How to Beat ObesitySep 01, 2023
A 50-something-year-old gentleman reached out, asking for my help. He received a bad medical report from his doctor and was struggling to lose around 50 pounds of bodyfat.
After telling me how he felt depressed, humiliated, and in pain most of the day, I asked him a few simple questions to see if he was coachable.
Now, when it comes to losing weight and getting healthy, being coachable is a valuable mindset. A coachable person is open to feedback, willing to learn, and ready to take action. Coachability means setting aside your ego and listening to the guidance of experts, even when their advice challenges your current habits or beliefs.
Being coachable requires humility to admit what you don't know and embrace new information and strategies. A coachable person welcomes accountability and structure rather than resisting it. They are eager to implement suggestions, track progress, adjust as needed, and stick with a program even when results seem slow. Patience and commitment are key.
Now, with utmost respect, I am not shaming this guy, nor am I trying to play doctor and diagnose his situation, which is indeed serious. What I am doing is stating the facts. Plainly, without a candy coating.
Here's a loose summary of our conversation (names have been changed to maintain confidentiality):
Bacchus: "Coach Joe, I'm trying to lose about 50 pounds and it's been a constant struggle. It's like some incurable condition. My doctor said I'm obese, my blood sugar is too high, and I'm at risk for heart disease. She referred me to you and said you could help me get to a healthy weight."
Me: "May I ask you some questions to see if you will allow me to help you get healthy?"
Me: "How long have you been trying to lose weight? And by weight, I mean bodyfat."
Bacchus: "Over 10 years."
Me: "And what are you doing right now to lose weight?"
Bacchus: "Nothing really. I may exercise once a week, but oftentimes, due to my busy schedule, it's less than that. Recently I was at a baseball game with my kids and I ate four hot dogs. I wasn't even hungry. I'm so frustrated I've let myself go."
Me: "So if you continue to do the same things you are doing now, in three months, will you still be 50 pounds over your ideal bodyweight?"
Me: "What's the main reason you want to lose weight right now?"
Bacchus: "I'm in constant pain. I'm depressed. People treat me differently. I'm less productive at work. I have no energy for my family. Being obese is ruining my life."
Me: "If you had a coach, why do you think it would make it better or easier to lose 50 pounds?"
Bacchus: "Well, I've tried every method of dieting and working out but nothing works. I guess I just can't do it by myself... (pregnant pause) BUT..."
(Sadly, he began making these all-too-familiar excuses.)
- "I need to lose weight by myself before I can commit to a program."
- "I'm going on a trip to Europe for vacation soon, so I can't start until I come back."
- "But I'll miss out on watching my favorite sports team at the sports bar with my friends."
Now, he's a busy professional leading his team of employees and juggling many grown up responsibilities. He's likely a good father and husband too.
He understands the gravity of his health problems and even stated that he wants to lose weight. He knows that regular exercise could make him more successful in his career.
Yet, in so many ways, he's like the actual Greek god of wine and pleasure, Bacchus, prioritizing boozy parties and other instant gratification at the detriment of his long-term health. Bacchus is unwilling to change his current habits. The same habits keeping him overweight and unhappy.
I explained that he's not coachable at the moment; however, when he's ready to prioritize his health, I may be able to help him. If he allows me.
How to Beat Obesity
It's no secret that the obesity epidemic has been a major health concern, and as new evidence emerges, we find ourselves facing some tough questions. Are we really dealing with an incurable condition?
We've all heard discussions about the addictive nature of substances like crack cocaine, but is overeating just as powerful an addiction? A fascinating study showed that between 10 and 20% of crack cocaine users become addicted. In a nine-year study involving 176,000 obese individuals, a staggering 98.3% of men and 97.8% of women failed to return to a healthy weight (1). This suggests that once extreme overeating takes hold, breaking free from its grip becomes nearly impossible.
But here's where things get interesting. Some researchers argue that labeling this condition as "food addiction" might not be entirely accurate. Instead, they suggest "eating addiction" is a more fitting description. Unlike traditional addictions, where dependency is centered around a single substance, those driven to overeat tend to seek out a variety of highly palatable, energy-dense foods that are all around us.
The brain's reward systems and impulse control mechanisms that are compromised in drug dependency also come into play with eating addiction. In fact, astonishingly, laboratory experiments reveal that a majority of rats prefer a sweet reward over a cocaine reward. This sheds light on the potent grip that eating addiction can have on an individual's psyche.
It's not just the psychological aspect that makes obesity challenging to conquer. Biologically, once you become obese, your body undergoes changes that are difficult to reverse. Fat cells multiply, and your brain becomes accustomed to heightened dopamine signaling, creating an insatiable drive to consume more. Even when you attempt to lose weight, your body resists, triggering adaptations that make it harder to shed those extra pounds.
For those who manage to overcome these challenges and return to a normal weight, the struggle doesn't end there. Research indicates that they need to consume around 300 fewer calories per day than those who've never been obese, just to maintain their new weight. The biological pressure to regain lost weight is strong, creating an ongoing battle against the body's natural tendencies.
This brings us to a hard truth that many of us might find difficult to swallow. Obesity, once established, seems to be biologically ingrained, similar to how certain cancers take root. Lifestyle changes that could have prevented it might not be as effective in treating it.
The effectiveness of weight loss treatments
The evidence suggests that these biological adaptations can persist indefinitely, implying that long-term, dietary cures are elusive. Bariatric surgery, a drastic option with its own set of complications, is currently one of the most effective treatments for obesity. But even then, it's not a guaranteed solution, as the condition can be thought of more as being in remission rather than fully cured.
Bottom line: Surgery or not, you must ultimately follow a structured nutrition plan and train smarter. Same goes for weight-loss injections, which may not be a permanent solution to the obesity problem.
In the midst of all this, one thing becomes abundantly clear: fat-shaming is not just counterproductive, it's harmful. Research indicates that the more weight-conscious individuals are, the more likely they are to overeat due to the stress it induces. The diet industry, often touted as a solution, is fraught with inefficacies and temporary fixes.
So, where do we go from here? The most crucial step is addressing this issue at its root: childhood. Prevention and intervention in the early stages are key to combating this growing epidemic. This requires a change in the obesogenic environment, which bombards children with high-energy foods and drinks through advertising and packaging. Without redirecting children away from overeating, we risk trapping them in a cycle that's hard to break.
But as we grapple with these complex issues the government fails to address the underlying causes, like promotion of unhealthy eating habits.
The question we must ask ourselves is why we're in this situation in the first place. Has human nature suddenly changed? Have we all become weak-willed overnight? The answer lies in the abundance of high-fat, high-sugar foods that bombard our senses, targeting children and young adults. These foods are marketed as fun and appealing, positioned conveniently for easy access. The result? A quarter of the adult population affected by obesity, leading to a cascade of health problems, including diabetes, which strains healthcare systems.
The current approach, voluntary "responsibility deals" with manufacturers and retailers, is ineffective at best. It's high time for a change. The solutions may seem drastic, such as restrictions on advertising, packaging, and accessibility for high-risk foods and drinks, similar to those imposed on tobacco. But considering the severity of the issue, such measures might be the only way forward.
Remember, we're facing a crucial choice. Do we tackle the root causes and work towards prevention, or do we continue down a path of blame, shame, and futile treatment? The answer should be clear.
Now, a question for you: Isn't it more sensible to skip the surgery, adopt healthy habits, and start living the life you desire and deserve? You bet it is.
How do you know if you're at risk? If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you're at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men.
Let's be compassionate, informed, and ready to embrace the changes needed to secure a healthier future for generations to come. Stay informed, stay empowered, and keep making those mindful choices.
Now is the time to take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others. I mean, isn't that what we were born to do: Take care of others?
But everyone will have a tough time caring for others if you don't take care of yourself first.
If you agree, please share this message with folks you care about.
Obesity is a condition that induces biological changes, making fat loss extremely challenging. Preventative measures that address the root causes are the best path forward. Take responsibility for your health through lifestyle changes.
To your success,
1. Fildes A, Charlton J, Rudisill C, Littlejohns P, Prevost AT, Gulliford MC. Probability of an Obese Person Attaining Normal Body Weight: Cohort Study Using Electronic Health Records. Am J Public Health. 2015 Sep;105(9):e54-9.
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.