Permanent, healthy fat loss requires not harsh diets, spartan workouts or magic bullets but adjustments in lifestyle and emotional balance.

by William Kim


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Shed Fat the Asian Way

at control is a relatively new science in the western world. Only during the past half century have large numbers of Americans begun to enjoy enough leisure to suffer the harmful effects of overeating, inactivity and alienation. As with so many young sciences, western fat-control takes a mechanistic, symptom-oriented approach. Essentially, it takes the view that because fat is made up of excess calories, the only way to lose it is to cut down on caloric intake or increase physical activity. That's about like saying that if you want to be more energetic, you should take in more calories.

     The body doesn't work that way. It's an organic system, not a mechanical one. In mechanical systems cause-effect relationships are simple and straightforward. In organic systems cause-effect relationships are complicated by the organism's own programming for responding to changing conditions. Applying mechanical concepts to organic systems is as effective as using a hammer and screwdriver to fix a bug in your computer's operating system. You can do a whole lot more harm than good.

     For success in reducing your body's fat stores, forget mechanistic thinking. Understand that your body decides to add, retain or lose fat based on genetically coded responses to changes in nutritional intake, physical activity and emotional balance. Concepts like calories and weight are meaningless as gauges of success in losing fat. If you must have some gauge, use your hands to grab the pockets of fat you are trying to lose. It won't take long to become proficient at sensing even slight changes in fat levels.

     For at least a millennium Asian cultures have understood that excess fat is a symptom of emotional imbalance. In other words, you have excess fat because on the deepest level you (your body) have decided that excess fat is needed. Your body is governed by its survival programming. Fat-storing and fat-burning mechanisms are key components of your survival mechanism. If that sleek beautiful body of yours is hidden beneath pockets of ugly fat, your body has been receiving one or more of the following signals:
  • You suffer frequent periods of famine.
  • You must expend intense physical exertions to escape injury or death.
  • Your daily activities are not hindered by extra stores of fat.
  • You face an insecure, worrisome future.


     Those are the messages you send to your body when you subject yourself to stringent diets, violent bouts of exercise and artificial stimulants. Consequently your body does its best to store fat for anticipated famines, desperate survival measures and extended periods of hardship.

     Once you have understood that your body responds to the messages you send, you can begin to persuade your body that it no longer needs to store fat. Here are the most effective ways to make that case:

  1. Eat a big healthy breakfast.

         Your body's fat mechanism is ultra-sensitive to signs that you are suffering a food shortage. Unfortunately, misguided dieters keep sending that very signal by skipping breakfast, skipping lunch, then losing willpower and bingeing late in the day. Your malnourished body -- which has been systematically deprived of essential nutrients during the day -- becomes convinced that a famine is in progress and converts into fat most of the calories you eat. Only a small part is converted into energy for organs and muscles. You go to bed feeling bloated, weak and sluggish. The next day you feel hungry from the moment you wake up. But because you are remorseful about last night's binge, you resume your starvation diet. Late in the day you binge again. This vicious cycle persists until you become thoroughly discouraged and give up trying to lose fat.

         The key to ending the vicious cycle is to see breakfast the way most people see dinner -- a meal to satisfy much of your body's daily nutritional requirements with tasty, wholesome food. Once you get into the habit of starting each day well fueled, your body will become convinced that you have entered a period of plenty. It will burn fat and send extra energy to your organs and muscles. It will also elevate your average body temperature by several degrees. Those metabolic changes alone will burn off large pockets of fat in a few weeks.

         Additionally, fortifying yourself with a hearty breakfast will make you satisfied with a moderate lunch and forgo an afternoon snack, a gut-busting dinner and a late-night feeding frenzy. In other words, a good breakfast is a good investment.

         At first you may feel too rushed or lack the appetite for a good breakfast. You will need to work up gradually toward an efficient metabolic schedule. Without making this change, you will be trapped in the vicious cycle of starving yourself early in the day when you need energy, then bingeing in the evening only to augment your unwanted fat stores.

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"This vicious cycle persists until you become thoroughly discouraged and give up trying to lose fat."