Formerly obese personal trainer invites portion control-pushers to kiss it.
I’m a personal trainer. I make my living teaching people, mostly women, how to exercise safely and effectively. If folks didn’t consider exercise a critical, or at least very important, factor in their health & wellness, I’d be unable to make ends meet doing something I adore and at which I am, if I do say so myself, wicked good. Luckily for me the media is on board with driving home the importance of exercise. We all understand, at least academically, that exercising produces innumerable benefits from helping folks manage depression to increasing a woman’s odds of conception. But the idea that most women’s magazines and TV shows want to sell is that exercise, specifically cardio, is an effective tool for weight loss: our Collective National Obsession. So I owe the lion’s share of my monthly mortgage payment to The Biggest Loser and the message it relays: Exercise like a cocaine-fueled rock star and the pounds will melt away by the dozen until you reach your goal weight! Tra la!
You’re being lied to. I know, I know, shocker. The truth is exercise can only ever be an effective fat loss tool if the loser, biggest or otherwise, is also eating foods that encourage the body to drop its excess stores of fat. And eating only those foods consistently. And eating only those foods for an extended period of time, if not for life, with the very occasional foray into food-purely-for-a-quick-jolt. Very. Occasional.
Cue the Weight Watchers enthusiasts and the Skinny for Life nutritionists who did-gain-30-pounds-freshman-year-and-it-wounded-me-forever-and-inspired-me-to-help-other-people-lose-weight-so-I-became-a-“nutritionist”-and-I-love-what-I-do-thank-you-very-much. “The key is moderation!” they say; “Eliminating foods is unhealthy!” they say; “You’ll feel deprived!” they say.
They can kiss my formerly fat ass.
I’ve done a lifetime of — let’s call it field research — and have had hundreds of overweight clients who can attest: Diets don’t work because they’re finite. Portion control works for only one kind of person: the kind of person who can be satisfied with half a cup of rice 1. If you’ve maintained a significant & healthy fat loss over 3 or more years and you’re footloose and fancy free, or if you’ve never felt compulsive and insane around food, then this blog isn’t for you. If you obsess about food, living every day in one or more of the states of regret, desire, fear of scarcity, self-loathing, and shame around food and eating, odds are you have what I have: an addiction to simple starches and sugar. You may likewise find that doing what I have done to maintain a healthy weight is your solution: eliminate the foods that make you feel unwell, at least temporarily. Eat your fill of nutritive, delicious, whole foods. Rinse. Repeat.
Be warned: I’m not a registered dietitian. I’m not even a nutritionist (not that that’s a meaningful title). I’m an intelligent woman whose addiction has brought her to her knees, and not in a good way, many times. If you can relate, I’m sorry. Welcome.
Still unsure if you’re in the right place? Visit this helpful flowchart.
- Meanwhile, folks like me get homicidal at the thought. ↩