You walk to the edge of the stairs. Looking down the long flight of steps you have 2 choices. You can walk down, step by step like any sane person would
You can jump
You take a massive leap, clearing as many steps as you can
You’re gonna get to the bottom faster and then you realise that ground is hurtling towards you
And if the impact doesn’t kill you it sure as hell is gonna break multiple bones
Sometimes shortcuts aren’t the best option
Sometimes shortcuts aren’t even shortcuts because they leave you in a worse situation than when you started
Many diets and exercise plans promise shortcuts
And from the day to day interactions with members at SF Fitness we know many people want fast results
Unfortunately, some of the methods touted for these fast results is akin to jumping down the stairs rather than walking. Just because you CAN do it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD
Take low/no carb dieting. It’s easy to do in theory, we just cut out carbs. There are numerous social media “experts” touting the benefits of cutting out carbs and warning about the “dangers” of eating them. It can seem to the layperson that this is the way to go. The problem is the consequences of going too low carb can cause the most motivated dieter to fall off the wagon.
Low carb proponents will tell you your body doesn’t need carbs. But just because your body can operate without them doesn’t mean you should or that it’s helpful to do so. Think back to those stairs again. Just because you can jump down the stairs doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
The other thing low carb proponents will tell you is that when you cut carbs you’ll lose weight much faster. What they don’t tell you is that 1. this is only true in the short term and when compared with a diet of equal calories that contains carbs the weight loss over a long period works out very similar.
In fact, in one of the most extensive long-term studies ever done on weight loss (a 12-month study with 609 participants called the DIETFITS Trial 2018), there was no significant difference in weight loss between the Low carb/higher fat group and the higher carb/lower fat group.
And 2. The fast weight loss is only water and carbohydrate stores in your muscles. The actual body fat doesn’t drop any faster. This is an important point, especially if you are exercising. We use carbs to fuel exercise so removing them adds a lot of stress to (if you’re anything like the SF Fitness members) an already stressed and busy person.
At SF Fitness we aim to remove negative stress from your lifestyle not add to it.
A final word on low carb. Enjoyment. As the majority of our members are in their 40s/50s/60s even 70s they simply don’t want to remove enjoyment from their life. They don’t want to massively restrict what they can and can’t eat or drink. Life is too short. And while food isn’t the be all and end all, having a social life where you don’t feel like an outcast is important.
In fact, it’s one of our fundamental needs. After covering our basic needs like food, shelter, security, safety etc our social needs (friendships, family, social groups, communities) are of utmost importance to feel fulfilled. (check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for more on this)
Certain diets can make you feel like you have to exclude yourself from these social occasions, eating a different dinner from the rest of the family, not going to lunch with work colleagues, avoiding nights out with friends, feeling torn at dinner parties between having a dessert and not when everyone else is.
Trying to lose weight following a plan that is highly restrictive not just in food choices but in life choices as well can really mess with your mind. And while you can, and many people do lose weight on these diets, it doesn’t mean you should.
I know from personal experience, not just working with hundreds of clients. I used to eat that way and I ended up with a very poor relationship with food. So much so I used to walk around the supermarket and check I didn’t know anyone there before buying something I thought I shouldn’t be eating.
A successful diet (or nutrition plan if you don’t like the word diet) should not just work physically ie create an energy demand so you burn off the stored energy (fat) on your body, it should work psychologically as well. And allow you freedom of choice and flexibility in what to do. It doesn’t have to be this perfect, gold standard, holier than thou, majestic way of eating that we see promoted so often on social media.
You can lose weight eating cake, and I highly recommend you give it a go.
John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.