It wasn’t exactly how I imagined that moment would go down.
As I sat in the dimly lit but esteemed lecture hall that had trained thousands of doctors before me, I joined my student colleagues as we listened attentively to our first speaker on this our first day of medical school.
It took a moment to register, then like a swarming flock of locusts emerging on the horizon, the whispers and suppressed snickers steadily grew in intensity. Did they really just say that?
“Congratulations on starting medical school. We are going to train you in the best medical science possible, helping you develop excellent clinical and technical abilities. By the time you graduate, you will be an outstanding physician.”
So far, so good. That’s what we signed up for.
But then the shoe dropped.
“But there is a problem. Half of what we teach you is going to be wrong…”
And before we could process the enormity of that statement, the merciless announcement continued…
“…And if you think that’s a problem, here is a bigger one. We don’t know which half is the wrong half.”
Talk about a great way to suck the oxygen from the room.
But, the good doctor was right. And honest. And transparent.
They really didn’t know which half was wrong. And the truth is…they still don’t.
Conventional wisdom isn’t always right. There are plenty of examples of commonly held beliefs that we later find out to be wrong. Dead wrong.
Last fall, I conducted a survey where hundreds of people shared their experience, thoughts, and frustrations with their efforts to lose weight.
And in that Weigh In on Weight Loss Survey I asked a very important question.
And to my big surprise…about 9 out of 10 people answered it wrong.
It was a simple question. One that did not take much thought.
But it was the question that 88% of people answered incorrectly.
“How important do you think regular exercise is to a weight loss plan?”
Out of every 100 people who took the survey, only 9 got the answer correct. 88% got it wrong!
What was the highly popular but wrong answer?
“Diet and exercise are equally important—you must have both for weight loss success.”
“It is possible to achieve meaningful weight loss with diet alone.”
I know what you’re thinking… Wait. This is a doctor telling me not to exercise?
Nope. I’m telling you that exercise and weight loss are not good buddies.
So while you are trying to determine if your *sigh* was one of relief or confusion, let me explain.
Two reasons really.
1. Repeated beliefs.
They were simply regurgitating what they’ve heard over and over again, month after month, year after year.
Essentially “eat right and exercise” and you will lose weight.
No one should feel badly. Truth be told, I was taught and bought into that notion for quite some time as well. And I’m a doctor.
But it’s not true. For achieving weight loss, exercise is not necessary. In fact, it may actually backfire from and keep you from achieving that goal. More on that in a moment.
2. Partial truth.
The truth is that exercise is important. Of course it is. Study after study confirms that for the best health, regular light to moderate exercise is a winner.
It helps lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. It helps prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Even reduce risk of cancer.
But there is an important nuance to understand.
Exercise, important for achieving your best health, is also important in weight maintenance.
But weight maintenance is different than weight loss. And it’s an important difference.
When it comes to weight loss…exercise is essentially useless.
A study by Dr. Timothy Church at LSU was highlighted in a Time article a few years ago.
For this study, Dr. Church divided the women hoping to achieve significant weight loss into four groups: three groups were guided to follow a particular diet and to exercise a little more than 1, 2, and 3 hours per week respectively. The fourth group was told not to exercise at all…just follow the eating plan.
Which group did best?
None of them.
All of four of them lost a little weight (not much…in fact some women in all four groups gained as much as 10 pounds!)
And there were no significant differences in the amount of weight the women in the group that did not exercise lost when compared to the group of women who exercised regularly. Even 3 or more hours per week!
It just doesn’t work.
And it may backfire.
Exercise stimulates your appetite, and often in a ravenous way. Your muscles are screaming to your brain to replenish the glucose and glycogen they have burned, and your brain obliges by driving your appetite up. That’s why the urge to stop by Starbucks on the way home from the gym seems so strong.
If you’ve bought into and shared the “eat right and exercise and you’ll lose weight” myth, you shouldn’t feel badly.
You’ve simply repeated the classic reflex answer that’s been drilled into all of us.
But just like they explained on my first day of medical school…half of what we “know” is wrong.
And in this case the conventional wisdom of “eat right and exercise to lose weight” is what is wrong.
But now you know better.
1. There are no shortcuts.
There is no amount of exercise that can make up for a bad diet. (Yes, you can quote me on that.)
2. It’s not math.
The truth is that the notion that calories in minus calories burned equals your weight is wrong. It’s conventional wisdom, but it’s wrong.
Oh yes. We would love it to be as simple as 1+1=2. Or maybe 2-1=1. But it doesn’t work that way for weight loss, because there is another hidden factor involved in the equation.
And I call it…your iFactor.
You’ve tried everything you’ve thought possible to focus on losing weight. But I would like to propose to you to change your focus.
Yes—stop your focus on losing weight.
Instead, focus on your iFactor.
I would love to explain.
In fact, if you are interested, I will be posting a brand new, 2-part video series that:
In just a few days, I’ll post the first session. Completely free.
This brand new video series will open your eyes to the main reason you’ve been struggling with your weight, and I believe it will give you the “Aha!” moment you’ve been looking for.
If you want to be sure you don’t miss it…just sign up for updates at iFactorHealth.com. I’ll send you a note letting you know when it’s up very soon.
The truth is…I am so excited about sharing this with you!
It has transformed the lives of so many people who have moved beyond the frustration of past weight loss attempts…and on to significant, and lasting weight loss!
In fact, I just received this note from Julie, who just set about fixing her iFactor last November:
“Completing the iFactor course has been a life saver for me!
Not only have I lost 25 pounds (and still losing) but my health in general has greatly improved! My A1c dropped from 6.1 to 5.4, my triglycerides have dropped more than 50 points, and no more heart burn or headaches!
Having the group support and the science behind the needed changes made all the difference in turning this from a diet to a new life style!
Thank you so much!!”
So if you want to make a change that can be the first step to transforming your life, and start your journey to achieving the long term weight loss you’ve long desired, then I invite you to dig in.
I hope you will.