The Truth About Going From Fat To Fit... By Gavin Smith

Why is fat so stubborn?

Personal Trainer in LondonObesity is a modern day epidemic with many people finding it hard to lose body fat despite trying many different diets and exercise programs. This doesn't only apply to the clinically obese but also to people who just want to loose a few pounds of fat from their tummy or hips find that despite many trips to the gym their body seems to be "hanging on for dear life" to that extra layer of fat. In this article I will share with you the three biggest reasons for the body accumulating and hanging on to excess body fat.

Modern eating and 'non foods'.

Modern eating habits are without doubt the biggest problem contributing to the obesity epidemic we see happening before us all over the modern world today. Non-food is a term used to describe a food in which the nutritional value is so low that the metabolic cost of eating it out weighs the nutritional benefit of the food, leaving the consumer in a malnourished state. Most if not all obese people are actually malnourished. This can be a difficult concept to grasp - how can consuming food leave you malnourished?

Non-foods provide macronutrients/calories in the form of fat, protein and carbohydrate, but are drastically lacking in the micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes. These micronutrients are essential for the absorption and digestion of our food and also for the running of the many metabolic processes that our bodies require to stay healthy. By consuming non-foods people become literally starved on a cellular level, although they may appear far from starving when viewed from the outside.

This lack of nutrients in the blood steam causes the body to crave more food, but with most people when that more food comes it is a non food. This is what's happening with the people who are always hungry / can't stop eating. It's not because they're greedy, it's because they are starving.

The process of detoxification also has to be considered. In non-foods you can find some or all of the following: antibiotic, pesticides and synthetic hormone residues, artificial colourings, preservatives and flavour enhances. All of these things place a stress on your metabolism and immune system and increase the toxic load in the body. Toxins are stored in our fat to keep them out of our blood stream and away from our internal organs. If your toxic load increases to a greater level than your body can handle the likely response of the body will be a shift in metabolism and appetite to increase body fat/toxic storage space.

So how do we avoid these non-foods? First of all we need to take far greater care about what foods we put in our bodies. We need to stop shopping for convenience and bargains and start shopping for health. The food you put inside your body and the bodies of your loved ones is one of the most important decisions you make, so if you're looking to save money and time I strongly suggest you do so in another area of your life, not your health!

What does it take for a food to add to rather than detract from your health? It's quite simple really, it should be minimally processed naturally occurring food. You should consider a diet of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, where buying organic products when possible should be a priority, and water should be the staple liquid of your diet. Foods that come in packets and have long shelf lives and unpronounceable ingredients are definitely out. An excellent rule of thumb is if it wasn't on this earth ten thousand years ago we are not designed to eat it.

Modern life is full of stress and our inability to effectively cope with it is a major contributing factor to obesity/weight gain. The stress we face today is very different from the stress we were biologically designed to face and therefore our biological coping strategy is affecting our weight. Our original biological strategy was a rapid spike in stress hormones and release of adrenalin to help us with the initial fight or flight, very rapidly followed by increased appetite to help us recover from our physical exertion. This would have been very useful for escaping a sabre-toothed tiger or fighting of a rival cave man who was trying to steel your food, or even worse your caveman or woman.

However the stresses we face today are more likely to consist of rush hour traffic, work deadlines, bills to pay, and if someone is trying to steel your partner it is no longer acceptable to beat them with a club. We therefore tend to sit and stew in our stress without any physical outlet for it; this way it accumulates over the days, weeks and months. Oh and by the way, we still often get the increased appetite to help us to recover from the physical exertion that never took place.

Another problem with modern accumulative stress rather than the short rapid bursts of stress that we were designed to deal with, is the chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (the branch of the nervous system that activates your body's stress response & the "fight or flight" mechanism) leads to decreased digestive efficiency which starts a vicious cycle that goes like this: deficient digestion leads to poor conversion of the nutrients from our food into energy; this low energy leads to cravings for sugar and caffeine; sugar and caffeine lead to further stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, and on and on it goes. It is now scientifically recognised that being in this chronically stressed state lead to increased fat storage around the abdomen not to mention all the other health risks associated with it.

Stress takes many forms other than the obvious mental and emotional, which most people think of. A full explanation of the different types of stress is way beyond the scope of this article, so we will focus briefly on the most crucial points.

The most common and well-known form of stress is the mental/ emotional kind. Although some stresses are necessary and unavoidable we can certainly improve our ability to avoid the ones we can, and cope better with the others. One of the best ways to do this is to work on developing a positive mental state where you see any problem you may encounter as a learning experience, and focus on the things that you do want rather than what you don't want. It is also useful to take time to do something for yourself each day whether it be reading, listening to music, or gentle meditative forms of exercise such as yoga, tai chi or chi gong. Nutrition and chemical stress are extremely common and very relevant to weight loss and have been dealt with in the first section of this article.

A very common and often-overlooked problem is that of circadian/sleeps stress. The optimal time for us to sleep is between 10:30pm & 6:30am, breaking this cycle leads to hormonal disturbances affecting our ability to recover from the previous days stress and cope with the coming days stress. To improve your circadian health you should get to bed on time, avoid bright lights in the evening and sleep in a pitch black room as contact of light with the skin tricks your body into thinking that its time to get up and releasing awakening hormones.

Ineffective exercise programs
Ineffective exercise programs are the extremely common, I'm sure that we can all think of that person we see at the gym, the one who is always there always doing the same exercise but their body shape has never changed.

The two most common faults are overuse of aerobic exercise and the use of relatively worthless exercises such as stomach crunches & inner/outer thigh machines in an attempt to spot reduce problem areas.

There are many problems with these types of exercise, the first and most glaring is the simple fact that spot reduction simply doesn't work, doing a hundred crunches a day or even a thousand crunches a day will not burn fat off your abdominals, it will only lead to muscular imbalances. As well as not doing what people want them to do, these types of exercise have an extremely low calorific effect due to the fact that you are using three or four muscles as opposed to doing a proper free-standing exercise such as a squat or lunge. Dax Moy uses what he calls the 600 rule: this reflects the fact that there are roughly six hundred muscles in the human body and you want as many of them as possible working on each exercise in order to maximise calorie consumption.

Now we come to another major problem that is the massive misconception that steady state aerobic work (such as long periods on the running machine) is a good way to burn fat. Some trainers will advise that your body is burning more fat when working aerobically, but the fact is that just a greater percentage of the calories burned are from fat, but it's a greater percentage of a smaller amount. The actual total amount of calories being burnt is way less than would be achieved with an anaerobic work out (such as resistance training). The body's hormonal and metabolic response to aerobic training in the long term is a greater propensity to store fat, the exact opposite is true of anaerobic training.

Charles Poliquin who is considered by many as the worlds leading expert on exercise and conditioning refers to this as C.A.I.S (chunky aerobic instructors' syndrome). If you are disbelieving of this fact then consider the example of female weight lifters vs. female aerobics instructors. In studies female aerobic instructors have been shown to have higher body fat than female weight lifters. It's also very clear to anyone who's ever watched athletics that sprinters have a far lower body fat than marathon runners. In both these cases the aerobicisers (marathon runners and aerobics instructors) actually spend more time training than the anaerobic athletes (weight lifters and sprinters) but still maintain higher body fat.

One of the most effective and time efficient method of burning body fat is through circuit training with a combination of body weight, free weight and Swiss ball exercises. These types of exercises all fit in with the six hundred rule.

Modern lifestyle is making us fat, it's not only a question of exercise, it takes the right type of exercise combined with nutrition and lifestyle changes to alter your body.

Yes there are some "lucky" people who can be stressed out all the time and eat junk food and still manage to stay thin but your body always has to pay the price of unhealthy living, these people need to change their habits as much as the obese person does or it will eventually catch up with them in the form of middle age spread, chronic fatigue, degenerative joint disease or any number of modern day illnesses that were unheard of a hundred years ago.

None of these things are really that hard to do, the only thing that's hard about it is changing old habits, other than that it's simply a choice.

So start making the right choices today and if you follow these principles you can and will see amazing changes not only in how you look on the outside but also in how you feel on the inside.

Gavin Smith is a level one coach and therapist at Dax Moy Personal Training Studios Potters Bar.

A specialist in holistic health, Gavin is rapidly making headway into becoming one of the most popular results coaches in the area.
DaxMoy : Personal Trainer in London