Vail Daily column: Outworking the donut is not an option |

Vail Daily column: Outworking the donut is not an option

Ryan W. Richards
Make It Count

I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim expertise in bioenergetics and understand the impact of the pentose classified sugar, ribose and its effects on reducing coronary artery disease. However, I have overcome childhood obesity and successfully lost 80 pounds more than 18 years ago; I have strong opinions and convictions on fat and weight loss.

After successfully following Enter the Zone diet, combined with running and Soloflex training, I went from 260 pounds to 180 pounds in six months. The really profound enlightenment during this experience was how easy it really was.

At a young 15 years old with a strict diet and exercise program, not to mention a real physiological need to lose weight, the weight flew off quite fast and with moderate effort. For the obese population, even small modifications yield positive changes in body composition. Calculated, disciplined modifications create overnight success and dramatic transformation. When someone is pathologically sick, it doesn’t take much effort to create health because his health is so bad to begin with. The most difficult situation I have seen is the person who is fit and healthy, but is 20 pounds overweight. When they are already exercising, eating a reasonable diet, and are overweight; it calls for a serious overhaul.

Diet the main solution for weight loss

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This requires the very finest discipline to dietary intake. It is common for fitness professionals to suggest that diet is 90 percent of the solution for weight loss. Unfortunately this is anecdotally unquestionable. I have worked with hundreds of fit people over the years that just can’t seem to ditch the last 10 to 20 pounds.

Effort with most things in life is highly correlated in success. Not so with weight loss. The harder you work, sometimes the further you get away from losing the weight. What I have painfully observed is that as work load increases in activity for most of these people, their literal appetites follow to preserve the recovery process from the high stress demand that the exercise placed on their body. These people may burn 1,000 calories during the work effort, but regretfully replace that effort with 1,500 calories of intake, implicating that the metabolic process is sending a signal to eat, and eat a lot!

Can’t substitute workouts with food

Sometimes there seems to be a mental shift where people ride 30 miles and justify to themselves how hard the effort was and they decide to have a celebration of sorts by eating and drinking whatever they want, as much as they want the rest of the day, negating the weight loss efforts.

These approaches rarely work. The following guidelines for myself and others have worked very well over the years:

• Reduce workouts to two to three days per week. Keep the resistance high, repetitions low. Pick two or three “big bang for your buck.” These exercises include squats, pushups and pull-ups.

• Walk at an easy pace for an hour every day.

• Skip the high intensity cardio sessions, 50-mile bike rides and long intense runs.

• Restrict caloric intake.

You need far less calories than you think, especially if you are overweight and aren’t stressing your system hard, as I have outlined. Fat at 9 calories per gram is a potent energy source. Even if you are 150 pounds and extraordinarily lean at 8 percent body fat, you still have 12 pounds of fat for energy usage. That equates to 42,000 calories of energy reserve!

Too much food

I might receive resistance for advocating a low calorie diet, as some experts will claim that this slows your metabolism down. Take a look around our country and tell me why obesity is at epidemic proportions. Obesity problems have far too many variables to point out all of the issues in this article; the biggest factor I see is that food is too convenient, and we eat far too much of it.

For example, I have never seen overweight people in third-world countries that resulted from them holding onto fat due to their metabolism slowing down from not eating enough food.

The literature is pretty clear that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. You have to find a way to eat less. It is that simple. And it is a lot less food than you think.

The next time you think you need to step up your efforts with exercise or increase your mileage to outwork that donut you ate this morning, challenge yourself to a brain shift. Stop putting your body in such a stressed state that it just asks for more donuts. Decrease the perceived exertion, weight train most days per week, practice low intensity cardio sessions most days and eat far less food, and the pounds will fall off.

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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