Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Horrors Of Extreme Weight Loss

"The Biggest Loser" Season 3 runner-up Kai Hibbard

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Get Rich Quick Scheme VS Lose Weight Quick Scheme

When you go on a "get rich quick scheme" and you make some money then lose all of it, you consider it a failure and warn people not to trust it.

When you go on a "lose weight quick program" and lose weight then gain it all back, you tell people "it works," and you'll try it again and say, "it's worked for me in the past."

Somehow the results can be similar but the way we evaluate either method is different. In a "get rich quick scheme" if we end up back to square one or can't sustain the money we made, we consider it a failure. Yet somehow with weight, we're more lenient. Maybe because making money makes sense, but losing weight is so confusing that we take any temporary change as a sign of hope.

The Paradigm of Rapid Weight Loss

The idea is this: you lose weight quickly, you see the weight you lose, it motivates you to lose more weight, and you get to your goal in no time. That's the paradigm, it makes sense, it sounds like it should work, but it doesn't work. We know it doesn't work because if it did, we wouldn't try this over and over. It needing to be tried more than once is a sign that it doesn't work, it works temporarily but anything works temporarily.

Even the need to see a large amount of weight loss to gain motivation is an inherent problem. Meaning willpower is so taxed and cravings so strong, the only way you can overcome that is to see a large amount of weight being dropped. If the caveat to motivation is large amounts of weight being dropped, how can you keep going when there is no more weight to be dropped? People don't. People stop.

The other idea is this: that your body can handle an unlimited amount of weight loss. Actually this is part of the equation no one even thinks about. They want to drop weight but don't ever question if their body can handle that amount of strain. It's taxing to put weight on, and it's taxing to take weight off. We may have taken our time putting it on and spent a lifetime doing it, we want to lose it all in a matter of months or sometimes weeks. There's many professional fighters who have caused irreparable damage due to constant weight cutting.

Let's start with the simple stuff, dropping weight that quickly, your body will rapidly get rid of muscle. Why? Because muscle is the thing that uses the most energy, since you're expending so much energy, it's most efficient to get rid of the thing that demands the most. Your body is always looking for equilibrium where it is in a state of least amount of energy expended. Best way initially is to lose muscle; you may end up skinny fat with a high amount of visceral fat. Now with very little muscle, maintaining the weight loss will seem impossible. Trying to lose weight the second time around even more difficult. Weight and calories are the wrong thing to focus on, we need to focus on fat loss and types of calories. Focusing on weight loss and total calories sounds the same as focusing on fat loss and calorie types, but the methods will be extremely different. There's also a lot less self criticism involved. Weight and calorie counting is based around shame which will diminish your mental stamina, the thing you'll need to be diligent and consistent.

The other more dangerous issue is your organs. We're only born with one set of organs and everything we eat, do, and weight we lose is all processed by these organs. When we lose weight, it doesn't just evaporate into thin air. We sometimes think sweat represents the weight we lose. Sweat has nothing to do with weight loss and is not a sign of anything other then your body being hot. Yet so many people focus on sweat because they believe it's "fat crying," or that weight somehow gets burned up into the atmosphere. No, all the weight you burn turns into a sludge inside of your body that funnels through your organs and you process it and it evacuates out your body. One of the organs that does this processing is your gallbladder and is the reason why rapid weight loss is a major cause for gallstones. The sludge thickens the more weight you lose, eventually hardening into stones. That's not the scariest part, the stress it puts on the liver, pancreas, kidney, gut, cardiovascular, and metabolic system may be beyond repair. Not to mention what it does to the elasticity of your skin.

Your brain also uses a large sum of energy and such a rapid reduction of energy can be very damaging to the brain.

The story of a Big Loser

I spoke previously about Rachel Frederickson and how she used game theory to win "The Biggest Loser." Much like Arthur Chu on Jeopardy, she played by the rules to win. It's a weight loss contest, doesn't matter what kind of weight, how you got there, or how healthy you are at the end. The rules are just solely based on percentage of weight lost. Frederickson used those rules to win hundreds of thousands of dollars. She did highlight a point though, losing weight and getting healthy ARE NOT the same thing. Health and beauty overlap but are two different animals and often people are willing to sacrifice health for the chase for beauty.

You're probably wondering, if she's skinnier, isn't she healthier? Not necessarily as skinny people with poor internal health are sometimes twice as likely to die in comparison to their obese counterparts.

Kai Hibbard on season 3 of "The Biggest Loser."
Season three finalist of "The Biggest Loser," Kai Hibbard, spoke with Cracked and revealed some disturbing details about life after the show.

That on top of the work outs you saw on the show, there were 6 or more hours of work outs a day with other trainers.

The weigh ins weren't once a week, they were spaced out based on shooting schedule. It could range from 5 days to 3 weeks. The scale itself was fake.

They sometimes showed "nutritious and healthy" foods you can eat to show that weight loss doesn't mean deprivation. When they cut the cameras, trainers yelled for them to spit it out.

For the women, when they were still "fat," they only got to wear a sports bra and spandex shorts to accentuate their weight during the weigh ins. When they lost enough weight they got to wear tank tops to highlight their transformation.

On Hibbards season, they made the contestants run out of horse stalls for a race. Fat shaming tactics make for must see TV.

Hibbard said:

"Losing that much weight in such a short amount of time is not healthy, especially for morbidly obese people. The healthy way to do it is to lose weight slowly by eating well and exercising. But turning down the second slice of pizza and going for a walk doesn't exactly make for dramatic TV, does it? So we did things the other way:

They frequently filmed us vomiting because they wanted the viewers to think that working out until you threw up was somehow admirable.

It makes good TV, but it can also seriously harm you."

All the contestants got injured on the show. When you take de-conditioned morbidly obese people and put them into extreme workouts for rapid weight loss, injuries are a guarantee. Hibbard has permanent damage to her knees that she didn't have prior to the show.

Hibbard's immune system shut down due to losing too much weight too quickly. It was too much for her body. Even her hair fell out.

"-- doctors told me that everything I did to my body on the show was a physician's nightmare."

The mental damage was the worst part. That if you're obese, and you don't lose a massive amount of weight quickly, you're a failure. If you don't work out until injury and puking, you're not pushing hard enough. You associate health with torment. Working out all day, having no personal time, being deprived, feeling like a failure unless you hit a goal, puts a lot of stress on you and is a miserable way to live. Your happiness is based on your results and contingent on a new body. Happiness then also becomes unsustainable. If you're constantly thinking about how you're so far away from your goal and how you're not good enough yet, how will you create the right mental environment to sustain health? The body is ready when the right mental environment appears.

Throw away the cliche of "go big or go home" or "no pain, no gain"

We glamorize big results. Lottery winners, overnight successes, and biggest losers. But what's good for TV is not good for real life because Hollywood is not reality. We want to believe it can be done fast, big, healthy, and permanent. It's not impossible but the Vegas odds are severely stacked against you.

It's bad for your body, your brain, your organs, your health, your self image, your psyche, and probably your pocket book (spending money on one scheme after another).

It's why weight loss shouldn't be a race but a game of strategy. Because it is a game of strategy. Go slow, focus on size and body fat, and most of all we need to focus on permanence rather than speed.

Next time you get seduced by one of these ideas (and believe me you will even after reading this), ask yourself does this even work? And secondly, how has this worked for you in the past?

Hint: If you've already done it in the past and have to ask yourself about weight loss again, you know it didn't work.

Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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