Why the Way You View Overweight People is Wrong



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I wanted to take my time in making this post because I think it’s important.  Something needs to change in a big way and for our community to represent real change for everyone we need to really change the way fit people view people with a bit more fat to lose.  In general I try to put my stuff out there and not comment on things that distract from my goal of helping people through their daily struggles.  This will be the exception.

Are you a nutritionist? (I get this one a lot)

The method I teach people is a basic understanding of mathematic and scientific principles.  Something many trainers and “fit people” apparently don’t understand because there seems to be an endless stream of super caloric restriction diets making the rounds.  We have a Ph.D. candidate on staff that is one of the leaders in the field of Exercise Physiology and a well known presenter of the “Metabolic Flexibility” method that I teach.  While I like Mike a lot and he is a pretty smart dude, even I knew super caloric restriction was wrong a long time ago and if you thought about for a bit, so do many of you.  But let’s back up for a second.

When logic goes wrong

For a lot of people they wake up one day, maybe after a bunch of days, and find themselves motivated in a way that is uncommon.  In that moment they seek out some form of relief from the pain they are in (the pain of being overweight in this instance).  As they are looking for a solution extremes seem highly logical because they would like to be out of the pain they are in immediately.  What is even worse than that is, at least in the beginning, it seems to work.  The problem is that what “seems” to work really isn’t doing all of that much if you put it under a microscope and examined it using multiple parameters.  Instead people opt for the scale and in the beginning eating super low calories “seems” to be getting results.  This isn’t to suggest that some fat isn’t being mobilized, but as we all know the results diminish quickly.  When you add intense exercise to that mix, along with extreme caloric restriction, you set up a scenario that a lot of people never come back from.

Let me just say this plain and simple, I don’t care if you don’t believe it

If you are fit and have never been obese like I have, you don’t know what it’s like mentally as well as physically.  I am not saying that you might not be able to understand what it might take for these populations to achieve some level of health, but if you always start at “those people are undisciplined” the train is already headed in the wrong direction for you.  Here are some simple truths:

  • • The body does not respond well to extremes, while it does force adaptation, that isn’t always a positive.
  • • People with more fat to lose tend to carry a lot of muscle along with that fat layer, so they adapt to strength training much quicker than people of slighter build.  Therefore, if you are a coach with clients that have a large amount of fat to lose you should be having them lift slow, even though logically it makes no sense.  It is favorable as it relates to their stress levels/cortisol levels and will maintain their strength base and keep their muscle.
  • • Mentally as you achieve things those successes build on each other.  In other words if you can have people building on their strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses, that allows them to address their weaknesses in a more effective manner.
  • • Lastly and maybe most importantly, gradual change is meaningful change and lasting change.  An individual with more fat to lose also has more muscle as a general rule and needs to feed that muscle with nutrients.

So in the end, it’s not so much how much you eat as much as it is eating appropriate amounts for your energy output to support your current frame + a slight deficit that focuses more on changing behavior.

Do you see how my approach is different?

The approach of having people eat dramatically less compared to their new level of activity is based on a flawed logical premise that they were eating to excess.  You take that same person eating those same foods when they are nineteen and add an exercise component to the equation and they become chiseled.  So clearly there is more going on than just discipline.  Changing habits is difficult and frankly a lot of people don’t ever make it to the other side. I would argue that it’s not excess that is the problem as much as it is a lack of understanding, that is the problem..  Certainly everyone needs to own things a little bit in regards to their own health, but after this post I hope everyone at least considers that many people do seek out help and find the wrong people, which can end in disaster, disease, and even death.

It’s time to look at our flawed restrictive diets as the problem and not the solution.

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