How to lose weight? Part I- Why do you gain weight?

Key takeaways:

  • Human body is an input-output system;
  • When the system is balanced, you won’t gain weight;
  • Various reasons why the system is out of balance;
  • Key to lose weight is to identify the root cause of imbalance first before taking actions.

In almost all my career coaching projects, it’s unavoidable to discuss health issues with clients. After all, one needs good health to thrive at the workplace. Among all health issues, weight control is perhaps the most common issue I’ve discussed with clients. There is so much information available on the Internet about weight loss but make sure you consult your doctor first before taking actions, if you reckon you have a weight control issue. Before I start this post, just want to make the following points crystal clear:

  1. I wrote this post (and my blog) for my own interests and no sponsorship has been accepted. I’m neutral.
  2. This series of posts about weight loss is my understanding of this issue after extensive reading on Western and Eastern medicine.
  3. This series of posts is not meant to replace professional medical services. Please DO consult your doctor if you consider taking actions to control your weight.

OK, here we go. ^_<

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel on Unsplash)

When someone is considering to lose weight, the first action should be to identify why he/she gains weight. Human body is an ‘input-output system’. We eat foods, digest foods and turn that into ‘fuel’ to power our body. In order to maintain our constant body temperature, our body needs to be fuelled periodically. When the ‘input’ is converted into fuel in a human body, the fuel either gets used immediately, or gets stored (because it is not used immediately). The amount of fuel we burn depends on what a person does. Obviously, a person will burn more fuel by running a marathon than another person sitting for the same amount of time in front of a computer. Unused fuel is then stored in a human body in the form of fat. Those ‘waste stuff’ after digestion are then disposed when someone goes to a toilet. This cycle repeats every day.

When the system is balanced, one will not gain weight and will not lose weight. Natural weight variation across days is normal. After all, we sometimes eat a bit more and exercise a bit less, or eat normally, but have a bit more physical activities. A person only has a weight control issue when the person is ‘over-weight’. A simple BMI calculator on the Internet can tell you how well you are doing on this front (although BMI is not the best indicator).

My favourite afternoon tea when connecting flights at Hong Kong Airport: two fresh egg tarts with a cup of tea (with milk and no sugar). If you know how to balance your diet, exercise and food intake, then you can eat whatever you want without worrying about weight! Nice, isn’t it? ^_^

There are various reasons why a human body is out of balance. The most common causes are: over-eating, not enough exercises and poor life style. Clearly, over-eating will cause a person to gain weight simply because he/she takes to much fuel than needed. Together with inadequate exercise, much fuel is not burned and hence stored; this causes weight gain. Life style factor is less obvious, though.

Stress from work can cause digestion issues and some people may deal with stress by eating (causing over-eating or binge eating). Another common issue from life style is sleep; more precisely, lack of sleep. People who have inadequate amount of sleep tend to gain weight. Without enough sleep, human body tends to crave for foods; in particular carbohydrate type of foods. Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate, so a person who is lack of sleep tends to have strong craving for sugar (soft drinks!). Often, we also see people gain weight if they do more ‘night shifts’ and these late ‘shifts’ can be something that is not work-related, such as watching TV or playing video games.

The key to win the weight-loss battle is to identify the cause first. Commonly, weight gain is due to a combination of various factors such as too much intake of carbohydrate foods (bread, potatoes or sugar), too little vegetables and fruits, not enough physical activities, and not enough sleep (or poor sleep quality).

Eat smart, then you don’t need to worry about weight. (Photo taken from the Shore School, Sydney)

The amount of energy you need for each day depends on what you do. You can easily calculate the calories for your typical day and then compare with the amount of foods you eat (including drinks). Then you can easily identify whether you eat too much or you don’t have enough physical activities. If you reckon your intake is normal and you also have enough physical exercise, then try to improve your lifestyle by going to bed early.

Some of my coaching clients lose weight by simply going to bed one hour earlier or having a 15-mins meditation session before going to bed. By improving the quantity and quality of your sleep, you can improve the metabolism of your body. With boosted metabolism, the way your body burns fuel becomes more efficient; a bit like an efficient car engine: you can drive the same car by burning less fuel! This is the secret of losing weight without doing serious exercises!

In a follow-up post, I will discuss how foods can affect your weight and what to eat without boring yourself too death in a weight-loss diet plan! Losing weight by dieting is painful but doesn’t need to be that awfully painful, if you know how to do it properly. ^_<

Dr. C. Richard Wu @

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3 thoughts on “How to lose weight? Part I- Why do you gain weight?

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  1. Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Many thanks!|

    1. Hi, it depends on what you want really. Many blogs or sites simple tell stories in order to sell you weight-loss products. If you need genuine guide, then you’d better see your doctor and a dietician for help. Doctors make sure you are OK and dieticians can help you review your diet. Read my Part II and III of the series for more information.

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