Weight Loss’ Golden Rule: Diet and Exercise

Summary: Want to lose weight? Is it really as simple as diet and exercise? Let's find out (Tweet This!)

A few days ago, I covered the golden rule of money. In case you missed it, it is Spend Less Than You Earn. Today's golden rule of weight loss is similar... but different:

Diet & Exercise

[Note: I'm always hesitant to use the word diet when I mean "eat less" as they are very different. After all, I could go on a Super Size Me diet. Alas, society tends to use "diet" as being synonymous with eating less. ]

Most health professionals know that a pound of body weight is 3,500 calories. Want to lose a pound? Simply eat 500 fewer calories every day for a week. Since most of the food in the United States comes with a calorie counter, this should be easy, right? Unfortunately, it is wrong. I don't know how many times that I've read that Americans could drop 15 pounds if they just switched from drinking one can of full calorie soda a day to diet soda. I know a number of people who gave up full calorie sodas and they didn't look like they lost any weight.

Eat Less, Exercise More

If only bathroom scales were this blunt with you.

Yesterday's lesson of spend less than you earn didn't seem to have this problem. I don't want to go all Paul McCartney on you, longing for yesterday, but money was such an easier game to play. The problem is the human body is pretty efficient. If you stop eating, your body will conserve calories making it more difficult to exercise. Exercising without eating can be physically dangerous.

Even if our bodies weren't against us, most of us would still have problems losing weight. We don't prioritize exercise. Everyone I know is going to spend tomorrow working (including commuting) for 9-10 hours. What happens to the rest of the day? Much of that is spent getting ready for work in the morning, making dinner at night, spending time and with the spouse and kids. Exercise is often the lowest priority.

Finally, the money's golden rule of "spending less than you earn" often fights against the goal of losing weight. Unless you are one of the few people who has never been to a McDonalds, you know that McDouble is a lot cheaper than a salad. Gym memberships and personal trainers are expensive. (Though I'll cover a lot of ways to lose weight on a budget.) These conflicting goals can make things difficult.

How You Can Eat Less

There are a lot of ways to trick yourself into eating less. You can use psychological tricks to make it look like you are eating more. You can drink more water to slow you down from overeating. You can make wise choices of foods that fill your stomach on fewer calories. (By "eating less", I mean calories, not volume of food.)

When you combine these together it gets easier. I won't sugarcoat it and say it's "easy" by any means.

The Key to Exercising More

I know a lot of people who don't like exercise. They find elliptical trainers boring. If you are one of those people, I'm with you. However, a lot of those people like activity sports like tennis. Even some of the newer video games can be fun and trick you into exercising more. Finally, there are motivational tricks such as setting SMART goals . I'll cover a lot more of these in greater detail over time.

You shouldn't give up losing weight just because it may be more difficult than saving money. If you think it's impossible, just watch The Biggest Loser. People on the show have a 100% success rate at losing weight over time (though they sometimes put some of it back on).

This post involves:

Diet, Exercise, Health / Fitness, Weight Loss

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How To Be Healthy

Summary: There is a lot of confusion about what's healthy, here's what we know works. (Tweet This)

In case you didn't notice all the articles this week have very general, broad titles. The idea wasn't to present complete solutions, but to come up with a straw man proposal that can evolve over time.

The articles will take their cue from this website: improving a little bit with many tiny steps. Keep doing it long enough, and you won't even recognize what the start looked like.

The Problem with Health

Health is probably the most difficult subject we'll cover at Be Better Now. That's because it is almost impossible to validate health studies.

I'm simply trying to explain how difficult it is going to be write about health and fitness in general. It's as if the deck is stacked against me. There is a haystack of information, and maybe only a needle or two of truth in all of it. I can guarantee that I'll make mistakes and cite some information as being valid when it isn't.

An Attempt at a Guide to Good Health

For all the reasons above, I'm going to try to be a little conservative. I'll stick to ideas that most experts seem to agree on... or ones that just seem to follow clear, obvious logic.

It's almost going to sound too general to be helpful. Over the next few weeks, months, and even years, we'll get a lot more specific. The guide will improve as our research grows.

Exercise

Skinny Boxer

"That's pure muscle"

There's no better place to start the clear, obvious logic than with exercise. I've never heard an expert say, "Exercise is bad. Stay away from that."

There are different types of exercise. Some are more appropriate for people than others. I don't think my mother is at an age where taking up running is expected. However, there are health benefits for something as simple as walking. I'm not going to teach my 2 year-old son how to do deadlifts, he'll get his exercise from playing.

If it's appropriate for you, I suggest picking up a sport that you love. I'm absolutely terrible at basketball, but I enjoy it. I'm much better at badminton, but I have difficulty finding a partner.

Eat Less Food

This doesn't apply to everyone, but most experts believe that there is an obesity problem in America. Some of that is due to getting less exercise. Some of that has to do with the types of food we eat. Much of it has to do with the quantity of food we eat.

Eat Quality Food

Dinosaur Broccoli Tree

Grrr... Broccoli Tree... Good!

Most experts agree there's a huge difference between eating Ramen Noodles and an apple. It's not exactly rocket science to say that the apple is better. We'll dig into which foods are better choices.

We'll also cover kind of diets are actually scientifically shown to work.

Get Motivated

We'll cover some areas that might be more appropriately put in our Mind section. The key to change in your exercise routine or your diet lies between your ears.

Fire-up that Rocky soundtrack and pound those stairs.

Set (and Accomplish) Your Goals

If you aren't where you want to be with health, it's a good idea to create a plan. Your health journey needs a map. We'll look into how we can learn to set and successfully accomplish our goals.

This post involves:

Health / Fitness

... and focuses on:

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