Diet 4th Dimension

What runner in his right mind wouldn’t like to lose a few pounds?

A lighter body runs faster, with less effort.

It’s a no-brainer: light is better.

“I feel like a runner.” It’s not easy to say, when you’re carrying extra padding.

The how of weight-loss isn’t difficult to figure out. Motivating ourselves to do it is harder.

I’m having good success with my 2012 spring weight-loss campaign. Perhaps what has helped me will help you, too.

What I find is that nine-tenths of weight-loss success lies in getting ready. It’s all in how you prepare your mind, spirit, and emotions.

In a recent article, I described how my runs got better when I began fueling with bagels and cream cheese. Alas, in my enthusiasm for the results, I went a bit overboard on fats and carbs, and developed a pot belly in consequence.

It got to the point where, strolling into Walmart, I felt like one of the family, lugging my pork belly before me.

Losing weight isn’t difficult. My standard weight-loss approach, which has been very successful, combines ideas from a wonderful book by Joel Fuhrman, MD, Eat to Live, plus a few simple dietary recommendations I learned from my spiritual teacher.

Okay – can you lose weight without ever feeling hungry, or depriving yourself of tasty foods? Definitely. You bet.

You can lose weight very quickly and comfortably, if you eat a ton of delicious, creatively varied salads. (Beans, avocado, fish, almond butter/orange dressing…) Try eating a giant salad for lunch. Pack it with your favorite ingredients (green olives, jicama, shrimp, peppers, olives?).

In Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman cites reputable research that showed nutrient-dense foods such as raw vegetables, especially the green leafy kind, absolutely kill hunger. In my own experiments, I’ve found that to be 100-percent true.

For dinner, enjoy flavorful dishes of beans and greens. If you like, you can use a can of commercial as a base (Trader Joe’s organic lentil and bean soups are tasty). With a little time and energy, you could make homemade broth (celery, carrots, potatoes, leafy greens, beets, onions, garlic, etc., simmered in a big pot for 3 hours, and then frozen).

Pour the hot, cooked beanie-greenie soupy-doopy over a bowl of raw shredded zucchini, carrots, chopped celery, etc. The raw ingredients increase the nutrient density, and effectively kill hunger.

Eat as much fruit as you like. Relax, you can eat large amounts of watermelon, apples, oranges, etc. without gaining weight.

Get plenty of protein from almonds or almond butter, tempeh, etc. Eating up to four handfuls of almonds (or the equivalent of almond-butter) won’t put on any extra pounds but will kill hunger for 3-4 hours.

Enjoy a daily handful of dates or raisins for carbs. Starchy carbs turn to fat with blinding speed. For some reason, moderate amounts of dried fruits don’t, and they contain lots of vitamins and other healthy ingredients.

After you run, enjoy a post-workout smoothie of almond milk, Recoverite, frozen pineapple, and banana. And speed your recovery with a moderate amount of cottage cheese.

While you’re enjoying these tasty repasts, take care to avoid starchy carbs, simple sugars, too much saturated fat, and fruit juice.

Like I said, losing weight is simple. But of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I know the system cold – I’ve lost as much as 40 pounds or more in bygone days on the diet. And I’ve been able to sustain the diet for years at a time.

I’ve read all the right books, and I’ve pounded their messages into my brain. Yet when it came time to motivate myself to just do it, I couldn’t.

I lacked pep and enthusiasm. Visualizing vegetables, fruit, beans, and nuts, I felt little confidence or joy.

Clearly I needed to get my emotional and spiritual stuff together. So, being who I am, I prayed about it.

A lovely thing about following a meditative spiritual path is that it makes you aware of which side your bread is buttered on. You meditate regularly, and you begin to sense, in your innermost spine and heart and brain, a benign transcendent power that, self-evidently, intuitively is your own deep source and reliable guide. Prayer, then, becomes no verbal pleading – “Lord, we sinners beseech Thee…” – but a relaxed conversation with a dear friend.

Pondering what to ask, I knew it would be useless to petition the Almighty Power to make this old codger feel good, look good, and run well.

I knew I needed to make my prayers expansive, and include the well-being of others, not only my own little dried-up self. I declared my willingness to engage the weight-loss process so that I could perhaps live a few years longer and serve my teacher’s work, have energy and health for friends, and maybe introduce others to the ridiculous notion that prayer works in practical ways.

Having arrived at the inner gate of sincerity regarding my reasons for shedding the pounds, I talked it over with God and my teacher, and in the days that followed I found the whole weight-loss deal snapping beautifully in place.

It wasn’t that I needed to think much about it; I just knew what to do, moment by moment, effortlessly. I knew what to eat, how much, and when.

I had long prepared my mind with dietary knowledge, but now I had the inestimable help of diet wisdom.

I’ve been on the diet for three weeks, and I’ve lost a hefty chunk of my front bumper. I’m running easier and feeling healthier.

Now, the risk is that I’ll start to feel proud and ambitious.“What if I could win my age group in a 5K…?”.

That’s natural. In the deep portions of our brains, there’s a large, impressive building. It’s a busy place – its function is to send out colorful flyers that say: happiness lies outside yourself, in things and momentary pleasures, in other people’s admiration, in the stimulation of your own nervous system.

It’s such a fundamental feature of the brain that the ancient scriptures of the East gave it a name. The Vivekachudamani (Crest Jewel of Wisdom) calls it: “The glamorizing power of the mind.” It’s the part of the brain that makes things seem more attractive than they are, particularly those things which, if we follow their siren call, always end up leading us into a ditch of suffering.

My spiritual teacher suggests an empirical approach to fending off those glamorous lures.

“Look at people’s lives,” he says. “Observe the ways they try to find happiness. Check the results. See what’s working for them. Better yet, make your own experiments and check the results.”

In my 70 years of tinkering and watching the results, I’ve noticed that I generally experience happiness and success when I cultivate expansive attitudes.

Becoming smaller, my awareness enjoyably expands to include others, especially when I invite God’s guidance and ask Him to use me as an instrument for His friendship, kindness, compassion, and help to friends and strangers.

I find it’s a surefire formula for discovering a level of happiness that transcends the narrow confinement of the ego, and all those glamorous imaginings of having a svelte body, running fast, and being a late-life prima donna.

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