The Failure Pattern: Diet vs. Exercise
At this stage, we understand the link between obesity and disease. We know that as our waistlines expand, our risk for a range of diseases increases.
We know that, but understanding that obesity and pre-obesity are bad for us does not automatically give us the means to change course. And that’s the major gap that so many of us struggle to overcome.
Your doctor tells you to lose weight and sends you off to the hinterlands to look for answers. It’s like sending a lamb to wolves. There are a million “miracle” weight-loss products out there, and just as many opinions on how to lose weight. Every miracle cure we read about has its proponents. Forget for now the cabbage diet, the lemon juice diet, the water diet, colonics, purging, and other unhealthy methods, and let’s just take a look at the two major routes to better health: diet and exercise.
In moving you toward your goal, diet pundits tell you to focus on diet, and exercise pundits tell you to focus on exercise. Of course, both sides pay lip service to the other, but ultimately, they’re invested in supporting their own interests.
The fad diet folks tell you to lower your calorie intake and manipulate macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate). That’s where we get the “low-fat diet,” “low-carb diet,” and “high-protein diet”—all of which create an abnormal ratio of nutritional intake. But the food fight among these diet gurus as to who’s right and who’s wrong is an exercise in futility (no pun intended). At the end of the day, your body doesn’t work the way they think it does.
If you lower your carbohydrates, fat, or protein by the wrong percentage, your body will develop cravings, and your chance of maintaining weight loss is like a dog trying to stay away from a porterhouse steak.
If you make it through this first phase of weight loss—and many people don’t—the irony is that you will have lowered your total energy expenditure per day and therefore lowered your metabolic rate. By not picking precisely the right fuels and foods, you’ll lose muscle—the bane of periodic cycling (yo-yo-ing). Your body’s furnace has been reset at a lower level than it was when you began your diet and this can actually lead to obesity. Without going through a recalibration process, you’re likely to slip into your old eating habits and gain back the weight—but with a less effective metabolic furnace.
The result? More weight, a higher percent of body fat versus muscle, a lower metabolic rate, and less inclination to be active—making it even harder to lose weight next time.
The exercise enthusiasts try to exercise themselves to a healthy weight. But people who focus on exercise tactics will find themselves as disappointed as the dieters. There are health benefits associated with exercise but it’s hard to lose much weight through exercise alone.
To really lose weight, you would need ninety minutes of strenuous exercise a day, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine. A daunting task that would be impossible for most to fit into their schedules! So, while exercise is critical for long-term success, it has to be one part of a comprehensive process. Once you begin to lose weight, you’ll naturally become more active. At that point, we’ll increase your activity incrementally through fun choices that increase muscle mass with effects that can last a lifetime.
Hopefully, this explains why you gain back weight after dieting alone. As tough as it sounds, there’s just no simple solution to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. That’s not to say it’s difficult to do, but there’s a lot more to it than just diet or exercise. It’s not your fault that like the polar bear you, and your body and brain were designed for a world that is long gone, and you need to survive in a world that is changing every day.
If we choose to wait and watch, our health and our lives, and those that we love and cherish will all be negatively affected one way or another.
Or, you can make a different set of choices, following a path that will teach you how to create permanent health and wellbeing. It is path to optimal health, paved with the Habits of Health. Our system is designed to address all of these obstacles, and give you the tools, coaching, and direction, you need to find lasting success and to conquer the failure pattern.