If you want to lose weight, there’s one thing you must do…stop exercising.
And that’s not some trick way of saying do more weights than cardio or make sure you only run in 3-minute bursts. I mean stop exercising. Back away from the treadmill, put down the weights, put your workout clothes away and cancel your gym membership.
I’ve been saying it for years. And now, a 20-year study proves I’m right.
But I didn’t really need a study because I know it works. In fact, I lost almost 50 pounds without exercising at all.
I’ve told you before how much I hate exercising. I used to really envy the people that loved it. I thought I could never get in shape or get healthier without torturing myself at the gym.
But then I figured something out.
I wasn’t overweight because I didn’t work out. After all, people have been thin for millennia before the advent of the treadmill, stair climber and running shoes.
I was overweight because of food and how I used it. I didn’t eat for sustenance. I ate for entertainment.
Once I learned how to stop doing that, the weight came off on its own. I lost about 50 pounds in 7 months and have kept it off for years.
The proof is in the (chocolate) pudding
Now I know what you’re thinking…that I probably ate lettuce-wrapped tofu and drank hot water with lemon.
Well, I have done that (and grapefruit, apple cider, etc.), but none of that worked for me either.
So I designed my own plan to address my personal issues with food. I ate literally anything I wanted, but focused on when I ate and how much.
With that guiding principle in mind, here are five quick tips I built my plan around:
1. Don’t eat until you’re hungry. Don’t plan in advance to eat at a certain time. Don’t automatically eat breakfast or 3 snacks a day. Wait until your body tells you it wants food. (In fact, I never eat breakfast and I hardly ever snack.)
2. When you get hungry, don’t eat yet, wait a little longer. Not an hour but 15 or 20 minutes. Try to push off your hunger when you can.
3. Stop eating when you’re not hungry anymore. That means when the edge is off your hunger. Don’t eat until you’re full. If you eat out a lot, like I do, this usually means finishing less than half the food on your plate.
4. Always leave at least one bite on your plate. (I leave one bite of anything bigger than a cracker.) Once you decide to do this, you have to pay attention when you’re eating. You can’t just mindlessly shove food in your mouth.
5. Don’t eat after 8 pm (or 2-3 hours before you go to bed).
I did this, plus a few other tricks here and there. Not only did I lose weight but my blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides all got in a healthy range (if you care about those sorts of things). All without exercising even one day.
Once I lost 42 pounds, I did start exercising because I wanted to tone and found out that I liked seeing some actual definition in my arms.
But for losing the weight, it’s about the food and making the changes that you’ll be able to live with long-term.
The real biggest losers
That was my story. Now let’s see what happens when you DO exercise.
First, let’s look at some shocking numbers…
Take 3,500 young subjects. Follow their weight gain and activity levels for 20 years. What do you get? A lot of people who still look a lot alike.
This study, reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that men with low activity levels weighed, on average, less than six pounds more than men with high activity levels.
Less than six pounds!
In 20 years!
And the average difference between their waistlines was only an inch.
So you have to wonder: How can all that stairmaster/exercycle/treadmill burning of calories result in such poor results?
It’s actually pretty simple. When you burn those calories, your body craves replacement calories. And you’re going to respond by eating. Maybe not at first. But the demands of your body will wear you down and win out.
You’ll start by bargaining. You’ll reward yourself with a little treat here, a little treat there. But those little indulgences are exactly the fuel your body craves and needs. Before you know it, those rewards completely offset your gains.
And then, if you’re anything like me, you just give up altogether. I mean what’s the point of exercising and eating right if it doesn’t show on the scale?! Pass the pizza!
No question, I know from my own 20-year struggle that dealing with food and exercise separately is the best formula for effective, healthy, long-term weight loss.
“Maintaining a High Physical Activity Level Over 20 Years and Weight Gain” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 304, No. 23, 12/15/10, jama.ama-assn.org