Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Diet is a four-letter word

Excercise is boring. "Diet" is a four-letter word. If your focus is on these instead of on your goal, you've got an uphill battle ahead of you. If you don't understand why you're in the shape you're in, it makes it much harder to see significant or ongoing change. So before getting into the how-to of diet and exercise in upcoming posts, I wanted to spend some more time on motivation.

People facing weight or fitness issues tend to fall in two categories: Lifelong Struggler, or Slow Gainer. These are the terms used by Jim Karas in his book "Flip the Switch: Discover the Weight-Loss Solution and the Secret to Getting Started" (ABC News excerpt at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/PersonalBest/story?id=124518) The Lifelong Struggler mave have always seemed overweight, and may not remember a time when they weren't fighting to stay fit. In addition to the weight issue, the may be facing serious discouragement or even depression by trying so hard while seeing little progress. The Slow Gainer, however, had a fairly healthy body and good self image at some point as an adult. But over time, they started putting on weight, slowly, until one day they wake up and realize they're 30 pounds overweight. It might be at college, or post-partum, or after taking a new desk job, but now they're facing an issue they've not had to face before. This is the situation I'm currently in, by the way, though I'm more of a serial gainer. In high school, when I stopped playing sports I gained almost fifty pounds. In Boston, I put on forty pounds over the course of several years when I got "too busy" for exercise. Most recently, small changes in eating patterns (in combination with no exercise) let to my getting seriously overweight. There may be big differences in how the two types see themselves, how they got in the situation they're in, and may need different strategies for addressing fitness issues.

A good summary of his goal is given in Karis' book at the end of the section 'Believe in the Flip':
"I want you to come to the conclusion that you will succeed at weight loss. That is infinitely more valuable than if I'd simply advise you to "eat less, exercise more," which you know and I know is the numerical basis of weight loss. If eating less and exercising more were that easy, we would all have lost weight years ago. It requires so much more than a slogan such as, "Just say No to Food." It's just not that simple. What is keeping you and others from success at weight loss is your inability to reach the point where you, you, you believe that you can succeed at eating less and exercising more. Once you've come to terms with that emotional hurdle and discipline, the physical exercises will seem easy by comparison."
Knowing why you want to make a change, understanding the benefit, and believing you can do it, are crucial to seeing lasting change.

1 comment:

Jim Karas said...


Thanks for the kind words about my second book, "Flip The Switch."

I really believe that all of us has the ability to lose weight and feel great, but we play so many games in our mind and the media doesn't help as it continually touts one "Lose Weight Fast" gimmicks that does nothing but confuse us and set us up to fail.

I also believe we are all exercising wrong. In my most recent book, "The Cardio-Free Diet," I really talk about what is the most effective form of exercise to not only lose weight, but to virtually slow if now stall the aging process.

Again, thanks for the mention and best of luck.

Jim Karas