Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weight loss

I talk about weight a lot because weight is key to success in aerobic events such as running, cycling and cross country skiing. Many master's athletes are overweight or borderline so. For these folks losing weight will do more than anything else to improve their performance.

Today I have another reason for focusing on weight and that is the New Year. Weight loss is probably the number one New Year's resolution in the country and it is also the one that is most likely to fail. There are a number of important (and rather counter-intuitive) reasons why that is so.

An oversized bottom bracket

First let's talk about genetics. There is no doubt that genetics plays a big role in one's tendency to gain weight and to become overweight or obese. Yet genetics is not the whole story and genetics alone cannot explain the huge wave of obesity that we are currently witnessing. Unless you are one of those rare individuals with a tendency for morbid obesity -and there are very few of you- you should be able to maintain normal weight regardless of your genetic background.

Genetics is often nothing more than an excuse for overindulgence. If you are the type of person who feels like you should at all times be comfortable and enjoy life; If you always indulge yourself or feel like "you deserve it," chances are you are overweight.

The main reason why people fail in weight loss is because they focus on diet. Diet is the last thing you should worry about. If you focus on diet you are setting yourself up for failure. Not only will you gain your weight back quickly, you are very likely to add on some extra each time around and enter into a vicious circle of dieting and weight gain.

Vicious circles

Losing weight is very easy. As soon as you eat less you will lose weight. That will happen regardless of what diet you adhere too. Any and all diets that supply less calories than you burn will cause you to lose weight. That is why the diet itself is the least of your worries. Looking for a magic diet is a waste of time.

The truly hard part is not losing the weight, it keeping the weight off. And that won't happen unless you are prepared to change the way you live. Contrary to popular belief you do not need to live like a monk to keep your weight off. Many monks are overweight too.


It is quite possible to live a good life without overindulging. As a matter of fact, restraint is often better and leads to better outcomes than it appears. Walking in the rain instead of driving may appear less fun, but once you get going you will surely enjoy it more. Leaving that extra cake on the tray is not going to make you any less happy but it may save you an upset stomach or a bloated feeling afterwards. Taking the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator may get you to your destination sooner. Foregoing immediate pleasure often leads to more and better pleasures later.

If you are serious about your New Year's resolution to lose weight, then focus on how you will change your lifestyle first. Once you do that, eating less should be easy.

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