Nutrition

‘Losing weight is a lot like baking a cake’ · The42

THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE is an extract from ‘The Keane Edge’ by Brian Keane.

Losing weight is a lot like baking a cake.

Yes, you read that right. I’m starting this ‘healthy eating’ book talking about baking a cake. As you’ll see over the coming chapters, this book is unlike anything you have ever read before. I’m not going to be preaching the fat-burning capabilities of some random food found deep in the Amazon jungle, or selling you on some quick-fix solution that massively reduces your calorie intake by eliminating an entire food group. Nope, you won’t get that here. What you are going to get in the following pages is a mindset shift.

You’re likely going to hear some uncomfortable truths about the sole contributing factor as to why you don’t look the way you want to look. I’ll give you a clue. When it comes to every single diet or nutritional plan you’ve followed unsuccessfully over the years, what has been the common denominator? Have you been too restrictive and then pressed the ‘f*ck it button’ and binged on everything in sight? Possibly. Have you eliminated entire food groups in your desire to lose weight, e.g. six weeks gluten free, no dairy? Yeah, you might have.

But none of those is the common denominator. Want to know what is? It’s YOU! Yes, you, or more accurately your mindset and how you approach the diet or nutritional plan. But don’t worry, we’re going to fix that. But first, back to my cake.

Surely cake is off-limits if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce your body fat? Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that in Part One of the book you’ll see that calories do matter and food portion sizes are important. Eating a whole cake is unlikely to support your weight-loss goal.

Equally though, one slice a few times a week probably has the opposite effect. It gives you the psychological and metabolic boost you need to stick to your nutritional plan over the space of a week, a month or even a year. But that’s not why I bring up cake. The reason I bring it up, apart from the fact that cake is delicious, is the baking element.

If you’ve ever baked a cake (or any other oven treat), you know that you have to follow a recipe. You need to do things in the right order, following a step-by-step process to end up with an appetising baked good. But you also need the ingredient list.

Forget the flour and you have a pile of mush, forget the sugar and it tastes horrible, forget the eggs and it doesn’t stick together – you get the idea. Developing the Keane Edge is exactly the same.

To lose weight, you need the recipe, and you need to follow a step-by-step process. In Part One, we’ll go through that: how calories work, what you need to know about macros – the foods that make up your calories – and food choices and the order of priority or ‘fat-loss pyramid of prioritisation’ that comes alongside them.

At this point, you might be thinking, ‘Oh God, not another diet book on clean eating,’ or ‘To lose weight, consume fewer calories – been there, done that’ – oh no my friend, that’s just the start of it.

Similar to baking a cake, you can know exactly how to make it but it still might taste like crap if you don’t know what ingredients to use. Which brings me on to the meat and potatoes (pardon the pun) of this book – the ingredients, aka your mindset tools.

The educational side of the weight-loss process is broken down into everything from calories, macros and food choices to using the correct metrics to track your progress. Randomly following dietary advice without context or knowledge is a recipe for misery. You might hit your weight-loss goal, but you might not. You always want to be able to replicate what you do.

For instance, if you lost 4 kilos to look your absolute best for a wedding or other event, you want to be able to replicate that any time you need to in the future. I only use the word ‘diet’ as an adjective.

It’s a skill you acquire to use when you need it. You diet to slim down for a date in the future. And unless you are morbidly obese or seriously overweight and you’ve been dieting for more than a year with no result, you are doing it wrong!

Over the course of our journey together, you will acquire the dieting skill but our primary focus will be on the nutrition side of things. That means finding a plan that is specific to your goal and then approaching it the right way. The ingredients come next and the first one on that list is discipline.

THE DISCIPLINE INGREDIENT

When I say ‘discipline’, I’m not talking about gruelling workout sessions in a gym, or even avoiding your favourite foods to hit a weight-loss target. Far from it. What I mean by discipline is building habits that support your end goal, so that you don’t feel like you’re on a ‘diet’.

Being disciplined is about understanding how your daily actions and behaviours determine how well you do on your weight-loss journey. If you tell me how you eat every day, I’ll tell you how much weight you’ll lose or how you’ll look in a year. I’m also going to break down the myth of motivation and the misconception that there are ‘motivated people’ out there.

Spoiler alert, there’s no such thing as ‘motivated people’ – there are disciplined people: individuals with good daily habits or people who have educated themselves and conditioned their mindset to find a nutritional plan that works for them. We can remove that unsupportive belief system of discipline here and now because it’s nonsense and only serves as an obstacle to the correct mindset. More on this later.

So if discipline is one of our ingredients, what else is there? I’m glad you asked.

THE FAILURE INGREDIENT

Failure is next on the list. Yes, failure is an important ingredient on your journey. But wait, how is failure helpful? Surely that’s a bad thing, right? Nope.

Failure is one of the most important ingredients on your weight-loss journey because failure isn’t final: failure is feedback! Feedback on what hasn’t worked in the past. Feedback on how you avoid self-sabotage in the future.

In this section, we’ll talk about the concept of ‘pressing the f*ck it button’. You all know what I’m talking about; you’ve eaten poorly all day Saturday and then had a big fry up on Sunday morning, so you say, ‘F*ck it, I’ll start back on my plan tomorrow.’

Yeah, you know the button. If it’s overused, or worse, worn out, we’ll figure out why and put a plan in place around it.

Failure also gives us the tool of ‘resetting’, where you don’t let one bad meal turn into two or a bad weekend turn into a bad week. We ‘reset’ after a potential slip and we get right back on plan.

That’s failure as feedback and that brings me on to the final ingredient in this recipe: the mindset tools.

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THE MINDSET INGREDIENT

This book is ultimately a tool book, and your mindset tools are the most important ones. We’ll go through philosophies such as getting your ladder up against the right wall, or in other words, finding the plan that’s in alignment with your goals, one that includes foods you enjoy and one that you can stick to. We’ll also go over the 0–1 principle on why the start of any new diet is the hardest part, even though it’s usually when you’re at your most motivated (and why that’s normally the problem).

We will go deep on the problem with waiting for Monday if you’re feeling motivated on Friday, and the unsupportive behaviour of having a ‘last supper’ – a ritual that involves bingeing on your favourite foods because you start a diet tomorrow. We’ll also go deep on your ‘why’. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to reduce your body fat? Why do you want to look a certain way? Knowing why you’re doing it can be the difference between success and failure on a dietary plan.

You will come to see that it’s not the diet that’s the issue: it’s your mindset towards it that’s been the problem all along. The honest truth is that most diets work if you stick to them. But why can’t you stick to your diet? Is it unsustainable? Does it eliminate your favourite foods? Do you feel rubbish on it – low energy, crap sleep, poor sex drive?

We’ll uncover those tangibles and intangibles as we dive deeper into the book, but for now, realise that this book works with any diet. Although the final part will give you a nutritional plan to follow and some recipes with high-quality, nutrient-dense meals, truthfully any plan will work if you stick to it.

What tool do you need to help you with this job? Are you self-sabotaging? Cool, read that section and use the tools in there to help you. Do you lack motivation or have bad dietary habits? Great, check out that chapter and pull out the tools you need.

My mission with this book is to make you realise that outside of some fundamental educational principles that everybody on a weight-loss journey should know – such as basic calorie intake – it’s not the diet per se that determines your weight loss success: it’s your mindset towards it that matters. Thinking that the diet is the problem – or what I call ‘the diet mindset’ – is not only flawed, it’s broken and downright wrong. And it’s time to upgrade your thinking.

You can leave that ‘diet mindset’ at the door. Now we’re moving to the next level. The level that gets you exactly where you need to be and keeps you there until your goals change. Now we’re talking about the Keane Edge.

HOW TO READ THIS BOOK

Part One of this book is for absolute beginners. If this is the first book on nutrition that you’ve ever picked up and are confused or don’t fully understand calories, macros or how food choices affect your body composition, then I recommend reading Part One in its entirety. If you are already familiar with foundational nutritional principles such as calories and macros, you can skip to the end of Part One, where I’ve recapped the main takeaways, and then jump into Part Two, which talks about developing the mindset around nutrition.

Part Three deals with nutrition itself and training, while Part Four looks at the pivotal but often misunderstood area of fat loss: sleep and stress.

The book’s final part gives you ‘The Plan’. It’s not the unsustainable kind of ‘one and done’ formula you may have come across in other diet books; I’m interested in mindset, nutrition and how to efficiently lose weight or reduce body fat over time. That being said, the plan will help you get started if you’re feeling motivated right now.

‘The Keane Edge’ by Brian Keane is published by Gill Books. More info here.

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