Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Challenges, Facts, Fiction and Fallacy

Let me start by apologizing for the screwing up of a near perfect alliteration in my title. As weight losers, humans, athletes and wannabe athletes, we face many decisions during our journey. Some of those decisions you would think would be no-brainers, however; based on the staggering amount of controversial health and fitness posts in cyberspace, that is not at all the case.

Excuse me a moment while I put on my own guru hat.

Challenges: There are dozens of them every day. What do we eat? When should we eat? What should we do if we blow it? How should we train? How much cardio? How much strength training? How many long runs? Are these running shoes cute? What underwear chafes less? Do avocados make you fart?

There seems to be science to back up every position, which makes getting it right, overwhelming.

The best approach to managing challenges is to have a plan. A plan needs to have a goal such as losing 20 pounds, training to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes, or to bench press a baby elephant - that sort of thing. Then the plan needs bite size steps. No matter what you are doing, if you can't make it a priority, it will continue to challenge you, and probably defeat you too. Make a schedule to reach your goal and adjust it as needed.

It's OK to switch your long run day to one that is sunny instead of a blizzard-ing.

Facts: Fact just are. They are true and never predicated on theory. Most of our science seems to be based on the logical outcome of selected facts. That is junk science. (seems to work for politics and religion too) Real science takes into consideration, all the facts. An anecdotal outcome such as I drank 10 cups of water and only peed out 6 does not specifically mean that you retained 4 cups of water. The point is there are other ways for the water to escape the body. And when it comes to water, there are many sources unless you are only eating celery powder. Oh - and here's a tip: don't drink out of the same cup you peed in.

Do you want facts? Use a tape measure, a measuring cup and a food scale.

The bottom line is that each one of us is metabolically different, and that is a fact. Some are prone to gain weight depending on their protein/carbohydrate /fat intake ratio. Some are sensitive to sodium, others are not. Some have a thyroid problem, and others have a sugar addiction; we are all different.

Fiction: Worse than junk science is outcome based logic which is not backed by facts. There are a lot of hypotheses regarding calories, weight loss, marathon training and other health related issues. Although the basic math of calories in/calories out holds an overall truth, it is pretty much fiction because all calories are not created equally. Caloric labels, treadmill displays, and Garmin HRMs are all educated guesses which can be used as a guide. They are pure fiction.

The fiction is based on how caloric content is measured. Basically the testers incinerate the food, but that is not exactly how it happens in a your body. At least one study showed that people who ate the exact same amount of calories of salmon vs beef, showed slightly greater weight loss. I can attest to the fact that it is much easier to burn 80/20 burgers than it is a piece of salmon when grilling.

The bottom line, it does matter what types of food you eat.

When it comes to training and running, most plans are based on some sort of mathematical progression and not on any actual physiological evidence, except that if you have an injury, you pushed it too hard.

Be very skeptical if instant results, magic pill diets and train for 3 days a week marathon training plans. For every person that could possibly achieve those results, there are thousands who cannot.

I am not even convinced that a 1 or 2 pound a week weight loss number is ideal. The truth is no matter what plan you use, what diet, what training you force yourself to do, you will gain back 73% of what you lost for one reason, and one reason alone: You stopped doing what was working.

Did I say you need to adjust your plan to meet your goal?

I lost 30 pounds in 3 months by adding a little exercise (90 minutes a week) and cutting calories. I actually had a couple of 4+ pound loss weeks. I have never gained it back in 2 years time.

The point is this, we need to choose a lifestyle of good foods and regular, and increasing cardio with a mix of solid strength training.

Which brings me to my first point. the challenge is setting a goal with obtainable steps. 

Thank you for commenting and sharing!

The Kickstarter video for my new book is just around the corner. Follow the progress on http://www.marathonproject.com

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