The failure of fast fat loss

A new diet pill was approved for sale by the FDA this week. Most people who are looking for a quick solution to this never ending problem are undoubtedly celebrating, believing that their prayers have finally been answered. So, will they get what they’re looking for?

The (de) evolution of Man
The (de) evolution of Man

Most quick fix weight loss plans, medically supported or otherwise, often end in failure. In fact, the person frequently ends up in an even worse situation and gains more weight. The reason is because the bad things that caused you to pack on the pounds in the first place are still there. Those reasons don’t disappear when you take that little pill.

Here’s how it works. You take a pill or drink a shake that tastes like wallpaper paste and wait for the fat to fall off. Sure, they work. You lose weight immediately in fact. Unfortunately, most of  that weight loss comes from your wallet.

The real reason you became larger can’t be reversed with a pill.  You got bigger by eating too much of the wrong stuff, not moving enough or moving the wrong way, sleeping too little, and just not paying attention. All those reasons are still there. The pill or shake or goofy cabbage soup diet…none of those teach you how to eat properly, how much you need to eat, how to exercise properly to reach your goals, all the things that will help you get to your goals and stay there for years to come.

Most people also have unrealistic expectations of weight loss drugs. Despite the manufacturers published research findings which indicate an average weight loss of 5.8% over one year, they expect to be the exception to the rule and get a better result. That means a 220 pound person will still weigh 207 pounds a year later.

That’s an epic failure if you ask me.

13 pounds. That’s just over 1 pound per month. You could do the same thing by just burning an extra 16 calories per day.

Do this right now.

1. Stand up from your computer.
2. Walk around your house for three minutes.
3. Come back to the computer

Go ahead and do it now. I’ll wait right here.

OK, congratulations, you just burned more than 16 calories. Save your money on the pills and potions. Spend that money on a fitness center membership and professional help from a trainer (shameless plug) who can help you identify your goals, help guide you through a meaningful exercise program, and provide advice on how to make better nutrition choices.

We’ve become so determined to find the easy way to get something done that we forget it’s all about the basics.  We’ve devolved.   Get up and away from the computer.  Put down the cell phone.  Shut off the TV.  Go outside and experience life.  Go for a walk.  Just don’t walk to the drug store to buy that new pill.

5 reasons that explain why you do it more often

The other day I overheard someone talking about frequency of workouts and it got me thinking.   Do people who come to the gym more frequently get better results?  It’s not that intensity, exercise programming, duration, or any of that stuff isn’t important, but this question just relates to frequency.

While I don’t have any formal evidence to back up the theory and I haven’t found a study that correlates the two, I think there’s truth to the idea.

Although this may seem obvious to many, I’m not sure I had given frequency alone much thought. I started thinking about my clients, their frequency visiting the fitness center either working with me or on their own, and their adherence to better nutrition and their results and I believe there’s a correlation.

What's your mindset?
What's your mindset?

While there are a fair number of people that believe they can crank away for an hour on the elliptical machine and that somehow will cancel out the fast food burger or hot fudge sundae they’ll eat on the way home. I believe that there are as many or more people who stick to their guns and eat better because they don’t want to cancel out the benefits of their workout.

Without hard evidence to back it up, I’d guess at the following possible reasons:

1. The obvious reason would suggest that those who are at the gym more often are just naturally more interested in their health. They’ve built exercise into their lifestyle and better eating goes hand in hand.

2. They have a clear and attainable goal in mind and a solid plan to reach that goal. This is one that a lot of people miss. People often have fuzzy goals, unrealistic goals that set them up for failure, or no plan to really reach their goal and they go about their exercise haphazardly.

3. They follow better programming, incorporating high and low intensity cardio work, strength training with free weights, relying less on machines, using bodyweight exercises, experimenting with different equipment, taking appropriate recovery days, and working on mobility. Frequency has required them to try new things and be more creative to stay interested in exercise.

4. Frequency at the fitntess center has raised their awareness of their movement throughout the day. They’re more conscious about staying active rather than sitting in a chair all day.  In addition  to their time at the fitness center, they’ve started thinking about how they can do something standing that might normally be done sitting.

5. They think more about their nutrition and take steps to eat better rather than undo their progress. Frequency of exercise has spilled over to the kitchen and they’ve started fueling their bodies better with quality proteins, veggies, and healthy fats.

So, if you’re focused on weight loss as a primary goal, go to the fitness center more frequently. Sure, you could do 3 sixty minute workouts per week. But, you just might get better overall results with 6 thirty minute workouts.

Try it out and let me know what happens.

Are you reaching your goals? Here are 4 ways to do it.

I was talking with someone recently about tracking activity and calories.  After explaining what would need to happen to get the desired results, this was the response:

“I’m not going to do that. I’m fine and that’s just not going to happen”.

OK.  That’s your choice, but you’re going to have to accept the reality that it will take longer to reach your goals.  My old boss used to say, “you get what you measure”.  If you don’t have a way to measure your progress, you’ll never know when or how long it will take to get where you’re going.  You’re just guessing.

On the summit of Long's Peak
I had this picture in my mind every day while training for the climb

Information gives you a realistic picture of how much weight you can expect to lose and how long it will take to accomplish the goal.  Here are four ways you can stay on track toward your goals.

1. Be clear. Before you begin tracking the progress toward your goal, you’ve got to have a good goal.  Your goal must be crystal clear. You should be able to create a picture of what your goal looks like. A goal like “lose weight” is junk. It’s meaningless.  Think differently. How will your life be different when you’ve lost 10, 20, or whatever number of pounds you want to lose? What will you do with your life that you aren’t able to do today? If you really want it, find a picture of your goal and post it on your bathroom mirror. Each day when you brush your teeth you’ll see your goal.

2. Know how much you need to eat and keep track of what you eat. Everything, no exceptions. Yes, it’s boring and a pain in the butt. But you’ll have a much better idea of what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat.  These are important things to know. Without this info, everything else is just a guess. You’ll probably be surprised at the number of calories you’re taking in, as long as you’re being truthful with yourself. You’ll also find that you eat certain foods in certain situations. If you’re a data geek like me, you can use a device like a BodyMedia FIT to take control and achieve your weight loss goals by knowing how much you burn.  If you’re a member of LifeStyles Fitness Center, you have access to a great tool called DotFIT that can help you with this part of the process.

3. Get a heart rate monitor. This little device will tell you if you’re really working or if you’re just kidding yourself.  I use mine religiously.  There are times when I might think I’m working hard and I’ll check my monitor, only to realize that I’ve got a long ways to go.  Here’s an article I wrote about how to select a heart rate monitor.

4. Have someone you’re accountable to.  That’s where a good trainer can help you.  We’ll ask questions, observe, develop plans, and push you to try things you might not do on your own.  Ultimately, our goal is to help you reach your goal.

Put these four things in place and you’ll be on your way to reaching your own goals.

Throw away your scale and make your New Year’s Resolutions stick

Is the scale your friend or foe?

Throw away your scaleIf you’re on a weight loss journey, it’s probably your most feared enemy, next to chocolate cake. It’s probably the first thing you consult when you wake up, even before brushing your teeth.  It’s probably driving you crazy.

You’ve probably heard someone say that muscle is heavier than fat too. So, which is heaver, 5 lbs. of muscle or 5 lbs. of fat?  Which would you rather have.

I can hear your argument.

“John, muscle is more dense, so given the same volume, muscle will weigh more”.

You got me. You’re right. But if you’re trying to get smaller, don’t you want to occupy less space?  Swap 5 lbs. of fat for 5 lbs. of muscle and that muscle will take up less space.

That’s a good thing.  Not only will you be a smaller you, but you’ll be a healthier you, a more functional you, your body will burn more calories at work and at rest, and you’ll look better.  Clothes will fit better too.

Are you more concerned with the number on the scale or are you really trying to change how you look in the mirror and how you feel?

Isn’t that the true measure of health and fitness?

Throw out your scale.

Move more.

Eat better.

If you’d like more ideas to help eliminate those holiday pounds and get yourself back on the right track, I’ll be presenting ” Three Things You Must Do To Lose That Extra Weight ” at the Fountaindale Library on Tuesday, January 10, at 7pm.  I hope you’ll be able to join me.

Energy doesn’t come in a can

Do we really need this stuff?Am I the only one who isn’t walking around with a canned energy drink? Do we really need all this junk promising to get us through the day? What happens when your 5 hours of energy wears off? Another can? Another $2?

I’m not going to try to get into all the details of how each additive in these drinks and potions you find at the checkout line of every grocery store, convenience store, gas station, etc. affects your body in negative ways.  I’ll let the professional researchers tell you about the safety issues associated with consumption of commercially available energy drinks.    We’ve all heard the news stories of high school and college students mixing this stuff with alcohol and dying.  In this case, they didn’t even need the alcohol.  Here’s a study supporting the pattern of energy drink consumption explaining the enhanced risk of both caffeine and alcohol toxicity in youths.  If you’ve ever read the label on a can of this stuff, you’ll find that you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients.  Do you really want all those chemicals inside you?  Are you still waiting for the reasons we SHOULD be drinking this stuff?  Yea, me too.

How else can we get the energy we need to keep going?

You guessed it. 

Proper nutrition, with real food. 

Food is fuel and provides energy.  Many people lack energy because they’re eating crap.  Rolling through the drive-through for a greasy burger and fries doesn’t count as quality food.  Grabbing lunch from a vending machine will kill you over time.  I was in a drug store the other day and noticed that the bag of licorice has “A Fat Free Food” printed on the package.  Wow, really! That must mean it’s good for you right? Wrong.

A fire requires wood and oxygen to burn, right?  There’s the fuel.  Stop adding fuel and the fire dies out.  Add wet fuel or choke off the oxygen and the fire can’t get going.  Your body and your metabolism work the same way.  Add quality food and your metabolism burns hot. 

Get lean.

Notice that I didn’t say get thin.  There’s a difference.  Thin simply means weigh less.  Do supermodels look healthy? That’s thin. A diet might make you thin, but it won’t make you healthy and won’t give you energy.  Most diets result in less food, which means less fuel, which means less energy.  

I’m talking about adding more lean muscle to your frame.  You don’t have to have the freaky huge muscle that makes you look like 200 pounds of marbles in a 100 pound bag.  Think Olympic sprinter or gymnast lean and muscular instead.  Muscle is active and helps you move more efficiently.  A stronger body with less “baggage” will move better and require less energy to perform basic efforts. 

Stop spending $2 per can and you’ll have more than enough for a fitness membership at LifeStyles Fitness Center and still have almost $40 at the end of the month!

It’s really simple.  I don’t know how to make it more complicated, so here’s the answer to getting more energy, and not from a can:

  1. Eat smart
  2. Move more
  3. Develop a stronger and more efficient you

Need help?  Here’s a way to get a great start on Your Fitness Journey!