What is your ideal size and weight? The honest answer is we do not know. Using nature as a guide, we would put on weight leading into the winter, and need more fat if we live in colder climates. Fat provides insulation, a store of energy and physical protection for our organs.
Humans like to associate body shapes with beauty and sexual desirability, however, what is attractive in terms of size and weight varies through cultures and over history. In the west we currently live in a time when very little body fat is considered desirable. This is particularly prevalent in women’s fashion magazines, whereas in men’s magazines women are curvier. So women being thinner seem to impress other women, whilst men may prefer larger women. It is not healthy to lose weight to please other people, or society as a whole. The aim is to find the ideal weight for you.
Ultimately, the ideal weight for you is probably one in which you feel attractive, healthy and comfortable. It may be a size in which you can do the exercise, stretches and physical activities you enjoy.
Scientific research and thinking culminated in the 19th century to say that energy cannot be created or destroyed, although Einstein’s theories modified it slightly to take into account mass. Essentially we take in energy through food and air, if we do not use it up through exercise, maintaining our blood temperature, thinking and fuelling our internal organs, the rest turns into fat. In this simple view all other factors are irrelevant and possible a distraction from losing weight.
We can combine losing weight with improved health by focussing on eating natural foods. Generally, processed foods help us store more fat. This is often because the sugars are more available and the foods contain processed fats.
When shopping choose foods that you would recognise as growing in fields, rather than those from a factory. This will encourage health and help you find your natural weight.
Here are some suggestions for eating a natural macrobiotic diet.
Foods that are high in the GI are those that raise our blood sugars quickly. This causes us to secrete insulin and absorb the sugars into our muscles. From our muscles the sugars are turned into fat, if they are not used up with exercise. Sometimes, when our blood sugar rises quickly, we bring our blood sugar down too far with an over production of insulin. This can lead to further cravings for carbohydrates (energy rich foods) as we try to increase our blood sugar again. The risk is that we repeat the cycle, adding to our fat reserves.
The longer we cook foods and the higher the temperature the quicker we absorb sugars and energy into our blood. So foods that are cooked for less time and at lower temperatures will help. The cooking styles below are listed in terms of typical temperature.
RAW : PICKLED : STEAMED : BOILED : PRESSURE COOKED : PAN FRIED : DEEP FRIED : GRILLED : BAKED
The shorter the cooking time, the better for reducing blood sugar spikes and highs. This supports the idea of pre-soaking grains and beans to reduce cooking times.
Grains are energy rich, which makes them a great source of energy when we are physically active or out in the cold. When we live a more indoor, sedentary life grains provide too much energy, leading to storing energy as fat.
Grains are found in; bread, pasta, rice, corn, porridge, noodles, biscuits, cakes, pancakes. Generally whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, millet, corn on the cob, whole oats, barley, quinoa and amaranth raise our blood sugar more slowly.
To lose weight try eating less grains, just having grain at one meal a day, or having no grains at all for a month.
A vegetable rich diet will be nutrient rich, whilst being low in the energy and fats that could put on weight.
Try to include lots of; SALADS : SOUPS : STEAMED VEGETABLES : BLANCHED VEGETABLES : PRESSED VEGETABLE SALADS : STEWED VEGETABLES : STIR FRIED VEGETABLES : SOUPS
As soups are warming, filling and satisfying, whilst not providing excessive energy. Studies found that a soup keeps us satiated for 1.5 hours longer than a dry food, such as a sandwich, with the same amount of calories. This is due to the high water content of soups. As the liquid has nutrients in it, we have to keep it in our stomachs and process it, helping us feel full. Dry foods with more concentrated energy to not create the same feeling of being satiated.
Teas provide warmth, flavour and pleasure. They make an excellent choice between and during meals. Choose various to teas to try during your day. Ideally the teas will not need milk or any form of sweetener.
We use more energy to digest raw foods. In the case of raw celery, we apparently use more energy digesting it, than we get out of it. So raw vegetables or fruit as snacks help reduce the amount of energy entering our bodies. To help lose weight you could make half your macrobiotic diet that of raw foods.
We may need to exercise for more than 20 minutes before we start using up our fat reserves of energy. So continuous exercise for 45 minutes would definitely put us into a fat burning phase.
Ideally try exercising twice a day for 45minutes each time. This could include fast walking, swimming, jogging, a cross trainer, skiing, cycling, sex, running, sports and being active.
How we see ourselves is very much a choice. We have the capacity to see beauty in anything if we choose. So we can see the beauty in our own body, whatever the shape and size. One aim could be to see ourselves as being beautiful and begin to interact with that gorgeous, beautiful self in ways that are constructive, loving and life enhancing.
Sports research suggests if we imagine ourselves doing something, it can be as effective as physical training, such is the power of our minds. Try imagining yourself making healthy food choices, imagine saying no to foods you would rather not eat, play yourself cooking healthy natural meals in your mind.
Sitting down to eat, eating slowly, chewing well, be conscious of every mouthful, seeing the beauty in colourful natural foods, smelling the aromas, feeling the textures of the food in your mouth, tasting the natural flavours and feeling the food in you stomach and intestines all help us be satisfied with healthy natural foods.
Feeling happy introduces a state where we are free of the kind of emotions that can create cravings for foods we want to avoid. Living without stress, fear, anger, frustration, anxiety and depression all help us enjoy natural macrobiotic foods.
Try meditation, mindfulness exercises, living in the moment, the Japanese tea ceremony, exploring wabi sabi, healing, massage, walks in nature, dancing, laughter, music, art, creative writing and connection therapy to enjoy life and feel happy.
For help with a macrobiotic diet, losing weight naturally and being free from unhelpful emotions book a macrobiotic consultation with Simon. Macrobiotic consultations can be in person or on-line and include menu plans, suggestions, recipes and on-going.