule 1: When you are hungry, eat!
Rule 2: Eat what you like.
Rule 3: Eat consciously (eg put knife and fork down between mouthfuls and chew).
Rule 4: At the first sign of fulness, STOP eating.

Johnno August 14, 2009 at 7:56 pm

The trouble with eating when you’re hungry or more importantly stopping when you’re full and going to sleep when you’re tired is that we have things like tv that distract us. We do not take the time to be fully aware of what we are feeling.

Brad Pilon August 14, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I think the very point is to not let things like TV distract us. So Eat when Hungry, not Eat when Bored. Go to sleep when tired, not Go to sleep when American Idol is over.

B

Al S August 14, 2009 at 11:29 pm

I must admit that my biggest prbolem is that I think way too much about diet and exercise. I have over 30 diet and exercise books and they have gotten me nowhere because these books make people think about more than they really need to.

I wish i could just stop thinking about it all and just start doing. I find that the ones who are in excellent shape(cut, ripped, athletic, muscular, etc.) probably do not even think about what, why, when, where, or how they got to be in such a healthy state. They just do things!

Linda August 14, 2009 at 11:49 pm

It is all so true, Brad. I have started implementing ESE and am now realizing that it is ok to enjoy eating. I won’t gain 500 lbs simply from eating when hungry. The media has warped our minds so much in regards to what is and isn’t “good” and I am guilty of letting them do it. It is time I took control. One of the best quotes is, “I eat to live, not live to eat!”

Terri August 15, 2009 at 1:22 am

Hey Brad:
Just curious – what do you think of all the studies on some other cultures living longer and having lower rates of cancer/heart disease than the US, based on the fact that they are eating less processed foods, less sugar, meat, etc.? Do you think if we ate 1200-1500 calories (for females) of whatever we wanted, and took a ton of vitamins we’d still be healthy in our 80′s? I worry that I’ll be like my grandparents, and need 12 medications to make it through the day. So it’s not just about my waistline…curious as to your thoughts on health/longevity in general?

Brad Pilon August 15, 2009 at 1:32 am

HI Terri,

These studies are very tricky to analyze. We find correlations through our statistical analysis, but then often these get mistaken for causation by the media.

Aubrey De Grey, one of the most controversial people in all of Life Extension has noted that when you look at people around the world who live past 100, the one thing they all share in comment is a laid back happy attitude. You can’t separate the mind from the machine, it’s all connected.

Then we need to consider the fact that people all around the world eat very different diets, yet there are centurions in many different areas of the world.

The bottom line, the answer is probably somewhere along the lines of “Relax, Eat Less, Maintain your Muscle Mass, and have parents who lived a long life”

B

Kay August 15, 2009 at 1:34 am

Brad, I love the simple wisdom you have gleaned and shared from all of your study on nutrition and health. It’s as simple as King Solomon’s proverb: “If you find honey, eat just enough.” I have realized in practice that bucking the eating ‘system’ of our time/country takes courage and immense respect for self. Society gets very uncomfortable when it’s complex rules are shunned for any reason. To everyone – keep being true to your own bodies, and remain attuned to your own health. ESE rocks!

Todd I. Stark August 15, 2009 at 1:36 am

Very useful comments here. I agree strongly with the people here who like the ESE approach for exactly this reason. There are a lot of our urges and temptations that are generated by expectancy: in certain situations, we expect certain behaviors (like snacking) to make us feel better. So we eat things that don’t really satisfy hunger but which we expect to comfort us. Intermittent fasting helps us learn to comfort ourselves in other ways and use food to satisfy hunger, and as a deliberate mindful treat rather than a habitual mindless one. ESE is very much like a kind of mindfulness training, or at least can be used effectively along with mindfulness discipline.

Thanks everyone for the excellent discussion here, and Brad for raising it.

Jon August 15, 2009 at 1:50 am

@Terri
Terri – enjoyed your comment about owning 200 books on diet – WTF? (wow- you got great humor) – but a lot of us have tons of books about health, diet, & longevity – so don’t feel alone -we are all looking for answers – I agree with Brad – easy go happy attitude may be the single most important attribute of healthy people – with that said – when you do eat – try to eat healthy – whatever that is (Dr. Fuhrman probably has the best information in the world on that subject) – and the “eat stop eat” program certainly has some tremendous merit – live long – love much – wishing you the best – Jon

Devin Glage August 15, 2009 at 1:52 am

@Brad Pilon
I will toot CrossFit’s horn on applying this quote to exercise. When we were kids, exercise was playing on jungle gyms, climbing tree’s, and running free. As we get older we (for some strange reason) decided that exercise has to be some arduous chore filled with treadmills, cybex machines, and bicep curls. We have dissected exercise down into parts that are too small. Exercise is as easy as run, jump, push, pull, throw. Basically what you used to do as a kid, only now we call it functional movement. CrossFit has turned exercise into a simple phrase: 3, 2, 1, GO!

jasmine August 15, 2009 at 2:28 am

I feel the same way. When I was younger I didn’t think about what I ate at all and was happy. That later caught up to me and I gained weight. Then in my years of 13-20 i went through the battle of counting calories, constantly weighing myself, studying every article I found about nutrition. Then I became vegetarian, lost weight, fasted, worked out. Now food and drink are what they always have been, a fuel for the body. I just realize now what they were meant to be after all that time. I enjoy it but now I know I can not just eat less but go days with out it. If u abuse anything it will change your relationship with it. Now I enjoy it and don’t need to think all that much about it anymore.

jakkie August 15, 2009 at 2:32 am

think about it. any problem, no matter how big , can be solved, if and when it is broken down to the fundamentals. fundamentals in nitrition :
eat to live, dont live to eat

Jeff August 15, 2009 at 2:44 am

Thanks Brad. I always enjoy reading your blog. I recently read a book entitled “Tainted Truth,” which speaks of how so much of what we read is not necessarily truth. It goes back through the ages (even recent history) where supposed truths (including those related to nutrition) vacilated from being good at one time and then bad the next. I like your philosophy because it is simplistic and does not follow all the fads and get so caught up in complexities that do not matter. If you eat when you are hungry (don’t gorge yourself) and sleep when you are tired, you are on the right path.

Al S August 15, 2009 at 4:07 am

Brad, I have read your book and your numerous articles over the past year and you tell me to just eat less. But if I want 10% or less bodyfat don’t i have to eat clean.

That has been my big dilemma for years: EAT LESS OR EAT CLEAN!

I assume that 99% of the ones who are ripped ate exremely clean diets instead of eating less right?

PLEASE BRAD OR ANYONE: Help me ease my burden and my mind on whic way to go.

Darren August 15, 2009 at 6:46 am

Brad this definitely simplifies everything. It just goes to show that things come full circle back to basics! We try to complicate things and it should be simple.

Lorenzo August 15, 2009 at 9:48 am

thks brad for this write-up! food & drinks are becoming more complicated with the current craze on Organic eating.

Brad Pilon August 16, 2009 at 3:57 am

Al,

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as ‘clean’

I would all say that your assumption is incorrect.

Al August 16, 2009 at 7:28 am

I just want to know to truth as to how people get below 10% bodyfat: eating only fruits, veggies, oatmeal, egg whites, boneless skinless chicken breasts, etc… OR just eating less; thats all. I want to feel confident knowing that I can just simply eat less (especially with ESE)and still get lean.

John Barban August 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm

@Al S
Al,

From a purely technical and scientific definition of what it takes to lose body fat; all you need to do is eat less. It really it’s just a matter of calories in vs calories out.

The practical part comes in when you decide what types of food you want those calories to be contained in. This is where your notion of eating ‘clean’ comes from.

I would guess that your assumption about eating ‘clean’ is really just a way of saying that in order to get a fulfilling diet of food while losing weight requires a selection of whole foods and not processed or really calorie dense foods.

In other words, eating ‘clean’ foods might satisfy both hunger and nutritional needs better than just eating whatever you can find at the convenience store.

Technically speaking, less calories is all you need to lose weight, practically and realistically speaking you probably need a quality choice of good whole foods to make eating for weight loss feel satisfying and sustainable.

JB

Terri August 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm

@Jon
If we can’t laugh at ourselves, what can we laugh at? LOL – anyway, thanks for the comment. I just packed up about 100 of my diet books and am donating them to my library. I still think that I won’t be able to live a long healthy life, if I choose to eat Pepperoni Pizza every day and chocolate chip cookies (my 2 fav foods). I am just going to follow ESE and eat mostly fruits and vegetables, which I love anyway. I’m not a big fan of too much meat, so it’s nice to know that I can move on from the low-carb craze! Time to find something else to obsess about – maybe learning a new language, sport, etc. I realized how much time I have wasted in my life reading and learning new fad diets. I’d probably speak 20 foreign languages by now if I spent half the amount of time doing that instead. Obsessions/addictions are so human, but yet so pointless…
Terri

Shawn Frey August 16, 2009 at 8:10 pm

I like it – good quote

Senta Rose August 17, 2009 at 12:59 am

I am glad you made that remark about “eating clean”. I sometimes find myelf feeling guilty about eating this or that because it is not “clean”. I even erroneously was describing Eat Stop Eat incorrectly saying that you suggest eating clean. I will go back to that person and correct my error. I think I got that idea from all the “eating clean” stuff at Craig’s site and somehow transferred that to you.

I think the biggesgt problem for me and others is getting the junk (mind clutter) out of our brains. The other day I was thinking that I was not getting enough servings of vegetables although I do eat enough fruit. Then I again started to think about how much protein I had had.

I used these thoughts to give myself permission or even encouragement to eat when I was not hungry and in the case of the vegetables, to eat what I didn’t want to eat at that time. Then I felt over fed and found myself off focus, over eating again the next day.

I need to just stop worrying about the right mix of chemicals in the food, and just focus on not overfeeding myself.

John August 17, 2009 at 1:17 am

Hi Brad, you may be interested to know Bruce Lee took the same quote and applied it to his martial art of Jeet Kune Do

“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum.” – Bruce Lee

some more can be found here

http://www.sammyfranco.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=sammyfranco&Screen=bruce_lee

Claus August 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Wow! Great post! This one single quote sums up my last year of losing weight and building muscle. Since I was 17 years old (I’m 25 now) and started working out I’ve been trying to get the lean look. It didn’t happen until last year when I started the Eat Stop Eat way of life. The difficult thing has been to give up on all the workouts, diets and stuff I’ve been reading. But as of today I have removed all of the workouts sites and diet sites from my bookmarks. (Not this blog of course:-)). It’s taken me years to discover how simple it is! Food is food…. once again. Thanks!

Lani August 17, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Hey Brad,

Just got your email this morning and was inspired to come on in here and comment.

The clarity which we can cultivate around the dietary issue can be such a relieve. Simplify. Once we realize that many dietary manipulations are just ways to trick us into eating less, we begin to understand there is no magic bullet. Except ourselves.

Long ago when wrestling with diet demons, one of the mos powerful things I did was to purge my diet bookshelf. Just took them all to friends of the library.

And I seriously considered taking them to the dump so they wouldn’t clutter and confuse anyone else’s process! But then I realized that everyone has their own progression through time and materials….

Your note came at a great time for another reason as I’m thick into decluttering my office, closet, kitchen, pantry….it’s a universal theme!

Thanks for the added insight and synchronicity!

Lani

Brad Pilon August 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Great Comments as Usual Lani!

Lani August 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Oops…I see I just posted this on the wrong thread! Off to place it where intended.

:-)

Lani

Jack August 18, 2009 at 7:26 am

No Zen quotes from Jack today, (maybe another day!) but just started the ESE program, and was AMAZED that once I DECIDED not to eat for that day, it was no big deal. And I had a great work out that day, didn’t feel weak, or lightheaded, drank a boatload of water, though.

I chose to not eat again today, after a leisurely and satisfying lunch (can you believe this, I thought, I’ll just take my time and enjoy my lunch today, as I will not have to devote or set aside any time for dinner tonight!), I thought, great, I can have a productive evening, time to work out, thinking about what I might do for lunch tomorrow, but no concern about dinner tonight, or breakfast tomorrow morning.

An unexpected piece of this program came along, not sure if it is stated exactly, but there is a sense of EMPOWERMENT (yes, I know, you think, what? over food? over that donut? or bag of chips? yes, that’s it exactly!). And I also felt the mental clarity. WOW!

Physiologically, can a person fast every other day? or is that pushing it? The waistline has plenty of reserves!

Mike Groom August 18, 2009 at 10:06 am

This has made me reflect on my own journey and what has happened as I’ve taken on more information. A few years ago I lost over 60 pounds in 9 months with almost no nutritional knowledge, I simply ate less. As I’ve read more and gained more “useful?” knowledge, I have struggled with the ridding myself of the remaining bodyfat.

Let’s get back to the basics! My new method of eating is “eating less”!!!

Thanks for making me THINK :)

Philip August 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Great post, Brad. “Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge” Winston Churchill. The happy part of the human brain is that when overwhelmed with material we find a way to simplify it so we can understand what the hell is going on.

I started playing golf at varsity when I was 23. I simply picked up the club and hit the little round white ball down where the short grass grew using my basic hand/eye co-ordination. I got down to a 8 handicap in 18 months—THEN I picked up a Golfers Digest and I never got lower than a 10 handicap again. Every issue had an article on how to hit your drives further and I tried every suggestion. The irony was a friend of mine had an issue from 1987…what was on the cover–you guessed it, “how to hit drives further”. Logically, 21 years later every golfer should be bashing the ball way past Tiger by now. I became so confused I quit in disgust. The same with exercise…every Men’s Health is about getting ripped abs and having better sex. The bottom line is magazines have deadlines to meet and they have to fill the magazine with something…but it can and does confuse the bejabbers out of you.

I was making the same mistake with nutrition until in disgust I just ignored everything and reduced my food intake by just not eating and kept that up till my pants lost their tightness again. As simple as that.

Anna August 26, 2009 at 6:59 am

@Lorenzo

Hey, I’m a major fan of organics—but to promote sustainable farming. Farming practices DO matter :)

Keighton August 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Hey Brad,

I noticed in your article Eat Stop Sleep you said that people who don’t get enough sleep have ‘older brains’ is this why you say sleep when tired?

KK

john z. December 15, 2009 at 12:46 am

Brad,
Great stuff. In my quest to gain weight, muscle actually, I have been increasing my colories. However, as a result, my body fat has increased as well. I am interested in reading eat stop eat. Would you reccomend this book for someone looking to gain weight? Thanks in advance…

Oliver R December 17, 2009 at 3:15 am

I’ve had a similar experience with some thing, notably singing. What do you think the moral of the tale is? – that you should just stick doing things simply and instinctively all along, or that it is useful to have a period of struggling with technicalities and theories and bits and pieces of head knowledge etc as long as you then come back to a simpler approach?

Matt March 18, 2010 at 11:54 pm

When I studied in my Obesity and weight Control class in college we learned that if you want to sell a diet or weight loss product then you should make it as complex as possible.

It’s almost human nature to believe that something complex has to be more effective.

But this often keeps us from making thing simple and keeps us in the rat maze of always considering “what should we do.”

unfortunately folks don’t have much success on complex programs. So we are more likley to buy the stuff that doesn’t work as well.

I like to call it the complex paradox, waddya think?

Brad Pilon March 19, 2010 at 2:53 am

Damn it…if I had took that class in college, I’d probably be making some money online!

Stupid science program.

Oh well, and yeah, judging by the sales of diet books and programs, I’d say you are right on the money.

BP

AlekIsHere September 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I once heard a great explanation of the “complex is better” drive that people in personal change industries. Its from a guy called Brent Smith (he’s a friend of Howard’s).

His theory is basically this… The reason people resent simple is it because it insults their ego. “What, it can’t be that simple, no way I’ve struggled with this for 20 years, when all I had to do was xyz… No, it must be some secret code I haven’t hit yet”

In other words, its almost an insult to admit you’ve spent years with a problem, if the solution is so simple that a 5 year old can understand it. The reason is that the solution (in whatever personal change area), even though simple… Is actually hard. And when I say hard, I mean mentally hard. It takes admitting stuff on the inside and solving deep, character flaws.

Its simple to eat less, but its hard to admit psychological eating, eating out of dissatisfaction with career choice etc… So we’d rather blame it on not having found the right combination yet. Its just that we haven’t found the right system yet.

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