The hush starts in the back of the room and moves forward. The acute silence follows the speaker as he moves briskly to the dais. Only moments before, the packed conference room filled to overflowing with the crushing weight of curiosity.
“Is it even possible?”
“I am not believing it until I hear it, and then I still don’t believe I will.”
“There are so many answers out there that are wrong, how can we know we are not just wasting our time?”
“What do I care? I am getting time and a half.”
The tall, gray-haired pediatrician steps up to the mic and taps it for his own crude sound check. “Can everyone hear me?”
Without waiting for an answer, the doctor begins: “Today, I am announcing a cure for obesity.”
Some of the reporters and camera operators, worn cynical over the years, whisper, “yeah, right”; the majority don’t react at all. It is part of their profession. Besides, they had tried all the hundreds of previous diets they had reported on, and they had failed.
The doctor knew of their doubts, but he had scientifically proven his cure's success. His own lean, trim frame was proof enough.
Waiting for a dramatic pause to work its way through the crowd, finally the discoverer of this latest and greatest diet speaks: “You lose weight by eating less and exercising more.”
There is a collective gasp.
The novelty and its simple brilliance are like the winds of a hurricane; the mere thought blows the socks off of everyone within 250 feet. It is the scientific discovery of the century — no, perhaps the greatest medical pronouncement ever.
I snort and snore, kick and wake up. It was a dream, and I was the man on the stand. Even awake, I count the millions that are sure to roll in. Book deals, magazine spreads, TV talk shows, yukking it up with Jimmy Fallon, perhaps even a miniseries on my life.
Eating less food and exercising more. Could it be that easy and that hard at the same time? If losing weight is that simple, why aren't more people losing weight?
Eating less could mean we would purchase less processed food. If we purchased less processed stuff, many companies would have to let people go. So we have a choice as a country: continue to eat too much or throw ourselves and the world into another recession.
I, for one, am willing to take that chance. After seeing and trying an assortment of other options, I've found the only real weight loss comes from eating less.
So that is the trick for everyone. Learn how to eat less. Then practice it every single day and at and between every single meal.
There would be no celebrity endorsements. There would be no recipes. There would be no paid commercials.
The series of books about the ELD, or Eat Less Diet, would be simple. Every chapter would be titled "Eat Less." You would turn the numbered pages, and there in the headings and in the body of the text would be "Eat Less."
Only with the premium subscriptions would people learn the real story.
Be aware of what and how much you eat, and then, eat less. One can only do that if one is aware of what he or she eats. Awareness takes time and effort. It is being mindful.
There are three steps: 1. Being aware of what we are doing now, 2. Exercising our agency to decide to act differently, and 3. Paying attention and eating less.
In the end, there is a choice.
Joseph Cramer, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician, fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, practicing physician for 30 years and a hospitalist at Primary Children's Hospital and the University of Utah. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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