Aaron Fabel

Aaron Fabel, B.A. in Exercise Science and Wellness and CEO at the Oahe Family YMCA

I get some interesting emails from time to time trying to sell me the next best thing. I typically delete them as quickly as I open them, with the exception of this last one. I was told that there are a lot of places in Pierre purchasing 5 star reviews for google, facebook and other social media outlets, and essentially I should too. Smiling to myself I needed to read more (it’s good to start the day with a good laugh). Here was the kicker, for a one-time fee I could get “authentic” 5 star reviews. Sure it might sound good….but it’s not real. Our ideas about authentic are not exactly the same. Delete.

This reminded me of other “authentic” things that may sound good, but are actually quite the opposite. The date was October 19, 2004. It was the premier of a new reality show. This show was called “The Biggest Loser”. Now I must admit when I first heard the title of this show I thought they were going to take a bunch of nerds, throw them on a fancy island and see which one was the biggest loser of them all. I was wrong. The show is geared towards weight loss. The premise is simple: whoever loses the most weight by the end of the season is the winner. Not a bad idea, with the exception that it is called a reality show and typically most, not all, of these shows are far from real. While it can be somewhat motivational for the people watching, the results can be a little more than deceiving. I want you to be a winner, not a loser.

Rapid weight loss is not fat loss

Any health professional will tell you that it’s not natural to lose or gain much more than two pounds of fat in a week. Now with that in mind, contestants on the Biggest Loser regularly weigh in with enormous weekly losses. However, years later it was discovered that many of the shows contestants quickly regained the weight once they returned back to reality, after the reality show. It was quickly found that the diet tactics used on the show may have permanently damaged the contestants’ metabolisms to the point where they were unable to keep the weight off.

The diet end of things is also another key issue. Once you get into the low-carbohydrate nonsense, the effects are even worse. Carbohydrates help retain water, so naturally when you drop them you lose fluid, further lowering metabolic rate. Carbohydrates are also absolutely essential for retention of muscle mass, and if you lose muscle mass (which is highly likely if you’ve suddenly cut your calories) your metabolic rate will plunge even lower. With this being said, it is easy to see how these people, and others not only put weight back on, and then some, but it happens so fast as well. As I have said before, the faster you lose weight, the faster you gain it back.

So what can we take away from all of this? Don’t model your fitness plan around the biggest loser, or any other weight loss fad. Be authentic in your fitness journey. Weight loss is not a competition nor is it a destination. It’s one thing to push yourself with your friends and motivate each other, and it’s another to drop weight drastically because it seems easy at the time (or you have a wedding to attend next week, but that’s a story for another time). Yes, I know exercise takes time but the great thing is that it makes time and while you may not see the results on the outside right away, your heart is thanking you on the inside. Your goal is not to win against someone else, because once that happens you start to lose focus on what’s important. Be like the turtle, slow and steady wins.

Aaron Fabel, B.A in Exercise Science and Wellness, is the CEO at the Oahe Family YMCA. He can be reached by email at ajfabel@oaheymca.org

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