The Battle of the Bulge: Resistance is Futile
|As a society we are getting fatter and fatter with each passing year. To some an extra role around the gut or a double chin is just a joke. To others it's a sign of gluttony. But in the eyes of medical science it is serious business. Obesity is costing us hundreds of billions in medical treatment and lost revenue. Excess fat is a liability. Experts say it's at least as bad as smoking now. Obesity increases risk of mortality and forces millions of people to live in a morbid state. Morbidity in medical terms is defined as a condition or state of disease, so in simple terms, if you're fat you have a disease that everyone can see.
Obesity is a disease of mind and body and it is preventable. No pill will cure it. And what is its primary cause? Physical inactivity and poor nutrition. It's as simple as that. With the right information and a desire to turn things around, almost anyone can change the composition of their mass. We're all stuck with our skeletal structure, the length of our bones and our height as adults. But the flesh attached to it is something we have a large degree of control over.
We can modify our intake of fats and carbohydrates, or cram everything in sight down the 'tube' to satisfy our every waking desire. It's a choice. Food and drink is basically inanimate. It doesn't call out to us or possess us or force us to consume it. We are in the drivers' seat all the way. We have our hands on the helm; we are the captain of our own ship. We turn the rudder this way or that. Yes it's true; we can't always control the wind or the waves. But we can raise or lower the sails depending on the weather. We can also seek a safe harbor in anticipation of a storm, the knowledge of which is obtained by taking the time to check the weather forecast. Likewise with food. We can avoid situations that temp us beyond our control and plan meals instead of leaving them to chance. This is where protein shakes, meal replacements and ‘clean' sports bars come in. By clean I mean no refined sugars, denatured protein or trans fatty acids.
Much of it comes down to our internal dialogue. We see the cake, we want the cake, but we know the cake is ‘bad'. So we pull back and forth on the rope of conviction in our mind like a mental tug of war. Logic on one side, emotion on the other. Who will win this time? We convince ourselves one way, and then the other, and then back and forth it goes until eventually we cave in and eat the cake. Why? Because it feels good. It tastes wonderful. It satisfies our desire. We convince ourselves that we can have our cake and eat it too. But the next day the cake is imbedded in our thighs and spread over our buttocks.
Temptation is hard to resist, so we need a strong defense. To do it right requires knowledge, devotion and a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth. It takes time to learn and patience to put the right gear in motion, like driving a standard for the first time. But after a while you get the hang of it and in no time flat driving becomes second nature, but until you learn, you're always limited to an automatic.
Many of us will have to undo years of negligence and abuse. But the remedy isn't nearly as complicated as putting it in motion day-in and day-out. The hardest part is staying on track. In the practical sense it's eating, training, sleeping and living in sync with what has to be done, and should be done, as opposed to what you feel like doing. It's like telling children why they need to brush their teeth or do their homework. Without direction and discipline, children will seldom do anything except play, watch TV and eat junk food. In this regard, many adults act like children without supervision.
The majority of people in North America tend to have a slow metabolic rate. Each one of has a ‘set-point', or what is known as a genetic predisposition. My estimate is that only 20% of the population are ectomorphs, meaning they're naturally lean and can't gain weight regardless of how much food they eat. The rest of us are endomorphs. We have to constantly fight the battle of the bulge and tend to gain bodyfat without much effort. We are blessed with the ability to store unlimited amounts of energy (fat). Why do I call it a blessing? Because with the right program an endomorph can gain muscle instead of fat and stay forever lean, whereas the ectomorph (hardgainer) is frustrated by minimal gains in the gym.
Some people are blessed with an ideal and balanced biochemistry; they seem to gain muscle without much effort as a result of resistance training and appear more muscular than average due to a relatively low percentage of bodyfat. This is the classic bodytype typified by many cartoon superheroes, the ‘mesomorph', like Superman. Broad shoulders, narrow waist and high natural strength. Differences in individual bodytype are important to understand, which is why I dedicated an entire chapter to this topic in the Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor (CSNA) home study education program.
Let's say you're overfat and need to lose a few inches from around your waist. Before you design any workout or special diet program, get in touch with your bodytype and genetics. Don't try and be something you're not. Resistance is futile. Work with the program (the big picture) and change the lifestyle pattern responsible for your state of mind and body. Identify what you must do to change the outcome of your shape and size. The only way to overcome your disposition to gain bodyfat, if in fact you have such a disposition, is to understand the science and basic principles that govern body composition.
Exercise is the anchor and nutrition is the chain attached to it. The ship is your body. Let your training slide and your diet will slide…guaranteed. Take control of your metabolism, induce a steady state of thermogenesis, get physically active, eat nutritious food routinely, focus on food quality and micronutrient density, use protein to your advantage, drink plenty of pure water, and guess what? The results you want will come because you're in sync with the law, and when you live according to the law through the spirit of goodwill and self-control, there is no penalty. Energy abounds, athletic activity is a joy and you feel good about what you've accomplished.