There’s no bargaining in weight loss

Image: © Rick Elkins | Flickr | Getty Images

Dear Sean,
I know that I cheat on my diet once in a while, but I always add 10 minutes to my daily walk to make up for it. The problem is that on the days I walk more, I need to eat. A lot. Are there any tricks to get around this? I want my patients to see a healthy role model and right now I’m embarrassed that I’m as big as the diabetic patients I’m counseling!

— Can’t Lose It

Dear Can’t Lose It,

There’s no bargaining in weight loss.

Yes, I sort of stole that saying from Tom Hanks in ‘A League of their Own’ – “There’s No Crying In Baseball!” (Great movie by the way)

So what do I mean about bargaining in weight loss? It’s the old ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’ mentality and habit. You don’t realize it, but all of those individuals out there who are not succeeding or are down right failing at their weight loss goals suffer from this horribly ‘vacuum-like’ habit.

“If I eat this cheeseburger, that just means an extra 40 minutes on the treadmill”

“I’m going to have just this one… just this one donut. I’ll just squeeze in a couple more miles on the bike”

“Ooooh OK. I’ll have another piece of pie. I’ll just have to visit the gym an extra day this week”

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? Bartering, bargaining, and rationalizing your bad eating habits, those empty promises to your body, and being comfortable with your overall eating lifestyle without the guilt. It’s that guilt factor that keeps us from becoming a down right glutton, but this habit of bargaining a food item for some extra exercise is a disastrously imbalanced deal that ultimately leads to failure.

Weight loss and ‘dieting’ (yes, I still hate that word) come down to a game of numbers. You have to get rid of more than you take in. There’s no way to trick, bend, warp or fudge those numbers. You consume a certain number of calories, and your body ‘uses up’ or ‘burns’ a certain amount of calories. We all make the deal with the devil by trying to satisfy this equation. If my actions will add ‘X’ number of calories to my body, then I have ‘work off /burn/melt” ‘X’ number of calories. That way I have net gained zero. At least that’s what we tell ourselves…

Here’s the problem folks. These numbers your crunching are not absolute numbers. The numbers that are going in are real, they are about as close to absolute as they can get. Due to a lot of regulatory bodies out there in the world of nutrition – when a food product states it gives you a total number of calories, you can be fairly certain it’s about 99% accurate. The trick is to read the amount of servings per container! Some containers (box, or bag, or sleeve) will deliver more than one serving. So when you read the calorie count be sure to multiply that number by the number of servings, otherwise you’re count will be horrendously short (which is the source of some mistakes that lead to failed weight loss).

So the other half of the equation is the ‘X’ number of calories burned. Most warriors against the battle of the bulge simply go by that number that pops up on the screen of your machine you happen to be exercising on. EEEEEEEHHHHHHHH – (by the way that’s the sound of the buzzer going off).

That number you are getting is an ESTIMATE. It’s not a true absolute number. It’s a calculated numerical value based on a formula that most exercise companies find on the internet, or make up themselves. It takes into account your weight and age most of the time (do you remember having to enter in those values into the machine before you started your exercise session – there is a reason for that). Those numbers you see do not take into account your personal metabolism, your height, your body structure, your hydration status, your carbohydrate and fat content of the food you consumed recently, nor does it take into account the ability of your heart and your lungs as well as all those wonderful muscles that your trying to strengthen. The point I’m making is, that those numbers are ‘cookie cutter’ numbers. A gross over generalization and estimate  of what calories your body ‘COULD’ be burning.

If I got on the treadmill, and then someone my same age and weight got on the same machine, but had a failing heart, was a smoker, ate fatty fried foods, drank nothing but caffeine and beer and who  is 4 foot 3 inches to do the very same exercise the machine would tell us both the same number of calories we just burned.

Do you still wanna believe those machines?

You cannot ‘out work’ or ‘out train’ bad food choices and poor discipline. It’s not an equal mathematical equation. Here is a wonderful set of brief videos by a highly respected fitness and weight loss expert that give a great a vivid real life demonstration: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4.

And you wonder why you’re not losing that weight?

By the way, if you don’t believe me, do the research yourself and test my theory. You’ll be stunned at the results.

Best of luck on your journey to better health!

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are in no way sponsored by ‘Turbulence Training” or “CB Athletics”*

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