Over the last year and a half, I’ve become a fan of all things Seth Godin. Although he has been a popular and well known author, blogger and marketing guru, for many years, I confess I found him late. I am, however, committed to playing catch up and I’m absorbing all he has written, as fast as I can. In Godin language, I’ve become a true enthusiast.
I admit that at first, I found myself a bit intimidated by his constant reminders about being “remarkable”. Godin says in Small is the New Big, “Working hard doesn’t make you remarkable. Doing a good job doesn’t make you remarkable. What makes you remarkable is being amazing, outstanding, surprising, elegant and noteworthy!” Gulp! Okay. Am I putting myself out on a limb; setting myself up for serious scrutiny? No matter what, after reading that, I’ve been taking the leap.
After all, I’ve always thought that being ordinary, normal and average were not things to aspire to anyways. Somehow reading Godin confirms for me that I was right to think that way all along. He also continues to remind me that fear of change, not by me alone, but by the population in general, has led to a persistent belief in what he calls “lies that people tell to maintain the status quo.” Of the ten he lists in his rant “Mail…the check is in the”, and as I’ve been traveling more recently, I relate to the one that affects all of us frequent flyers. “A bottle of Evian is dangerous to airline security and must be surrendered.” We have accepted this as truth, or at the very least an imposed truth. He goes on to say, “…people will embrace patently false ideas if it helps them deal with their fear of change.”
This kind of modern day myth permeates all areas of our lives. Once they take hold they seem virtually impossible to dislodge. Which brings me to the title of this article. In the areas of health and weight loss, this kind of popular “lie” has without much effort, been ingrained into the mass consciousness relating to the part calories play in healthy weight loss or weight gain.
Although there is much research over many decades to the contrary, like a recent piece I read in the N.Y. Times, about what makes us fat, I would bet that most people when asked, would confirm that if you eat fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight. Simple, right?
Even though there has been increasing evidence that not only is the kind of calories important, but that calories, if they count at all, are merely a small and maybe insignificant piece of the overall complex weight puzzle. Yet, the idea persists that if you cut your calories and do more exercise, you will lose weight. The old calories in – calories out theory.
Enter Tim Ferriss. Reading his latest book The Four Hour Body confirmed that the weight gain, weight loss issue has little, if anything, to do with calories. I must admit I’ve also become an enthusiastic fan of Ferriss’ and luckily for me, he only has two books, so I’m pretty much on track with all he has written.
In very succinct Ferriss style, in explaining the subject of calories, Ferriss says, “as usual, the focus is on the least important piece of the puzzle. But why do scientists harp on the calorie? Simple. It’s cheap to estimate and it is a popular variable for publication journals.” He then goes on to call this “parking lot science” and I suggest you read the detailed explanation, in what I think is a very thoroughly researched and informative book.
I personally have understood for a very long time that calories don’t really count. In my ongoing search for ways to continue to improve my health, (which at times has been so bad that it was feared I might die of malnutrition and at other times I was so heavy no matter what I did the weight didn’t come off), I have read many, many books and tried even more programs. I have faithfully counted calories and could never explain the lack of significant results. Yet, the widely held calorie myth is hard to dislodge.
It appears on food packages and we are constantly reminded about calories and their relationship to weight, seemingly everywhere we go. I personally have often chosen to go against the popular belief of the moment. The recommended daily dose of vitamins and minerals has never resonated with me either. For example, I take 3,000-4,000 mg of vitamin C daily, thanks to what was once controversial research by Linus Pauling. This is much higher then the suggested RDI which is between 60-75 mg, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt me in any way. Dare to explore what works, I say.
So I’ve taken the leap and given myself a challenge; to question some of the widely and long held “truths” that just may not work anymore and in fact, may not have ever been true at all. Each new day brings us all an opportunity to be open to make changes, and even small changes can result in making big differences in our own lives, and can inevitably have an impact on those around us.
Personally, I am ready to give up the lies I have bought into over the years. I am committed to being remarkable and an enthusiastic enthusiast as Godin suggests and to becoming superhuman and having incredible sex, if I learn from Ferriss. If I can do this, life as I once lived it, might become more than I dared to imagine! In advance, I thank Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss for challenging me to be better and to do better. What change challenge are you willing to take?
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