By Craig Harper, Sept 2nd 2011
Less Precious, More Practical
Before anyone gets offended and writes me a nasty email regarding the title of this post, don’t bother. The above statement is not an opinion, insult or theory but rather, a statistically accurate reflection of what actually happens in the real world – the one away from the feel-good motivational fluff, the posters of sunsets with inspiring words and the misleading promises and claims of weight-loss (type) organisations who never have, and never will, give a shit about you or your health.
By the way, their responsibility is to sell stuff and your responsibility is to do what’s best for your body.
Any Good News?
Having said that… can fat people become leaner and lighter and stay that way? Of course they can. Also, keep in mind that the term ‘fat’ is not an insult unless you make it that. For this discussion, when I use the ‘F’ word, I am not talking about anything other than an individual’s physiology – specifically, their body-composition. Like most things, getting offended is a choice. In fact, some people prefer getting offended to getting off their couch. It requires far less energy and allows them to continue on with their grumpy and miserable journey of self-pity.
The Fat Scientist
Being a scientist and trainer who was (at various stages) a fat child, a fat teenager and a fat adult, not only do I have a scientific and theoretical understanding of the topic but also a first-hand experiential and practical one.
And FYI, when I was fat, I was genuinely fat. Not fat-ish, fat. Not chubby. Not big-boned. Not full-figured. And definitely not voluptuous. Yes, some people will use the term as an insult but that’s not what I’m doing here, so if you’re heading towards precious-ness and hurt feelings then let it go.
The Weight-Loss Roller Coaster
If the objective of starting an exercise program or a new eating plan is to create lasting physical transformation (in most cases, reduce fat and weight), then most people fail. Again, this is not a theory or a guess; it’s a fact. Most people who lose weight regain it. Most people who start exercise programs don’t maintain them for very long. Most people who join gyms waste their money (because they don’t show up). And most people who make resolutions don’t follow through.
Programs, Products and Promises
In 2011, we’ve never had more getting-in-shape resources, programs or products yet in the middle of all our stuffwe (we the society) are as fat and heavy as ever. Why? Because resources don’t determine results, people do.
Ultimately, getting in shape (and staying that way) comes down to decisions, standards, behaviours and self-control over time – but nobody wants to share this type of message because (1) it’s not what the masses want to hear and (2) it doesn’t make money for all those weight-loss folk.
Am I saying all weight-loss resources are bad?
No, I’m saying that programs, potions and products don’t change people; people change people. A program or product might provide some assistance or be a catalyst but ultimately success or failure (over the long-term) always comes back to the individual; the decision-maker, the action-taker, the reactor, the complex, multi-dimensional, physical, mental and emotional creature who gets out of bed each morning.
Here’s an interesting extract from Smartmoney Magazine (Jan. 28, 2010):
“The most recent figures available from the American Dietetic Association show Americans spending $58 billion on weight loss cures and products in 2007. And with nearly two thirds of the population categorized as overweight or obese, the demand remains even in tough economic times. But where there is demand, there are also less-than-scrupulous marketers seeking to make a buck from desperate dieters.”
Did you get that? In a country which spends around one hundred and sixty million dollars every day (yep, every day!) on weight-loss “cures and products”, more than half the population is still overweight or obese. Based on that stat alone, surely we might conclude that weight-loss products are not the answer?
Craig Harper is one of Australia’s leading presenters, educators, coaches and commentators in the areas of health, fitness and personal development. Craig has been an integral part of the Australian fitness landscape since 1982. In that time he has worked as an exercise scientist, corporate consultant, professional development speaker, university lecturer, AFL conditioning coach, radio host, TV commentator, writer and successful business owner. In 1990 Craig established Harper’s Personal Training, which over the last twenty-one years has evolved into one of the largest businesses of its kind in the world; completing over 80,000 Personal Training sessions annually. Craig can be heard regularly on the ABC, SEN and LIGHT FM radio stations in Melbourne. He can also be seen weekly as the host of Foxtel’s Living Life Now and for three years he filled an on-air role on Network Ten’s ’9AM’ morning show as their resident Fitness Expert and Life Coach.