The Biggest Loser Isn’t A Good Example

8a7a9bd7-38d8-4dc4-a104-720fd19d8fc1I was reading an interview with a contestant on the TV show “The Biggest Loser” and it was very sad to me. This is a show that not only perpetuates the horrible myth that you can exercise away weight, but it did so in an unsafe manner that nearly killed people.

Over the years, several former contestants opened up about how rough they really had it during production:
“I was eating baby food. I’d wrap myself in garbage bags to sweat. We’d use the sauna for six hours a day. We stopped eating and drinking and would work out for four hours a day. People were passing out in the doctor’s office,” Suzanne Mendonca, who was on the show’s second season, said.
“My hair was falling out. My period stopped. I was only sleeping three hours a night,” Kai Hibbard, another contestant, claimed. She explained that the weight loss became detrimental to her health, but she was still being pushed to lose the pounds. She added that the series is a “fat-shaming disaster.”
The first Biggest Loser ever, Ryan Benson, said he was so malnourished after the show that he was urinating blood. Other contestants also claim that they often sustained injuries that weren’t shown on-screen.
Contestants are also cut off from their families and aren’t allowed to be part of the outside world. Some also complained about unfair editing.
This is the kind of stuff that turns people off from healthy lifestyles: they think that this is what it takes to get healthy, or that this is what it takes to lose weight. None of that is true. I’m living proof.
There’s no need to kill yourself to lose weight. I did it sitting in a chair all day. 110 lbs in 12 months without any of the shenanigans of The Biggest Loser, and I never had any health-related issues like my hair falling out or urinating blood. Holy crap. I can’t believe people went through that. It truly disgusts me that the producers of that show allowed that BS to happen.
I repeat it often on this site: exercise is great, but it’s not the cure for obesity. Changing our diets and our relationship with food is at the core of the obesity epidemic, and TV shows like The Biggest Loser are doing NOTHING to improve our collective health. They are, at best, nothing more than scripted misery.

You’re here! That’s Something!!!

2018I know it’s hard to get started. There’s so much to prepare. You have to prepare mentally and clear the calendar, so to speak. Then, you need to use up all provisions you already have in the pantry and refrigerator. You have to buy a bunch of new food. You have to put together new menus with healthy recipes. You have to plan on going through the sugar withdrawals. It’s all a lot to do. But you haven’t started yet. But it’s okay, because you’re already doing something most people don’t: you’re reading up and getting mentally strong to start.


It’s not a small thing. It means you care enough about your health that you’re reading, you’re investigating, and ultimately, you’re preparing to get going. That’s something!

Now, it’s time to set a timeline to get past the planning, complete the preparations, and to set your plan into motion. I’ve noticed that it’s difficult to start anything that differs from our norm. The lead up to every run I do is tougher than the run. When I jump into the 37 degree water on New Year’s Eve, it’s the lead-up to the jump that is worse than the actual plunge. It’s almost a relief to finally be engulfed in the frigid water as it’s a relief from the stress of anticipation.

Which brings me to my final point: stop sweating it. Stop planning it so much. Get into it and do it. Sure, you can’t just start without proper planning and preparation, but there’s a point at which you just have to jump and start. Sure, there will be mistakes; there always are. There will be recipes that don’t come out the way you wanted them to, or the way you expected them to come out. There will be days when you are hungrier than others as you learn what the new normal is as it relates to satiety and nutrition. But in time, you will learn, the mistakes and missteps will come fewer and farther in between, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you!

Getting back into the swing of running

File_002.pngIt’s taken some time, especially with the cool and wet weather we’ve been having here in Houston, but now that Spring is starting to take hold, I’m able to get back into my routine of running at least three times a week. This is a big deal for me, as it’s great for my fitness, great for my mental well-being, and a necessity for my National Guard service.

I have a physical fitness test coming up in May, and I want to be ready for it. My last two-mile run time was 15:53, and I’d like to beat it. For right now, I come very close, but I’m not faster. I have two months to get there.

I pushed myself pretty hard on Tuesday, and my run time/pace really showed: first mile was an 8:03/mile, second mile was 8:33/mile, and the third and final mile was a 9:03/mile pace. While I’m working to bring the third mile pace to be more in line with the first, it’s the first two miles that I’m most concerned with as they relate to my National Guard APFT. I’m pretty pleased with my pace so far, and with the fact that I was able to push hard and not feel like dying.

Here’s something crazy about my run: for all that effort, I only burned about 365 calories. Think about that when you consider exercising away a bad diet. It just can’t/won’t happen. I’ve been running for a year and a half, and for me to exercise away a bad diet, I’d have to run for hours. That’s not even considering the anti-nutrients and harmful effects of things like grains, sugar, and legumes.

I’m debating on whether I will continue with my running blog. It gets very little traffic, and by now, I think the only person who cares about my running progress is me, so I can just use either Garmin’s app or Strava to keep track of/blog about my running. But I digress.

If you’re getting healthy, think about doing something about fitness. I avoided it for a year and while I’m glad I did to avoid injury when I was at my heaviest, I’m glad I do it now. I do feel so much better afterward.

What’s Healthy in the Media Isn’t Always So

Whole grain pizza crust. It’s gotta be better, right?

I was looking at yet another video posted by a friend on Facebook showing a “Healthy alternative to pulled pork.” The video showed a hip, young, and handsome man shred a mushroom (good!) and then add some spices and vegetable oil to it and then put it into a frying pan with even more vegetable oil. After sauteeing it for a bit, he added BBQ sauce to it (filled with sugar) and then put it on bread (grains) with some good veggies (onion and cucumber slices). He then slathered some more sauce of some sort on it.

This is definitely vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy. I know plenty of people who are vegetarians who are overweight, and when they try to tell me about how healthy their diet is, I ask them about their weight. I figure if they’re bold enough to tell me about their diet when I didn’t ask about it, then all questions are on the table. They tell me that it’s a sign of how healthy their diet is that they weigh so much. They tell me it shows that vegetarians aren’t always thin and sickly: “Those are Vegans.”


When I posit that it may have to do with the grains and the large amount of fruits with high carbs, I am told that carbs are good for you, that the body and brain use them for energy, that they are necessary for good health, etc. I usually just smile and nod and change the subject because I am non-confrontational about nutrition, especially when discussing it with people who have no interest in actually hearing what I have to say. That’s fine; like I always say, I don’t judge them. Some of these people are very good friends, and I like them a lot. I don’t have to agree with them all the time, nor do I need to harangue them with nutrition info.

Back to the video: it’s stuff like this that adds to the bad information and ultimately, to the obesity epidemic we are currently experiencing. People thinking that eating anything on bread with condiments filled with sugar can somehow be healthy is the root of the problem. I’m not saying everyone should go Paleo, Keto, or do the Adkins diet, but as more and more science is showing, low-carb/high-fat diets are definitely healthier and many of the weight-related health maladies we face can be directly impacted by adopting a LCHF diet.

I should start making my own videos for truly healthy foods. We will see how motivated I am for that.

The Keto/Paleo Experience

img_1428So far, so good. My wife has been keeping our diet primarily keto with a smattering of Paleo. What that means to us is that we do have the occasional artificial sweetener, but only those that don’t affect insulin levels (erythritol, for example). We also use dairy, but only those that are lactose-free.

This has opened up a world of foods to us that we’ve not eaten in over two and a half years, namely those with cheese on them. On Paleo, Sherry would prepare foods that had artificial or facsimiles of cheese made from things like blended cashews, and while they tasted good, they weren’t exactly cheese. Now, having cheese back in our diet has been pretty darned amazing. There’s nothing quite like cheese on a pizza (made on a dough that also has cheese in it and browns nicely!).

As for health, my weight has been holding steady, and I feel pretty good. I have to admit that on pure keto, I felt a bit sharper in the mornings, but I still have a lot of energy throughout the day, and my meals are as delicious and filling, if not more.

The other change we’ve made is we’ve really began limiting the sugar or carb content of our food even further. While I’m not actually in ketosis now (I can feel the difference and the Keto sticks confirm this), I can get into it if I want to. I have trace amounts of ketones in my urine, which means I’m teetering on it at any given time. Not that this does anything for me other than keeping me as low-carb as I possibly can.

Some people argue that we need carbs because our bodies run off glucose. Sure, this is true, and it’s why we don’t eliminate them. But our bodies are resilient, and study after study is showing how diets rich in carbs are bad for us and may be the cause of or at least a major contributor to many maladies including cancer. Limiting carbs has done much good for me, and I feel much better. The limited carbs I do allow have helped my running speed, reducing my times in a big way.

So, my verdict so far is that it’s working. My body seems to like the amount of calories I give it with the activity level I currently enjoy, and that means I’m in solid maintenance. Would I like to lose another 10 lbs? I think almost anyone would say that they’d like to lose 10 lbs; the only difference is that I’ve already lost 150 lbs. Sherry says I’m being greedy; maybe she’s right.

The Monthly Refrain…

image-1-2You lose weight in the kitchen and get fit in the gym. I feel like this has to be said almost monthly because of the number of people I run into who tell me that they are joining a gym to lose weight. I ask them what lifestyle changes they are making to accommodate that, and so far, none of them have told me they are changing their diet. When I flat-out ask them, they look at me as if I had a third eye on my forehead. They assume that no changes in diet are necessary if they are going to be “Sweating it all off” in the gym.

When I tell them that weight loss happens in the kitchen, they scoff. They tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that they know someone who joined a gym and lost a bunch of weight. I’m certain it happens, because I’ve spoken to a few people who have done the same thing. The problem is that it is a very few people. Most who achieve great weight loss through a gym workout have also made lifestyle changes and eat very differently than they did before their fitness plan took root.

I know many people who have tried to out-exercise a poor diet, and they all failed at losing weight. Every single one of them. Only those who changed their diet and lifestyle to a healthier one have made any appreciable changes in their weight, and only those who completely adopted a new diet have made great gains and kept them off.

A gym membership or daily running won’t make you lose weight. Changing what you eat, how often you eat, and what goes into your mouth is what makes the biggest difference.

Picturing Sugar Cubes

sugarOrganic and Healthy doesn’t really mean that the food is good for you. While browsing the Organic and Healthy section of our local grocery store, I was once again dismayed at the lack of LCHF options. Almost every item was high in carbs: often 20g or more of sugar carbs per serving. That’s healthy?

One sugar cube is 4g of sugar. When reading labels, I picture sugar cubes as I translate the grams of sugar contained in a serving. What is amazing to me is when you see a package of “Healthy, Organic Cookies” and a serving has 37g of sugar, yet if you were to take sugar cubes, you could hardly fit them into the package the cookies are in. How do they cram so much sugar into a package?!?!?!

Another trick is that certain foods have very small serving sizes. I looked at a tiny container of some sort of “Healthy” food, and it was about 1.5 cups in volume, yet the label said it was 2.3 servings. Each serving was 160 calories with something like 12g sugar. That’s over 8 sugar cubes in that tiny container!

I should write an app that displays sugar cubes with augmented reality on the object containing the sugar so you can visualize the amount of sugar in the food item. I think it would be an eye-opening experience to see just how much sugar is in foods that shouldn’t have them.