Forget weight loss. Focus on pleasure.

By Brian Cole, Personal Training Associates

It’s resolution time. I have to talk about this. The goal is not weight loss. Weight includes muscles, organs, bones, water... The goal is to lose body fat – and to keep it off. Excess body fat is the #1 cause of health care costs in America.

So, if you’re upset about the cost of health care, do something about it: Reduce your body fat. That’s the single most effective way to reduce your health care costs.

This is not complicated stuff. People trying to sell something try to make it complicated.

Phase One

STOP: Eating and drinking everything you already know is not good for you. Hey! I hear you calling. What about that “focus on pleasure” part? We’ll get to that.

START: Being more active. What that means to you obviously depends on how active or inactive you are. Just the addition of a brisk 30-minute daily walk for a previously sedentary person will make a major difference in overall health.

Phase Two (I suggest after 30 days of sticking with Phase One)

START: Safe strength training. New lean muscle tissue is the only thing that’ll keep the body fat off. If you’ve ever reduced/regained before, even once, that confirms what most of us know – it’s much more difficult to keep it off than to just lose it. I’ll explain why...

LEARN: More about basic eating and drinking habits so you can modify to suit yourself. This info is everywhere. (This website has a simple nutrition guide.) But understand, while improved nutrition is important, it’s primarily about long-term health. How much you consume is about shedding body fat.

OK, here’s the “focus on pleasure” part. Volume of calorie intake combined with activity level = Feeling Better – Moving Better – Looking Better and Having More Energy. That is pleasure.

I’m suggesting you rethink what “pleasure” really is. Don’t think of these changes to your lifestyle priorities as denial. See them for what they really are: your path to enjoying many more of life’s pleasures. Think of pleasure as long-term enjoyment of life. We’re not here that long. It makes sense to do all we can to enjoy as much as we can. Denial is missing out on all those things we used to enjoy doing. They’re not gone; they’re still here waiting.

If it’s that simple to do, with those rewards, why aren’t more people more successful losing body fat and keeping it off? I’ll start with some simple and uncomfortable truths. Then I’ll provide some backup info.

Our bodies are programmed to hang onto fat cells. Once we’ve allowed them in, they’re like little sponges just waiting for “opportunities.” To make fat loss even more difficult, our metabolisms adapt to reduced calories by, as a survival mechanism, desperately hanging onto what we have. That’s the main reason calorie reduction alone is not very effective as a fat-loss strategy. You can’t stay ahead of your slowing metabolism by just reducing calories.

Pre-programmed physiology will always win. But building new lean muscle tissue as we lose body fat changes our body’s composition. That combination makes our metabolisms our friend. Muscle increases metabolism. New lean muscle tissue trumps everything. It supports our joints, allows us to maintain more comfortable posture, gives us energy, improves our balance, helps us lose body fat and is essential in keeping that fat off.

Every day we see and help people do everything I’ve been talking about. You can absolutely do it too. Redefine who you are, what you represent and the example you want to set for your children, your family, your friends. You’ll never regret improving yourself and increasing your capacity to enjoy the many pleasures life has to offer.

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