Recently I watched a video on Youtube that featured an over weight dog named Kai. At 173lbs, Kai was about 100lbs over weight for a golden retriever. Kai’s owners had brought him to the vet to have him put down because he was having difficulty standing due to his weight. The vet felt that Kai had a lot of life left in him, and that putting him down wasn’t the right option. The vet was able to find a new home for Kai with someone who was willing to help him lose weight. Kai’s new owner put him on a strict diet where they monitored his food intake, and made sure he got outside for plenty of exercise. They had to start slow, going for a few short walks a day, before moving on to swimming, and longer walks and hikes. Eventually Kai lost the 100lbs and became a healthy, playful pup.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Mindset Monday: In fitness we often over complicate things. It’s not uncommon for clients to join the AF Army, and tell us that they’ve “tried everything” and nothing worked. In truth, most people have tried methods that will produce results, where these methods have failed is in their sustainability. While there may seem to be a big debate online about the cause of the obesity epidemic, the scientific community has actually figured out what causes obesity a long time ago. Carbohydrates, sugar, fats, processed foods, and even environmental pollution have all been used as a scapegoat for the obesity epidemic, but in reality it’s merely a surplus of calories, and a lack of movement and exercise.
The Real Cause of Obesity
Food is more readily available and affordable than ever. Almost all food is produced on a mass scale, and preservative technology is more adavnced than ever. This drives the cost of food down, while various technologies open up the opportunity for us to be more sedentary. Desk jobs are now the norm, with physical labor only a fraction of what it once was. While the average American watched 2 or more hours of television a day, we’ve now added 2-4 hours of screen time via computers and cell phones. The environment of easy access to very calorie dense food coupled with an extremely sedentary lifestyle is a perfect recipe for obesity and weight gain.
While people prey on the uninformed to turn a buck, selling gimmicks like ultra restrictive diet plans, extreme fitness routines, and useless nutritional supplements, the real scientific community is hard at work trying to figure out how to help people better manage our current health environment. The good news is we can take a page out of Kai’s playbook. I don’t want to undermine the importance of an intelligently designed fitness plan, or the finer points of nutrition, but in reality simply eating a bit less, and moving a bit more can have a big impact on your health and fitness.
What Kai Can Teach Us
In a way, Kai had it easy, because he was not in control of his diet. It was up to his owner to feed and exercise him. Unfortunately for you, unless you have a lot of money to pay someone, you won’t have anyone but yourself to manage your lifestyle. The responsibility will be yours to make the right choices and to take action to lose weight (if that’s your goal). The good news, it doesn’t need to be complicated.
One of the the things that stood out to me about the video of Kai is what his owner said about “monitoring” his food, meaning they knew exactly how much he was eating. We have the same tools available to us. Tracking your food intake in a food journal like MyFitnessPal has never been easy. After all we cannot change what we do not measure. Imagine trying to save money for a big purchase and having no idea how much money you spend, and how much money you earn. Your nutrition works the same way. Lastly I loved how Kai’s owner said that he stayed positive through the entire process of his weight loss. This highlights a great point, that losing weight will not make you happy. It can make you happier but you will not lose weight and magically become a happy person or have all of your problems solved. Your attitude will likely dictate your success and if you’re not happy now, not only will it make it more difficult to achieve your goals, but when you do it won’t have much of an impact on your happiness. Be happy, enjoy life and all it’s challenges!