This week, I had a conversation with someone, a friend who is struggling to lose weight and wanted some advice on getting started as a runner. I shared some of my personal and professional thoughts and insights gained from my own experience. He did not take much notice of the useful stuff, instead he was keen to press his own thoughts of my physique “it’s easy for you because you run so much.” He basically and wholly attributed my current physique to my running.
This is wrong, it is a myth, and I want to prove it.
Just look at these photos. Firstly, here I am, completing the London marathon in 2010. I had to train hard to run this marathon, and I crossed the finish line weighing in at well over 15 stone. I virtually have a double chin, I am embarrassed to share this publicly!
In contrast, here I am today, this taken just two weeks ago at London marathon, some five years older, well into my forties. I am lean and currently have a six-pack:
Just because someone runs a lot, it does not mean they are guaranteed to be thin. Lots of the ultra marathon runners that I encounter all say that the sheer volume of running they do makes them want to eat a lot… And never stop eating… So their weight does not necessarily go down as dramatically as people might expect. They are very often lean, but that is not just down to the running, they have a healthy attitude to life which ensures they make good choices for themselves, I’ll get on to that some more later on.
However, don’t take my anecdotal word for it.
According to research findings published in the Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year, it is overeating sugar and carbohydrates that cause obesity and not a sedentary lifestyle as is popularly thought. The researchers state “Our calorie laden diets now generate more ill health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined” !!
They go on to add;
“It’s time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s public relations machinery,” the authors wrote. “Let’s bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can’t outrun a bad diet.”
So it is not a given that running makes you thin – I am proof of that. The evidence supports that. I would add that being leaner does help some runners to run faster. In 2010 I ran London marathon in 4hrs 28mins, whereas in 2015, I just ran it in 3hrs 7mins and plan on improving upon that in the next year year…. Plus, this Summer, when the sun actually shines, I’ll be happy parading around with my shirt off. Something I would not have done back in 2010. I had run a number of marathons before 2010, but that year was a turning point to me, I ran my slowest marathon, weighed the most I had done, and did not enjoy my running as much as I do now. I therefore examined the evidence and looked at what was going to help me make changes for the long term.
Exercising regularly is a contributing factor to well-being and good health, but it is not the singular answer and governments of Western Countries are examining their public health advice currently because of the advancing evidence to support this.
That is my first point here today; you can’t can’t outrun a bad diet. That is, you can’t eat poorly and think that exercise and activity will combat it, research proves this to be a myth.
This does NOT, however, mean that you need to ‘go on a diet.’ Having a healthy diet is very different to taking up a fad diet or a diet comprising of supplements, or a very low calorie diet whereby you feel starved, or a diet whereby you have to count calories (calorie counting is also proven to be ineffective with regards to weight reduction). There are some major conclusions that research suggests about dieting, and they are as follows:
1. Dieting does not work.
2. Dieting may make you more overweight, especially in the long run.
3. Dieting may be bad for your health.
Companies with big budgets and a vested interest in the massive diet market do not share such research findings. With this in mind, I have made significant changes to the food I eat and the way I eat in recent times. I do not drink anywhere near as much alcoholic drinks as I used to, but the main distinguishing features of how I eat is that my diet is one that has no processed carbs or sugar. It is filled with lots of healthy, whole foods that satisfy me and support my active lifestyle.
That is my second main point today then (following the point that “you can’t outrun a bad diet”) – that dieting does not work. It often leads to yo-yo dieting whereby a person reduces their weight, puts it all back on again, then tries to lose it again. However, it becomes an endless task because people who go on a very low calorie diet for the second time lose weight more slowly even if they take in the same number of calories as the first time. The body develops defences to deal with this and the more often it happens, the more difficult it is to reduce the weight.
Other things happen too when we diet; people become obsessed with food and eating, thinking about it constantly and sometimes obsessing about it. The body of someone who has yo-yo dieted responds by hoarding energy and our usual activities use up less calories (including sleeping burning less calories, the research suggests!), we give off less energy in body heat and we often become lethargic, and all the naughty foods start to taste even better than before.
We often relapse, we yo-yo and we feel doomed to a lifetime of being overweight. This is a myth, just because we have always been overweight, or were only ever not overweight as a child, it does not mean that has to be true for us for the rest of our lives. People seem to get into an overweight mindset and they seem to believe things about being overweight that simply are not the case.
There are many other myths about being overweight, let me give you a couple of the big ones:
a) As I have already suggested, the idea that physical inactivity is a major cause of obesity is not really proven to be true. People that are considered to be fat are usually less active than thinner people, however inactivity is probably caused more by being overweight than the other way around.
b) The notion that being overweight indicates a lack of willpower is a whopper of a myth. Today’s society often makes being fat a shameful thing and we hold people personally responsible for their weight. Being overweight equates to being weak-willed and slobby. This is helped by the fact that our friends and people in the media that have chosen to reduce weight do so dramatically and in a fairly short period of time. Know this though; almost everyone returns to the old weight after shedding pounds by dieting. The more diets people try, the harder the body works to defeat the next diet. There are plenty of genetics involved in how much we weigh and when dieting, people also have to compete against an even tougher opponent; our biological defence against starvation. We win some small victories through determined application of our conscious will, but more often than not, we lose the longer term war.
c) There is also a myth that overweight people have an ‘overweight personality’ which is also wrong. There has been plenty of research conducted looking at the correlation between fatness and personality and it has shown that obese people do not have any major differences in personality to those who are not obese. it might be more correct to suggest that overweight people adopt a mindset, which is great news, because that can be managed and a new mindset can be engineered, more on that later….
There is agreement from researchers that anyone can lose weight in one or two months on just about any diet, and there is also agreement that you are almost certainly going to put it all back on again within a few years (some authors suggest that you’ll actually put it all back on again and then some). You all know people who have adopted diets, regimens and plans or attended groups that has seen them reduce weight impressively only to put it back on again. Just look at many of the celebrities who did so in the public eye:
– Oprah Winfrey: She followed the Optimist plan and became slimmer and slimmer on TV, losing 67 pounds in a few months. Then the following year, she gradually put it all on again and no longer sang the praises of the diet and in fact condemned it.
– Vanessa Feltz, Fern Britton, Anne Diamond, Sharon Osbourne: Here in the UK we’ve seen many reduce weight and publicly put it all back on again after following a variety of fad diets and interventions.
If the science had been consulted before hand by these people, they may have not gone on those diets in the first place. Very low calorie diets have been proven to fail in the long term for most people who embark upon them. There is no diet in the world today that can boast figures and statistics to prove it works in the very long term. With most diet studies in fact, the longer the follow-up, the poorer the results.
People need to be able to maintain a proper eating plan. It may be useless or very difficult to eat less food, but it is incredibly important to eat healthier food and food which satisfies us. There is evidence to suggest that the right mindset therefore helps, and it is my belief that the right mindset is the single most important thing when it comes to reducing weight and maintaining it for the long term.
In fact, when dieting inevitably leads to failure and helplessness this leads to another cost of dieting – depression. When your fallible will-power competes with your unyielding biological defences, you know who comes out on top more often, don’t you? You get reminded of that failure each time you look in the mirror, you feel guilty every time you order a huge dessert at the restaurant, and you feel like your desire for everything that contributes to you being overweight is beyond your control…. and all of this makes us depressed. Especially when the media glorifies those that are young and thin; those continual messages we get from the media contribute to our depression, even if it is subtle.
There is much more to this, there is so much more, we still do not know the definitive answer when it comes to diet, exercise, genetics and many other factors that contribute to our physique. What’s more, there is a lot of evidence that we can utilise to give ourselves the best possible chance of achieving more for the long term.
My third point then, is that if you want to abandon fad diets and ways of losing weight rapidly, if you want to adopt a course of activity that suits you best, if you want to feel good about doing it and take control of your appetite, then you need to address your psychology and emotions.
In order to eat right, in order to exercise or up your activity levels at all, the key is that you need motivation. Real motivation. You need self-discipline, drive, you need belief in yourself, you need to communicate with yourself effectively, you need a mindset to help your approach to food, to help with the way you perceive yourself, and to prevent emotional eating. And you need to do these things in the way that the evidence suggests is the most effective way of doing it all. That’s where I come in.
Today, I believe that an individual’s perception of herself, beliefs about herself, way of communicating with herself and the psychological attitude that individual has towards her own physique plays a vital role in achieving the body you want. It precedes and underpins everything else that individual does.
As I said, there is much more to this… Certainly much more than I could write in a single blog post. Therefore, I have decided to share all the most evidence based techniques and strategies in a series of webinars, aimed exclusively at getting you that beach body you want, but also, and most importantly, showing you how to maintain it in the long term. Many of those reading this that might be interested might think, well the Summer is too late to start that…. And that is precisely the reason you need this webinar series. This series offers no short term fixes at all. It is all about equipping you with skills, strategies and processes that will last you a lifetime, that will help you create the life and the body that is going to keep a smile on your face for years to come. That will ensure you are self-assured in the long-term, not just yo-yo’ing.
You need a long-term psychological strategy if you wish to maintain that body once you have achieved it. Each time you lose weight and put it on again, it becomes harder to lose again and keep it off. As I said, you need a long term plan, a strategy that ensures you can prevent relapse, that can help you make healthy choices, feel fortified and in control of who and how you are. You need a long term strategy that will help you engage in heightened activity if you choose to and if you want to, a strategy that ensures you can make the steps forward with how you eat in a way that is not dieting at all, and a strategy that gives you skills to serve you for the rest of your life.
The evidence suggests that the majority of people want to reduce weight for the following reasons:
– Enhanced attractiveness.
– Improved health.
– Energy and zest in life.
– A feeling of being in control.
All of these things are possible, but only with the right way forward. Attractiveness and health will come and go with yo-yo dieting, and in fact the repeated pattern of losing weight and gaining it again may make you less healthy than simply being overweight. The weight reduction in and of itself is not going to give you all of these things. Your attitude, your psychological skills, your ongoing commitment and adoption of a new lifestyle choice altogether is going to give you these things.
If you are not interested in learning more about the webinar series I am offering in coming weeks, this is the end of the article for you. I wish you the best with it, this information will serve you incredibly well. Apply it well.
However, you can go one better. You can join me and learn exactly how to apply the evidence, learn the coping skills, develop the right mindset that will serve you for the rest of your life. If you wish to, you can take all of this information, advice, strategy and directly apply it to your life. Simply jump on board this webinar series. I will help you formulate it all in a way that is right for you. Let me tell you about the webinar series.
– This is a six week webinar series that you can join and listen in to from any computer you can access.
– We start on Tuesday the 23rd of June at 3pm UK time and every Tuesday thereafter for those 6 weeks.
– We have limited spaces and will only run this webinar series for a maximum number of people so that I am able to deliver it personally, professionally and individually to all those who register. Once the places have been filled, we will no longer offer this webinar series. It will not be offered again for at least 12 months.
– Each webinar will be an hour long in material, but we’ll then have Q&As at the end of each.
– You will get sent on access to the recording of the webinar once it has finished, so if you cannot make the webinar live, you will not miss out. You will be able to revise the material and continue to listen to it again and again if you wish to.
– You will be given additional audio tracks to use each week in conjunction with the webinar series. These advance and develop the skills you learn and help forge the mindset you adopt for the rest of your life.
– All your individual questions will be answered directly.
– You will be given specific tasks to complete between each webinar.
– You will be supported throughout.
– The total cost is just £97.00 – less than £100.00!! Many people spend that much on take-away food each month. Many spend more than that on booze each month. Many spend that on unused gym memberships. Consider this a majorly important investment in two of the most important things you own – your body and mind.
You will learn:
– Psychological skills to be in control of eating habits.
– How to stop eating emotionally.
– How to deal with, overcome and prevent hunger.
– How to be able to adopt a new lifestyle with your approach to food.
– How to fully enjoy physical activity and feel motivated to do so.
– Ways to be attracted to healthier options of food.
– Ways to derive the most joy out of eating healthily.
– To have a valuable and useful sense of identity that is different
– To speed up your metabolism.
– To sculpt your ideal physique with your mind.
– To get your biology working for you and not against you.
– The most evidence based psychological ways to use your mind to achieve and maintain your ideal size, shape and weight.
– An array of self-hypnosis techniques, cognitive psychology strategies, cognitive behavioural therapy processes and other evidence-based interventions for self-application.
There is more. I have told you of the standard stuff that you would expect to be included. There is much, much more though. I will share everything. Nothing will be kept secret. I will answer your personal questions, examine your personal requirements and hold your hand while you build the foundations for the road forward. Come and join me for this, you’ll be pleased you did.
Once you enrol, I’ll email you on details of how it all happens and how you logon to the calls in June and how we make all the information accessible to you thereafter. I am only announcing this on my blog this week. Next week, I will annoounce it on my ezine and on all our other marketing outlets. If you read this blog, you are rewarded, tell your friends. Guarantee your place today:
Anderson, G. & Kennedy, S. (1992) The Biology of Feast and Famine: Relevance to Eating Disorders (New York: Academic Press) pp.318-340.
Blackburn, G., Wilson, G., Kanders, B., et al. (1989) Weight-cycling: The Experience of Human Dieters. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (49) pp. 1105-1109.
Drenick, E., & Johnson, D (1989) Weight Reduction by Fasting and Semi-Starvation in Morbid Obesity: Long Term Follow-Up. in G. Bray (Ed.) Obesity: Comparative Methods of Weight Control, pp.25-34.
Garner, D. M. & Wooley, S. C. (1991) Confronting the Failure of Behavioral and Dietary Treatments for Obesity. Clinical Psychological Review (11) pp. 729-780.
Holmes, M., Zysow, B. & Delbanco, T. (1989) An Analytical Review of Current Therapies for Obesity. Journal of Family Practice (28) pp 610-616.
Malhotra A, Noakes T, and Phinney S. (2015) It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot out run a bad diet. Journal of Sports Medicine.
Stunkard, A., Sorenson, T, Hanis, C., et al. (1986) An Adoption Study of Human Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine (314), pp. 193-198.
Wardle, J (1987) Compulsive Eating and Dietary Restraint. British Journal of Clinical Psychology (26) pp.47-55.
These references support the major points raised in this article, however, for a full list of references covering all the points, get in touch with me and I can provide more.