Japanese Home Cooking Showed Me That The Fastest Way to Lose Weight is To Slow Down

Slowly, gently, and with grace is how you’ll get there

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

Out of all the weight loss diets I’ve tried in my life, adopting a Japanese way of eating food worked for the purest of reasons, in that it was the slowest way for me to get there.

Let me explain.

It's been several years since I've been overweight, but the emotional memories from that time in my life are often just as vivid today. It is frustrating beyond words in the beginning of any health journey, when you are doing everything by the book, yet it seems like nothing is amounting to anything. I distinctly remember reading about how people should be losing a pound a week, and then I’m thinking about how I’ve only lost 0.2 pounds in 10 days. I would read articles on celebrities who had lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks, and new discussion threads on someone’s before/after using a trending diet program. I’d think to myself, what am I doing wrong? Am I not doing enough?

In my worst moments I thought about just pushing through and going hungry for a straight month. If I just did a month of crazy…

But that mindset was not only wrong, it would never work.

Rapid weight loss diets not only do nothing to change our natural lifestyle habits, but they also wreak havoc on our internal metabolism, making a difficult journey even harder. It causes yo-yo dieting, which is a huge problem for a lot of people.

Many of the contestants on the Biggest Loser, a popular American reality show where obese or overweight contestants compete for a cash prize, gained back all, if not more, of their starting weight. Season 8 contestant Sean Algaier went from 444 pounds to 289 at the end of the show, yet today his weight is up to 450 pounds again.

Reading about this for the first time scared me, but it suddenly convinced me that the 0.2 pounds I dropped in 10 days was actually a great thing. I’m glad I’m not losing weight quickly. I am going to do this as slowly, gently, and gracefully as possible.

And as it turns out, this was the fastest possible way for me to lose weight.

First, block the lose-weight-quick ads

To slow down, I first stopped reading weight loss articles and blocked ads for ‘how to burn off fat quick’ diets. I instead used my energy to focus on reading and adopting Japanese healthy home cooking advice, that for the most part had no relation to weight loss. If it taught me home cooking, ways to use new vegetables, and skills I would use for a lifetime, I read it. If it suggested adopting a habit I would only need for a few weeks, I blocked it.

Second, eat healthfully and it will naturally become weight loss

Healthy eating advice and weight loss advice is the same thing in a different shell. There’s nothing very different in the way I eat today, compared to how I ate several years ago. Eat a variety of vegetables every day, and everything else in moderation. Stick to a Japanese philosophy towards cooking and eating, and focus on finding joy in the process of it: Harahachi-bunme. Ichiju-sansai. Savory breakfasts. Vegetables as condiments. Eating with the seasons.

With time I found that eating healthfully had naturally become weight loss, and later it had become maintaining it. There was no weight loss diet, only that my body had rediscovered its natural balance, and I had become slimmer because of it.

Third, make it graceful

A Japanese philosophy towards eating well helped me succeed purely because it allowed me to slow down, take it easy, and find joy in it. I did everything slowly, from changing the way I ate, to taking the time to learn the skills to home cook and prepare new vegetables in ways I found delicious and charming. I took everything in with moderation, and gave myself no deadlined milestones to how I hoped to look a year from then.

All of this helped me realize that the fastest way to lose weight is the slowest one, for this is the only kind of change that will work. When we go slow, we protect our body when it changes, and we end up finding the long-term success we desire in managing our wellbeing.

So take it slow, take it easy, and be kind to yourself.

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: www.kakikata.space 🌱

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