There’s a machine called a stepmill in my gym, and millions of gyms around the country.

It’s a piece of cardio equipment that continuously cycles through steps that you have to climb.  I was on this machine for 40 minutes, during which time I had an interesting revelation.  First of all, let me explain that I hate that machine, but I do it anyway because I like the results I get from it.  As I endured step after grueling step, I started thinking about how the machine is actually kind of a metaphor for the way most people (maybe even you) try to lose weight.

The perpetual steps keep coming – bringing with them a downward propulsion that never stops.

With my best effort, all I can do is keep up with the steps.  If I lose concentration or fail to keep pace, the machine starts bringing me down.  At the point when I notice that I’m starting to get close to the bottom (and therefore fall off), I have to put out an extra effort just to get back to my original spot.   And it keeps going and going until the end of the workout.

Now for my analogy to work, we have to make some conventions, so bear with me.

First, we have to picture the step mill as giant downward escalator.  Next, we have to imagine that this escalator is controlled by a computer designed to never let us get to the top.  Every time we get past a certain point, the escalator speeds up (unfortunately, it never slows back down once the speed increases).  Finally, the escalator (unlike our wonderful stepmill) never stops.  It keeps going … and going … and going … as long as you live.

Every time you have a holiday or a family event, it’s like moving down the escalator.  You step on the scale and get punished.  Or one day, after not having stepped on the scale for a couple of months, you realize you’ve gained five more pounds.  You’ve just moved down the escalator again.  Now, just like I had to do on my stepmill, you have to work extra hard just to get back to your baseline.  By the time you get back to your starting point, you’re too exhausted to push beyond and get higher.

Let’s look at what happens when you do lose weight.

Let’s not forget about the evil computer that speeds up the escalator when you get too high.  When you lose weight (at least the way most people do it) your metabolism slows down quite a bit.  The more weight you lose, the harder it is to maintain your new weight, let alone losing more weight.

So what can we do?  Is there a way to make the escalator behave the way we want it to?  I have some great news for you.  There is absolutely a way to lose weight bearing in mind the escalator.  I can’t promise you that I can reverse the escalator, or even stop it.  But if you follow the steps outlined below, you can bypass the evil computer and slow down the escalator, or at the very least, keep it from speeding up!

Now that you’ve indulged me by listening to my analogy about giant escalators and evil computers, allow me to introduce a few steps to losing weight the right way. 

This is in no way a complete weight loss strategy, but you should be able to reap some benefit from these tips.

Eat frequently.

Try to eat a lean protein, a grainy carbohydrate, and a vegetable every 3-4 hours.  This serves two purposes.  First, it keeps your metabolism stoked more often.  When I was a kid and my mom would make a big pot of spaghetti sauce, she would make us stir the pot every time we walked through the kitchen in order to keep it from burning and sticking to the pot.  In the same way, we have to keep stirring our “metabolic pot” by eating frequently.  Secondly, eating frequently helps to stabilize the hormones that stabilize your blood sugar, namely insulin and glucagon.  If these hormones are too unstable, your body will hold onto fat like crazy.

Do some kind of progressive resistance training.

You need a vehicle to challenge lean muscle tissue.  If not stimulated, these fat-burning machines will be subject to the “use it or lose it” theory.  It doesn’t matter if you use machines, dumbbells, resistance bands, or cinder blocks.  You just need to provide an outlet for strengthening and sculpting muscle.

Do your cardio.

While I don’t believe that it’s the panacea that everybody seems to think it is, I do believe with my whole heart that aerobic exercise is a major player in the game of weight loss.
Get lots of rest.  Lack of sleep could be making it very difficult for you to lose weight.  Once again, the hormones come into play.  Leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that tend to suppress appetite, tend to be lower in people who lose sleep.

Try to keep stress down.

I know that’s easier said than done, but it can help control cortosol, a hormone that can lead to increased fat storage.  Maybe you can try to time your weight loss efforts with periods in your life when you are less stressed, since stress levels tend to be cyclical.

Weight loss shouldn’t be as hard as we make it out to be.  By making these changes in your routine, you may have an easier time fighting the battle of the bulge.