Our guest post today is from Marty McGee Bennett, an animal behaviorist, trainer and author whose new book is called, “The Problem with Weight is NOT Losing It: Let Animals Teach You How to Balance Your Weight.” Read on for some fascinating tips on how working with animals relates to our own weight!
“The Problem with Weight is NOT Losing It:
Let Animals Teach You How to Balance Your Weight”
I have battled with my weight since age fifteen. I lost 30 to 40 pounds at least eight times, and 5 to 10 pounds too many times to remember. But even though I lost the weight, I kept gaining it back, each time feeling more frustrated and defeated.
In 2007 – at age 50 – I realized that the answer was right in front of me. I am a professional animal handler and trainer, specializing in llamas and alpacas. I teach people how to work successfully with animals – without force – by using small, almost imperceptible signals to keep animals in balance.
Even though I was helping animals stay in balance, I wasn’t paying attention to my own balance. In fact, I was doing JUST the opposite. In the quest to lose weight, I tried every diet I met, as well as extreme exercise regimes. In essence, I was purposely yanking my body OUT OF BALANCE. Rigorous dieting is the animal handling equivalent of a corrective jerk on the dog collar. Our bodies may respond temporarily but we haven’t actually learned how to be in balance. The momentum created by self-denial causes us to CAREEN back the other way and overeat.
Inspired by how I work with animals, I began making small changes in what I ate, and in my activity level. I also used a simple math equation, which I call the Balance Differential.
The Balance Differential
The Balance Differential equation takes into account your age, height, weight and activity level. After calculating it for your current weight, you make the same calculation again using the weight you’d like to be. The difference between the two is your Balance Differential number.
When I did this for myself, I was shocked to discover that my Balance Differential number was just 103 calories. So, how did I end up 20-30 pounds overweight, over and over again? I was slipping ever so slightly out of balance. One extra cookie, three extra crackers or two extra spoonfuls of dinner a day had been my undoing. That extra 100 calories a day meant at the end of just one year, I would be between 8 and 11 pounds heavier!
The Balance Differential is key BECAUSE most people only know how to lose weight. What is harder to understand is how to keep it off once you lose it. My book starts where other books stop – which is showing how to keep weight off once you’ve lost it. The fact is that if you understand how balancing your body actually works, keeping the weight off can be easy – without having to live permanently in diet mode. Before my realization, I never kept the weight off long enough to figure out how to rebalance my life at my new lower weight – so I inevitably gained the weight back. I weighed 165 pounds on December 29th 2007. Using my Balance Differential number and other tips I learned, I have reduced my average daily calorie intake by only 100 calories — and now I weigh 30 pounds less! With only 100 calories on average per day to cut out, I can eat, drink and be NORMAL once I lost the weight — IF I pay attention to balance.
Rebalancing as You Grow Older
Even if you’ve never had a weight problem, it’s important to rebalance as you age. On average, we need nine calories less per day for every year we age. Eat and exercise the same way for the 10 years between ages 30 and 40, and you will weigh an additional 10 pounds when you blow out the candles on
your 40th birthday cake.
Learning to be in balance is a skill; getting good at it takes practice and intention – the same skills that we need for working with animals. Once you understand the dynamics of weight loss/maintenance, you can get yourself back on track quickly – and still give yourself some treats for good behavior!
“The Problem with Weight is NOT Losing It” (Raccoon Press) is available now through www.theproblemwithweightisnotlosingit.com.
Visit me on Facebook at The Problem with Weight is Not Losing It.
More About Marty McGee Bennett
For over 25 years, Marty McGee Bennett has been teaching people about animals and animal handling, with a specialty in training and handling llamas and alpacas. She has appeared on the Oxygen Network (“What’s My Line”) and the Today Show. A resident of Bend, Oregon, McGee Bennett lives on a 10-acre farm with her husband, Brad, two dogs, two cats, five llamas, 11 alpacas, and super composting red wigglers, number unknown. She has a degree in animal behavior from the University of Georgia. Her animal training experience includes working with dogs, cats, horses, llamas, alpacas and camels. She is one of 12 instructors worldwide of Linda Tellington-Jones’ T-Touch method.