Wednesday, March 31, 2004

In my previous installment, I was talking about exercise devices and that you can buy from television ads that promise rapid weight loss and a body that looks as good as the one featured (“Operators are standing by! Order now and get this free exercise video!”). One thing that many don’t realize that in order to get that way requires permanent lifestyle changes and a little more effort than a 6-minute device can allow.

This brings me to dieting and diet trends.

I’m probably the least likely person to write about the subject as I have had few problems struggling with my weight. Okay, I have, but not in the way you’d expect. I’ve been lifting weights since I was 15 years old, yet any sort of muscular gain is very gradual. Much of this can be attributed to my training (I’ll admit that I could be adding a lot more intensity to my workouts) and the fact that I do a lot of cardiovascular work (martial arts training 2-3 times a week would do it).

However, much more can be attributed to my genetic makeup. My body type is what is referred to as an ectomorph, or a hard gainer, which means mostly lean mass and very little body fat. This usually occurs with a very fast metabolism. As a result, I have to eat roughly every 3 hours or so, or else I start to become weak and lethargic. As a result, most of what I eat is instantly converted into energy and burned off right away, and I can eat whatever the heck I want without gaining weight.

People who struggle to maintain their weight or are overweight hate people like me with a passion, because for them, keeping their weight down is a constant uphill battle. Some end up developing eating disorders, while the majority of them just have fluctuating weight as they try just about every single product or trend that is supposed to help in the process.

This is why anything that promises quick fix or changes in body without changes to lifestyle have become mainstream. As a society that wants everything now, now, now, people simply aren’t willing to make long-term sacrifices to make long-term goals.

The more popular diet plan featured on television is the Jenny Craig program, which promises significant weight loss for mere dollars per pound lost, plus the cost of food. And if you’re looking carefully enough, you might see the tiny little disclaimer that reads, “Results Not Typical.”

The cost of food does add up significantly, considering the fact that it’s specifically portioned and prepared. Once one moves off of the program, recurring weight gain can be expected. Incidentally, Jenny Craig International was at the center of a lawsuit back in 1997 because of this.

Even worse is the Slim-Fast plan, in which breakfast and lunch are replaced by a shake and then you have a “sensible” dinner. If you notice, the ads haven’t been seeing much broadcast time as of late. People are starting to catch on.

The current diet du jour is The Atkins Diet, which mostly evolves around high protein intake and low carbohydrates. While many people have lost weight on this diet plan, the jury is still out there, especially when there are significant health risks involved, which are not limited to heart disease and impaired kidney function.

People don’t often read into them, though, because it is viewed as a silver bullet for weight loss. That, and it’s remarkably easy. Instead of restricting foods that we normally shouldn’t eat (red meat, bacon, sausage), we can indulge on them, just as long as we don’t eat bread. No major loss, right?

When the good Dr. Atkins is 275 pounds at the time of his death, you know something’s wrong.

The common link between the three trends is that they all involve a quick solution to what is a long-term goal. People cannot have permanent weight loss over a short period of time unless one is willing to make permanent lifestyle changes and is willing to be patient with them. Rushing any sort of processes can cause significant drains on health and finances.

But, if fad diets seem to garner their creators millions of dollars, maybe I should put forth my own diet and exercise plan. It’s permanent, involves no exercise or dieting whatsoever. And best of all, the weight loss is almost instant.

I call it the Vince Plan. It involves amputating both of your arms. After that happens, you can easily lose at least 10% of your body weight in an instant. Best of all, the loss of both of your arms will make it much harder to eat, which means you’ll lose even more pounds after that!

I should publish a book and establish a chain of weight loss centers across the country.

I’ll be a millionaire before I’m 30.

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