Chapter 21 Myth #5: One Size Fits All

Can you relate to the following scenario?

You go on a newfangled diet that helped a bunch of people lose weight. There are testimonials to prove it. Maybe someone you know lost a lot of weight on the diet. And sure enough, you do lose weight, maybe even ten pounds. You feel good, look good, and even buy new clothes.

 Then, two months later, you notice those new clothes don’t fit anymore. Before you know it, you’re right back to where you were before the diet.

 Maybe this has happened more than once in your life. You lose weight, look and feel great, but within months you’re right back to where you started.

 This yo-yo comes from not finding a diet you can follow for the rest of your life. In this book, I want us to look at things you can do for the rest of your life to be healthy and more slim.

 And for this to happen, we need to find something that works for you, specifically. Each of us has our own likes and dislikes. Our bodies operate differently. What may work for that person won’t work for you. The key is finding something that works for you over the long term. All weight-loss programs work for someone, but no weight-loss plan works for everyone. It’s not the diet’s fault. It’s just that people are biologically different.

 Too often, though, we point to those people who have failed at a weight-loss program as examples of how the program has failed. Well, maybe the program just failed for that person.

 For instance, you probably know someone who has overcome alcoholic addiction by faithfully following the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) program. This organization has saved the lives of many. I, personally, have a friend who is now 35 years sober and continues to attend three meetings per week. It works.

 But if we analyzed everyone who started AA, the program would look like a complete failure. Many drop out. And not everyone who dropped out of the program started drinking again. Some found other ways to stay sober. But just because the program doesn’t work for everyone, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for a lot of people.

Myth #5: One Size Fits All

 Similarly, programs such as Weight Watchers work for a lot of people. There are folks who will never stop attending their meetings and following the program. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Actually, it works for a relatively few when you consider all of the people who are overweight.

 Next time you’re in a crowd of people, look around for someone who looks just like you. Failing that, how many people have a body that looks just like yours. Maybe one or two? Is their hair different, skin different, body shaped differently? Can you imagine all of those people agreeing on everything? Would they each have a different favorite food?

 When I met Jim in the exam room, I could see and feel his anxiety and frustration. He was a short, stocky bank executive in his mid-forties. He had recently decided to get some better life insurance for his family, only to flunk the required physical. According to the insurance company, he was overweight and his cholesterol was too high.

            Jim’s response was to put himself on a crash diet. In his case, he chose to become a vegan, and in trying for a low fat diet, ended up eating mainly carbohydrates. He also stepped up his exercise routine, lengthening his workouts to over an hour a day with a trainer.

 Now, Jim is a disciplined guy who played football in college. He prided himself on his ability to accomplish anything. His willpower, tenacity, and choice of diet led to impressive weight loss. But, surprisingly, it didn’t lead to a happy ending.  When he went back to his family doctor, he discovered that his triglyceride levels (fats in the blood) were now seriously high. And while his cholesterol was down, so was his HDL, or the good cholesterol. For all his hard work, things were getting worse.

 What Jim and his doctor didn’t know was that while many people do successfully lose weight with a vegetarian diet, heavy-prone people are often sensitive to high levels of carbohydrates. Jim was one of those people. His low fat diet had created a dangerous cholesterol/HDL ratio.

 I worked with Jim to reintroduce healthy proteins and fats into his diet to correct this ratio. Next, I used more advanced body fat testing methods to demonstrate that Jim actually had a healthy percent of body fat. His weight, which was high on the chart used by the insurance company, actually represented a healthy, active, and muscular man.

 With all the varieties of bodies out there, why do we think that one diet will work for all people? We know we have unique fingerprints, and that our DNA is like no one else’s. We’re surprised when someone looks similar to someone we know, and we get upset when someone copies us.

 And yet, we expect that everyone will have the same success that we did with this diet, or that if the diet worked for a celebrity, it’ll work for us.

 Have you heard about Donald Gorske? He’s the man who has set the world record for eating Big Macs. As I write this, he has consumed over 26,000 of them. Donald estimates that 90% of his solid food intake is Big Macs. Worse, he only drinks Coca-Cola. To his credit, he does not eat fries.

 With all these Big Macs and Cokes, Donald maintains a healthy weight. At his check-up, Donald’s

Myth #5: One Size Fits All

cholesterol was below average, and he didn’t have any other health concerns.

 Could you follow the same regiment as Donald Gorske and stay as healthy as he has? And how many people have tried Jarod’s Subway diet and failed? If you don’t think these diets would work for you the way they have for Donald and Jarod, why would you think a diet that worked for a celebrity would also work for you?

 Consider the Eskimos in Northern Alaska. Traditionally, they ate nothing but seal and whale blubber. They had no spinach or Brussel sprouts in their diet. They lived healthy lives until they moved south and begin eating processed food. Suddenly, they found themselves overweight and dying from diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.

 On the other end of the spectrum, the natives of Central Mexico are largely vegetarian. They eat beans, corn, squash, and very little meat. They lived healthy lives until they moved north and begin eating French fries, cookies, and processed meats. They also became obese and began to die from heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

 Your ancestors thrived in their environment, whatever that environment was. If they didn’t have a lot of green, leafy vegetables, their bodies would respond well to a high protein diet. On the other hand, if your ancestors didn’t eat a lot of meat because they had plenty of fruits and vegetables available to them, they would become sick with a high fat and protein diet.

 How many other people in the world have the same parents you do? Even then, your genetics vary from your siblings. Maybe you took after the skinny side, the redheaded side, or the short side, and your siblings took after the other side.

 In the coming chapters, I’m going to make some recommendations, but realize that you will have to discover what works for you. And be honest about what will bring long term results for you. If you like sweet things, how long can you deny yourself sweets before you binge? A protein intense diet maybe boring. For you, make sure you have some fruit to deal with your desire for sweets.  Remember that the berry family fruits will have the lowest glycemic load to avoid the stimulation of insulin production and the tropical fruits will have the highest glycemic load.

 As you read the following chapters, ask yourself what works best for you for the long-term. Maybe you’ll want to experiment with different dietary approaches, certainly find some sort of exercise that interests you.

 It is also important to understand that what worked for you, will not work for others. You may have shed 40 pounds with massive exercise, but your neighbor will gain weight following your same exercise regime. Or maybe you successfully lost weight by eating a certain sandwich from a fast food restaurant, but someone else will gain weight eating that same sandwich.

 The important point here is that what works for you, works for you. Also, what works for you may not work for someone else.

 As you read through the following possible solutions, especially those that involve diet, let your body suggest what route would be the easiest for you to follow. If you’re naturally drawn to fresh fruits and vegetable then this may be your route to health. If, on the other hand, proteins and natural fats attract you, begin your journey by experimenting with these foods. What is important is long-term success.