“If you believe that weight loss requires self-deprivation, I’m going to teach you otherwise.” – Robert Atkins
“You know what the secret to weight loss is? Don’t eat much.” – Simon Cowell
I have another line for Alanis Morrissette’s “Ironic” song… It’s like I go to the gym to work out and exercise, but I take the elevator to get to the third floor where the squat racks are. It’s like going to the gym to train my muscles, burn a few calories and work real hard, but be too lazy to put back the weights I used…
Okay, I’m done venting, but I gotta tell ya… people can be weird. Or maybe not weird…. No! NO! That IS weird! How does anybody think that is okay? So here is my PDA/Bro Science announcement: If you take weights off a rack and use them, have the decency to put them back! It’s a gym with a gazillion members who use those weights, too. This ain’t your own personal total gym that you keep under the bed and never use. We use this stuff too! Put it back!
Okay… thanks for listening! I needed to get that off my chest, and apparently, it’s not good customer relations to shout at the 20, 30, 40, and 50 somethings like I used to when I had an 11, or 12, or 13-year-olds do something stupid. So, I, or one of my colleagues, put the weights back and we joke about it and laugh at the irony that the guy who can bench press 350 lbs. can’t put the 45’s back that he used for a super set.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, I would like to discuss what I’ve been thinking about lately. I don’t have all the answers, but hear me out on this one: there is this idea, and maybe it is a legitimate one, that you should not lose weight too quickly. You should aim for only losing a pound or two a week. Then, in personal trainer school, we learn about calories and counting calories and then we talk about how, if a client wants to lose weight, he or she should reduce the number of calories they are taking in each day by like 500. 500 over 7 days gives you 3500 calories, which is the amount of energy stored in a pound of fat, and… bingo! You are now consuming one less pound of calories a week and therefore will lose that off your midsection, and therefore will weigh one less pound next week. What’s that you say, sir? You want to lose 20 lbs.? No problem! We are going to do this then for… 20 weeks.
I suppose if we base all of this on first-grader math, it might, on the surface, kinda sorta make sense. And be a great way to avoid the yo-yo dieting and weight loss, and then weight gain, that so many people fall victim to. But did anybody ask the guy who yo-yoed in weight what he did so right, and then so wrong? It’s rhetorical; he stopped eating right and went back to his old ways thinking that since he had reached his goal, he was now allowed to go back to eating whatever he wanted, as much as he wanted, and all would be right with the world. (Yes, we, as humans, can be – and are – this stupid!)
Here are my issues with what they teach in Gym Teacher School: Firstly, this whole calorie counting and BMI, etc., is that in the real world… NOBODY KNOWS! 30,000 years ago, my ancestor had no idea how many calories was in that pound of mastodon meat. He didn’t know what a calorie was. He ate everything and anything that didn’t kill him. They would eat till they felt full/satisfied and then they chilled out until they got hungry again. They also weren’t very fat. But we are talking about my ancestor in Ice Age Europe, so by this time in the evolutionary timeline, my guy was likely carrying a slightly higher percentage of body fat on him than my friends in sub-Saharan Africa (Guinea).
Trying to estimate calorie intake (although possible, thanks to science and websites and stuff) is not the best way to go. Nor is taking that said guestimation and then trying to have your client reduce X by, oh, say 500 calories, so that you get his/her new daily calorie intake to be X-500. It’s shoddy math and overly simplistic, which then misses how truly complicated our metabolism is and how simply reducing the intake of the wrong food is not really going to solve your problem. Bad food is bad food no matter how much you have.
The next dilemma we need to sort out is the misunderstanding of what a fat person is. Just because he is fat does not mean he is a Hercules underneath it all who just needs to be sculpted like the Statue David. His excess body weight does not mean that every time he/she moves he/she is getting this great muscular workout. It’s just the opposite; their metabolism is both so badly broken and so nutrient-deficient that they are, in fact, malnourished. Under all that fat lies the body comparable to a survivor of a Japanese or German internment camp from World War Two. They are, in fact, starving. This is also why in the outset of starting an exercise program, it is so challenging. They have a lot of weight to move and no muscle to move it.
So, the question I pose is: would it not just make sense to stop eating the crap? Eat lots of veggies, maybe some meat, berries, and the whole array of nutritionally rich foods. Eat as much as you want of these foods. Stop being malnourished and allow your body to drop the fat as quickly as it needs/wants to. In a previous post, I talked about my fajita story in Puerto Rico where once I dropped the shell, I leaned up very quickly. My last post was about Mr. Clark losing 20-plus pounds within a month. But because all he ate was what we are supposed to be eating… he looked better than ever. Not starved. Not malnourished, but the opposite: highly nourished.
The conclusion I have, based on hard empirical data, is this: if you eat what you are meant to eat, train, or run, or dance, or do burpees in a way that is, more or less, in accordance with how we used to move and hunt and fish and gather veggies or berries or run from that damn lion… your body will make the appropriate changes to look, feel, and function the way nature always intended it to. For some of us, this will happen quickly. For others, less quickly, but changes will occur all the same. You will also be dead damn sexy! Just as mother nature intended.
Now, go crush a workout! Eat lots of vegetables, and put your damn weights back when you’re done!