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Missing the Big Picture


Posted on July 13th, 2011 by Matt Schoeneberger

People are overweight or obese and looking for help. If they weren’t, I’d still be teaching guitar lessons. We’ve got some brilliant minds in our industry discussing whether people should eat a low carb whole food diet or a high carb whole food diet. Others are discussing whether people should do resistance training or sprint training or cardio because, after all, scientists have studied these and one seems better than the others.

If you look around and take the advertisements at face value, you’ll be led to believe that people are struggling to manage their weight because they just don’t know which foods to eat or which exercises to do.

I’m not buying it.

When I coach someone for the first time I ask “If you were going to design a diet for yourself, or change your current diet, what would you do?” I almost always get great ideas in response. “Eat more fruits and vegetables.” “Eat more protein.” “Get some healthy fats.” “Control my portions.” Sometimes I have to nitpick a little, but most of the time the answers are pretty right on the money.

The next question I ask is “On a scale from 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can achieve your goals and maintain them long-term? 1 being not-at-all and 10 being absolutely sure.” The number of answers I get below 5 is astounding. I don’t care if you have Gary Taubes or T. Colin Campbell as your personal dietician and Tony Horton as your fitness consultant, if you don’t think you can do it you can’t.

My follow-up question is that of a 5-year-old: “Why?” The answer? “I don’t know. I mean, I know what I should do and I start out good for a few days, but then I just fall off.” This is a matter of the mind and this is what sets apart the successful dieters from the failing dieters. Maybe we should make P the only capital letter in sPeed.

Stay tuned for lots of dieting psychology goodness.

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One Response to “Missing the Big Picture”

  1. Chris says:

    Well, I would argue that it is not just doing it. I read of an experiment by Ancel Keyes during WWII, the book about it is called “The Great Starvation Experiment”. In the experiment, Keyes took volunteers and basically put them on a diet. They were very closely monitored and guarded to ensure compliance. The purpose of the experiment was actually to try to figure out how best to refeed Europeans, who were starved during the war, after the war ended. It is fascinating to see the behaviors the men adopted as survival mechanisms, when their diets consisted of about 1800 calories. Proof to me that simply cutting back calories and increasing exercise (ie. knowing what to do) is just not enough.

    I was a nutrition major in college, definitely know what to do to lose weight, from the conventional wisdom stand point. And yet, I have arrived at this juncture, over 100 pounds overweight. Each diet adding to the total.

    I can say that now that I have read your book, that my confidence that I will reach my weight goals as well as my physical goals in general, is now at 10, I would have given it a 3 before your book, because I have spent almost 40 years doing what I knew I should do, only to either not lose at all or gain it all back and then some, once I lost it.

    I think having the science all in one place, and taking on the whole person instead of just diet and/or exercise is vital. That is the missing link, in what I know.

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