On the plane watching Oprah, and listening to Kirstie Alley talking about her weight loss struggles. Don’t compare yourself to celebrities. She filled her house with some dreadful looking exercise machines, and, not surprisingly, they all eventually ended up in the garage. Now she’s dragging them into the house again so she can wear a bikini like Valerie Burtonelli. What I see is desperation, and (sorry Kirstie) not much focus or clarity about what she’s doing. I don’t for a second doubt her sincerity, and that she’s feeling the same pain that we all feel when our weight’s gotten away from us, but it hurts me to see someone distracted by all that dramatization. It can be so much simpler than that.
Desperation has such a negative effect on trust. Out of desperation, we mistakenly look for whatever weight loss technique causes a lower number on the scale, and then – out of desperation – pour a bunch of money (and trust) into whatever works.
How do we determine what works? Whichever one has the most compelling ‘proof’? Highest stats? Most elaborate testimonials, filled with the most ultra-positive sounding words?
The reality is that being overweight has all kind of root causes. So obviously, what works for one person really well, might be totally ineffective for someone else. But – out of desperation – we ignore that simple and obvious truth.
Desperation can cause us to put our trust in places we normally wouldn’t.
Dave Alexander – a 55-year-old, 5’8’’, 260 pound man – has become the center of attention in the fit versus fat controversy. Despite a BMI of 40 (30 is considered obese), Mr. Alexander has competed in 276 triathlons in 37 different countries over the last 7 years. His intense regular weekly training routine (swims 5 miles, runs 30 miles, and bikes 200) enabled him to recently complete a super triathlon in which he biked 448 miles, ran 104.8 miles, and swam 9.2 miles. When asked about his self image, Dave Alexander replied, “I don’t care what people say about me, as long as it inspires them to go out and exercise.”
Well hey, I didn’t know there was a ‘Fit vs Fat’ controversy, but if a guy can exercise THIS MUCH and not lose any weight, it has to make you wonder if starting your weight loss journey by killing yourself at the gym makes much sense.
Google ‘weight loss’ and you get 108 million responses. Million. I mean, how are you even supposed to find a starting point? First you have to wade through all the sponsored links. Fine. But then you have a bazillion pages offering you ‘tips’. Free Weight Loss ‘tips’. And then the free ‘tip’ is like, drink more water; take the stairs; exercise. Thaaanks. Tell you what you can do with your ‘tips’… Mostly, these ‘tips’ (yes, I’m going to continue putting the word in quotes) amount to nothing more than ‘free’ content devised to drive you to a sales page for some other useless crap. Probably a book of ‘tips’.
A tip is something you give someone that’s current, that’s new, like a stock tip. A tip is not simply common knowledge or medical findings regurgitated by some weight loss pseudo-expert ‘tip’-factory. If I ever give you a ‘tip’, please send me hate mail, in order that I might smarten up.
I’m not even going to start with ‘secrets’.
Been doing a ton of research on weight loss methods, and one after another, I’m finding a common theme: Take your current life, and add (or subtract) something to it, or from it, and hope that it’ll cause you to lose some weight.
Some programs are long term, and make you eliminate the items that cause weight gain, and replace them with a new healthy diet. Fair enough. Others are short term – ’30 pounds in 30 days’ or whatever – so you can get back to normal life once you’ve dropped the unwelcome extra pounds. Maybe it’s a crash low-carb diet, maybe an intensive workout regiment, whatever.
Both get results. Either can cause weight loss. But both miss an important truth: we’re creatures of habit. Whether you’re trying to cold turkey all of your little pleasures, or you’re signing up for some Navy SEAL style, 6am daily ass-kicking, you’re taking on a very unfamiliar position. A bit like holding your breath; striking a pose; contorting your body, and/or your diet into some foreign position, and then holding it for as long as you can keep up the energy to do so… Until you finally exhale, and say screw this. (Diet break-ups can be movie worthy).
Everyone’s done this and is likely laughing right now at how silly it looks on paper, yet, a billion dollar industry is built on it. And there’s any wonder why 99% of people who lose weight gain it back.
Aside from cleanses, when it comes to taking on any new program – unless you can say I’m going to do this for the rest of my life – it’s a waste of time. Your regular habits are what got you to this point, and when you snap back to them, they’ll get you right back to where you were when you started. A little poorer, and a lot more discouraged, no?