Why is it so difficult to lose weight, get fit, stay slim and healthy?
Quite simply, because you've been fighting against nature, not working with it!
Doctors, governments, diet and fitness gurus keep telling us we should lose weight and get fit. They keep providing us with diet and exercise plans? But as a society, we get fatter, less fit, and more and more of us get diseases like diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, cancer and dementia.
The ridiculous truth is that scientists have known since 1946 that diets make you fat, and since around 2020, that while exercise is excellent medicine, it won't help you lose weight!
But there is a solution!
The Stakes – The brutal truth about being overweight and inactive
The truth is it affects every aspect of your life - Now, In the future and at the end of life. The stakes are huge.
Being overweight and inactive affects every aspect of your life. In the short term, it affects how you work and play, it affects your mood, emotions and happiness. It damages your social life, other people’s perceptions of you, your opportunities for promotion. It even harms your libido and relations with your partner, and not just in the bedroom
As you grow older it makes you more vulnerable to a whole host of conditions from cancer to dementia, from diabetes to stroke, from heart disease to arthritis.
Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping active can easily add 20 years to your lifespan. Even better it can increase your “healthspan” by even more.
Very few governments around the world are taking the problem seriously - but the Canadian government is; they produced the video below!
The good news is that doing the things that will give you more energy, lift your mood, make you more effective at work - and play - are also the things that will keep you fit, healthy active and useful in later life, help you live longer.
Why diets make you fat and exercise won’t help you to lose weight
You have very smart systems to manage your weight. If they are allowed to operate as intended, they will keep our weight within tight limits based on what is called our weight set-point. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles frequently interfere with the systems and we overeat.
Equally unfortunately, the system didn’t just stop working; it adjusted to your current weight over time and came to regard that as your weight set-point. It continually adjusts the set point throughout your life to ensure you always have sufficient fuel reserves. It will change in anticipation of future events or in response to particular stresses.
One such stress is famine. When it experiences a famine, it will raise the set-point to ensure you build up additional reserves whenever the body has the opportunity.
Dieting is, of course, interpreted by the body as a famine. So if it wasn’t bad enough having to fight the body’s systems during your diet, it is now telling you that you should weigh even more than before you started to diet.
So, of course, the weight quietly creeps back-on and then gradually rises to the new set point designed to cope with famine.
So what about exercise
The government recommendation for exercise is 30 mins of moderate exercise 5 times a week or 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 times a week.
We know that a typical man will burn around 130 calories if he walks 1.5 miles in half an hour. Do the government-recommended amount – 5 times a week – and you’ll burn 800 calories or about quarter of a pound of fat.
Run at 7.5 mph (vigorous) for 30 minutes and he’ll burn around 440 calories – 1320 calories per week which is almost 0.4 pounds.
Not a lot but surely it makes some contribution. Unfortunately not! Two things happen. Most people are inclined to eat a little more following exercise. If you are aware that this is happening you can resist it.
But even if you resist the temptation, something else happens. We know from studies started in the 1980s that as we increase the amount of voluntary activity, we become more efficient at “resting”. When you’re watching television in the evening, or having a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with friends, you’ll burn less energy than before. The result is that you compensate for the energy expended during your exercise.
The further complication is that the exercise will also improve your sleep quality and quantity. While this has huge health benefits it will further reduce the number of calories you burn on a daily basis
But don’t forget – exercise will make you happier, more alert and energetic as well as reducing the risk of a host of conditions – diabetes, heart attack, dementia, cancer……
The three things to fix your weight and fitness problem - for good
If you’ve been relying on diet and exercise this must be pretty disappointing!
But the good news is that the solution is a good deal less painful than dieting – actually you should find it fun – but you will need a little perseverance.
There are three things we must do if we are to get fit and lose weight for good:
- Eat Well - Reset your body’s weight set point
- Build pleasurable activity into your daily routine
- Think your self healthy
1. Eat Well - Reset your Weight SetPoint
Eat lots of good nutritious food that you really enjoy. By doing this your body will naturally control your appetite without you having to pay attention to eating. You will have to lose weight for the body to adopt a new set point which means that you will have to eat fewer calories than you burn.
This probably sounds like a diet but you’ll do it very gradually and you will not feel hungry. You will also be eating more and enjoying your meals.
You will also need to get more and better sleep. Sleep is essential for a host of the body’s “houskeeping” activities. During sleep you produce most of your Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This hormone is essential for the repair of our body and the development of new muscle.
Lack of sleep also affects the production of a host of other hormones responsible for regulating things like appetite, sugar processing as well as the sex hormones, in particular testosterone which is important for women as well as men and is involved in the development of muscles.
Stress results in an increase in the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is an essential hormone but in excess it has a wide range of unfortunate effects. It down regulates the immune system, suppresses HGH and predisposes you to store more fat.
2. Build pleasurable activity into your daily routine
Being inactive is the single biggest threat to a healthy, long and pleasurable life.
The key is to start with small things and gradually build. You don’t even have to start with what most people think of as “exercise”.
Ultimately, you will want to build some muscle and get heart and lungs working harder and better. But depending on your current level of fitness the first steps might be as small as ensuring you sit for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
Too often we are led to believe that fitness is about strength and “cardio”. The adverts promote the idea and even you doctor tends to think in those terms – he might even “prescribe” the gym on the NHS.
But fitness is much more than this. It includes flexibility, balance, coordination, reaction time. You are looking for “functional” fitness; ensuring the body can fulfil the functions demanded of it in the most effective way.
There are many ways to do this but if you don’t enjoy them you won’t keep doing them. The essential principle behind developing fitness is progressive overload. You push your body a little beyond its comfort zone and it will adapt. Keep doing this and it will keep getting fitter.
So we will start to get you fit gently and then help you find ways to do this that bring you satisfaction and pleasure. And don’t leave you feeling totally knackered!
3. Think Yourself Healthy
I guess this sounds a little “new age”. I would certainly have thought so myself before I started to study the real scientific literature.
However, I invite you to suspend judgement for a little while at least. Many, if not most of our bodily functions are controlled by hormones and peptides. These are chains of amino acids that lock into receptors on the individual cells. They have an impact on what our organs and muscles do and also on our brains, affecting the way we think, feel and behave.
Hormone levels rise and fall depending on what is happening in the world around us and within our own bodies. They control such things as appetite, heart rate, breathing, sleep, conversion of blood sugar to fat to name but a few. They do this by locking onto specific receptors on the relevant cells but it was not fully appreciated until the 1980s that many of them had receptors on brain cells thereby influencing emotions and feelings.
It was also not understood that the brain could stimulate the production of many hormones purely by thinking. If you start thinking happy thoughts your body will release the hormone dopamine in measurable quantities resulting in you feeling happier. And you can magnify this effect by smiling. You don't even need to think happy thoughts - just smile and the brain will release dopamine and you will start to feel happier.
The Placebo Effect is not all in the mind
You will be familiar with the placebo effect. Giving someone a sugar pill but telling them it will make them better results in them feeling better. Placebo anti-depressants do change brain chemistry resulting in improvements.
But it goes further than this. We only started to realise that the placebo effect could produce real physiological changes. In 1939 Fieschi introduced a procedure to improve blood flow to the heart. Two decades later it was demonstrated that the procedure was only as effective as sham surgery. In fact, the sham surgery was more effective!
Since then it has been shown that simply visualising doing exercises could produce real muscle development. To do so the brain must stimulate the production of Human Growth Hormone.
It’s a two-way street! And we should use it!
A short story
This is about a chap who had a heart attack about eight years ago. It was a massive heart attack but he was very lucky since he’d had a small one in the morning without being aware of it. At lunchtime, his wife realised he was unwell and took him to hospital and he had the massive one while waiting in A&E to be admitted.
Twenty-five minutes after the big one he was back on a ward having had a stent fitted. Two nights in hospital and he was back home. He started to get fit again, riding considerable distances on his bike.
A year later, as he was being finally discharged from the coronary care team he mentioned to the registrar that he was planning to do the London to Brighton bike ride. The registrar warned him not to but he argued and managed to talk to the consultant who told him he should go ahead.
He continued to get fitter but didn’t lose much weight. Then he was diagnosed with diabetes. This time the doctors wanted him to take insulin and metformin. By chance, he knew about some research by Professor Roy Taylor that suggested there was a diet cure for diabetes.
He decided he was going to follow Roy Taylor’s guidance and his own doctors were somewhat surprised when six weeks later some followup tests showed the diabetes was gone.
This time he did lose weight, took up Triathlon, found himself a good coach and ended up writing a book on the subject of doing your first triathlon.
As he did the research for the book he discovered how much bad information was out there and he became interested in the whole business of health and well being. He trained as a personal trainer in order to learn more about that aspect of health. He expanded his studies, looking at nutrition, the immune system, cardiovascular health, the effect of exercise on cognitive function, mood and emotions, He started to discover all sorts of complex inter-relationships that the academic researchers were well aware of but the clinicians knew nothing of.
He happened to train alongside a couple of GPs and shared some of his revelations with them. They would think about them, realise they were aware of many of the effects but would comment "yeah, you're right but I never thought about it like that".
Well, if you hadn't guessed, that person was me. And it was this experience that persuaded me to develop a rational, integrated approach to the whole business of health and wellbeing.
But surely doctors are the experts on health and wellbeing. Aren't they?
I have a huge amount of respect for doctors; they've saved my life, they've put me back together when I or other people have broken bits of me, they've cured me of various acute illnesses and they've reassured me when things didn't seem to be working properly. However, I have come to realise that because they are so good at with acute conditions they tend to treat chronic conditions in the same way.
There is a fundamental difference between most acute conditions and the chronic conditions with which modern society is afflicted. Acute conditions have a single identifiable immediate cause that one can deal with, or not if you are unlucky. If you are having a heart attack the doctor can find the blocked artery, clear it and fit a stent. If you break a bone the doctor can set the bone, pin it together if necessary, and it will recover and work again. If you get a bacterial infection it can be treated with antibiotics and you will probably recover. Even if it's a virus your body can be supported so it has the opportunity to fight it itself..
Chronic conditions are not like that. They gradually creep up on you, you don't suddenly fall ill and they frequently have multiple causes! Arteriosclerosis, which is a contributory cause of heart attacks and strokes, develops over time and can have multiple causes. Curiously, it can be the result of high blood pressure but also the cause of high blood pressure. But if you follow one of our plans you'll discover this "cause-effect-cause" pattern is very common.
Diabetes is a disease of the endocrine system (hormones). It too develops gradually. Its stages can be described as "insulin resistance", "pre-diabetes" and finally diabetes. When it reaches the stage of full-blown diabetes it is generally treated with drugs. If it is identified in the earlier stages some basic lifestyle changes can nip it in the bud, but even as full-blown diabetes it can, in many cases, be sorted without drugs,
Sadly, our doctors are inclined to prescribe the drug that deals with the symptom rather than dealing with the underlying cause.
Actually, I have a huge amount of sympathy for the doctors. If you had a constant stream of customers asking for an instant cure that took no effort on the customers part you would probably cave in too!