Recipe to losing weight | Anna Verhulst | TEDxMaastricht


Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Denise RQ Did you know that the average
caveman in the Stone Age spent five times as much energy
on physical activity as the average American adult today? And I mean our average caveman
in the Stone Age had to walk for up to 16 kilometers a day, had to chase his prey for days on end, so then when he finally made his kill, he could rightfully stuff
his face with meat and eat as much as he wanted. However, nowadays,
overeating is a global problem and the cause of many
severe health threats. 44% of the diabetes burden,
23% of the ischemic heart disease burden, and up to 41% of certain
cancer burdens are linked to obesity. So, these numbers are the things
you learn from text books, the facts everyone
can look up on the Internet, but once I started working
in the hospital as a junior intern, and met people
who were struggling with obesity, I realized that it’s often not
these physical consequences that seem to matter most to those
who are overweight themselves. Let’s take a look at the picture
of this girl as an example. The quote that came to my mind
when I saw this picture was: “To lose confidence in one’s body,
is to lose confidence in oneself.” Because the girl you see
is only 15 years old, but already weighs over 100 kilograms, and tonight she’s going
to her high school’s prom, and you can see she’s all dressed up,
posing for a picture, probably taken by one of her parents. And yet, in spite of the brave smile
she’s putting up, you can also instantly
sense her insecurity. You can see she’s not really
looking forward to the night. Only 15 years old
with a whole life ahead of her, and already she has
lost confidence in herself. This is only one example of people
who are severely unhappy in their body, but still can’t manage to lose weight. And it made me wonder why because there are stacks of books
on how to lose weight, web pages full of tips and tricks, and plenty of experts to guide
you through the process. So, if it’s not for a lack of tools
then why is it so many of us can’t manage to lose weight
or keep the weight off? And I ask myself all these questions, and then, as we are taught
within the problem-based learning system here at Maastricht University, I realized that the best way to find
the answer was to go look for it myself. And so I stumbled upon some research
on the science of complexity by two professors
at York University in Canada. And I found their theory
surprisingly applicable to the process of losing weight. You see, they proposed there are
three types of problems in the world: the simple, the complicated,
and the complex. So, simple problems are
the ones like following a recipe. You need some basic techniques
and perhaps a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, following the recipe has
a very high chance of success. Complicated problems cover problems
like sending a rocket to the Moon, which does sound pretty complicated to me. However, complicated problems
can often be broken down into a string of simple problems. So when coordinated well, these complicated problems
still carry a high rate of success. Finally, complex problems
are the ones like raising a child. There is no recipe for success. And while raising one child
may certainly provide experience, it doesn’t guarantee success
with the next child because every child is unique and may require
an entirely different approach. So, our cavemen in the Stone Age didn’t have any notice of complexity,
his life was simple, and basic, and as simple pretty much as it could be. But, nowadays, in our modern time, the process of losing weight definitely
seems to be a complex problem, there is no recipe for success. And certainly there may be
some basic ingredients, eating differently,
changing your exercise pattern, but there are no standard tools to use, and no definitive order
of steps to follow. The remarkable thing is that many things
in our environment suggest that losing weight is, in fact,
simply a matter of following a recipe. Drink these shakes, eat
these protein bars, skip all carbs, drink gallons of water, avoid all sugars,
and you will lose weight, and you will be happy forever, and you will never feel insecure
in your life anymore, ever, right? No. I’d like to take you back to the picture
of the girl we saw at the beginning because the next picture is
the same girl one year later. And seven years later,
she’s standing here right in front of you sharing a story that appears to be now
about as personal as it gets. And five months ago I told my story for the very first time
at the TEDxMaastricht pitch night. I showed the audience
the same two pictures leaving the second one
to right before the end. When I told them that it was
the same girl as in the first picture, an audible sigh of genuine surprise
went through the public because they realized, as you do
by now, that that girl was me. And what struck me most
after the pitch night were not the kind words from my friends, and not the compliments
from strangers in the audience. No, it was that audible sigh
of genuine surprise that I had heard
when showing the second picture that quite confused me. You see, I had never expected
that anyone seeing that first picture wouldn’t immediately recognize
the girl to be me because whenever
I picture myself in my head, I still look that way. Seven years after physically
losing 40 kilos, I still struggle to recognize
the way my body looks now. And it confused me
because I’d always thought that losing weight was as simple as,
well, losing the weight. So, only a moment ago, I told you about
how losing weight is a complex problem, that there are no standard tools to use and no definitive order
of steps to follow. But most importantly,
that it’s a personal problem requiring a personal solution, it’s a matter of compiling your own
personal recipe to losing weight. So, have I found all the ingredients
to my recipe of losing weight and keeping the weight off
and being happy with my new body? I think that in past few years
I have found out about quite a few things that work for me, but it’s the final seasoning of the dish
that’s still a bit of a struggle. You see, it’s scary as hell to admit
that sometimes I’m still feeling fat, and that when I look in the mirror
I struggle to recognize the same image other people
see when looking at me, and that sharing my story with you today, means overcoming one of my biggest fears. Because what I’m scared of most is not that I stumble on words
or forget my lines; what I’m scared of most
is that when I leave this stage, you will look at your neighbor,
raise an eyebrow, and say: “I don’t get why she’s on stage;
she’s still fat.” But I also know that that fear is
irrational, as are many fears, and I no longer want to be scared
because a great man once said that: “Courage is not the absence of fear
but the triumph over it,” and that: “the brave man is not he
who is not afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” And maybe, the triumph
over one of my biggest fears is that final seasoning my dish needs, my final step to completing
my recipe to losing weight. So, as long as I’m still scared,
I will continue to conquer my fear, and I will continue to tell my story until I no longer need
to summon up any courage to tell people that I used
to be fat, but no longer am. And I hope some of you may
find comfort in this story, knowing that losing weight
and being happy with your new body is not always as easy as
our society makes you think. And I hope you will find
your own ingredients and compile your own recipe. And do remember, that, in the end,
it’s only one person that has to be satisfied
with the taste of the final dish. And that person is you. Thank you. (Applause)


100 Responses

  1. Tim Terrell

    May 24, 2018 2:11 pm

    Title should be, “Overcoming Body Image.” Nothing was stated about how she lost so much weight in a year. Perhaps she put the fries down and picked up an apple. All we can do is guess. Came here to listen about the recipe for weight loss not about body image.

  2. Mohammad Madankar

    May 26, 2018 4:44 am

    Every move or decision we make is about three thing: motivation, motivation and motivation, if you are motivated enough nothing can stop you.

  3. K Mal

    June 4, 2018 11:57 am

    "Recipe to losing weight" is the title, NOT "How to feel good about yourself after you lose the weight.

  4. keepdancingmaria

    June 9, 2018 8:58 pm

    Some of the people commenting here would be happier not watching TED Talks… ever…

  5. Marie Simmons

    June 12, 2018 5:38 am

    Eat when you hungry, eat exactly what you feel like eating, stop the instant you feel full, wait to feel actual hunger again, and repeatYou won't have a weight problem or a food problem. It sounds simple I know. Because it is.

  6. William Bunting

    June 12, 2018 9:58 am

    The intro made me so uncomfortable that went to the basement, I dusted off the seat of the exercycle, swept the cob webs off the peddles and wheezed away 40 calories watching to the end. The pulse shot up but the heart survived, and I’m feel pretty good. Now the hard part,….keeping up the effort.

  7. Kevin Baker

    June 22, 2018 1:14 pm

    I now have the recipe for weight loss! All other sources were vague but not this one . . .

  8. Theron Sturgess

    June 24, 2018 2:21 am

    It's a good talk but a frustrating video because of the title.
    A better title might be, how to make peace with your body image. The current title makes it seem like we would get information on how to lose weight.

  9. Mark Thornton

    June 28, 2018 2:56 pm

    I lost 60 pounds a 15 years back and still have to work on the intake of food, I quit drinking 40 years ago, had a problem with that as well, kinda like eating. Quit tobacco 18 months ago after 45 years of use and still crave it, kinda like food, point is in all of these things it takes willpower to accomplish anything in life that is worth doing, just keep trying in the end you will work it out. The woman in the speech should be proud of what she has done, overcoming fear is real and takes that willpower thing I was speaking of, keep going girl!!

  10. chhipzahoy

    July 15, 2018 4:35 am

    I was hoping she'd elaborate on the personal journey to discovering how what worked for her, worked. Rather, this talk was more of a personal milestone toward alleviating her insecurity, with the audience as her tool. It was a disappointing TED talk because of this.

    And that's coming from someone who has lost over 100lbs.

  11. Marie-Josée Bouliane

    July 24, 2018 2:54 pm

    Bravo ! I would just like to add that you don't have a new body ; it is still the same but it as simply changed, transformed its appearance and let go of unnecessary weight to carry and to hide behind…

  12. Sam Sam

    August 16, 2018 6:09 pm

    This is what happens when an inexperienced over ambitious young person gives a TED talk! What a waste of time no real contents, just a platform for her to tell her own personal story ! 😂😂😂

  13. Murtaza Malak

    September 17, 2018 9:11 pm

    The answer to weight loss is , was and always will be…no drum rolls please : FASTING and EXERCISE.
    This is what we need to do ,this is what our ancestors had to do ( they didnt have a choice you see ) , Hunt for food hence exercise and wait for the next hunt hence fasting.
    Search the yooutube for the word intermittent fasting and its benefits you will see how it has changed thousands of lives and we need not search for exercise to know that it works .
    The moment when these two ingredients meet the recipe is complete.
    Thanks for reading guys….

  14. Roger Escalante

    September 22, 2018 3:56 am

    I think she made great progress. I feel for her, but honestly, there was nothing informative about this video. I was hoping for some facts.

  15. Ricardo Antunes

    September 26, 2018 2:29 am

    I loved this TedX. Really good, i feel exactly the same as the speaker, but someday that will change, i hope so. XD

  16. xoanwahn

    October 13, 2018 8:19 am

    What she's saying is true and important, BUT the title of the video is completely (and perhaps purposely) misleading. There is wisdom here but absolutely no information. There is no recipe.


    October 29, 2018 5:31 pm

    "We" were never "cavemen". Darwinism is false. Selection from existing genes does happen, but what she is referencing is a fairytale.

  18. Schpankme Verimuch

    November 1, 2018 1:18 pm

    Come on everybody, lets all do the Standard American Diet (SAD) Cheer, and test those years of Programming.
    Give me an [F]
    Give me an [A]
    Give me an [T]
    What does that Spell? [CARBS]

  19. flower love

    November 16, 2018 5:25 pm

    This is the second time I watched your video. I think you can lose your fear and enjoy happiness. You brought tears to my eyes. Always be on the lookout for things that will keep you motivated. As time passes your healthy look will sink into your brain, and the previous image of yourself will begin to disappear. You're smart, brave, beautiful inside and out, really. Your accent is delightful. I'm so glad I watched you speak, I know it will help me. PS: ignore negative comments:)

  20. Patience Noelia

    November 22, 2018 5:27 am

    If only someone has told me about “fetching tuti space” (Google it) a lot earlier! I would have achieved my weight loss goal a few years ago. After trying out this product, I got awesome outcomes. I lost 5lbs in A couple of weeks! For optimum outcomes, use this merchandise along with a great eating routine..

  21. Von Musklaus

    November 25, 2018 4:40 pm

    I think most everyone in the audience is as bored as I am….I want my money back. what a waste, don't watch it, your wasting your time

  22. Samdol Lhamo

    December 18, 2018 5:05 pm

    At the moment Im really trying to lose weight, I've struggled with it for the last 4 years and it hasn't worked at all, Ive been constantly gaining weight and all around me my friends and family members are losing weight and succeeding at it. I pretend to be confident and all but people don't know how one tiny comment on my weight pulls me down just like that! But I feel that I've started accepting myself and the method that worked with me isnt going on weird diets or exercising like crazy, just eat as much as you need and be an active person genuinely..go on walks,choose steps over the elevator..simple things like that. Im not promising fast results or anything but I can guarantee this if we leave the work to our body , our body will sort out things, we just have to give it the right conditions.
    Oh and Im starting a YouTube channel next year so please check the it out if you want to hear more from me or you can contact me directly on Instagram, my username is samdollhamo
    ☁️Love ya'll and I want you to know you're not alone..just like im not, it may seem like we are but we aren't

  23. Luis Navarro

    January 5, 2019 6:18 pm

    I’m glad the lady lost weight and found confidence in her new appearance but I think most people will be annoyed that there really isn’t any advice about losing weight, it’s just a story about overcoming her fear of speaking about this as far as I can tell.

  24. T Bone

    January 6, 2019 2:12 pm

    The 15 year old girl probably went on to committed suicide after the humiliation experienced when her 100KG weight got pointed out to 1.5M viewers via Tedx Talks.

  25. David Crandall

    January 14, 2019 6:49 pm

    Stop eating the Standard American Diet. Eat only the right stuff. Oh and intermittent fasting too. Eat in the window.

  26. Karan Singh

    February 15, 2019 8:11 pm

    Summary: "People think losing weight is a simple problem (one of following a recipe and gaining success) but it is actually a complex problem (finding your own way, because not only is your body different, but so if your life)"

  27. Numba Juan

    March 13, 2019 5:30 pm

    She needs about 1000 more hours of practice. Hate listening to people that sound like they are reading a prompter with a kindergarten reading level.

  28. alejava

    March 17, 2019 6:29 am

    TEDx = a bunch of people with nothing to say and very desperate for an opportunity to express that

  29. anna clara

    March 21, 2019 11:32 pm

    the only thing that bothered me is that she forgot the speech about how we should not be ashamed of our bodies at all. u shouldn't be thinking you are not enough because you are not thin (which is hard in our society). people don't need to lose weight to be in a ted talk, they need to be inspiring about self love and how to inovate your mind and the world aroud u. i missed that

  30. sandra sangam torne

    May 17, 2019 12:24 pm

    It’s true so much tips available for becoming thin ,it’s ridiculous you allow speeches . Then you say they are famous if all want to become famous then their is lot of competition .individual metabolism is different , each single human being is different . Actually it’s creating lot of divide and rule of India , it’s also creating fear , sorry to say you people are wrong , I left teaching because only select few are given opportunity . I could have been a clever teacher . People understand simple things. Not examples .

  31. Eley Rome

    June 9, 2019 12:20 am

    I’m thinking a bit deeper into just finding the best recipe for you as a person. I think we all need that one thing that motivates us. It’s like an upcoming event like your wedding, or summer vacation with a bunch of friends, and basically anything involving you surrounded by a bunch of people, especially the few you haven’t seen in forever. All this might push us to want to look good. There are other things that might push us to workout and live healthier but point is, everyone has different things that motivate them, but I’m sure we’re all motivated by something. In this case, she is pushed to continue her weight loss mission because she cannot let her audience down. And it’s one of the latest weight loss and fitness trends too. For example, beach body promotes their shakes and fitness lifestyle but the coach is usually an everyday person, sometimes overweight herself. But the concept is, “let’s do this together.” So basically, the coach now feels committed to losing that weight. It’s fun and while you help yourself, you’re also helping an entire community of people counting on you. 👍🥰

  32. Huseyin Dama

    June 18, 2019 6:50 pm

    The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One third for his food, one third for his liquids, and one third for his breath

  33. peter ryder

    June 22, 2019 8:35 pm

    The real problem with losing weight AND keeping it off, just like giving up any long standing way of being, is the shock that sets in when you realise just how deeply you see it as part of you. I found it bizarre and deeply unsettling as I didn't see that coming. It's almost like a grieving process…. that letting go of the old image of yourself.

  34. Jeremy Beardsley

    July 3, 2019 5:47 am

    What a waste of time!!! No point. Just some lady trying to get attention for losing weight. Don’t make the same mistake we did lol

  35. James Scott

    July 16, 2019 7:17 pm

    Though there does not seem to be enough 'Science' that some are asking for I am glad she was able to share her experiences and insights. There is plenty here for those looking form more than just a catchy headline.

  36. Don Berry

    July 19, 2019 2:24 am

    Two times I went low Cab lost 40 in 9 months a fell off then 15 years later I went low carb again 50 lbs gone but most importantly backed away from dietbeaties. Now at 73 it's a low carb way of life for me in about 20 more lbs gone i will add on a few carbs and level off.

  37. Ian C Tubman

    September 19, 2019 6:14 pm

    Salt , sugar and oil are like drugs. When your not thinking, those drugs makes you eat more than you want, and eat foods that you don't like. That is one complexity.

    Next complexity, your body has a big brain. It follows your thoughts. If you decided 3 meals a day is correct, it makes you hungry 3 times per day. Your rules also control your hormones.

    Closing food for thought: looking! at sweets causes an insulin release.

  38. greylady 2

    September 30, 2019 1:14 pm

    Do some more research honey. Your answer is surprisingly simple minded. The reasons for being heavy are much more complicated then overeating.


Leave a Reply