Do I Really Have to Change Everything?

Do I Really Have to Change Everything?


A Diet is NOT the Way to Go!

Below is an e-mail exchange I had with one of my clients earlier today.  He had successfully lost 20 lbs, but had decided to take a break from the regime to make sure that it was REALLY what he wanted.  I had misunderstood his motives.

I think the conversation that ensued is instructional, because it revealed something that many struggle with: the idea that weight loss is about a DIET.

  1. Theresa Wright, a Dietitian in Pennsylvania, defines a diet as “a period of starvation followed by rapid weight gain.” This may sound tongue-in-cheek, but practically speaking it isn’t: it’s what happens. People tend to go “off the diet,” and the weight comes back on, usually with interest.


A Conversation With a Client:

The solution is a permanent, once-and-for-all change of lifestyle and eating habits.  This can be overwhelming and difficult to accept.  Here’s the conversation we had (all names, except mine, have been changed):

John’s E-mail to Me:

“Hey Mike –

When we were talking today about Mary, you mentioned that it is hard to be on a weight loss program and pointed out that I myself went off it.

I want you to know that being on the program itself is not difficult. The question I am struggling with is whether this is how I want to eat the rest of my life. That is really the more difficult thing to deal with, at least for me. The question in my mind is – “if I am going to gain all the weight back by going back to eating typically once the program is done, then what is the point of the program? I might as well get off of it now until I figure out the answer.

I have the feeling that you misunderstood where I am at.


My response:

“Hi John,

Thanks for the clarification.  I had remembered you saying that it had a lot to do with all that was going on at the time: job search, etc., so that’s good to know.

What I didn’t realize is that you were looking at this as a temporary thing.  I should have been more clear I guess that this is an entire – and permanent – lifestyle change.  If not, then you’re absolutely right that we gain our weight back.

I agree that losing the weight isn’t hard.  It’s staying on the program that is.  That’s actually probably what Mary is struggling with, the notion that she can’t continue on her current path, or ever return to it once she starts to focus on weight loss.  In a sense, in the area of food at least, you both probably are struggling with similar things.

Sorry if I misunderstood, and thanks for clarifying it all for me.


John’s Response:

“Actually on that, you didn’t say it but showed me by the way you eat.

However my hope (that was based on something another trainer told me in the past) was that once I put on lean mass, it would act as a fat burner and with some exercise and good eating I could maintain it.

So I didn’t pay much importance to the long term change in life style up front. And on hindsight this was really a shitty time to start this – it is wise to take on one big life changing thing at a time – one can do more but chances are one will stuff both up.

My hope is that if I can get some relief on the business front, to get back on this. Any time I eat crap these days my body feels like crap right after – I can actually tell now so in some ways I wanna go back to eating the way I was when I was on the program.


My Response:

“Well you’re realizing some important things then. Good observations John!

What your other trainer doesn’t realize, most likely, is how bad we who don’t eat well actually eat.

They tend to think we overeat a bit here and there and extra muscle mass will take care of that. Not really so.

We used to believe that an extra pound of muscle would burn an extra 30 to 50 kcal each day. More recent studies suggest it’s really only about 6 kcal.

Take me for example. I probably carry 25 lbs of extra muscle from how I work out. This means that I burn a grand total of an extra 150 kcal each day than I would otherwise.

That’s half a donut. Not much huh?

Sad to say it really is all about watching what we eat.


Lose Weight Permanently – Change What & How You Eat:

So, if you’re hoping that excess muscle mass is going to be the game-changer for you, think again.  Sorry, but it comes down to good, old-fashioned, healthy eating.

That’s just the way it is.