Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, December 30, 2012

No New Year's resolutions made me more fit

The absence of New Year's resolutions will most likely be one of the most common correlates between people who are successful at losing weight and getting fit.

I am convinced the main purpose of New Year's resolutions is to reduce fitness and increase weight gain.  This must be the case because because prior to implementing New Year's weight loss or fitness goals, most people go on a binge to celebrate their supposed last few weeks of overeating and not exercising.

So really New Year's resolutions are about justifying current poor health choices because you're going to fix it all in the near future anyway.

It's a great system.  It's durable.  Most people succeed in gaining more weight every year by making promises to lose weight later.

Anytime I've made a change for the better in how I eat, exercise, or handle stress, it has never correlated with New Year's.  For those who I know personally that have been successful with healthy living changes, none of them made these changes on New Year's day.  I'm not saying nobody has ever succeeded with New Year's resolutions, the stats seem to show that around 90% of people fail to follow through which leaves room for a small minority to squeak by.

I am willing to bet though that the '10 percenters' that made it had worked at making the changes for quite some time and New Year's was not the real catalyst that cemented their success, but merely a coincidental convenience.

Main reasons why New Year's resolutions have not been on my radar:

My ability to change my habits is not some how genetically tied to our calendar; it isn't as though I can only lose weight or gain fitness after New Year's day and not a day earlier.  If this were true training for bike racing would really suck as I would only have this small window every year to make all my gains.

The time immediately prior to New Year's is not the only time of the year I have the opportunity to contemplate or realize that I can do better.

I will benefit from healthy changes the moment I start implementing them.  What would be the point of waiting until New Year's?  The thought never crossed my mind.

When I decided to quit smoking it was summer, not New Year's.  When I decided that since I didn't really like the taste or affect of booze that I may as well stop drinking it.. well I can't remember what time of year that was, but it wasn't New Year's, and it wasn't really that sudden of a decision it just seemed to fade out.

One of the biggest changes in how and why I make healthy exercise choices was deciding to take the courses offered from the National Coaching Certification Program through Coaching Canada.  I took the course because at the age of 18 I couldn't afford a full time coach to teach me how train better.  Learning what coaches know seemed a reasonable solution.

The courses got me started on learning sport science and how the body adapts to exercise.  I was so excited to learn how to train the right way I immediately implemented what I learned.  None of this had anything at all to do with New Year's.

In 2012 I won a gold medal in the Manitoba Provincial Mountain Bike championships.  My god did I ever suck bad at mountain biking before that.  While I made huge improvements my gold medal was in the lowest category.  I went from last place to first place.  I'm pretty happy with that.  In 2013 I'll move up a category.  I'm very excited about that.

Absolutely none of my improvements can be connected in any way to New Year's.  The reality is, it took me three years of consistant training and technical skills practicing to gradually increase my competitive performance a little bit at a time with several short term set backs along the way.

Those who are successful with New Year's resolutions could have implemented change at any time of year. It will not be New Year's that makes them successful, it will be that they already contemplated what to do and how to do it, and that they would have set realistic goals.  With a continuance of achieving small and realistic goals they would have nurtured motivation to continue.

This process of change is fairly ubiquitous.  We all go through a similar process of change when we take on new and better things to help improve our health. This process can start anytime, anywhere.

I have zero New Year's resolutions for this year, but I do have goals that I want to achieve:

I want to learn how to do a proper bunny hop on my mountain bike!  Currently I cheat too much by simply jumping straight up with clipless pedals.  I've become dependant on the cheat move and need to learn the right way.

I love mountain biking



At age 46 being active in a sport has definitely played a huge role in staying fit and achieving higher goals.

At times I'll go crazy eating way too much chocolate.  Seriously, it's too much.  I always feel like crap afterwards.  I've managed to nearly kill this one off, but every so often I go through a period where I lose it and the appeal of instant gratification from a mega chocoholic meltdown beats down my rational thinking.  Sure, I recover and get back to normal but the behaviour isn't healthy and I don't want to fall into that trap of believing that overdoing it to the extreme is validated simply because it tastes good at the moment.

I'm not going to quit chocolate; I'm going to quit chocolate pig-outs.

I suck at math.  I've downloaded apps to practice math on the iPhone and iPad and got started with Khan Academy.  I'm finally overcoming my life long fear of complex math and it feels great!

These are goals I am currently making progress with.  None of them had any connection with New Year's and I wasn't about to put off the benefits until New Year's.

The New Year's thing may or may not work for you.  My 2 cents is that you'll have a better chance of success in believing in yourself rather than believing in a date.

Things that make change successful:

Go here for an article I wrote on setting and achieving goals

Previous New Year's posts

New Year's Stuff (2010)

New Year's Resolutions Already Dying Off (January 2010)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why boot camps are stupid

In my previous post I mentioned unabashedly that I think boot camps are stupid.  What inspired me to do a follow up about why this form exercise mayhem is stupid is a reader response on FaceBook.

"I agree Cris, Boot camps are stupid. They will not cause lifestyle change."  Thanks to KM for the post.

Rather than just saying that boot camps are stupid, I'll do what I usually do and that is tell you like it is with facts and reason.  

I did a Google image search for boot camp. Endless pictures of people suffering and also endless pictures of very poor exercise form.

The boot camp idea perpetrates the myth that hard, arduous exercise is what counts. Anything less has no value. Suffering equals success. Sure, hard training is needed to capture peak performance, but hard training isn't what getting started is all about.  Forget this Hollywood idea of what productive is supposed to be.  In reality even for well conditioned athletes hard training is best done with careful preparation and timing, not arbitrarily entering a boot camp to kick ones butt into shape.

 I think a person could make a boot camp with few people work.  Maybe an instructor - student ratio of one to eight. You'd have to do a complete fitness assessment on each person so the instructor would be properly informed as to what exercises are appropriate for the people in the group.

You'd start slow with basic moves and gradually increase the intensity and complexity of moves over months of boot camps.  When anyone became tired you'd encourage them to take a break or stop altogether so they can resolve their fatigue with proper rest.

I've never heard of a boot camp being run like this but if there is one out there run correctly, this article is not about them.

For most, the kind of anti-boot camp group exercise I suggested, catering to peoples needs and starting easy, is going to sound too boring.  But, only because it will be compared to traditionalized expectations of loud music and or a loud instructor, and pushing so hard you wonder why you showed up.  How about a re-think?  What would be wrong with building gradually and hitting it hard when you're ready?  There's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, research shows that's the most effective way to make large, long term gains.

Lets take a look at the actual military boot camp which the civilian exercise fad is based on.

Results of this study (1) show that 39.6% of of military recruits entering boot camp became injured.  Keep in mind that the military recruits from the general population, not the athlete population. These are everyday folks that are entering an abrupt change in how much they exercise, like most people taking part in exercise boot camps.

The cause of 78% of the injuries? Overuse.  Researchers concluded that abrupt increases in training intensity and volume are the cause of injury.

An abrupt change in training volume and intensity.  Um, isn't that the point of a boot camp?  I'm sorry folks but my brain gets twisted when I try to make sense out of that.  This is harder than trying wrap your head around quantum physics.  The very thing that causes injury is the very premise of boot camps.  And boot camps are super popular. What the H E double hocky sticks is wrong with this picture?

The model of boot camp training is bogus.  People are pushed too hard too soon without preparatory training.

How about those pro-level pre-season training camps?  This is where the pro's tune up for real competition.  Sort of. In reality (2) this is where 51% of hamstring injuries occur in NFL players. The reason?  Training too hard too soon.

What? So even pro athletes who are far more conditioned than the average person considering a fitness centre boot camp still get hammered with injuries from advancing too quickly with volume and intensity?  You got it.

According to this study (3) girls aged 9 to 15 who participated in more than 8 hours per week of high impact sports and sport training were twice as likely to sustain a stress fracture compared to those doing 4 hours or less of high impact activity.

Is this an obvious outcome?  I think so, but obviously others don't, otherwise nobody would be training 9-15 year old girls 8 or more hours per week without proper preparation.

Whether adult or child, pro or not, there seems to be a tie that binds most popularised exercise- go really hard, and do it often.

Boot camps are the anointed child of the ever popular go hard or go home concept; a concept that is continually proven invalid by sport science, yet continually offered to and sought out by the public.  I feel like I'm in the middle ages trying to tell people the earth isn't at the centre of the universe.  I must be a sorcerer.

In my personal observation I've seen boot camp instructors shout out what sound like good instructions.. keep your core tight, watch your knee alignment, etc.  What I find a little weird is that the instructor will also shout out platitudes, you're doing great, keep it up, burn that fat..  Why is this weird?  Isn't positive encouragement good?

Strangely most of the students have poor mechanics, indeed even the instructor has poor mechanics. So what's with telling people to watch their knee alignment then have most of the class express poor knee alignment then do nothing about it other than saying good job keep it up?  Why can't these instructors see the poor mechanics and help people make the necessary corrections?  Is it a case of you can't teach what you don't know?  Most of the time I think this is the case.

Confounding that problem is the one size fits all formula, along with the need to turn over classes in a timely manner to produce revenue.  So each class has a script.  Next class; repeat script, and say it with meaning so you can sound convincing.

Something else to consider.  Although many instructors say things like, go at you're own pace, in reality there is great pressure from the instructor plus peer pressure to push hard no matter what.  Also how could it be that everyone in the class is at the same level of conditioning and equally capable of doing the intensive moves?

Remember KM's comment about lifestyle changes?  Boot camp is all about short term pain and short term gain.  This is not a suitable strategy or a "kick start" to a new you.  It's more like a kick in the hamstring.

The sport science is clear; training too hard too soon and over-emphasizing intensity and going for the burn as well as skipping assessment and base conditioning is disaster in the making.  Some of the complex moves found in boot camps are simply made up by the instructor or are culled from the black hole of fad exercises instead of being well thought out proven exercises that are gradually implemented based on an individuals ability to do the exercise.

Sound like TMI? This is another common error made with those feeling like they need to do something to increase their fitness but feel that they don't want to be burdened with too much of a learning curve; "just tell me what to do and I'll do it, I don't want to know about how my lungs work, I just want to get fit fast."

The outcome of following this path is nearly always failure, even though it may seem perfectly justifiable at first.  Lifestyle changes include gradually changing how we think and feel about the reward of exercise and how to integrate healthy living habits permanently into our lives, and that involves learning a little bit about how our bodies work.  It's about  making informed decisions.

It is true that starting with less complex and easy to implement actions is the best way to start.  Better to start with simply eating less of what you already eat rather than with an instant overhaul of your diet.  Better to start with going for walks for exercise rather than with a complex exercise routine.

The conflict here is that most boot camps employ fairly complex exercises that are advanced well beyond base conditioning, so while boot camps may imply that you can simply be a body in a crowd accepting instructions that you don't have to think about much, the reality is getting good at complex movement does take time, concentration, practice and long term improvement.

Boot camps are the antithesis to the healthy living idea.  Boot camps are the animation of our get fit quick fantastical thinking.  Boot camps are about playing to the idea that you don't have time to exercise, you don't have time to waste.  You need to work hard fast for short periods and get it all done so you can get back to a busy schedule. Boot camps survive on the old urban myth that sweat and burning muscles are an accurate measurement of exercise quality.

I've been in exercise labs a lot.  I've even had the privilege doing exercise studies. The standards of measuring effective exercise are not sweat or a burning sensation.  In fact the body of sport science tells us the best way to ensure continued gains while avoiding the setback of injuries is to start really easy, so easy that you never feel tired during or after your exercise.  Gradually you build your exercise capacity and when you're ready to go harder you can continue to get more benefit from higher intensity exercise.

You should only expect to feel tired from exercise once you're fit enough to endure hard training.  I'm not about avoiding high intensity exercise.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Just ask the athletes I train how hard they work during VO2 Max intervals or doing 4-6 rep max single leg squats.

I'm no stranger to high intensity training myself, you name it I've done it.  VO2 Max, TABATA, German volume training, plyometrics, and circuit training that we lovingly used to call "the barf circuit". I've done hill running sprints carrying a person on my back using the fireman's carry and loved every moment of it.  I manage to win the odd bike race as well.  I've also endured my self-imposed misfortune of training too hard too soon and can tell you repetitive strain injury isn't fun.

Training hard works, but training too hard too soon doesn't.  You don't need hard arduous exercise to experience great improvements in weight loss and strength gain.  The greatest gains I've made and any of my athletes have made have been on a long term gradually more challenging path to harder exercise. That's athletes though.  Nobody needs to train that hard to be healthy and fit. Athletic training routines is not where we start out with getting into healthy living or even bumping up our fitness to the next level.  What is generally not that well understood is that to do the most popular balance provoking exercises, and the jumping exercises, and the high intensity gut wrenching exercises, we need to have a substantially strong foundation of very strong core, hips, and shoulders.  Otherwise we're just asking for trouble.

Making healthy living choices is about learning about how our bodies work, making both short and long term easy to accomplish realistic goals that build us towards more complex goals.  Healthy exercise doesn't blow your brains out (or biceps out) or make you hurt every time you do it and we need to be mindful of this.

Boot camps don't instill or support this healthy and realistic thinking.  Boot camps will tell you to push hard when you're tired.  Sport science says to cut back exercise when you're tired to allow your body the recovery it needs to adapt and progress healthily.

I'm sure if a person tried hard enough they could find a boot camp that isn't as extreme as I'm describing here, but the reality is the very concept of group training where people are pushed into complex exercise too hard too soon simply makes no sense.  It's a marketing gimmick.

I could easily put on boot camps and act like an excited drill sargent.  I'd make a good dollar too. Trouble is I wouldn't really be helping anyone make the key lifestyle changes that will really benefit their health long term.

I have an athlete whom I love to reference often because he's in his 50's.  This guy in his 50's can do over 30 good quality chin-ups (yes, in one shot with no breaks) and over 80 push ups.  He doesn't do boot camps.  In fact he hardly does chin-ups.  How can a person spank of 30 chin-ups if they hardly do chin-ups?  Don't misunderstand me.  The fellow worked many many months to build up to this, but he backed off when fatigued and added a little more when recovered and wasn't fanatical about it.

He does chin-ups once a week or sometimes once every two weeks.  Of course he has a complete program as well, but he does it at his own pace doing strength training once or twice per week along with cardio training 2 - 3 times per week.  He's more fit than he's ever been in his life and he loves it. .. I'd put my money on him to kick butt on any boot camper..

(1) Military training-related injuries: surveillan... [Am J Prev Med. 2000] - PubMed - NCBI

(2) Hamstring Muscle Strains in Professional Football Players

(3) JAMA Network | Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine | Prospective Study of Physical Activity and Risk of Developing a Stress Fracture Among Preadolescent and Adolescent Girls

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I finally got a cold

Not too long ago I wrote a piece on how not to catch cold where I mentioned that I had not had cold symptoms in many years.  The reason why the number of colds I have plummeted is because, while not always successful, I do manage to eat, sleep, and exercise healthily most of the time.

I got the familiar feeling in the back of the throat on Saturday.  By Monday I had the runny nose and sneezing and felt a little lethargic.  I still managed to get in a training ride on my bike (mounted on my indoor trainer Kurt Kinetic trainer review), but I cut the ride at 90 minutes instead of the 2-2.5 hours I would normally had done.

Side note:  exercising with a cold rule of thumb: symptoms above the neck (head cold), exercise is not a problem but you may have reduced exercise capacity.  If you have a cough or really sore throat exercising intensely with heavy breathing may aggravate an already irritated respiratory tract, possibly inviting a bacterial infection, so don't exercise hard. Nausea or fever? Don't exercise.  You need rest and a visit to the doc might be a good idea if symptoms persist. 

Today I feel pretty good.  Only had to blow my nose twice so far.  I'd say the cold is pretty much over.

So that's Saturday to Wednesday, maybe a little into tomorrow - 5.5 days with three days of a fairly snotty nose.

That's not too bad, and thats what the research suggests you might feel if you live healthy, primarily exercising regularly and getting good sleep.

Healthy living can reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of cold symptoms by 40%.

I've been lucky and had good multi-year stint of no cold symptoms.  I say no cold symptoms as I would have still had cold viruses enter my body, but my strengthened immune system would have defeated the cold virus before I became symptomatic.

I didn't take a pill that's promised to reduce colds.  I didn't take an alternative medicine concoction that is the suposed secret cure for the common cold that apparently regular doctors don't want you to know about.  I didn't take massive doses of vitamin C.  I didn't whip up an antioxidant detox super juice every morning.

I ate healthy, exercised regularly, and most of the time got good sleep.

I recall a few times though where it felt like a cold might be coming on but then nothing further materialized.  There were several times where I was in the company of people with colds and I thought for sure I would be sniffling a few days later.. nope.

Aside from maintaining if not gaining athletic performance as I approach age 50 I think not getting the two colds per year I used to get a pretty good dividend from healthy habits.  I don't know anyone who likes the misery of a cold.

The benefits of exercise aren't limited to the most commonly referenced weight loss and muscular or lean look.  The main benefits are feeling more energetic, preserving health, having the strength to easily do pretty much any normal task.. shovelling snow is no big deal, neither is lifting heavy things like furniture.

I see many of my mid-late 40's peers gaining weight and getting weaker.  That could have been me and I'm glad it isn't, I'm also glad it doesn't have to be this way for anyone.

I didn't make the change overnight and pretty much everyone who tries to do it fast fails and returns to a state of being less fit and more overweight than when they started.

Ignore all the goofy claims to lose weight fast and get fit fast.  That's for losers, or I guess gainers as the weight comes back later when a return to previous habits occurs.

Make some small changes like eating a little less and learning to feel good about it.  Gradually add small amounts of exercise.  Boot camps are very stupid.  Yes, I said that and mean it.  I'm not some shlep who fell off the bus yesterday, I've been studying this subject and coaching for two and half decades and I live it myself.. quick fix promises are meant to appeal to desperation and gullibility; they don't actually work.

How did I get to "boot camps are very stupid" from exercise prevents colds?  It's not hard to get me going.  I am passionate about the subject.  And why not?  Making these changes turned my life around and the lives of many others.  I really, really want people to feel as good as I have after having made these changes.

Having fewer colds is better.  Colds are miserable.  Less misery from colds, from aches and pains, from lethargy, and from illness.  It's all good.   Best thing?

It's not a miracle product that costs $49.99 per month or more.  It's not a pill.  It's not a secret metabolism energizing exercise routine (those don't exist by the way so don't fall for the con).

There is one catch though. Your benefits will automatically renew without your consent if you keep living the healthy lifestyle.  That's right, even if you find that you don't like not having colds, can't stand being strong, hate your doctor for telling you your cholesterol and blood pressure are normal, and don't want to deal with near boundless energy and clear cognition day after day, the contract can't be broken.  So long as you live healthy you will reap the benefits.

Oh well.  What can you do?





Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How I survived Christmas without overeating

For regular readers you'll know that I'm always on about changing our reward association with overeating and working on making the same reward association with healthy food choices.

A favourite example of mine is; picture this, you're at the office and the boss walks in with a box of donuts and says, "you're all doing a great job and I wanted to show my appreciation". The boss presents the donuts. How do feel?

You may be thinking, "hey great! I love donuts".  Mmm..

Same scenario, boss says the same thing, but has a plate of broccoli. Are you feeling that?

No?  Not feeling the little green trees?

How about a plate of oranges and bananas?  Some feeling for this but not as much as for the donuts?

There you have it. That's what reward association does. Reward association makes you feel compelled to do things that you perceive will be rewarding in some way. The stronger the reward association the more intense the reward seeking will be.

One little snafu is that some of that which we associate reward with can also get out of hand cause negative outcomes.  Like scarfing down 1000 calories from donuts that nobody needs.

And so it goes for Christmas dinners.  Personally I've been getting better every year. I don't do three or four plates anymore, plus buns, plus desert. 

Years ago when I cut down to 2.5 plates and desert I felt like I had accomplished a lot. I was only consuming 1500 calories more than I needed instead of around twice that.  (3500 calories in a pound of fat in case you wondering about the scale impact of so much overeating)

Cutting down to two plates I felt physically much more comfortable. Not so much of a bloat-on.  I also had less of the post Christmas overeating guilt-on. Another bonus is I didn't have to think about all the extra cardio I'd have to do to repent my indulgence. 

Exercising to compensate for excessive eating is not a healthy exercise or eating strategy. 

This year I thought about how good I would feel emotionally and physically if I didn't overeat.  I knew that whenever I eat healthy I feel good about it. I didn't always feel this way. Years ago I scoffed at the idea.  I looked forward to the stuffed gut. Having to loosen your belt was a sign of success. At that time I didn't bother to think about why I believed this. It was just something you did. It was tradition. 

Then I had to go and become a cycling coach in 1987, which involves among other things, learning about proper nutrition. I learned that I didn't really know how to eat. Sure, sure, I was an expert at the selecting, chewing, and swallowing, but was pretty clueless when it came to understanding my actual nutritional needs. 

I really liked a lot of crap food that wasn't that great for me. 

Being a bit slow it took me years to gradually change my eating habits so that my eating reflected what healthy reconditions are. 

As I ate healthy more consistently I grew further from wanting unhealthy foods but still found myself feeling rewarded by overeating. Yes you can eat too much healthy food. Calories are calories. 

Over time this changed too. As overeating became less frequent each time I did dive into calorie bomb meals I was more attune to the after affects.  I was getting used to what it felt like to eat satisfying healthy meals. I didn't feel bloated or lethargic. There is no brick in the gut. I slept better.  I didn't have to deal with feeling remorseful for overeating. I actually felt pretty damn good. Better than I knew I could. 

Over time I had developed a new reward association with eating healthy to the point of instead of looking forward to overeating at holiday meals I started to regreat these meals in advance. I regretted feeling obliged to fulfill the custom of overeating. I really wanted to eat healthy but there was social pressure to overeat as well as my own pressure because some of the old reward seeking was still there. I knew the food would certainly taste good and that I could make excuses to keep eating. 

Afterwards I'd feel not so good. When you eat healthy most of the time your digestive system gets used to high fibre low fat foods. When you suddenly burden your GI tract with high fat low fibre traditional foods in large volumes, you get constipated. You feel like crap, literally. 

So this Christmas I felt compelled not to overeat because I didn't want to deal with the uncomfortable aftermath. I felt incentive to eat what I need because I knew this would feel more satisfying. 

This year was different because I had done enough work on my thoughts, feelings, and eating habits that it all came together and was easy.. And oh so satisfying. 

Christmas dinner with family was great. That value did not change. The food still tasted great and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the company and good times. I didn't feel the need for extra food being a prerequisite for enjoying Christmas with my family. 

The Christmas dinners two days in a row were the best I'd had because there was no underlying food drama. I think I have it better than many though.  Eating healthy at Christmas dinner doesn't always go over well. I've had friends tell me that when they try the same thing they get questioned by family and friends.. "Are you sick? Don't you like the food? Are you on some kind of diet?" Many are ostracized for not overeating. There is societal pressure to be thin for some but there is more social pressure to overeat and if you don't comply someone will point it out to you. 

The things that enabled me to feel completely satisfied without overeating at Christmas dinners (or whatever dinners for those who don't say Christmas), were:

  Completing a long path to adopting an appreciation and sense of reward from healthy eating while at the same time unlearning my previous reward connection with overeating. 

  Having family that is happy I'm there no matter how much I eat. 

This didn't happen overnight so don't expect instant results if you try the same. If you hang in there though change will come. You'll adapt. After a while wanting to eat healthy will feel good instead of being misinterpreted as feeling restrictive. Ironically if you think about it, chronically overeating is restrictive. We restrict ourselves to only overeating and are not open to healthy options, perhaps even offended by the idea of eating healthy because eating unhealthy is so practiced, so naturalized, that eating healthy is perceived as interfering with the status quo. 

I really had a great Christmas this year and eating healthy made it even better. 






Sunday, December 23, 2012

95% Fail to lose weight. What are the 5% doing?

You'd think the person with the answer to this question would be heralded as modern societies saviour,  the person who solved the mystery of why we gain weight and can't seem to lose it.  Or perhaps at least this person would be rich in finding a way to capitalize on such a discovery.

There are indeed many who have become wealthy in selling their solution to the weight loss problem but in doing so another mystery arises; if all these people with the solution to weight loss do have the answer, why is it the population of the entire planet continues to become more overweight every year?

When humanity learned how to eradicate smallpox it was the end of smallpox.  We have the antidote for excessive weight gain, but don't use it.

More of the population is overweight.  This seems a logical explanation for why more weight loss clinics  classes, blogs, news stories, and apparently novel weight loss concepts would materialize.

It's a question of supply and demand.

Interesting that the more this problem spreads the more full-proof solutions are propagated and sold.

Maybe at some point sock makers would sell so many socks that all the worlds people would have socks so no more socks would be needed.  Too simplified.  The population grows, socks wear out, and maybe people want to upgrade from $5.00 socks to $10.00 socks and so on.

Is fat loss the same way?  Does one weight loss strategy wear-out requiring another strategy to continue weight loss? Is the more costly fat loss option more effective?

This can't be true because fat loss is about eating fewer calories than expended.  There isn't another strategy.  It is that simple, but complexities arrise in achieving that simplicity.

The National Weight Loss Registry, an ongoing study of what people who successfully lose weight and keep it off actually do has found the following:


To register people must have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for one or more years.

Registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for more than 5 years.

The study is open to US residents and has published it's findings to date.

Here is what those who have lost weight and kept it off have in common:


45% lost weight on their own and 55% lost weight with the help of some kind of program

94% increased their physical activity with walking being the most common exercise, and one hour of exercise daily being average frequency and duration.

98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.

78% eat breakfast every day

75% weigh themselves at least once per week

62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week

The increase in physical activity increases calories out and the modification of food intake decreases calories in.

I'm writing this during the Christmas holiday season, but what I'm saying is relevant anytime of the year.

A common strategy that people tell me about when they are about to enter a social feeding frenzy, be it a birthday, an after the game or after the whatever chow-down, is this:

Since we're going to overeat anyway, why bother trying to mess with that since it won't work.  Why not simply concentrate our efforts on what to do after we're finished the overeating celebration?

Makes sense.  Christmas dinners?  I've already bought the ticket to that train and I'm going to ride it out.  Plus; why ruin Christmas (or whatever)?

"I just want to have a good type two diabetes with my family".  Crap.  Freudian.

What I meant to say sarcastically is, "I just want to have a good time feeling bloated and regretful for overdoing it and gaining even more weight".  Whoops, I did it again.

The flaw in this strategy is that it is completely denial based and is merely used as an excuse to justify more overeating.  Hardly anyone is actually going to follow through with the "I'll deal with it later" self afflicted con-job.

What is the expected outcome of never preventing overeating and always thinking about what to do after overeating?

Most will tell you the expected outcome is successful weight loss.

Crazy-talk.

We are crazy about overeating, even when we know better.

Like I've said before in previous ramblings, the current consensus is that decisions surrounding eating are largely bound to seeking gratification.  Not just any gratification, but the kind that has greatest power to amputate our better judgment.

Instant gratification.

This is ultimately what the 5% of the population are tapping into when they successfully lose weight and keep it off; understand the source of instant gratification and doing something about it.

They modify their behaviors and feelings about food and eating to such an extent that they no longer fall prey to their self-generated compulsion to overeat.  Indeed the compulsion itself is greatly diminished down to a realistically manageable state.

Everyone who loses fat does it the same way.  They consume fewer calories than expended.

The 5% who keep it off do so not by short term dietary and exercise habit changes, but rather over very long periods of lifestyle management.

The success is in realizing that overeating is just not worth the trouble.

We can all follow the habits of the the study subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.

If we did we would all permanently lose weight and keep it off.  It's the "permanently" part that get most people (95%), as within mere weeks of implementing these proven habits, most people will feel like they are missing their doses of instant gratification.  Most will feel compelled to fall back into the habits and social practices that promote and celebrate overeating.

When you surly love overeating there is nothing in the world that will break that love.

Wait..  There is one thing.  It's the relationship killer.

Cheating.

No, I'm not talking about "cheat days" where you overindulge to cool your heals during a diet phase.

I'm talking about your love partner cheating on you.  I'm talking about overeating stabbing you in the arteries while making love to your tastebuds and that part of the brain that allows you interpret the sensation of "wow, this is really good".

I'm talking about the epiphany the 5% get when they realize that the way they are living is not really making things better, but worse.

The hardest part about changing to healthy living habits is letting go the reward association with overeating and inactivity and making new reward associations with healthy eating and exercise.

If you don't fall for healthy living like falling in love you will forever be chained to the old relationship. The abusive relationship where you beg for those few moments of feeling good only to be burdened with lethargy, weight gain, and health issues surrounding unhealthy living.

Call me preachy if you like.  I'm just telling it like it is and have no intentions of being a lifestyle judge and jury or diet zealot / guru.

I only write what I feel and what I have learned through reading research.  My delivery is what it is.

Implement what I say though and you won't be doing what I say, but rather doing what research suggests we can do to escape one of the greatest societal plagues ever: the love and celebration of chronic overeating.