By Pete Estabrooks
I am a fitness confessional, an involuntary body cop. I rarely sit down for coffee without someone approaching me with the “I just can’t lose this last five pounds” story and
my answer never varies. “You eat too much.”
That invariably sparks the torrent of: “I watch what I eat. I am very careful about what I eat. I eat low carb and I have a slow metabolism.” My answers: “You watch too often. Apparently not carefully enough. It’s not the carbs, it’s the quantity. And, congratulations on that efficient body.” They all fall on deaf ears and mean the same thing. You eat too much.
After you walk away here is what I am thinking. Though more complicated than calories in and calories out, there’s a common bottom line. At the end of the day a properly functioning, healthy body reacts one way to ingestion. Consume more calories than you burn and your body stores them. If you weigh too much you eat too much. It doesn’t matter how far, how fast or how often you run, you are not capable of outrunning a bad diet.
The hours you spend on the road or in the gym regardless of their intensity will not discount a bad diet. You can run but you can’t hide.
It’s not my place to tell anyone what to weigh, but if you ask me “why can’t I lose weight?” it is because you eat too much. How you digest that information and address the issue is up to you and if you are already active seven to 10 hours a week then the answer is not more gym time, but less fridge time.
How, why and what you eat are complicated issues, so if you need to drop those last five pounds take some real time to work things out for yourself. As much as we are alike, you and your body is your personal laboratory. You and only you are going to strike the balance between how much you enjoy life and how hard it is to fit your life into your favorite jeans.
I have no issue with your life not being about sacrifice, but if you are too heavy to enjoy the physicality of life or heavy enough that it impedes your health and happiness then don’t eat so much. Eating well, eating good food is not boring.
If you don’t find a way to make good food enjoyable, it can taste like dirt. Buy a cookbook and spend the time to figure it out. Lastly don’t kid yourself that you eat everything in moderation when you have a cupcake today, a bag or two of chips tomorrow, ice cream occasionally, the weekly pizza, a couple of chocolate cookies.
That is not moderation. You just eat a lot of different crap. Try to stick with 80 per cent or 90 per cent good food and keep the crap to a minimum.
And all calories are not created equal. There is no cell replication fairy that in the dead of night gives our bodies the highest quality nutrients with which each of our new cells are replicated in pristine condition granting us tight, flexible muscles, rock hard bones and glowing visages. Nope, you are what you eat. It’s like the late night nutrient union crew scavenging through the remnants of your coffee for breakfast, scone for a snack, deli sandwich for lunch, protein shake after a workout and “too tired to make it” take-out dinner for just the right ingredients with which to rebuild, refresh and renew your body. If you feed the machine properly you build a better you, if not it’s probably just that “last five pounds.” Then again who am I to talk? You always catch me drinking coffee.
Pete Estabrooks is IMPACT Magazine’s Fitness Editor.
Nov/Dec 2010 Issue