While much is made about the impact of the obesity epidemic - both personally and financially - one stark fact needs to be stressed. If you are severely overweight, once you reach the age of 50 your time on Earth is about over.
This isn't speculation, either. Mortality statistics back up this reality. Here are a few choice gems I pulled from my recent piece on morbid obesity: 
- Men - If you are obese by the age of 20, you'll lose an average of 20 years off your life. The average life expectancy for men is currently 69.8 years.  Drop 20 from this tally, and if you're obese by the age of 20, you're statistically likely to live only to the age of 49.8.
- Women - If you're obese by the age of 20, you'll "only" lose an average of eight years off your life.
- One study found that smokers live longer than the obese. 
- A meta-analysis of the much-maligned BMI index revealed that the higher your BMI, the shorter your lifespan. 57 total studies were analyzed. 
But here's the problem... Diets fail. I mean really fail. Hard. The average dieter actually gains weight once the diet is over. Yes, you read that correctly. When you go on a diet, you're actually likely to gain more weight over the course of the coming year.
Fad diets don't work. Why?
People gain weight because of bad eating habits. They make awful food choices over the course of years and years. Eating becomes a ritual of taste, convenience, and even a method to fill the voids that come from depression and anxiety.
Stomachs are being filled, but with a large number of empty calories. The micronutrient density just isn't there.
What's a micronutrient?
Micronutrients include minerals, vitamins, and things such as phytochemicals. While these substances are only needed in very small amounts, they play important physiological roles. Micronutrients assist with proper cell function, recovery, well-being, brain and organ function, metabolism, bone density, heart health and in maintaining a regular heartbeat, and so much more.
When you ingest calories that lack a quality amount of micronutrients, the body may still have cravings. This means that while you feel full, your body still requires vital nutrients - and it's probably going to let you know, one way or the other.
Understand that this is a debatable topic. Many in the scientific community believe that micronutrient deficiencies may not drive many/most food cravings. While there is much yet to be learned about the impact of micronutrient deficiencies, I want to present the following point for consideration:
When we lack calories, the body is efficient at letting us know. So then, if we also lack a consistent and quality intake of micronutrients over time, wouldn't it also make sense that the body might drive us to each a little more food than normal in an attempt to seek these vital micronutrients?
I believe it's possible.
In any case, if an individual is gaining fat, yet doing so while consuming a poor diet, they are doing battle with a double-edged sword. Not only does the body have more physical matter to maintain, but it has to do so with fewer micronutrient resources. This is a deadly game.
But let's get back to discussing habits.
When someone tries to turn their life around and lose weight, they typically make two mistakes:
- They adopt a fad diet, or an eating approach that isn't sustainable or reasonable. This may include calorie restriction without a focus on clean, whole foods, or some kind of wacky and extremely protocol that won't help them after they lose a little bit of weight.
- They rush off to the gym and do extremes. Too much resistance training and/or too much cardio.
Here's the issue. Neither of these approaches are sustainable. The "dieter" is attempting to replace bad habits with quick fixes. This rarely works. What's needed are sustainable (repeat, SUSTAINABLE) lifestyle changes.
This is the point of the article.
What follows is a two-month plan that places an emphasis on developing a new lifestyle, and forging forward with new (good) habits. The pressure to rapidly lose weight is gone. Heresy, you say?
But I will argue with you. This is the best way forward. Once you are equipped with a sustainable eating and exercise approach, you are ready for long-term success. You are not just jumping into some short-term solution that fails for the vast majority of folks.
Instead, you're embracing a new way of living; a new lifestyle with new habits that you'll be sticking to for the rest of your life.
And this is the real key to longterm weight loss and improved health and longevity.
Two Months to a New Lifestyle
Diet - Eat All You Want, But...For the next two months I don't want you to worry about weight loss. Instead, focus on changing your eating habits. If you're unable to stick to a new eating lifestyle, it will be near impossible to lose weight in the long run.
That's reality. It's also reality that your bad eating habits are driving you to an early death. So either make the lifestyle changes now, or face the inevitable. And don't forget, a decrease in lifespan isn't the only way your bad habits are impacting you. You'll also experience a much lower quality of life.
Your sex life will suffer. Your sleep will suffer. You'll feel tired and awful. You'll experience aches and pains because of the extra burden you carry. Let's also not forget the anxiety and depression that comes with weight gain.
So, this is the choice: A new lifestyle or an early death and a horrible quality of life.
I don't want you to worry about how much you're eating during these two months. Instead, focus on food choices. Reach for clean, whole foods. Eat when you're hungry, but follow some simple rules:
- Meals. Eat only a plateful of food at any given sitting. If you're still hungry, wait an hour and eat another plate. And I'm not talking about devouring a monster, heaping plate of food. Keep it reasonable.
- Protein. Eat as much protein as you want. Don't worry about removing skin or eating only lean cuts. You can certainly trim huge slabs of fat off a pork chop (etc.) if you want, but don't fear fat. You need fat to function. Your choices include chicken, pork, beef, seafood, eggs, and even organ meat. You may have the occasional small portion of bacon or sausage, but try not to over-consume these types of meat products. Use them as a treat rather than a staple.
- Fruit. Eat as much fruit as you want. Just steer clear from powering down a lot of dried fruit such as raisins. Dried fruit is far more calorie dense. Dates and avocado (yes, it's a fruit) are also very calorie dense. Don't overdo these fruits either.
- Veggies. Eat as much as you want. Remember though, corn is not a veggie. It's a grain. Peas are not a veggie. They're a legume. Beans are not a veggie. They're a legume. You can eat each of these choices but do so in moderation. They are very calorie-dense foods.
- Legumes. Legumes are allowed but should be consumed in moderation. They are typically very calorie dense. Stick to a single serving when you do consume them. Legumes include beans, peas, chickpeas, and nuts.
- Grains. Grains are another food class that we will try to moderate. Eat a little of each, but don't overdo it. Stick to small, reasonable servings. Examples of grains include rice, oatmeal, wheat, corn and corn products (corn tortillas), and quinoa. You don't want to be eating seven slices of wheat bread a day, or two pounds of rice. While we're not trying to cut out carbs, we are trying to train ourselves to eat a little more protein and not rely so much on a carb-centric diet.
- Dairy. Another moderated food class. You can use a small amount of butter, sour cream, cheese, and milk. Don't slather a half a tub of butter on top of your corn. Don't pile eight ounces of cheese on top of your potato. Dairy is a great source of calcium and fats but remember balance. Dairy also tends to be very calorie dense. Greek yogurt is a great, high-protein choice. You can also add in whey protein or casein protein powder shakes as well.
- Healthy Fats. You can use a little bit of olive oil for cooking, or in recipes. You can also lightly use heavy cream, butter, and other healthy fats sources. Again, use a little - not a lottle.
- Condiments, Etc. No ketchup. Sorry, Charlie Brown. Instead, opt for salsa, hot sauce, and low-calorie mustards. You can also find very low-calorie salad dressings and even low-calorie soy sauce. Pickles are a great snacking option as well.
I want you to be strict during these two months. limit yourself to very little - if any - of the following food and drink choices:
- Sugar, corn syrup, and other calorie-rich sweetener
- Canned foods
- Processed foods
- Drinks with calories
- Fried foods
- Battered foods
- Food choices with ingredients you can't pronounce
- Ice cream
If you are feeling tempted, have a single bite of cake, or a small handful of Doritos rather than a full serving. But please, limit the amount of sneaky "bites" you consume each week.
Eat when hungry. Use the single plate rule. Limit your sneaky snack bites and alcohol. Restrict the calorie-dense foods that are listed above. Avoid all the "naughties."
Exercise, But Don't Kill Yourself
There are two training types you need to be concerned with:
- Resistance training - Helps you to build muscle, and gives you that fit and muscular body you are after.
- Cardio training - Great for overall health, conditioning, endurance, and provides a small boost to the fat burning process.
Don't overcomplicate your workouts during these two months. Most folks believe they must live in the gym and "kill" themselves to see results. Not so.
A great body involves patience. Resistance training involves slow, steady, and safe strength gains over a period of several years. It does NOT require you to punish yourself or make yourself vomit.
And don't overkill cardio. A good diet is your primary fat-burning tool. Cardio actually burns very few calories compared to that of a slight calorie-deficit eating plan.
During the next 60 days your goal is to accomplish the following:
- Find time to perform at least once resistance training workout per week. Focus on getting to know the equipment, and learning proper exercise form. Add weight slowly to an exercise when it feels too easy.
- Find time to perform at least one cardio session of 10 minutes per week. This can be walking, elliptical, etc.
Seems like too little? Remember, the goal here is to establish a new lifestyle and new habits. Take these two months and ease yourself into this new life. Don't rush. Don't pressure yourself. You can add cardio and resistance training sessions later on down the road.
Your body is overweight. It probably hurts. Right now you need to move, even if it's only on a very conservative basis. Focus on getting in at least two workouts per week, three max. 1-2 cardio sessions, and 1-2 resistance training sessions.
They can even be performed on the same day.
You've been inactive for a very long time. Be proud of small changes and these little steps forward. They are easing you into a new lifestyle that will literally forge you into a completely different person very quickly.
Trust me, I know. I lost 100 pounds, and I've seen many others do the same thing.
Article author and Tiger Fitness Editorial Director Steve Shaw.
So you've made it! You survived the last 60 days, and now are truly living a new lifestyle. You are eating right and exercising. Odds are you even lost 5-20 pounds.
I hope you can see the magic of this process. Lifestyle changes are the key to lasting success.
Now at this point, if you haven't lost any weight, simply cut back your daily calories by anywhere from 200 to 400. Watch the scale for two weeks, and see what happens.
Bump up your cardio and resistance training sessions to 2-3 each per week.
Continue along this path. It's a path that will help you to lose weight and live longer. It's a path that will give you a new body, and help you to fight depression and anxiety.
It is the path - and lifestyle - you deserve.