Update 9/5/20. New Year's Day is traditionally the starting day to drag out those legendary weight loss programs. “Lose twenty pounds in twenty days” a local chiropractor posted in two-foot tall letters on his billboard. When did chiropractors become weight loss and lifestyle coaches? It's hard enough to rise above the noise and distortion of product claims without having to defend good science against snake oil salespeople.
Twenty pounds in twenty days? Let's instead take a sane and logical approach. It has been proven time and time again that to lose weight you have to use more energy than you consume. A principle of thermodynamics is that all energy equates to heat.
A calorie is the amount of heat it takes to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. A dietary calorie (kilocalorie) is one thousand regular calories. Dietary Calories are the measure of energy that is found in the foods we consume. Calories out need to exceed calories in. That's how you lose weight. It seems so simple why is it so hard to accomplish?
We evolved from a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian society to a sedentary society living in virtual reality, much like the movie “Matrix”, without making any major changes to our body processes. Having evolved from a life of barely surviving to a life of barely moving has taken its toll on people.
Your genes remember the tough times and your body is designed to highly value energy. When you eat more calories than you need to survive your body will store it away as triglycerides (fat) to use the next time you get low on energy.
If you are on diet too low in Calories your body will think that you are starving and it will preserve your fat stores. Instead, for energy, it will steal proteins from your muscle believing that you, the hunter-gatherer, are walking twenty to forty miles a day. Your body assumes that it will be easy to build the muscle back up once you find more energy. As a result, you lose muscle density. Most people don't walk twenty to forty miles a day. Most Americans don't walk five miles a day.
A muscle at rest burns three to six times the Calories of body fat at rest. Muscle being exercised will burn twenty or more times the Calories of body fat at rest. Obviously your New Year's resolution should be to lose body fat not to lose weight.
Body fat doesn't do anything but hang around when you are not active. It's just another freeloader using life energy without giving any back. Forget losing pounds. Lose fat! Get active! Stay active for as long as you have the energy to do so!
When you are working at a moderate intensity for more than ten minutes your body will be taking back that energy that is stored as fat. Doing exercise with an elevated heart rate will flood your tissues with nutrients and your whole body will thank you.
More than just Calories count. A teaspoon of refined white table sugar is four grams of sugar and has 16 Calories. It has no nutrient value other than as a source of energy. On the other hand 100 grams of boiled cauliflower has twenty eight calories of which only two to three grams are sugar.
In addition to a measure of energy in the cauliflower, you get a good amount of fiber and a collection of phytonutrients to help protect you from colon cancer and other cancers of the digestive system. A diet high in complex carbohydrates will aid in stabilizing your blood sugars and help to prevent metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes. You need to look at your source of Calories and try to get the most bang for your buck from the foods that you eat.
Your best New Year's resolution would be to get healthy; lose body fat, not body weight. Sure you will want to reduce your portion sizes a bit but more importantly don't consume anything that doesn't serve a healthy function.
The first exercise to learn is “The Push Away”. When someone places an unhealthy portion of fat, salt, and/or sugar in front of you, grasp the edges of the plate or container with both hands. Extend your arms away from your body using your triceps to push the offending serving as far away from your face as possible. Chant this mantra in a low voice, “Everything that you put into your body will have some effect on it.”
A healthy diet, routine exercise, and of course a happy mental attitude is the key to good health. Living a healthy lifestyle can lengthen your life and will improve the quality of your life. Everyone has twenty-four hours in their day. Living healthy can earn you more days.
William R. Edwards BSEE, HFS, LSWMC, PT. William is a personal trainer and owner of WAEdwards Fitness Professionals in Modesto CA. Follow him on Facebook