Desperately searching for the secret to losing weight and keeping it off? Simple. Get a scale. Eat less than you normally do until you start losing weight. Keep doing that.

If that’s too complicated for you, try eating fewer calories than you burn. How can you tell? Remember the scale? That’s how.

Scale

Scale.

Either method works. Note the absence of trendy terms like gluten-free, fat-free, carbs, sugar-free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, organic, natural, system, diet, etc. The key words you want to pay attention to are discipline, reasonable, variety and moderation. Also eat less. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Related: The Fad-Free Management Diet

Do not diet. I’ll say it again just to make sure you heard me the first time: Do not diet. What about all those pricey diet systems you see advertised on TV? They don’t work and I’ll tell you why.

Eating more than you should is just like any addiction. It’s behavioral. To kick it, you have to choose to employ different behavior of your own free will. Otherwise, when you stop shelling out big bucks for the meals, you’ll fall right back into your old behavior.

Lunch

Lunch.

I bet half the people you see in those commercials on TV, their weight goes up and down like an accordion. That’s not healthy either. The overwhelming majority gain the weight back. The data I’ve seen says like a few percent benefit long term.

Anytime you hear the word “easy,” run. Long-term weight loss should be simple but it’s never easy.

Related: The Problem With Goals: They Don’t Change Behavior

At the risk of overcomplicating things I also have one simple rule for eating healthy and another for staying in shape.

Dinner

Dinner.

Eating healthy: Eat a wide variety of fresh food and veggies with reasonable portions. Learn to cook. Avoid fast food, prepared foods and sugary snacks and drinks. You can even eat stuff you like, but everything in moderation and no binging.

Staying in shape: Get out and run around every so often; it won’t kill you. You don’t have to go to the gym or work out every day to look and feel great. That’s a myth.

One more tip. As I got older I started putting on a few pounds. That’s when I discovered breakfast. Get a Vitamix blender. Every morning I make a shake of OJ (or an orange), nonfat yogurt, a banana, some frozen fruit (I like mangos or strawberries from CostCo) and a small handful of dry-roasted soybeans. Should turn out to be about 16 oz.

Skinny cocktail

Skinny cocktail.

I started that routine about 20 years ago. It seems to kick-start my metabolism. Haven’t had an issue since. Don’t ask me why; it just works.

Related: Unhealthy Cultural Norms are Killing Us

Let me know if you find any of this confusing. Otherwise, enjoy your new body. And remember, health is a choice.

Note: What does a strategy consultant know about this stuff? My wife is a certified nutritional consultant with a degree in culinary technology, among other things. She’s also an amazing cook who makes great healthy food. I’m not so bad either, or so she says. We’ve been at this for almost 30 years.

  • Brad

    All too true. Shortest diet book ever
    1. We are lazy, pleasure-seeking creatures
    2. You can’t punish your way to longterm success
    3. You can’t deny your way to lasting health
    4. You eat too much – eat less
    5. You eat too much of the wrong foods – get educated and choose differently
    6. You move too little – move more
    7. You move the wrong way – learn what works for you and do it regularly
    8. Make incremental changes that you can live with forever