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February 01, 2013



Aside from legit concerns about obesity, Americans are too hung up on body image, weight and dieting. If you ask for a diet soda in most parts of the world they'll look at you like you have two heads.
Temporary weight loss *is* possible--I know, I've done it dozens of times! But eventually you have to accept the fact that your body has a "set point"(not a myth) that it wants to return to, and there are stubborn genetic factors you must live with; ie, a Samoan is likely never to be a skinny svelte person, no matter what. Sooner or latter, you have to lkearn to live with the body you're give. Don't get obese, of course, but a little extra weight actually has been shown to help you live longer. It's why the body packs on extra pounds in the first place, to cope with periods of deprivation, ie, illness, etc.

Bill Bush

Fattest guy in the teachers' lounge always knew most about how to lose weight. He was full of advice and avoirdupois. And gained in both each year.


Bill - funny quote there, but it does make a certain kind of sense. Why would a skinny guy know anything about weight loss? The fat guy knows a lot because he's probably considered losing weight and tried many times.

Actually, I would guess that is the moderately fat people that know the most. The truly obese folks are generally more stuck in their addiction, whereas the slightly to moderately overweight - say, 10-30% above their ideal weight - would probably know the most.

Ed - I think the "set point" is a partial myth. The set point is dependent upon how much food you eat (calories). If you're 200 lbs and live a life of light activity and you eat about 3000 calories a day, then you'll 200 pounds. But if you change your dietary habits to eat about 2500 calories, you'll gradually lose weight and - if you stay at 2500 calories - your "set point" will be at 175 lbs.

(The above numbers are somewhat arbitrary but only used to make a point).

In other words, one's current weight is the direct result of a combination of activity level (thus calories burned) and food eaten (calories taken in). The reason I think "set point" is largely a myth is because it is dependent upon habituated patterns of eating and activity; in other words, what is "set" is not one's body but how much (and what type of) food one eats and how much one moves one body - and both of those are changeable and can be "re-trained."

So the reason most people can't sustain weight loss is simple: they can't sustain a lowered food intake and increased activity level. The people who lose weight and keep it off are those that change their lifestyle.

One final note. There are other factors to weight loss beyond calories - in particular, quality of food (whole and organic vs. processed, etc), as well as how you eat - the slower and less distracted the better. But calories are probably the biggest part of the equation.


It's really easy: Burn more calories than you consume if you want to lose weight. Consume more calories than you burn if you want to gain weight. Try to equal them out if you want to maintain. Beyond that----if I'm overweight, it's not by much. My son is probably too thin---so this isn't about being "defensive" when it comes to being overweight. But my take is that we need to put less emphasis on body shapes and more on what's inside. It's one reason why I'm put off by the White House "Let's Move" campaign. They are really pushing eating as it pertains to weight in schools----and frankly, making children who are concerned about their body image even more obsessed and consumed with it. My message to kids would be "It's what's in the inside that counts----great people come in all different shapes, sizes and colors." I think that would be a HEALTHY message for the White House to project to young children---instead of calorie counting and exercising to death to try to look better.

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