DIET just another NASTY FOUR LETTER WORD!
I have an acronym for the ugly word DIET - (DEPRIVATION - INDUCED - EATING - TRAUMA). What could be more counterproductive than saying you should begin a diet AND exercise program simultaneously? First of all why would you want to start exercising when you are most likely stressed, frustrated and most importantly HUNGRY due to the effects of restricting your food intake and/or eliminating your favorite foods?
I often hear people say that they are on a "great diet." To me that is like saying I just had a "fantastic headache." I think most will agree that a great diet or a fantastic headache would be those that fail to start in the first place. If there was such a thing as a universal diet, vitamin, supplement, or food that caused the masses to safely lose weight and keep the weight from creeping back again, do you actually think you would have to seek it out? I think not! The product would have a life of its own, plastered across every newspaper in the world and available on every street corner of the US. There have been some strides in the modern science of weight loss, although most involve great expense/risk, both or many more years of study.
Being physically fit is a very relative term with many meanings. However, it is one of the few things in life that money cannot buy, it must be earned through your own motion and sweat. At least for the time being, even the wealthiest people on earth still cannot pay someone to exercise for them. And to even be more unfair fitness leaves much quicker than it arrives. In order to hang on to the elusive state of fitness one must continue to exercise indefinitely. However, please remember this important fact, it is much easier to STAY in shape than it is to GET in shape!
One would think that paying someone to exercise for you would be insane. Although, isn't that what we are doing when we fork over our hard earned money in ever increasing amounts to ingest the latest, greatest, usually unproven propaganda or product that comes across TV, radio, email, newspapers and magazines? Of course if you are looking for an easier way, don't listen to me, as there really is no reason that you should. Please respond to some of the more alluring offers that appear in a steady stream through the above-mentioned sources.
I think you will find numerous ways to spend your money and valuable time avoiding exercise and chasing the elusive magic bullet of effortless, sustained, life long weight loss. If you chose to follow that course, you might as well stop reading this article! Could you also do me a huge favor and let me know when you find this means of effortless, "let some else exercise for me" road to fitness. I will gladly pay YOUR price.
I am not saying that diets don't work. On the contrary many people lose weight on diets. But of all those people on diets, how many actually enjoy them or have had long-term success? My guess would be, very few. Please see ediets.com for a selection of the current "in vogue" diet plans available today. They are a good source of very diverse information on this ugly diet thing.
If you are extremely unfit and overweight I feel you need to think in terms of a lifestyle change as opposed to a diet and exercise program. The further you are from being reasonably fit, of course, the longer and more difficult your journey will be back to fitness. That is why I feel you should set intermediate goals and work towards regaining your health in a "stair step" manner. Setting unrealistic goals leaves you open to disappointment, which usually leads to falling back to your old habits. Most of us will not end up as swimsuit models when we reach our goals, although some may. My point is we all have to deal with the genetic hand we are dealt. However, I believe most of us can be in much better shape than we currently are if we choose to be.
There is no such thing as a universal diet for the general populous. The "dairy diet" would not work well for the lactose intolerant, the "peanut butter diet" would send some into anaphylactic shock and so on. I think you get where I am going with this, some diets can be downright dangerous. We all have unique metabolisms and different taste preferences and what works for some will not work for others. Exercise on the other hand works for anyone who is fortunate enough to be able to participate in some form or fashion.
Granted, watching your diet and participating in an exercise program are THE most effective combinations to lose weight. However, I believe you should begin an exercise program, especially if exercise is something new to you, feeling as good as you can. Portion control to me would be the most effective way to start to limit you caloric intake. I know, I can hear you already - much easier said than done! Is it not better to eat fewer of the foods that you really enjoy rather than force-feeding foods that are supposedly good for you or the other option of eliminating your favorite foods altogether?
Moderation along with variety and balance are essential to healthful and enjoyable eating. One single meal or food cannot "make or break" a healthy, varied diet. Overall, consistency along with the magic of portion control over a period of time is most important for optimal weight control.
There is a wonderfully true to life theory called the Pareto Principle. Also known as the "80/20 rule" or "The Vital Few and Trivial Many Rule". The Pareto Principle is aptly named after Italian economist Vilfredo Frederico Pareto who observed in 1906 that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. As he followed this premise he also noticed that it applied other aspects of life as well, and even extended into nature. He noted that 80 percent of his peas were produced by 20 percent of the peapods. There are literally hundreds of examples that seem to apply. To list just a few - 80 percent of the wear of your carpet or linoleum is concentrated on 20 percent of the surface area, 80 percent of real estate sales are achieved by 20 percent of real estate agents, 80 percent of a town's traffic is on 20 percent of its roads, 80 percent of the outfits we wear come from 20 percent of the clothes in our wardrobe, and so on.
I also follow the premise that 20 percent of your workout leads to 80 percent of your gains. So why not spend 80 percent less time on your workout routine? In other words I think most people squander or waste most of their "gym time". That is fine if you go to the gym to meet people and consider this time more as another form of socializing rather than using the time to become fit. My weight-training program is all about cutting down on your gym time so you can spend more time doing what ever else it is that you enjoy.
Much of my fitness training involves stretching, isometrics, and core-training programs that include "big bang for the buck" exercises. Exercises done with intense effort for very short periods of time - after your have gained reasonable fitness. On the other hand an important KEY to sustained weight loss/control is my LSD exercise (Long Slow Distance exercise - "LSDe" from here on in) training sessions. Most people have more free time on weekends, which would be an excellent time to get a LSDe workout in. I find that these LSDe workouts not only provide a tremendous calorie burn, but also teach your body to burn fat as a fuel - if done at a moderate exertion level for longer periods of time.
My program may seem at first glance to be a contradiction in terms in that I preach short, intense weight training and floor exercises and then in the very next sentence tell you to go long and slow. My thinking is that first of all you should build your cardiorespiratory system (heart and lungs) up to a point where you have some endurance and then build muscle to burn even more calories at rest. I feel for most of us, especially as we age, we can afford to perform much more cardiovascular activities without sacrificing muscle than we currently realize.
I have a twist on Pareto's Principle that I like to use pertaining to your eating habits. I feel that if you watch your portion control during the week (approximately 80 percent of the time) you can get away with pretty much eating as you like the other 20 percent of the time. When you use exercise as a buffer to counter occasional (20 %) overeating, the effects are not as likely to literally stay with you. For example, I usually watch my diet more carefully during the week, although that may be an over statement. I pretty much eat what I like all the time, but then I exercise every day. On the weekends I throw what little caution there was to the wind. I eat what looks and what tastes good to me with little thought whether or not someone states that it is a "bad" food.
I believe exercise is the key to obtaining your "license to eat" or at the very least your learners' permit! The trick is finding something that you enjoy doing or can at the minimum tolerate for an extended periods of time - over 45 minutes. I know some of us have more commitments on our time than others. Although as far as I can tell we all measure this abstract concept called time the same way. The very people that feel they have the least amount of time to exercise are usually those who would benefit the most from exercise. We all have twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week and fifty-two weeks in a year. I believe the old axiom - "if you don't make time for exercise, make time for disease" or more aptly put, "move yourself or make time for discomfort, due to the debilitating, building effect of year after year of inactivity and lack of moving your body, literally causing your life blood to slow and thicken in your veins".
Exercise has amazing benefits, if given a chance to take hold. Several of these would be - losing weight, uplifting your mood, better sleep, easing of the aches and pains of long term inactivity, better self-image, increased energy, better sex life, and cheap insurance against many of our biggest killers - cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, strokes, diabetes and the list goes on and on. Please don't get me wrong and assume that I am stating that exercise will extend your time on this earth, although it may very well. Guarantees on our lifespan are shaky at best. I do think, however, exercise will make any time you do have left much more pleasant, simply because you will FEEL BETTER and if you feel better you cannot help but LOOK BETTER! Hopefully revenge is not part of your game plan, but if it is pretty much everyone knows that the best revenge is looking good and also it probably does the least damage - to you that is.
I would be the first to agree that being overweight and happy (positive outlook, even temperament, tolerant, appreciative, satisfied, and kind) would be a far better alternative to being thin and neurotic, constantly brooding over your food intake and exercise quota. However, I highly doubt that anyone could argue that being overweight is beneficial to your overall health - mentally or physically.
In my opinion many people are not even in good enough shape to even begin a weight lifting routine. I feel that someone who has not done any meaningful exercise in years has no business lifting weights until they start to at the very least pump some blood through their neglected, probably atrophied muscles. Yet I still see people being put through the traditional training method of a ten minute warm-up on a bike or cross-trainer. Then onto a circuit of machines, finally followed by another ten minute "cool down". I feel this approach may work for some, although most would benefit by progressively working towards fitness in graduated steps.
I am in the process of developing and refining a plan or more aptly called a lifestyle, which I call "lo-fi Fitness". My interpretation of the term "lo-fi" to me means understated, not overproduced, uncomplicated, and easily recognized. Of course that does not mean that I will not incorporate high tech equipment into your regime like heart rate monitors, MP3 players and state-of-the-art exercise equipment. I will keep you abreast of the ever evolving changes in the world of health and fitness. And please remember that I can't sweat for you - although I WILL sweat with you!
My general idea is to change your attitude toward exercise and make being physically fit an enjoyable, necessary part of your life. Most who are not in very good condition I feel need to work up to lifting weights after proper lessons in breathing, stretching and aerobics then on to core and isometric exercises finally followed by a tailored weight lifting program. My program basically consists of four individual phases; if you will.
Phase One is about teaching you how your breathing affects your overall well-being and how improved breathing makes long term exercise not only possible but much more enjoyable, kind of like "moving meditation". Please see my article on breathing titled "It's Going to Happen Anyway ... Even if You Don't Think About It!". Also, I will show you how to move in a more relaxed fashion as to work with your entire body as a unit rather than individual parts working against each other.
Phase Two will concentrate on your core, using isometric, stretching and core exercises. My idea of "your core" would be similar to this scenario - imagine a wooden doll and you detach the doll's head, arms and legs. What you have left would be your core. Everything you do passes through your core and without proper muscle tone and control in your core all forward or backward motion would be hampered in some way. In some ways I think just developing an awareness of your body will go a long way to better use of it.
Phase Three would be finding some form of LSDe training and taking in long sessions on the weekend or when you have the most time. The most important point of LSDe workouts would be to forget about distance measurements and deal in time only. For example, anyone can go for an hour walk, just at a different pace. When you say, "I went for a five-mile walk", you may start to compare yourself to others who cover five miles much faster than you and become disappointed. I feel when we tend to compare ourselves to others you are setting yourself up for failure.
Phase Four would be vigorous, short-term, intense weight lifting routines to form a symmetrical physique, using the premise that 80% of your results come from 20% of your workout. As I stated above I think most need to work up to lifting weights rather than start out by lifting weights without a good base of flexibility and fitness.
How long will this take, you ask? The answer I always give, which I have heard from help desk support people for over twenty years, is "it depends". It used to drive me crazy to hear this response, but I now realize it has a ring of truth to it. I once asked an IBM Field Engineer many years ago, "When will this darn computer be up and running again?". I was given an answer that has stuck with me ever since. His response was actually a question - "How long does it take to catch a fish?". Of course the obvious answer is "it depends". Too many variables are involved to answer a question like that. That is why I don't like the "30 Days To A New You", "12 Weeks To The Body You Dream Of", and so on. I think such short term fixed time limits set people up for disappointment. The answer of course "depends" mainly on your commitment, dedication and consistency.
©Copyright 2003 - 2015 Stephen Vincent LLC. All rights reserved®