Seeing my old friend Penny recently after many years was an eye opener.
Penny (not her real name) got a mention in my book, as the wonderful woman she is, a woman with a chronic overweight problem. She belonged to a professional group I was part of. She was a personable gal, and readily shared with us her frustrations at exercising faithfully, going to the gym, walking mini marathons regularly, yet she just could not get the fat to go away.
One huge reason this was so became abundantly clear at a potluck for our group. Penny brought potato chips and sodas. Bingo. One food item and one beverage choice anyone one who is interested in losing fat healthfully and permanently should ever eat or drink.
Not even at an occasional potluck. Seriously. There are just too many other wonderfully healthy choices, both beverages and foods, to choose from.
The point of this story is one I make repeatedly: if you are a person who tends to put on weight, you can exercise regularly and energetically, and you will not lose weight if you are eating things like potato chips and drinking sodas. That is just the way it is.
It had been at least five years since I had seen Penny, and I immediately recognized her when I saw her get out of the car with another woman, both ready for their afternoon walk in the park. Penny looked exactly the same. Still exercising energetically and regularly. And still way overweight. Now, I did not ask her, but I will go out on a limb and guess that she was still eating potato chips and drinking sodas.
That would be a good guess because if she had eliminated those bad choices, and all the others in her diet, and continued to exercise energetically and faithfully, she would have lost all the weight she was still carrying around.
You might ask how I know this. I know it because that is my experience, and that is the experience of thousands of others. As a person who has battled overweight and overeating, as a person who has a huge appetite, and is a lifelong lover of food, it was not until I cut all the junk, refined foods out of my diet that I got to my ideal weight. And stayed there permanently.
That is just the way it is. That is what it takes. That is the solution to overweight in our world today.
So the lesson to learn from the long, ongoing story of Penny is simple: lose weight the easy way. That is, get your eating and drinking habits together. Cut out all the chips, sodas and other high fat, sugar filled refined foods that so many think are okay, normal. They are not and these are the exact items that have made America the fattest nation on earth.
They have got to go. When you eliminate the junk foods and replace them with a balanced, plant-based diet of whole, natural foods, and exercise faithfully, then you will see the fat go away. And not until then.
Ask Penny. She has been eating the junk foods and drinking the junk beverages for years, while exercising faithfully, and she remains way overweight. She has exactly one half of the fat loss equation right, and the other half wrong.
And the result is chronic overweight, year after year after year, not to mention a lot of frustration and overweight-related angst, undoubtedly.
I am an exercise nut. I do it my way, and really enjoy engaging in a whole lot of different forms-walking, hiking, jogging, biking, swimming, weight lifting, and more. I love exercise. For me, all exercise is good, whatever you do. It is a joy and a wonder to move the body and perform all the wonderful physical things we can do.
But as wonderful as exercise is, it really is not much fun if you are overweight. I know; I have exercised as an overweight person and as a lean, fit person. It is much more fun without all the extra baggage.
When you are trying to lose fat, do not be like Penny and sabotage your exercise efforts by eating junk foods. Exercise daily and eat right daily. If you are not eating right, you can exercise faithfully forever and get zero fat loss results.
Jerome Kellner is author of The Maui Diet. He's lived on Maui since 1972 and enjoys biking, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and exercising in his outdoor gym. See http://www.themauidiet.com