Move More, Eat Less

I’ve forgotten all of Ruben Meerman’s awesome TED talk, which I watched many years ago, except four words: “Move more, eat less.” It really is all there is to know about weight loss, isn’t it?

Naturally, that’s why many people — especially those hoping to sell you a more complex solution — love to dunk on it. While trying to dig up Meerman’s TED talk again, I watched several other videos baiting viewers with titles like “Move more, eat less is BS!” or “Move more, eat less is terrible advice!” The first thing the gurus concede 15 seconds in? “It’s technically true, but…”

Thankfully, the truth about physics doesn’t come in degrees, but I can understand the common criticism: “It’s not specific enough. Move more how? Eat less of what?” Then, it’s right back to talking about your metabolic rate and cutting out soda, and once again, we’re in the usual advice trap: What any one weight-loss coach will suggest may or may not work for you, so in the end, you’ll have to run your own experiments either way. Maybe, “Move more, eat less” is all we need after all?

A few weeks ago, the scale hit 65 kg for the first time when I stepped on. The one line that instantly shot to the top of my mind from distant memory? “Move more, eat less.” That’s why pithy, timeless wisdom is hard to beat: Even if you’ll still have to figure out all the specifics, at least you can count on it to reappear when you need it. I most likely watched Meerman’s TED talk the year it came out. That was 2013. It’s been eleven years, but thanks to its format, and perhaps Meerman’s awesome presentation, the phrase is still there.

Contrary to most gurus hoping to sell a course or supplement, I have no problem with simple advice. In fact, isn’t figuring out the how half the fun? Only you are an expert in living your life, so who more qualified to determine when you should move more and where, and which exercises to perform? Who better to pick which foods you’ll abandon, which meal you’ll suffer least from when you skip it, and what you can substitute where in order to make it through the day with fewer calories?

As for me, I tried fasting all the way until dinner, but it doesn’t work for me on workdays. I end up lightheaded, with a stomach ache, and overcompensating at night. The solution? No breakfast, which was already my default, cutting back on pastries after lunch, and skipping seconds at dinner. Oh, and going to my co-working space more. That adds a good 5,000 steps to my day. Even just loosely following this regimen during the workweek, I’m down around two kilograms in two weeks.

Am I in perfect shape? No. Do I have a grand plan to become the leanest I’ve ever been? No. But I am happy to be back in my usual weight range, and all it took was four words: Move more, eat less.

Don’t skip simple when simple does the trick — and most of the time, it does. The specifics will always be for you to figure out. Often, that’s the part we’re really hoping to skip, and that’s why we end up procrastinating to begin with. To solve your problems, start — and if your problem is losing weight, well then move more, eat less.