Overcome Negative Cultural Influences to Achieve Successful Weight Loss

By Brad Kearns

The modern approach to weight loss, healthy eating and athletic training has some serious problems. I see flawed mentalities and overly stressful approaches to lifestyle goals at every level, from basic fitness enthusiasts to competitive endurance athletes like marathon runners and Iron Man triathletes. The main problem is our rat-race culture that equates success and happiness with superficial results. We tend to avoid looking in the mirror and dealing with the source of our bad habits and failures. Instead we have been socialized to endlessly pursue easy, painless magic potions that alleviate symptoms and ignore the cause.

If you've ever accomplished any fitness or competitive goals, you understand that there are no shortcuts to transforming your metabolism and your body. Adopting a negative, deprivation mentality towards your diet will always create a rebound effect in which you gain back the weight you've lost. Food intake also is an issue. Consuming heavily processed, aggressively marketed and distributed food has left us with the worst dietary quality in the history of mankind, and the United States now has the distinction of being the fattest country on the planet (64 percent of US adults are classified as overweight, and nearly 33 percent are clinically obese).

When it comes to fitness, we are presented with a never-ending stream of attractive fitness "experts" touting their latest workouts or contraption as the secrets to happiness and skim bodies, or rah-rah personal trainers who think "two more reps" will deliver all the results you could ever want. It's not that simple. As spinning program creator Johnny G says, "Merely conducting a workout will not guarantee you anything but sweaty clothes and a few moments of exhilaration." Even the more sophisticated theories of athletic training typically neglect or pay lip service to human variables, such as motivation levels, attitude, ego demands and life responsibilities that influence correct training decisions. What many popular personal trainers, coaches and fitness programs fail to recognize is that you are an individual, not a robot. Attempting to escalate your fitness level too quickly or without a comprehensive plan that emphasizes the principles of periodization and balancing stress and rest will predictably result in fatigue and burnout.

You may not be a member of the club who chooses Phen-fen or Cortislim over exercise, but if you believe that struggling and suffering is the path to reaching your peak performance goals and staying lean, you are ignoring a reality of human nature. We humans crave comfort and pleasure. Any endeavor that battles against this reality will possibly succeed in the short term and inevitably fail in the long term. Your diet must be psychologically pleasing to you, and it should be centered around healthy, natural foods that give your body energy and satisfaction. Otherwise, when the excitement and manipulative power of the flash cards, meal point scores and guilt-driven motivators wear off, you will break commitments to pursue comfort, security and relief from stress and anxiety. Sounds like a midnight ice cream binge to me!

Your exercise program must be fun, convenient and energizing -- otherwise you will subconsciously drift toward a lifestyle that is more comfortable and less stressful physically and emotionally. The snooze button on the alarm clock, the small percentage of health club members who regularly visit and the 71 percent dropout rate among those training for their first marathons are testaments to this truth. In future article_temps I will provide some practical suggestions for how to proceed with a successful weight loss program.

About this Author

For the past 20 years, Brad Kearns has been a national champion, a #3 world-ranked professional triathlete and a popular author, speaker and coach. Brad's books "How Lance Does It" and "How Tiger Does It" can help you to apply the champion attitude and behavior qualities of these sports legends to reach your own peak performance goals. His breakthrough triathlon training offers a healthy, balanced approach to triathlon. Brad's hobbies include speed golf and high jumping.

Find more about this topic, and all things health and fitness at Livestrong.com.