“A is A. All the pain has come from the effort to evade the fact that A is A.”
These are the words of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, summing up the core tenet of the Objectivist philosophy pioneered by the novel’s author, Ayn Rand. If you have to ask “Who is John Galt?” then clearly you haven’t read the book. Or then again, maybe you have.
“A is A” is a broad principle, so it’s reasonable to wonder how it applies to practical life. Well, let me take a stab at it: How does this maxim apply to diet and nutrition? As follows:
Poor diet, overeating and inactivity lead to excess weight and obesity.
Excess weight and obesity lead to pain: physical pain, in terms of an almost endless list of related ailments, and emotional pain and financial pain coming from all those doctor’s bills.
As John Galt so eloquently explained, pain results from efforts to evade the fact that A is A.
In other words, reality is reality—not what you want it to be. Ice cream is not a diet food. Hunger pangs are uncomfortable. Exercise is sweaty. Muscles ache when you work out hard. In other words, losing weight is hard work.
Now, telling people that losing weight requires effort may be true, but it’s a lousy marketing strategy. The way to make diet books and weight-loss products fly off the shelves is to promise something for nothing. Fad diets perpetuate the fantasy that some kind of metabolic magic will melt away pounds without requiring any real effort on the part of the dieter.
But the reason fad diets fail is simple: They shield dieters from the reality that successful, long-term weight management will require a fundamental change in habits, and habits are hard to change. But as the old adage goes: Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a destiny. It’s that creation of new, healthier habits that will allow people to take control of their dietary destiny.
Most successful dieters report doing close to an hour of physical activity a day.
Such was the conclusion of the National Weight Control Registry, which tracked more than 5,000 participants to find common keys to successful weight loss among the long-term losers (and better-health winners).
Those in the study lost weight in a variety of ways, but those who kept it off shared a few things in common:
- Most successful losers report doing close to an hour of physical activity a day.
- Those who maintained their weight loss step up to the scale on a regular basis. They don’t use scale-avoidance and elasticized waistbands to allow themselves to slip into denial.
- Another way in which the weight-loss winners eschewed magical thinking in favor of the A is A approach to eating: They don’t cheat. By that I mean they don’t play games with themselves by dieting most of the week and then giving themselves a day or two “off” to indulge.
As difficult as the battle of the bulge may be, it can be won. And it’s worth remembering that as hard as it is to balance one’s dietary budget, it will be even tougher to face when the symptoms of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other excess weight-related ailments begin to set in.
Or as another pro-reason philosopher, John Locke, once observed: “Hell is truth seen too late.”
So take a fearless look in the mirror, a frequent look at the scale, an honest look at the statistics, and a searching look at your life. The changes you make today will turn into well-worn habits in time, which will, in turn, give you many more years to enjoy your new found health and active lifestyle.