Weight Loss – Our Sad Obsession


Our society is an obsessed one. Whether it’s celebrity lifestyles, the latest electronic gadget, or something related to health, we seem unable to have a passing interest. Instead it becomes the focal point of our lives and dominates both our conversations and the airwaves. Seriously, does it really affect your life that the Prince of England is getting married? Let alone where the marriage will take place and WHAT HE’S WEARING? That stuff makes me sick. I guess when life is too easy you can spend time gossiping and waxing poetic over someone else’s wedding rather than, you know, figuring out how to keep your kids warm and EATING.

Anyway, there’s an obsession within my industry that not only offends me on several levels (which I’ll spare you of) but also, like many of these boredom-developed obsessions, is actually causing the problem it identifies: Weight loss. Every day people join gyms, buy pills and powders, have doctors staple perfectly healthy (if somewhat overused) organs, and do who knows what else (actually, I do know… they buy tapeworms and swallow cotton balls) to lose weight.

One of the big issues is that weight loss, as a directive, is against our nature. Throughout the vast majority of human existence our goals and our body have been pushing to the opposite direction. It was always the objective to gain weight. If you were gaining weight then you were getting stronger, healthier, and better able to survive. Gaining weight, as far as most of our history is concerned, is a pretty big deal. Hell, let’s even call it an obsession. I’m willing to bet that during some lean months with no food our caveman ancestors were pretty fucking focused on finding something to eat and gaining some weight!

As I said, despite our sudden obsession with losing weight we seem to suck at it. We’re, as a society, getting fatter, weaker, and lazier no matter how many gyms we join (and barely use), “diet” foods we cram down, or how many pills we swallow. There’s a reason for this: We’re treating a symptom rather than the problem.

The symptom? A society of weak fatties. The real problem? We stopped pushing for greater performance.

As human beings we’re hard-wired to keep advancing ourselves. As I said above, that’s why we’re so predisposed to weight gain in the first place. Literally, from the very cellular level, it’s what we do. We grow, get better, and grow some more. That’s in the natural order of things. So what is the psychological shift that keeps us fat when we try to lose weight?

When people approach exercise with the purpose of losing weight, they start equating time spent with likelihood of success, and soon laziness creeps into it. Rather than push hard they just try to last long. Notice that these weight loss-minded gym goers often talk about how many hours they spent on the bike, but rarely do they talk about the quality of their work?

Saxon didn't waste time on the treadmill

Look around you in the gym. Who are the fittest, leanest, and healthiest guys that everyone wants to look like? It’s not the ones that are waddling on the treadmill or mindlessly rolling pedals on the bike. Instead its the guys who are pushing themselves to be stronger, faster, or bigger. These guys are focused on a goal that requires constantly pushing the envelope, and as a result they have adaptations that make that possible.

Oh sure, there are some people who have some success in losing weight when their goal is simply bringing the number on the scale down. Most of them look and feel like smaller versions of their former fat selves. They manage to diet off just as much muscle as they did fat, but they did hit their goal of “weight loss”. They also are usually the ones who regain their weight if you visit them a few years later.

When you train for performance and continually push yourself to new heights, then fat loss happens as a side effect. Unless you’ve got a totally whacked diet (which, except for a few sports doesn’t help your performance) then you simply will not stay fat. If you’re eating healthy food (real “diet” food) with some sort of structure and truly busting your butt to get better in the gym then the weight loss happens on its own.

I’m of the firm belief that it doesn’t just end here, though. There’s a mental aspect to this, too. Think about it for a second. Training for performance involves specific goals, planning, and pushing through to success. The way that most people train for weight loss is full of vague goals (“lose weight”?), haphazard (at best) planning, and a distinct lack of pushing for success.

Those who push for success in the gym usually find it outside the gym, too. Likewise, those who come in and let life take it’s course in the gym find that it runs them outside of it, too.

Like many other issues we face in life, our obsession with weight loss is rooted in our getting away from the natural way for us to approach life. We’re quite simply following the flash and distraction down the wrong path. Stop looking at things through lenses of hype and hysteria and apply a little logic and you’ll soon find a lot of road blocks fade away. That, and keep getting better.

Grab my FREE 35:00 audio on the right, 5 Methods to Killer Athleticism to start training for performance and let your body composition take care of itself today!

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December 1, 2010

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June 15, 2013

Arnold @ 3:48 am #

Nice to see an article talking about this. I for one have always been more concerned about staying fit, than necessarily losing weight just to lose weight. Its all about health

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