By Tom Venuto


It seems almost unthinkable that there would be any question about
the value of exercise in weight control, but believe it or not,
this is the topic of a very heated debate.

I wonder if maybe all the energy that is spent arguing about
“the best way” to achieve weight loss, would be better directed
at finding the best way to maintain weight loss… after all,
losing weight is as simple as calories in versus calories out
and there’s about a Bazillion different ways you can do it.
The hard part is keeping it off.

Well, we already KNOW the best way to keep weight off for good…
and it’s a sure thing!

There’s no debate about the need for a calorie deficit. In fact,
focusing on the calorie  deficit was fat loss ‘sure thing number one!’

However, scientists and practitioners alike often argue about
whether you should create a calorie deficit by decreasing
food intake or by increasing exercise and other activity (or,
a combination of both)

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and
Metabolism in early 2007 had fitness professionals and exercise
addicts up in arms when it said, “Diet and exercise take off
the pounds equally.”

The study found no difference in weight loss between one group
that created a deficit with exercise and another group which
created a deficit with food reduction and no exercise.

Other studies have produced the opposite results – distinct
weight loss benefits were achieved with the addition of exercise
to caloric restriction.

Differences in study design, including the type of exercise used,
may have influenced these conflicting results. The point is,
a debate does exist.

But even if you take the weight off with severe caloric restriction
(starvation diets) and no exercise, the real question is: What
happens next?

That is the question the researchers in the recent study failed
to ask. Fortunately, many others have, and they all came to the
same very decisive conclusion:

The difference between “losers” and “maintainers” is exercise.

most people in our quick fix society just don’t seem to care
about what happens in the long term. They want the weight off…
fast… NOW!

Ironically, it’s these short term results that continue to
be advertised, highlighted and remembered. What a different
story would be told if we did some follow up case studies…

How about a “reunion” for all these starvation diet “success stories”
along with all the extreme makeover and rapid weight loss reality
show contestants… but with one “Venuto” catch: The “reunion” has
to be a surprise.

Call up people randomly after 2-5 years and tell them they have 48
hours to show up (so they wouldnt have time for another crash diet).

What do YOU think would happen?

I think that you’d see confirmation of the statistics we’ve all
heard before: 90-95% of dieters gain back the weight they lost…
IF you look at the long term.

At around 6 months, most people hit a plateau or rough patch and
many fall off the wagon. At 12 months, most people are defeated
and have already started gaining back the weight. After 3 years,
almost everyone has gained back the weight, and some have gone
through several unsuccessful cycles.

What are the successful maintainers – the top 5% – doing differently?

Doesn’t anyone care?

Why does almost everyone insist on following the herd?

(If you follow the herd, that means you have to step in a lot of
manure, you know!)

One quality of almost all successful people is the ability to
delay gratification. A quality of almost all failures is the
tendency to seek instant gratification (with no long term time
perspective or long term goal setting skills).

There are Japanese technology and manufacturing companies that have
100-year and even 250-year business plans, yet most human beings won’t
take the time to think or care about the consequences of their actions
just a year or two down the road.

If you want to be a loser, then follow the herd. If you want to be
a successful maintainer, then find out what successful maintainers
do and do THAT instead.

Fortunately, studies have identified the qualities of successful
long term maintainers.

One study was published by Judy Kruger and colleauges in the
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Major differences were seen between “losers” and “maintainers”:

A higher proportion of successful maintainers reported exercising
30 minutes or more daily, and they also reported adding other
physical activity such as recreation, sports, physical work, and
so on, into their daily schedules.

Lifting weights was also a distinguishing factor between groups,
as substantially more maintainers included weight training in
their exercise regimens than did the losers.

“Reducing sedentary activities”  (less TV watching, etc), was also
a significant difference between those who successfully maintained
and those who did not.

Clearly, exercise was the difference that made the difference and
results like these have been reproduced in study after study.

One group which has been the subject of much study is the National
Weight Control registry (NWCR), which consists of men and women who
have lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for over a year. Many
NWCR participants have kept weight off for 5 yrs or more.

Although conclusions drawn from these types of questionnaire-based
studies can’t prove causation,  this is the type of group, in my
opinion, that you should study the most and look for patterns.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Mary Klem, Rena Wing
and their colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh published their
research about the NWCR in a paper called, “A descriptive study of
individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial
weight loss.”

The part where subjects were asked how they maintained their
weight loss was important and worth quoting:

“Perhaps most important, nearly every member of the registry
reported using a combination of diet PLUS exercise to both
lose weight and maintain the weight loss. This finding provides
further evidence that long term maintenance of weight loss is
facilitated by regular physical activity.”

So what does all of this mean to you?

well, that probably depends on what stage in the game you are
currently at:

(1) If you haven’t started a structured fat reduction program yet,
then choose one which emphasizes the long term and not the quick
fix, and which includes nutrition and exercise (not just a diet).
One program that fits these criteria perfectly is Burn The Fat,
feed The Muscle and you can get more info on that at www.burnthefat.com

(2) If you’re currently on a diet program that doesn’t include
exercise – then add an exercise program immediately and you will
skyrocket your odds of long term success.

(3) If you’ve already lost weight and you’ve done it with a
combination of caloric restriction and exercise, congratulations…
but keep in mind that if you want to join the successful maintainers
you have to keep it up! You may be able to cut back on the amount
of exercise, but you have to keep training!

(4) If you’ve lost weight and you’ve done it with ONLY caloric
restriction, you should be also congratulated, but also be warned:
NOW is the time to start exercising. At this time, adding an
exercise program into your lifestyle is the single most important
thing you can do to maintain your ideal weight long term.

Which type of exercise you choose is far less important than
simply choosing some type of cardiovascular or aerobic activity
which will cumulatively burn a lot of calories, and combining
that with strength training.

Many things are debated among obesity researchers and exercise
scientists today, oddly enough, even whether exercise is necessary
during a weight loss program.

One thing, however, that almost EVERY expert and researcher now
agrees on is that to keep the unwanted pounds off and to maintain
your perfect weight for life, exercise is a SURE THING

Keep your eyes peeled for “SURE THING” #3, coming soon!

PS If you’re overweight and not sure what you can or should do, then start with walking and build from there. Weight training + cardio training is the ideal combination, but DO NOT let “I don’t
know how to set up a training program” or I can’t afford a gym
become an excuse. You can either make excuses or get results,
but you can’t do both.

You don’t need a fancy training program to get started, you just
need more activity. Just increase your energy expenditure and

It’s all about BURNING more, not “starving” more.

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