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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Could Exercise actually be Keeping me from losing weight?"

"Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?" is the question that drives John Cloud's article. His answer leans toward a big, fat resounding YES.

Boys and girls, I found this article misleading and irresponsible. For those looking for an answer to end their battle with the bulge, this article could lead them to throw in the towel once and for all and to have a big, greasy donut along the way to make themselves feel better.

So: is there any truth to what John Cloud writes?

Is it true that exercise alone will not make you lose weight? YES. It is true!
If you eat more calories than you burn per day, even if you exercise for three hours a day, you will not lose weight. To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. You must burn more than you consume. It is basic science. The author is saying nothing new!

I tell my BeachBody customers all the time: If you want to see results, you have to eat clean. No ifs ands or buts! Is it fair? Who cares? Fair has nothing to do with it. That's life!

Is it true that exercise increases your appetite? YES. It is true!
A bigger appetite does not mean that one has to reach for unhealthy foods! This is one of the biggest issues I had with the author. He assumes that unhealthy foods are our only recourse to an increase in appetite. Moreover, a person who exercises regularly can in fact eat more. But again, we are what we eat. We can add more nutritious foods to our diet, which in turn, will help us feel fuller, not to mention Better!

Is it true that we don't have to go to the gym in order to be fit? Yes. It is true!
Let's face it, our grandparents and parents did not grow up in a world of 24Hour Fitness Gyms. Nor did they grow up in a world of fast food! Americans have become more sedentary. Less and less people have active jobs. The average American watches over 5 hours of television per night. We are a sedentary society even though we are obsessed with being thin. Ironic? Yes!

As a society, we are moving a lot less and eating a lot more! No wonder 300 million Americans are either overweight or obese.

The author notes that if we gardened, golfed, and moved about all day, we wouldn't have to go to the gym or follow an exercise program. That is right! If we were truly active and if we ate well, we wouldn't have to go. But most of us, including myself (I work in front of a computer most of the day) are not as active as we need to be. If you're one of the fortunate few who can hike a few miles per week, golf, swim, move around all day, lucky you!!

But again, the problem is not that exercise doesn't make you lose weight. The problem is that too many people just don't know the meaning of proper nutrition. They exercise and eat too much.

The author uses science to support his personal view that people are incapable of making the proper nutritional choices. He blames exercising instead of our sorry relationship to food and nutrition.

Here's an example:

"Because rodents have a lot of brown fat, it's very difficult to make them obese, even when you force-feed them in labs. But humans — we're pathetic. We have so little brown fat that researchers didn't even report its existence in adults until earlier this year. That's one reason humans can gain weight with just an extra half-muffin a day: we almost instantly store most of the calories we don't need in our regular ("white") fat cells.

All this helps explain why our herculean exercise over the past 30 years — all the personal trainers, StairMasters and VersaClimbers; all the Pilates classes and yoga retreats and fat camps — hasn't made us thinner. After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting"

Boys and girls, we make choices. What is needed is not an end to exercising, but rather, a shift in our attitudes and behaviors when it comes to food. Making this change is indeed difficult for many of us. But, it is possible.

Mr. Cloud, why don't you drop Barbie a line. I'll set you up with a meal plan and help you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Bring it!

Barbie, PhD


screwdestiny said...

Oh but, Barbie, haven't you heard? People don't want to be held accountable for the sorry state they've gotten their bodies to. They want an out. An excuse. "Oh! This article says I haven't been losing any weight because I'm exercising and that makes me eat more! That explains it! You see, it's not really my fault." At first when I read this terrible article, I didn't understand why a fairly reputable magazine that is Time would publish it. Now I do. I think that a lot of overweight people are going to eat this up. We are, after all, a nation that just does not want to take responsibility. It is very sad.

Fit Mama said...

I was catching up on my periodicals and read this yesterday. I refused to let my husband read it because I'm always nagging him to get active, and the exercise would significantly improve his heart health!

However, I do find that exercise helps me maintain my weight, as I like to eat what I want. BUT, if I actually want to lose weight, I may put myself on a strict diet for a couple weeks, drop some lbs, then just maintain the weight through exercise. For me the exercise is the easy part. The nutrition always gets me... As we know, it's a matter of balance and lifestyle including good nutrition and exercise. I won't be quitting my workouts anytime soon. They may not help me lose weight, but they sure make me feel good!

MAJL said...

Runner's World posted a rebuttal to the article:

Coach Barbie, PhD said...

Screwdestiny: Sighhhhh, I know! I know! There's that, that people are LOOKING for an excuse, and there's also the fact that so many people just don't know what to do. This article confirms their FALSE belief that exercising doesn't work. The author is beyond idiotic and shame on TIME magazine for allowing this to print. YES, you nailed it, it's all about sales. SHAME.

Coach Barbie, PhD said...

FITMAMA: Exercise DOES help you lose weight IF you eat clean. I think you said it: it's a BALANCE. The author can't stop himself from stuffing his body with french fries, but that's HIS problem!

Coach Barbie, PhD said...

MAJL: thanks so much for posting the rebuttal. I have to go pick up my new glasses now, but I'll be back later to read it!! THANKS!!