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Do not overthink your fitness and weight loss plan

“Don’t over think it”; “Paralysis through analysis”. These are two well know mantras of sports psychologists, used regarding competitive athletic performance. However, I think the principle can apply to general fitness and weight loss.

Too often, people “overthink” the fitness and weight loss issue. They read every book and article out there and examine every fitness machine and weight loss food or drink, only to be “paralyzed” by all the information. The result is often little action and little success.

I am in favor of a simpler approach. Believe it or not, in this case, it means a scientific approach. Often people equate anything “scientific” as complicated; not so. Science can clarify many issues, thereby simplifying those issues.

For example, look at diets. If you try to find “the” diet, by researching all of the diets on the market today, you will be confused and overwhelmed. Every diet will have a different plan that is “guaranteed” to work and have different reasons why it is “the” one for you. Without applying science to the diet issue you will put yourself in danger of beginning an ongoing cycle of trying one fad diet after another.

Science can clarify these issues for you, but only if you open your mind to it. Science will tell you that gaining or losing weight depends on ONE thing: calories in vs. calories out. That’s it! It’s simple. If you want to lose weight, then burn more calories than you take in. If you want to gain weight, then take in more calories than you burn. If you are trying to stabilize your weight, then you have to get in “energy balance”; by taking in and burning an equal amount of calories. How much simpler can it be?

Sure, there are nutritional issues. You can lose weight eating only French fries and ice cream, if you only eat a small amount, but this would not be a wise nutritional choice. You can also gain weight eating the healthiest of foods; again, it is a matter of calories in vs. calories out, when it comes to weight gain and weight loss. DON’T OVER THINK IT.

Spend some time getting familiar with the caloric value of foods. Compare this with the nutritional value of food. This is the approach that should be used when determining what and how much to eat. Don’t be fooled by non-scientific explanations of why you gain and lose weight, stick with science, and keep it simple and you will succeed.

The same principle of “don’t overthink it” applies to fitness too. Again, you can be “paralyzed” into inactivity, if you try to examine and then choose the “best” type of exercise to do, or the “best” machine to buy, or the “best” gym to join. Instead, turn to science and simplify your life.

Science will help you separate fact from fiction, about fitness. Your body does not know what kind of machine you are using; if you are lifting a gold-plated dumbbell or a can of beans. It doesn’t know or care if you are working out in a fancy gym or a dirty garage. Science says that your body responds to the “stress” of exercise, not matter what vehicle delivers that “stress”. By “stress”, I mean the load or the work of exercise. In scientific terms, any activity above resting is called a “stress”. Exercise stress is measured in a unit called METS or metabolic equivalents. Exercise physiologists talk in this language because it makes all exercise universal. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, just how many METS an activity is or how much the exercise “stress”.

Again, there is still a right and wrong way to exercise. Programs should be designed to be safe and appropriate. The point here is that is not what kind of exercise you do; whether it’s spinning, pilates, walking or cycling, but are you putting your body under the proper and appropriate stress. The proper and regular exposure to the stress of exercise WILL produce a positive response, Don’t over think it!

Science can be your friend. It can help you make clear and simple choices that can lead to positive results. Don’t turn away from sound science. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true………… know the rest.