So each week I will add an article or story about common sense and the lack thereof in our society today. In other words, how NOT to be an idiot. My first article covered driving, and what separates a good driver from a bad driver. This time I will look at weight loss, and lay out a simple plan that will help get people on the road to losing weight. Pay attention to the article, apply the principles, and you WILL lose weight. PERIOD!!
THE MYSTERY OF WEIGHT LOSS: IT STARTS AND ENDS WITH THE CALORIE!
The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar a year business. It is generally aimed at those who feel out of shape, those who consider themselves to be overweight, and those with general self-esteem issues. The commercials you see on television and the ads in magazines make it sound like an extremely simple thing to do. Just take their product or drink their drink and you too can look like the male or female model they show in the ad or on TV. So of course the consumers seem to think that a pill, a powder, or that “magic” workout will be the weight loss answer that they’ve been looking for. But is that reality? Sadly, the answer is no. Although we are seemingly more health conscious than ever, as a nation we continue to get fatter and fatter and fatter. So what are we missing? Why are we as a society missing “the boat” when it comes to this mystery of fat loss that seems to escape us year after year? Is this enigma known as weight loss only available to the chosen few? Why do people seem to have such a hard time understanding this mysterious relationship between diet and weight loss? I would like to offer a three- tiered approach as to why this is, and how to fix it.
To begin to understand the problem, we need to first look at the calorie. All things weight loss or weight gain start with, and end with, the calorie. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics basically states that weight loss or weight gain is a simple matter of calories in vs. calories out. If you consume more calories a day than your body requires, you will gain weight. If, on the other hand, you consume fewer calories a day than your body requires, you will lose weight. It is a scientific fact! Let’s not be fooled here. Any diet claiming that you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight is a LIE!!! Calories really do count! This is not just a theory or a hunch. It has been proven time and time again. But can it really be that simple? Have I solved the mystery in a little over one page of writing? Yes and no! While it is a fact that this does indeed work for weight loss, how you go about implementing the above information is where the problems begin. To quote Dan Duchaine, “most weight loss failures have nothing to do with glands, large bones, genetics, or even bad diets. When trying to change their eating habits, most people have trouble developing the discipline to overcome two key problems: hunger and anxiety” (43-44). Dieting in general is not an enjoyable experience for most people. Anytime you are deprived of the foods that you intensely crave, and have to go hungry for even a short amount of time, the diet is usually doomed to fail. Having said that, one of the major problems we have as a society is that we want RESULTS, and we want those results as fast as humanly possible. So what do we do? The first thing you need to do is establish your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR. This is the amount of energy that a person would expend everyday while at rest. This way you will know how many calories it takes a day to maintain your current weight. A quick way to get a “ballpark figure” of your BMR is to multiply your bodyweight by 12. That is the number you will be working with to start the weight loss process. For those who want faster results, multiply by 10 instead of 12. Divide your protein, carbohydrate, and fat calories equally among the total and you have an outstanding reference point from which to start. Now, the over-motivated, need it now types will want to jump straight to the extreme. Their mindset is that if I take in slightly fewer calories than I require and lose a little weight, than I can cut my calorie intake in half and lose a ton of weight, virtually overnight. Such extreme measures can actually produce results; sometimes very fast. The problem with such an approach is that it quickly becomes difficult to maintain such a diet, because you are always hungry, miserable, weak, lethargic, and generally a bear to be around. And once you come off such a diet you have a tendency to gain the weight right back. A much better approach would be to establish a daily calorie deficit of 15-20% below your BMR, and consistently keep that deficit on a daily basis. A more moderate calorie reduction will prove to be more successful in the long run. Remember, to burn fat you must consistently eat fewer calories than you burn.
There you have it, one part of the weight loss mystery solved. But is that all we really need to know to completely fix the problem? Again….no! A second major issue we have as a society when it comes to weight loss is actually two-fold. The first is that people today seem to want something for nothing. People with this attitude want to lose fat without dieting. They want to get into great shape without exercise. They want perfect health while eating, drinking, and smoking whatever they want. These are exactly the types of people that the late night fitness ads you see on TV are directed towards. They are also the types of people who are the first ones to bad mouth a product that failed to give them the results they were promised, even though they didn’t use the product properly, if at all. They seem to forget the fact that you can only receive in direct proportion to what you give. So, as they give absolutely no effort to help improve their physical condition, they shouldn’t be surprised when their physical condition doesn’t improve. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The worst day of a man’s life is when he sits down and begins thinking about how he can get something for nothing”. The second issue, closely related to the first, is not accepting responsibility for your own actions. In today’s society, people who fail to achieve their goals, whether it is weight loss, pass a college class, etc., have a tendency to blame others for their failures. “If only he didn’t eat that piece of cake in front of me!” or “It’s Jenny’s fault because I really didn’t want to eat another taco but she made me!”, and on and on and on. It’s easy to see where this line of thinking will lead. These types of people will never reach their goals, because they are too busy blaming everyone else, while at the same time breaking every diet rule in the book. The sooner these people learn how to say “I am responsible”, the sooner they will take back the power in their life to create the weight loss results they so deeply desire.
The last tier of this three-tiered approach is exercise. This is a largely misunderstood and often abused part of the weight loss equation. There are so many exercise programs and fat loss experts out there in the market today, that it’s no wonder people are confused and overwhelmed when it comes to losing weight. You have P90X, Insanity, Aerobics, Spin Classes, Kettlebells, and list goes on and on. Again, this is why the fat loss industry is a multi-billion dollar a year business. So which program is the right one to use? How do you decide? Remember, the goal of exercise is to lose weight and get in shape. Let us never forget the goal! So instead of asking how much exercise can I tolerate, you need to ask yourself how much exercise do I need to do to effectively reach my weight loss goal. To answer that question, allow me to point you back to the calorie. Remember what I said at the beginning? It all begins and ends with the calorie. Since we already have a moderate calorie deficit of 15-20% under our BMR, how many more calories do we need to drop from exercise? I say not much! This depends, of course, on how fast you want to lose the weight, but as I’ve shown in the example above, slower is always better in the long run. Taking this into account, the following recommendation will prove to be successful to the average individual seeking to lose weight. First, set your calorie deficit 15% below your BMR. Next, do some form of daily exercise that will debit another 5% of your daily calories. This could be 30 minutes of walking, playing a sport you enjoy, going to the gym, whatever. It should be something you find enjoyable and repeatable. This combination of diet and exercise will bring your total daily calorie deficit to 20% below your BMR, which is ideally where you want to be. You may be asking yourself “Why am I only burning 5% of my calories from exercise?” Because the bottom line is this: how much you eat, and to a smaller extent, what you eat, will be the deciding factor on whether or not you successfully reach your weight loss goals. PERIOD!! Exercise will help to accelerate your results, and help the weight you lose to be mainly fat instead of muscle, but it is not the long pole in the tent here. You can’t out-train a bad diet! So if you’re working your tail off in the gym but showing very little results for your efforts, you should probably examine your diet. My friends, abs are made in the kitchen!!! Now, this plan will obviously have limits as to how long your body will drop weight before it "wises up" and realizes what you're trying to do. So here is what we will do about that. Stay in a calorie deficit for 3-4 days straight, then use a day to eat maintenance calories. THEN, calorie deficit for 4 days, then have a cheat day where you can eat pretty much anything you want, just don't go overboard. This will not only help you psychologically, but also resets your Leptin levels and does a whole host of other things. If you're interested in the details, Google it; but trust me, IT WORKS!! Remember, it all starts and ends with the calorie!
So there you have it; a three-tiered approach to help solve the weight loss mystery. The veil of secrecy has been raised; let the truth be told!
Where reality and common sense meet!
So each week I will add an article or story about common sense and the lack thereof in our society today. In other words, how NOT to be an idiot. Today I will start with driving. The inability to drive a motor vehicle properly is one of my absolute WORST pet peeves on the face of the planet. This article will discuss the issue of Good Drivers Vs. Bad Drivers.....so please, bad drivers PAY ATTENTION!!
GOOD DRIVERS VS. BAD DRIVERS
What comes to mind when you hear the words good driver? What do you picture in your mind when you hear someone talk about a person’s bad driving habits? You see, even though most people of legal age are physically well enough to drive; only a small percentage of those people actually know how to drive well.
I have been driving an automobile since I was 16 years old. I find driving to be a rather easy endeavor, made difficult only by people who have no idea how to drive. This lack of driving ability could be caused by many things. Maybe they just didn’t learn how to drive properly. Maybe they learned from an individual who themselves couldn’t drive. Perhaps they aren’t even legally licensed to drive at all. Regardless of how this came to be, it’s a fact that a large majority of people throughout the United States simply do not know how to operate a motor vehicle properly. Having said that, I would like to look at a few things that separate a good driver from a bad driver; and please, bad drivers take note.
Let’s begin by looking at the speed limit. This is something most people consider to be self-explanatory. A good driver knows that driving the speed limit is the proper thing to do. If he or she happens to be driving a little over the posted speed limit, this is also deemed acceptable. Some consider 5 mph over well within the limits of “legal” allow-ability. Some drive by the phrase “9 your fine, 10 your mine”, meaning that anything 10 mph and over is cause for a ticket. Whatever the case may be, a good driver knows that you never, ever drive under the posted speed limit, unless there is extreme cause to do so. A bad driver on the other hand will normally drive under the posted speed limit most of the time, and for no apparent reason. They don’t seem to understand that there is a difference between being safe and being annoying. Not only does this cause severe aggravation to those stuck behind such a nuisance, but on major Interstates and freeways it can cause major problems.
That last point creates a great segue into my next point, which is driving on an Interstate or Freeway. Again, a good driver knows to drive at or above the speed limit. He or she also knows that if you are in the fast lane, it is NOT because you are doing the speed limit. This individual is normally keeping up with the flow of traffic, which in turn means they are more than likely speeding. When a good driver goes to pass another vehicle, they pull out, accelerate smartly and pass, then move back into a slower lane to allow faster cars to pass. A bad driver, however, will normally drive at or below the posted speed limit. They will get in the fast lane, simply because they are doing exactly the speed limit, or below it, and feel they have a right to be there. Then they will stay in the fast lane, clogging up traffic for miles because they have no clue how to properly accelerate and pass. When other good drivers are finally able to get around them, bad drivers get offended when these drivers give them dirty looks and gladly offer them some sort of sign language they have no doubt come to deserve.
One of the most aggravating and misunderstood feats of driving is the left hand turn. I’m talking specifically about the left hand turn at an intersection, but there are other areas that can and will apply here. A good driver knows that on a left hand turn, as soon as the light turns green, you pull up into the center of the intersection. This accomplishes many things. First, once there is even a small break in traffic, it allows you to negotiate your turn quicker. Second, if you are out in the middle of the intersection and the light turns red, you can still make your turn because you now “own” the intersection. Third, if you happen to be on a smaller, single lane road, pulling up into the intersection allows cars behind you that are going straight thru to go around you and continue their driving adventure. Now, a bad driver is clueless when it comes to this level of common sense. When their light turns green, they sit there behind the white line, not moving an inch. They refuse to proceed into the intersection. Usually, they won’t even attempt to make the turn until there isn’t a car within 1000 yards in oncoming traffic. At a busy intersection without a left turn arrow, this creates major headaches. Since this individual refuses to pull up into the intersection unless they get a massive opening in traffic, they simply will never turn. This means that you, or some other unlucky driver, are stuck behind this person until they are finally able to proceed.
Similar to the left hand turn issue is the entrance ways into shopping centers, like you see at malls and various department store areas. Good drivers know that these entrance ways are designed to keep traffic flowing from the road into the parking lot. This means that when they turn into the shopping center and get to the area of the entrance way to go either left or right, they do not stop. They have the right of way thru that area, not the people sitting at the stop sign on either side of the entrance way. A bad driver will ALWAYS stop, because they have no clue that they have the right of way, or what right of way even means. Stopping at this area creates a major traffic concern. If you have an entrance area that is close to the road and that area gets extremely busy, when a bad driver stops it quickly backs up traffic. This, in turn, pushes the incoming cars back out into the road they just turned in from. You can easily see the problems this will create. Again, bad drivers take note.
Age plays a factor in deciding whether an individual is a good driver or bad driver as well. Typically, teenagers are notoriously bad drivers. They have little to no experience, are usually more wreckless, slouch down in their seats or have the seat laid way too far back, and seem to be more easily distracted. They also have a tendency to text while they are driving. This is not only illegal in some states, but completely takes their eyes off of the road for an extended period of time. Usually once these young men and women get to the age of 25 their driving has a tendency to improve. I would also note the significant drop in insurance prices once that age is reached. From an age perspective, most people will become good drivers from the age of 25 to somewhere between 70-75 years of age. There are of course many factors that will play into this statement, but I’m speaking strictly about age here. From the age of 70-75 until death, a large majority of people are simply too old to be behind the wheel. Their eyesight is usually bad, their reaction times are seriously diminished, and they are more easily confused. The above combination definitely puts the elderly into the bad driver category.
These are but just a few points that distinguish good drivers from bad drivers. There are no doubt many others that could be stated, but these are some of the major ones that I believe needed to be addressed. And for you bad drivers out there, remember this: People will put up with almost anything, as long as it doesn’t block traffic!