It’s Not As Simple as Eating Less and Exercising More

A recent report I read in MedlinePlus states U.S. Obesity Epidemic Continues to Spread. It reveals that obesity rates climbed over the past year in 16 states, and not a single state reported a decline.

I read the article with interest until I reached the inevitable part… The compiler of the report, Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health stated… “The solution is simple, eat less, exercise more.”

I HATE those words. That is one of the problems (there are many) but this is one of them. The so-called “experts” make it sound so simple… “eat less, exercise more”. If it was that simple, the obesity epidemic would not be increasing. It would not be increasing because every overweight person out there has been told numerous times to simply “eat less and exercise more”. It is ingrained in our brains that all we need to do is “eat less and exercise more”. If it was that simple we would do it and successfully lose weight and not be overweight any more. Because, who would actually choose to be obese if we had a choice that was that simple?

For many of us it is not a simple matter of “eating less and exercising more”. For one thing, exercise doesn’t help much. You have to burn 3500 calories in order to lose one pound so that would be like 5 ½ hours on a stationary bike, or 5 ½ hours jogging, or 9 hours walking 3 mph. When you look at it that way, it kind of takes the impetus out of our 30 minutes on the treadmill. Plus, exercising makes you work up an appetite so if you eat 2 extra apples that day you just eliminated the benefit of the 30 minutes on the treadmill! Exercise can make you feel better and look better and may even make you a little healthier but it doesn’t do much for weight loss.

If you have 10, 15, maybe even 20 pounds to lose then maybe “eating less and exercising more” will work for you. Especially if you are genetically inclined to be lean and trim (look at your parents). But it won’t help very much for most of us.

As for the eating less, that’s a whole different soap box that I’m about to get on. It is not simple to “simply eat less” in order to lose weight. We have taste buds and we love food flavors. We were not raised grazing grass in our front yards. We were raised on good tasting food and we still love it. Our desires for certain foods will not go away and that is why we can’t give them up long enough to lose significant weight (especially at 1 or 2 pounds of weight loss a week!). Have you done the math? Let’s say you have 50 pounds you have to lose. “Experts” recommend 1 or 2 pounds of weight loss per week. Conservatively, that would be 50 weeks to lose 50 pounds and that’s roughly 1 year that we have to go without a Big Mac or Wedding Cake or a pint of Blue Bell. I admit I can’t do it. Can you?

What about the cravings? How many times have you stood in front of your refrigerator or pantry and looked in thinking “I wonder what I feel like eating”? That’s not hunger. I can do this one hour after a meal. That is cravings. I’m not sure what cravings are but I know most of us have them and that they are actually worse than hunger. I can eat an apple to satisfy my hunger but it won’t even touch my cravings.

So, we “eat less” and we are hungry because of it. We fill our stomach with low-calorie food but we still crave something. This is not sustainable for a year (in order to lose our hypothetical 50 pounds), or even half a year.
The solution is not simple but we can start by addressing two things:

1. We have to lose weight faster than 1 or 2 pounds per week. Faster weight loss will give us more motivation to stay on a diet and (temporarily) give up foods we love. There is nothing wrong with a faster weight loss. Actually, the more weight you have to lose, the more you will lose initially and you need to take advantage of that. Studies have shown that a faster weight loss (especially initial loss) results in a higher success rate and better lasting results. Personally, I lost 50 pounds in 3 months by cookie dieting. Looking back, I think I could have done better but the weight was coming off at a fast enough pace that I didn’t even consider cheating. I didn’t get sick, I felt healthier than ever and the sky didn’t fall down on me! It worked so well for me I started a business to help others!

2. Find something that will address hunger and cravings. If you find something that will eliminate hunger and cravings you have more than half the battle done. Some people go toward diet pills but I don’t recommend them. It seems every time a new diet pill is put on the market it is just a matter of time before it is recalled because of disastrous reasons. There are other food products available that will curb hunger and cravings. Especially look for something that helps with cravings! If you are losing weight quickly and you don’t crave pizzas or donuts it makes life (and dieting) a whole lot better! It makes the diet sustainable.

So, take these two concepts and re-shape your way of thinking around them and start losing weight… quickly…. safely… and without hunger or cravings. Exercise if you want but it’s not necessary for weight loss. While you are losing you will be learning a whole new way of eating. You will be learning what it feels like to be full and satisfied on less food. You will use this new information to create your maintenance diet. Yes, you will still have that Big Mac or pizza occasionally after your weight loss because, frankly, they are too good to give up forever! But have faith in yourself that you have learned a whole new way of eating and that you will consider the Big Mac as an occasional treat rather than the norm.