You're Not Losing Weight; It's Not Your Fault
If you have tried and failed to lose weight or get the body you want before, it has not been your fault. You tried, you put forth effort, you went to the gym, took the pills, did the diets, and/or struggled on the treadmill. If you made any attempt, then it was not you that failed the diet. It was the method—the diet—that failed you. If you have half a disciplined bone in your body then your problem is not you. Your problem is simply that you have been misled.
If you are actually reading this article then it's a safe bet that you have a lot more than just half a disciplined bone in you because 44% of adult Americans do not purchase even a single book in a year, and of those who purchase a book only 10% actually read them. If you are actually out actively searching for a solution to your problem then you have all of the willpower, drive and determination that you need to create the body you want. Your situation with weight loss is a lot like someone looking for a sunset. They went to the bookstore and picked up a book entitled, "How To See A Sunset." The book told them to walk East, so they did. They walked East and now they're actually further away from what they really wanted, all because they got some bad directions. But the good news is that you can actually follow directions, so you are not the problem because you can actually get yourself to take action. If we connect you with the right instructions then you will get the body you want, it will only be a matter of time. The standard weight-loss model says, "Eat less, and exercise more." I'll tell you that with a lot of my obsessive-compulsive female clients who want to lose weight (really they want to lose fat) and are doing 6 or 7 hours of cardio per week the prescription is, "Eat more and exercise less." One woman in particular, who is also a published author, told me that she ate like a bird—small portions, low fat, vegetarian fare—did 60-75 minutes of cardio every single day, and yet not only had she not lost one pound, but she actually gained eight pounds, and outgrew some of her clothes over the last two months. Eight pounds isn't a lot of weight, but it is significant when you're all of 5'3", starving yourself, and exercising like a maniac. So to solve her problem, we had her eat more—about 40% more food, with more fat, and reduced the amount of time that she spent in the gym—seven 60 min cardio sessions turned into three to four 30 min sessions, accompanied by a functional training regimen. One week later she said, "I lost five pounds last week, have more energy and most of my clothes fit again!" (Obviously, if you don't exercise at all, then you'll actually have to exercise more, but the point is the "no pain, no gain," "starve yourself thin," "diet away those pounds," and "you have to work out all the time to look good" philosophies are ineffective when it comes to lasting fat loss.) Working harder at dieting, starving yourself, or trying to "melt those pounds away" is running, instead of walking, East looking for a sunset. In the long run, dieting and excessive exercise will actually take you further away from where you really want to go.
Here's why: We store fat to protect ourselves from starvation. No one reading this article will ever have that problem in their lifetime, but 500, 1,000, 10,000, and 1,000,000 years ago this was the quintessential human problem—"Where is my next meal going to come from!?" That's what we worked for almost all day long, beginning with the hunter-gatherers, and now ending with the highly technologically advanced farmers of today. Back then it was very common for people to starve to death during times of famine. The people who survived were the ones who were really, really good at storing fat because fat allowed them to live through the famine and reproduce, passing on their super fat-storing genes to their offspring. (Other animals are also efficient at storing fat, because they too die of starvation and have a series of built-in protection mechanisms as you will see below. It just made sense to talk about people because I don't think anyone's cat or dog will be reading this) The problem with diets and excessive exercise is that they supply the very stimulus that our fat storing genes respond to—starvation. In fact there are two really, really cool studies that I picked up from the American Journal of Physiology (MacLean, Paul S., Higgins, Janine A., et al. "Metabolic Adjustments with the Development, Treatment, and Recurrence of Obesity in Obesity-Prone Rats," Am J Physiol Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol, Aug 2004; 287: R288-297) (AJP) and Science News (Christensen, Damaris. "Dietary Dilemmas: Is the Pendulum Swinging Away from Low Fat?," Science News, Feb 8, 2003; Vol. 163, No. 6) (SN) that explain exactly how our "eat less and exercise more" weight loss philosophy is contributing to the obesity epidemic that we are faced with in this country. The first study in the AJP was done on rats to study what happens to a mammal's metabolism during and after a weight-loss diet. (Metabolism is just a fancy word for how many calories your body consumes during a day. In this case we'll be focusing on what is known as your "resting metabolic rate" or RMR, which is how many calories your body consumes at rest, because your body is always consuming energy—or calories—to beat your heart, breathe your air, work your brain, digest your food, grow your nails, and all the other innumerable functions the body carries out all the time regardless of if you move or not.) So, the rats were put on the "14-day laboratory miracle diet", and lost 10-15% of their body weight each in two weeks. (The rats' feeding plan wasn't actually called the miracle diet, the researchers just cut their calories—amount of food—way down, which is essentially what any diet is.) When the scientists analyzed the rat's metabolisms after the diet they found, "both [24 hour energy expenditure—RMR] and [sleeping metabolic rate] declined to a greater extent than was expected." Translation: When rats go on diets their metabolisms slow down way, way, way more than the scientists expected them to. What that means for you is that every time you go on a diet your body thinks that you are literally starving. When your body thinks that it is starving it slows way down, or decreases your RMR. A lower RMR means that your body has learned to do the same things—life support, cell division, digestion, etc.—with fewer calories. If you use fewer calories all day long you will store the difference in calories from your old metabolism and your new slower metabolism as fat all day long, which is the exact opposite of what you wanted when you went on the diet in the first place. Suppose, for example, that before the diet your RMR was 2,000 kcal/day* (kcal = food calories), and during the diet it got down to 1,500 kcal/day. When you inevitably go off the diet, you now have a 500 kcal/day surplus that will be stored as fat (these numbers were selected to make the math easy, and to illustrate what is going on inside of your body, not to give you a precise measurement of your individual metabolism). 500 kcal x 7 days = 3,500 kcal surplus 3,500 kcal = One pound of Fat stored uncontrollably per week after the diet! The study reported in Science News was done on people, and it showed that over 50% of the weight lost on a diet is muscle. The only place in your body that you can burn fat is in the mitochondria of a muscle cell, so the more muscle cells you have the bigger your fat-burning furnace. What's more is that it takes about 50 calories per day to keep a pound of muscle on your body, as opposed to losing it like on a diet. If you lose 20 pounds on a diet, you have lost at least 11 pounds of muscle. 11 lbs x 50 kcal/day = 550 kcal/day surplus 550 kcal x 7 days = 3,850 kcal/week surplus 3,850 kcal = Over one extra pound of Fat stored uncontrollably per week after the diet! Is it any wonder why in 2001 the American Dietetic Association (ADA July, 2001 Press Release from the American Dietetic Association) said that 98% of all diets fail? Their definition of failure is if the person gains all of the weight back and/or gains it all back plus more, then it's a failure! All BUT 2% of people who go on a diet gain everything back that they lost on the diet, or everything plus a few extra pounds when they inevitably go off. (By the way, going off the diet is the natural human response to a diet—your body thinks you're starving and it tells you very forcibly through intense cravings to go eat as much food as you can get your hands on, but we'll get into detail about that in Unit Two.)
Rats and people respond to diets in much the same way: initially they lose weight (weight—water and muscle not fat), but as their metabolisms slow in response to the diet their weight-loss slows to the point that it stops, creating what is known as a "plateau." The weight begins to return despite the fact that they are still starving if they keep up the diet long enough, because our bodies adapt to dieting by slowing our metabolism more and more. The problem is that unlike rats, people blame themselves, not the diet or the cockamamie exercise routine. Have you ever been mad at yourself and depressed when you finally broke your diet, or when you gained all of the weight back and then some for what seemed like no reason, and in record time? I'm sure that you blamed yourself for "being lazy," "weak," and for your "lack of commitment," or whatever angers you about yourself when that happens. It's not your fault! You just got bad directions! That will happen every single time you try to lose weight with the "eat less, exercise more" approach. Your New Directions We all have a skinny friend we hate because "he/she can eat anything they want and not ever gain weight." The reason your skinny friend is skinny is because he/she has a fast metabolism. Yes, they probably do also have some genetic advantages over you, but that's not something you can control. What you can control is the speed of your metabolism. You can literally create and maintain a fast metabolism—almost, if not as good as your skinny friend's, and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with dieting, cutting calories, cutting carbs, cutting fat, running yourself silly on a treadmill for hours, popping dangerous diet pills, or any of the other common unsuccessful weight loss approaches. In fact all of the things that I just listed will probably leave you fatter in the long run. Before we go any further I want to clear up one thing: weight loss. Weight loss is a misnomer—you don't want to lose weight, you want to lose fat. Dieting and doing a lot of cardio (over-exercising) will help you lose weight quickly, but very little of that weight will be fat. Most of what you will lose on a diet is muscle (50%+), slowing down your metabolism and leading to long-term fat gain. Second you will lose water, and in third comes fat. So, you may lose 20 pounds on a diet, but over half of that is muscle, 5 pounds is water, and finally four pounds are fat—you lost a lot of weight, but you didn't lose very much fat, only 4 pounds. And the changes that did take place in your body will ensure that those five pounds come back with a vengeance. Whereas on our program the scale will only tell you that you lost 10 pounds, but you actually lost 20 pounds of fat.
Here's how that can happen: We focus on building your metabolism through supportive nutrition, and adding lean muscle tissue. If you gain 10 pounds of muscle at the same time that you lose 20 pounds of fat, the scale will only show a loss of 10 pounds. Ten pounds of muscle fits into the same space as five pounds of fat, it is metabolically active (it burns 3,500 kcal/week—or one pound of fat), and gives your body shape and tone which fat cannot do. Burning fat 24 hours a day is all about speeding up your metabolism through a simple combination of supportive nutrition that generally involves eating more and exercise. Basically, all that means is that if you eat a healthy, balanced meal or snack every 2-3 hours per day, and exercise in a way that builds muscle, then before you know it you will have your skinny friend's metabolism, and the body you want will be well on its way. Here's how all this works. First you must tackle the single most important factor in creating any change or accomplishing anything—your mind. What you will or won't do is controlled by how you think or feel. In my 20+ year experience in helping people change their bodies I have not come across a single more important factor in your success or failure. You will need some tools, strategies, and distinctions to get yourself to take action on a consistent basis. Knowledge is only potential power, only action gives you power. If you know what to do and you don't do it, then it doesn't do you any good. Then you will need to understand functional nutrition. Of all of the active, "doing" components this is the most important. You can exercise perfectly, but if you aren't supporting your fat loss with proper nutritional habits then you can kiss the body you want goodbye. However, if you are diligent with just a few simple habits such as eating every 2-3 hours, and drinking enough water on a daily basis, then the body you want will show up for you a lot sooner, and with a lot more energy than you ever thought possible. By the way, eating every 2-3 hours usually means that you get to eat more—most people love this part because you eat more and weigh less, and it is most definitely NOT diet food. Dr. Mark Hyman has just released a new book Eat fat, Get thin. He tells people we have gotten it all wrong. The fat we eat is not the fat on our bodies. Although it is the same word, which would cause one to easily believe this is the case, it just is not true.
Finally, you must address the absolutely indispensable topic of functional exercise. Just because exercise is #3 on the list does not mean that it is not absolutely essential. You cannot ever get the body you want without a consistent, properly designed exercise routine. Luckily for you Mike D., America's leading authority on exercise, will not only give you a world class education on how your body works, what to do, and why to do it, but he has also created a comprehensive two day live workshop that is coming to a gym near you. The NCEP , his educational company, will teach you the same system he has been teaching the most sought after trainers in the country. This system will answer all the questions you have on how to get that body you want. Instead of paying trainers money every session to generate for you the properly designed, customized routines that you need to get results, you will be able to create them yourself for both you and your friends and family. You can learn side by side with professional trainers studying to achieve their national certifications. If you are interested in learning more about this program please go to our website NCEPFitness.com and see when we will be in a city near you. If you don’t see your city on our schedule let us know and we will try to get it scheduled as soon as possible.