So, this post was prompted by a short, offhand conversation during a bike ride… which was followed up by an email to consolidate my conversational partner’s opinion ‘that diet was is more important than exercise in weight loss’… which resulted in my own long-winded and highly opinionated reply. It looked a little like an essay and I thought “Meh. I’ve written it now anyway, why not share it with more people”. And thus we find ourselves here.
“[The several articles cited in the first email focussed] on short-term effects [such as those from 15 week programs]. It’s well-documented that those who choose to try a ‘diet’ option become victims of the yo-yo effect [( http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=21745 )] . The reality is that when people focus on any one thing in isolation it is generally only a short-term fix. The body regulates to meet the new need.
What I was saying is that developing the HABIT of exercising is by far more important. Psychologically, it is the feeling of lack which gets people. The diet-based option inevitably relies on REMOVING something that the person enjoys and people are not good at sustaining that indefinitely. By far the more successful ones are the one that acknowledge this and encourage moderation and education about the content of food rather than exclusion. Also note that you will find whatever you look for as there is plenty of information for both backing both camps. Personally, I’d be interested in reading this one: http://www.acsm.org/public-information/books-multimedia/books/lists/books-for-topics-pages/smart-weight-loss (but I’m not about to order it), which focusses on the effect of changing thinking and the importance of beliefs in shaping behaviour.
[RE: the sources of articles- worth noting that they were still pretty solid sources and articles] Probably better off taking your information from scientific forums such as ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) http://www.acsm.org/search-results?q=weight%20loss
and this position stand from the International Society for Sports Medicine https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-8-4
(Yes, I note the bias toward “Sport” in both resources, but that is where the money is channelled for research (because that is the realm which yields financial reward for the institutions), so it seems a far more reliable source than those that focus on proving that natural methods are the key. Even though I am well aware there is credence to these claims, the reality is that the research is sorely lacking when compared to the breadth available to organisations with more funding)
My opinion remains the same though that Occam’s razor is a poor way to approach anything other than research in this matter. Arguing which is MORE important is like discussing who is more dead out of two corpses. FYI, I didn’t even read these articles, so I have no idea which way they argue. My point being that the problem is the focus rather than the tool.
What I was saying on the bikes is that those who focus on diet are far less likely to succeed long-term, as even if they are on to a winning nutritional regimen, they hardly ever stick to it. Whereas if they develop the habit of including more physical activity into their lives and find modes they enjoy, the ADDITION rather than SUBTRACTION of things they enjoy is far more sustainable. Again, it’s remarkable how much this comes down to beliefs (both about the tools and the self) and psychological factors than the thing itself.
Note that I said modes they find ENJOYABLE too, which is another reason the scientific model is not particularly useful because very few studies I have seen focus on finding exercise modes and/or foods that are enjoyable. Note I did not say COMPONENTS of foods such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc. As foods are far more than their component parts. Especially when we note the subjective nature of flavour even when the same flavour components and esters are present and the fact that food has a critically important social component also.
Granted, I did not explain this fully in the 15 second conversation we had. But that is a more balanced presentation of what my beliefs are about weight loss.
How’s your diet-based weight loss going btw? Also, do you ever ‘slip up’ and eat more carbs than you’d like/are prescribed to eat? My exercise-based weight loss regimen, which started when I was 16 years old and has persisted throughout the intervening 17 years nearly uninterrupted, is going well… Just FYI 😉
[RE: a suggestion to run holistic health programs here in Motueka] I know a trainer/gym owner friend of mine has a lot of success pitching whole lifestyle based fitness retreats through his company ‘Best Me’ in Wellington. Certainly would be an idea worth following up as an income stream as the tide has definitely turned toward a holistic approach to health in the mainstream and there is a heap of money in the industry. For myself though, it is that very psychological battle which turned me away from the fitness industry. I got sick of being people’s counsellor and watching them do one thing and say another. They lie to themselves to hand off the responsibility for their own choices to others. The information is out there for those who are ready to make a change. It’s abundant. People will use it when they are ready. Contributing to it feels a whole lot like wasting time to me.”
Firstly, I want to say that I kinda regret the little nudge I made in the penultimate paragraph. If you read this: Sorry. That was a low blow.
Secondly, the author of the prompting email also noted the importance of a whole systems approach. Really it was a pointless refutation to begin with. Lol.
However, once I am up on my high horse, I’ll ride it all the way home. How does this relate to freedom? Well, it occurred to me that many of the factors that determine the success of weight loss regimens are the same factors which determine whether we are truly free. The psychological aspects are the true determinants of success in any realm.
Purely by chance, I also received a link to this article through Taylor Pearson’s mailing list (the link will take you to his page if you’d like to sign up). His emails are often filled with useful information and ideas. The article talks about the other factors in exercise which are often not measured in the studies relating to weight loss. For me though, it is these (and other psychological benefits of exercise) which put the physical activity half of the energy balance equation far ahead in importance… and similarly why they are an important tool in success in other endeavours.
So there you have it. Now isn’t it time to get off the computer and do something? 😉