Diets make you fat

You dieted last year. Your going to do it again this year.

Doctors, government, the media exhort us to lose weight by dieting. But as a nation we just get heavier.

Have you ever wondered why? The sad fact is that medical research identified the reason a long time ago.

You could continue to follow the herd. Or you could Think Fit!

All Pain & No Gain

Gyms are great for sportsmen and women. For others the theory goes they keep you motivated, provide guidance and have the right equipment.

But most people give up on them after just 5 months but continue to pay (and will probably continue the following year)

And the kit and guidance is probably wrong for most people.

Temptation

Steak and chips? Or salad? Will it be the gym tonight - or a glass of wine (or beer)?

The fact is that most people spend the time they are trying to get fit and lose weight longing for the day it ends!

And if its not fun and you are relying on willpower you won't sustain it. And you'l be back where you started - and even further - before you know it!

Eating has to be a pleasure

Diets are incredibly challenging to stick to, they reduce the amount of energy you have and they mess up your metabolism. Which is why most people who go on a diet never reach their target weight and, less than a year later, weigh more.

Food is one of life’s great pleasures; not only do we enjoy the food itself, but it is also a part of our social fabric – eating together binds us together.

Curiously our bodies have very sophisticated feedback systems – mostly through the release of hormones that are supposed to ensure that we eat the right amount to keep us fuelled but not fat. Amongst all the animals which all share these feedback systems, we are the only ones that seem to get fat.

If you’re overweight, then it is true that you overeat, but that’s not the core problem.  There are two issues we must sort, your metabolism and your relationship with food.  Once these are sorted, you will be able to eat as much as want of your favourite foods.

If this sounds too good to good to be true, then reflect:

Obesity is largely a condition of the late 20th and 21st centuries

It is almost unheard of in primitive societies – particularly those that are well-fed

All other animals eat until they are correctly fuelled then stop, even when there is more food available.

Staying fit must be fun

I will also add, easy, inexpensive and effective.

Being fit should be a byproduct of your normal active daily life - other animals don’t need to go to the gym. But modern life doesn’t work that way. We are born to run, jump, bend and twist. To lift heavy weights, throw things, catch them. To sprint, to cover long distances, to climb, even to fall.

Compare life today with the life of our hunter-gatherer forbears, the life our bodies are designed for. Today the average city dweller spends most of their time sitting – perhaps having the odd walk from the car or train to the office or shops. Our ancestors spend a high proportion of their day walking, running, standing, lifting and carrying.

If you want to keep fit, muscles strong and heart healthy, you must do something to increase your level of activity and try to mimic that of our ancestors. For many, the gym is the answer, but it is a pretty poor substitute for many reasons – not least of which is that there is far more to fitness than strength and “cardio”.

Added to which most people won’t even try it and most that do give it up.

Which is why we will help you develop an approach to fitness that you will enjoy, stick to and maintain over the years.

A prescription that won’t work

Diet and exercise is the invariable prescription for those who develop weight associated condition; diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.

Why the medical profession still advocates this, when the research identified the fundamental flaw many years ago, is a mystery.

When you are short of food, the body has mechanisms to help you preserve your energy stores: reduce the amount of activity you do. Which means that if you deliberately exercise your body will cut down the amount of energy you expend at other times.

The body also uses its supply of glycogen. It keeps about 2500 calories of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles. It is there to fuel you when there is a high demand for energy, particularly when the “fight or flight” response kicks in.

When glycogen runs low, the body desperately works to replace it.  If there is no food coming in, it will replenish it from fat, but it will also take it from protein – in other words, your muscles.

Exercise works by doing a certain amount of “micro-damage” to tissues. This drives the body to make adaptations and build more tissue, mostly muscle but other tissues as well. This needs food, but you are not giving it any.

And there is a final nail for the coffin. You will probably have heard the expression “hitting the wall” used by marathon runners. It happens when they have burned up all their glycogen, usually after between two and three hours. The body then has to start rapidly converting fat into fuel. This demands far more oxygen than burning glycogen and the sensation it produces is extremely unpleasant.

Athletes get used to it and train to work through it, but you are being asked to take up exercise when you have already “hit the wall”. You will not enjoy it, you will not be able to exert yourself, and your body will not be able to make the adaptations that build muscle.

And the real tragedy is that if you could build more muscle mass, your body would burn more calories even when you’re resting.

So I’ll teach you how to approach exercise in a way that works.

Just the right amount of stress

Life today is stressful. We are continually told that it is ever more stressful. More stressful than our ancestors? Who had to contend with the dangers of wild animals, the failure of the harvest, no food to eat, inadequate shelter, no health care.

What has changed are our responses to it and our ability to manage it. And this is not because we have become mentally weak. Once again, it is modern lifestyles that are at the root of the problem.

Stress is good for us! It is what enables us to elevate our game to match challenging situations. Our forebears would frequently experience high levels of stress and then resolve it. What our bodies and minds are not designed to do is to work at moderate levels of stress for long periods without the mechanisms for releasing it.

Any stress raises the levels of a range of hormones that change the way body and mind work, which is excellent for short term responses but when maintained they affect our weight, appetite, sleep, immune systems and the bodies’ ability to repair itself. And these hormones even interfere with the way our minds work.

So if you want to get fit, we must regain control of our stress levels. Which is why we provide not merely short term stress reduction techniques but ways to change your approach to life so you can actually enjoy those stressful moments.

Enjoy stress? Am I joking?

Why does Lewis Hamilton enjoy driving a car at 200 mph, Eddie the Eagle ski jumping, or even your son or daughter going on a scary ride at Disney Land. Yup people really do pay to get stressed.

Life shouldn’t be a battle

It should be fun. It should make you happy.

And we have sophisticated mechanisms within the body designed to make us happy because it’s good for our overall health. There is one particular hormone, dopamine, often called the “happy hormone” that would better be described as the “reward” hormone.

It’s an incredibly powerful hormone that drives us to do things that are good for survival and reproduction.  A “rush” of dopamine makes us feel happy. It’s also released when we achieve a goal we have set ourselves. In fact, it works in a very sophisticated way that encodes and reinforces the memory of “good behaviour” so we want to repeat it.

So it’s good at ensuring we learn to enjoy a good meal, like sex and work hard to achieve useful goals.

Unfortunately, modern life often results in it driving us to bad behaviour; it’s a significant contributor in the development of addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex and unfortunately the wrong foods – particularly sweet ones.

There is another hormone, cortisol – the stress hormone, that operates in a different way. It prepares the body to handle difficult situations. And one of the things it does is encourage the body to store more fat. This makes sense when since the greatest stresses our ancestors experienced would involve challenges to their food supply.

When we are told to lose weight and get fit, we’re being told to give up the things we enjoy and do the thing we clearly haven’t enjoyed. Give up dopamine and take on cortisol which makes you eat more. It’s a battle you’re destined to lose!

Live Longer, Live Well

You have a choice. If you are overweight and inactive, you will certainly shorten your life, quite possibly by anything up to thirty years.

When I had a heart attack and was diagnosed with diabetes, I would have been lucky to live to the age of 70. But I was lucky. As a result of my work, I knew that some of the guidance I was given was wrong. Research had moved on and there were better approaches than those I was offered.

So, I started to research the whole subject – in depth. Not google searches but looking at the original research papers and I began to put it into practice. I am a natural sceptic I made many mistakes along the way, but I learned from them, and today my fitness age is assessed at 32 and my age at death estimated to be 99.

But more to the point I am having more fun, enjoying my food, sleeping better – and looking better -than I have for years.

The programme