Recently, I was browsing the weight loss books in Barnes & Noble and found three books stacked next to each other on the shelf that made the following claims on their covers:
“Lose up to 10 pounds in 21 days.”
“Lose up to 14 pounds in 28 days.”
“Lose up to 10 pounds in just 2 weeks.”
I guess if people want to lose weight as fast as possible, they should buy the one that makes the third claim since that one gives them the most rapid rate of weight loss.
The fitness and weight loss industry is filled with this kind of propaganda. “Fitness experts” and “celebrity trainers” are all over the place, especially social media, and they’re quick to tell you how to lose fat, build muscle, and keep your metabolism revved long after your workout is over. Unfortunately, much of what they say or write is wrong.
When you become a fitness professional, it can be intimidating. After all, you have a direct impact on other people’s health. People pay you for your knowledge. Where is that knowledge supposed to come from when the language of marketing and celebrity obstructs the truth?
The answer, unfortunately, is often buried in obscure academic journals and textbooks that few people outside of academia ever read. Part of the problem is that many scientists don’t know how to communicate with industry professionals. But they have a wealth of knowledge. Professional conferences are another way to educate yourself. Spend time reading, learning, absorbing information, asking questions, and contextualizing the information you learn. This is not an easy or fast process. But it is a long-lasting one.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started working in the fitness industry was that I thought I knew a lot. Once you have a particular concept set in your head, it’s very hard to open your mind to other possibilities and answers. You get stuck in a rut. But to keep learning and discovering, you have to break the rules that you set for yourself. If you assume something is true or think you know it all, that assumption leads to other assumptions and fallacious ideas. You need to always keep an open mind. Sometimes, it’s helpful to pretend like you don’t know anything at all.
As for those claims made by the weight loss books in Barnes & Noble? Since it takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose a single pound, it’s not possible to lose weight (and keep it off) at the rate the books advertise unless you starve yourself and exercise all day long and become severely dehydrated. In my new book, Run Your Fat Off, I tell people the truth about losing weight and keeping it lost for the rest of your life. It’s about time someone told the truth.
I think my next book is going to say on its cover, “Lose 10 pounds in an hour!” Now that would generate some sales.
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