The sentinel change we seek to actually succeed and lose weight is a change to our body’s response to diet and exercise. To make a few comparisons, consider 1) the withdrawal of a heroin addict or 2) the power of the human sex drive. Both occur because of brain signaling disruption just like the one we feel when we start the diet and exercise duo of doom.
Heroin addicts cannot just quit heroin on Monday. Again, it’s not because they lack discipline or will power, it’s because their brains have restructured themselves to require the heroin molecule. This restructuring is a real thing, a real change in molecules in the brain that can be documented. The syndrome that heroin addicts go through when withdrawing from the drug is predictable and reproducible, and it happens every time until the body restructures its molecules to survive on less (or no) heroin. Same with food.
Likewise, imagine what would happen if I instituted a program to control the population, and the rules were that no one from 20-40 years old could have sex ever – starting Monday. What do you think the success rate would be? Do you think many humans could just shut that drive off, and forget about it? Could be happy and enjoy life the same way those do that have voluntarily shut it off? Like nuns or monks? Of course not.
These urges are biological and can only be contained for limited periods of time, against the current. The same is true with calorie restriction. No matter how many books come out about this diet and that diet, humans can’t just shut off the food consumption urge that is wired in for our survival and expect to be successful. However, just like the nuns or monks (or whomever) that have voluntarily deferred sexual relations, or recovered heroin addicts, the brain can be adapted to diminish those signals. Importantly, life without sex or without 4000 calories/day, in those that are successful, is not a struggle. On the other side of the catching point people no longer receive those signals, and as a result don’t feel that same urge to consume or reproduce – to survive – as the general population does on day 1 of a diet. So for them, it is easy!
This is how the beautiful people feel, which is why they are smiling all the time. Also this is why they have no idea how anyone could struggle with their programs because they don’t experience these same feelings. As a result, they conclude that we must be “weak, “or “lack will power,” and so on. But these negative labels are without meaning because we face a different challenge with which they are not familiar. Of course we don’t know how any of these folks would fare if they faced the same powerful signals to quit, but we aren’t looking to prove that they would struggle. We are looking to reverse and extinguish our own signals – and join them.