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Vail Daily column: Weight loss demands change in behaviors

Last week, my sobering message about the difficulty surrounding obesity was fairly straightforward. Don’t ever get fat in the first place. Considering the reality we face, I don’t know if my approach will make much of a difference. We’re already here facing this, and what do we do about it? Here’s the good news. You don’t need to worry at all about what foods to avoid, specific diet programs, or crazy hard workouts. Take a deep breath and understand the right program doesn’t exist. Here’s the bad news. Successful weight loss demands a maniacal approach to radically changing your current behaviors. The changes usually are very unpleasant, go against your natural biological instincts and mandate attention to restriction for the rest of your life.

Restrict Caloric Intake

Let’s get one thing very clear. I have said it too many times before, and will say it too many times again — you must restrict your caloric intake. Sometimes drastically. There is no way around it. Fine, you may lose 10 or 15 pounds if you undertake a program such as the “Whole 30” or by trying on the Atkins Diet for six weeks. But then what? If these programs worked for the long haul, then we would have solved the obesity epidemic a long time ago. But these programs don’t work, and the culture of dieting doesn’t really solve the core issue.



I’m not going to get into the fundamental issues surrounding obesity such as emotional, psychological or spiritual suffering. I want to give you practical advice today on what can be done to get the pounds off and keep them off.

You must pay attention for the rest of your life on how much or little food you need. What if you find out it’s no more than 900 calories per day in order to lose weight? Oh, your dietitian told you that wasn’t enough food? Fine, eat 1,200 calories per day and gain weight and be fat.

Get Used to being Hungry



First of all, get used to being hungry most of the time. Sure, you can curb your appetite here and there, but let’s face it. You must feed your body less food than it needs. If you’re not feeding yourself enough food, then you’ll get hungry. This is the hardest part of the journey. Ignoring your most basic need as a human and bypassing your biological requirement for food is difficult.

The best advice is to practice regular fasting. The greatest benefit of fasting is establishing your ability to resist the urge to eat when you’re hungry. If you commit to fasting, and you’re not allowed to eat until 7 p.m., then you get very comfortable with being seriously hungry. The second gift you receive from fasting is very straightforward. If you’re fasting, then you’re not eating. This is overly obvious, but it’s profound. If you’re not eating, you’re not gaining weight. Naysayers will argue about overindulgence in the evening. Maybe, but try eating more than 1,000 to 1,500 calories in one sitting. If you eat slow, and listen to your body, then you will become full and satisfied long before you overdo it.

Gain, lose and Maintain



Regardless of whether you fast, or spread meals throughout the day, find out exactly how many calories you need to gain, lose and maintain weight. You must pay attention for the rest of your life on how much or little you need. What if you find out it’s no more than 900 calories per day in order to lose weight? Oh, your dietitian told you that wasn’t enough food? Fine, eat 1,200 calories per day and gain weight and be fat. Look, I’m not being critical here to make you upset. I’ve heard too many times how Suzy can’t lose weight and she’s only eating 1,200 calories per day. Guess what? It’s too much food for Suzy. The world isn’t fair and sometimes you get dealt a bad metabolic situation. Deal with it.

Diet change is necessary

The greatest nugget of information you need for the long haul is this — weight loss is all about reducing food intake, and maintenance is mostly about exercise. It is extremely difficult to lose significant weight through exercise, and it’s impossible to lose weight through exercise with no adherence to diet at all.

You can try to outwork your weight problems, and I will gladly sit ringside with popcorn and soda in hand and watch — while I maintain my weight. As a matter of fact, show me an individual who has been successful losing weight through exercise alone, and I will show you a dozen more who have lost weight sitting on the coach eating nothing but 1,000 calories per day of ice cream. You get the point. However, once you reach your ideal weight, be sure to stay active. Aim to burn 500 calories per day, four days per week through exercise. A weekly caloric expenditure of around 2,000 calories will buffer those few indulgences that creep in during life. Besides, it’s more compelling to eat clean when you’re putting in the hard work.

With all of this said, here are a few disclaimers. Some readers might dismiss my advice as unconventional and foolish. That’s fine. I’m all ears for other approaches that work, are sustainable, and actually put a dent into this epidemic. Also, there is a great deal of variance between individuals, so nothing is black and white in this war. Lastly, what you’ve been told isn’t working, so consider my approach. If you want help, then you know where to find me. I’ll be sitting ringside enjoying my popcorn. Have a great week.

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 r2hp.com or 970-401-0720.


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