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Why diets alone don’t work

Diets are short-term solutions to a long-term problem. Changing your eating habits (caloric restriction) is only 50% of the weight loss equation. A diet will help you lose weight but diets alone won’t help you keep the weight off. How many people do you know who have lost weight only to put it all back on? Losing the first 30-40 pounds is really not that hard. Your friends and family will celebrate your weight loss and people tell you how great you look. That first 40 pounds is really exciting. You look and feel great. However after about a year or so that “new car smell” starts to wear off. Losing more weight or keeping the weight off that you’ve lost becomes tiresome. You begin to stop watching what you eat, just a day here and there, then a week here and there…the next thing you know you’ve been “out” for a month or more. You notice that the scale is going in the wrong direction. You gain back 10 pounds then  15. The rest is history. Losing weight is more than counting calories, it’s a state of mind…a lifestyle so to speak. To be healthy you have to live healthy. I’ve lost about 60 pounds and kept it off because I changed my lifestyle. I stay physically active by doing martial arts, lifting weights and cycling. Right now my physical training is focused on cycling. I average about 100 miles of road biking per week and I’m getting ready to do my first competitive bike race next month. I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded people. I don’t hang out in bars or stay out late at night partying because I’m usually too tired from training. I don’t want night life or ancillary social activities to interfere with training or my ability to improve as a cyclist. A hung over cyclist is an ineffective cyclist. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live the life of a Benedictine Monk. I drink beer but usually limit myself to two. On the 4’th of July I gorged on ribs, burgers, corn on the cob and deserts but the very next day I was back on my bike. I used to write many posts trying to motivate people to lose weight but found out it’s really a waste of time. People whip themselves into a frenzy and put posts up on Facebook about how they are “dieting” and are going to lose weight. After about a month they lose their resolve and slip back into their old unhealthy eating habits. Consistency is the key. Here is what worked for me:

  • Download a “diet” app to your phone. My Fitness Pal is the one that I use. Plug in your data and set your weight loss goal. Be consistent you’ll be surprised how fast you begin to lose weight.
  • As you lose weight start to ramp up your physical activities. Start doing 5K runs or any number of “obstacle races” like the Spartan Race, Tuff Mudder etc… I started by hiking then rock climbing and mountaineering which ultimately led me to cycling. As your fitness level increases so too should your physical activity.
  • Find a physical challenge that gives meaning and purpose to your training. That is why I’m going to start competitive cycling. It gives purpose to the hundreds of miles that I spend on my bike.
  • Don’t be a bucket lister. For instance don’t make your ultimate goal to do a triathlon. Make your goal to become a triathlete. If you are one and done you may lose motivation to train if you don’t have a challenge. I’ve known people whose goal was to do a century ride (a 100 mile bike ride usually for charity). They do one century ride then park their bike in the garage never to be used again.
  • Stop making excuses. You either want to be fit or you don’t. Anything that stops you is nothing more than an excuse.
My son and I (I'm on the right). I was about 6 months away from the heaviest I'd ever been in my life. 5'-11'' and 260 pounds.

My son and I (I’m on the right). I was about 6 months away from the heaviest I’d ever been in my life. 5′-11” and 260 pounds.


Last 4'th of July weekend my girlfriend and I went for a 20 mile bike ride. I weigh about 210 in this picture.

Last 4’th of July weekend my girlfriend and I went for a 20 mile bike ride. I weigh about 210 in this picture.

You can lose weight, but can you keep it off?

The recidivism rate in weight loss is nearly 100%. That means if 10 people lose weight nearly all of them will gain it all back. Frequently people will experience a weight loss epiphany and will go on some kind of workout and diet regimen. That person will lose lots of weight, look and feel great. However most people tend to slip back into their old habits of eating too much and exercising too little. After weeks or months the weight slowly creeps back on. The formerly heavy person is overweight again. This is not conjecture on my point. My statement is based on statistical fact. You can get the weight off, but can you keep it off…forever?

I know two people who have beaten the statistical odds, have lost lots of weight and kept it off. When you look at the before and after pictures of these men ask yourself; would they even be alive today if they had not changed their health and fitness lifestyles? Both of these guys will be competing on September 28’th in a Spartan Race in Philadelphia. If you don’t know what a Spartan Race is…you should. Click here. Both Jeremy and Gus are avid fitness enthusiasts and recently competed in the N.J. State Triathlon. Competing in a Spartan Race is no joke. Spartan Races contacted this blog and offered two free passes to two of our readers to compete in the Philadelphia Spartan Race. I ran an essay contest to determine who would win the free passes. Out of the dozens of readers that submitted essays I thought that Jeremy and Gus had the most compelling stories. Please take 10 minutes and read the essays, they are very compelling, motivating and inspirational. I wish both Gus and Jeremy good luck in your upcoming Spartan Race…AROOOOOOOOOOOO!

This is Jeremy’s essay:

July 31, 2013

I’m not just an athlete…I’m a WARRIOR ATHLETE!!!

When I was a chubby kid growing up and came to learn that without the motivation and drive to make a change, there can be no such change.  Once I came to this realization I started eating better and became very active.  From the time I set out on this mission of feeling and being healthy, I have since become a strong, enthusiastic and capable athlete.  I am always looking for new opportunities to challenge myself whenever possible.

I am not the kind of person that merely completes his workout and then calls it a day; I LIVE a very healthy lifestyle.  My motivation and determination extend farther than just the gym.  I work very hard to maintain this lifestyle and refuse to let anything stand in the way of my health and well-being.  I watch what I eat and workout religiously on my quest towards ultimate fitness.  I try to motivate and inspire others as best I can to try to promote healthy living through eating right and intense training.

I am always looking for the next thing that will challenge me and I believe that the Spartan Race is just the challenge I have been looking for.  It is one of the most intense training exercises available and completing the Spartan Race would be a great experience for me to really push myself.  It will solidify the fact that I have been training hard and prove to me that I am ready for the next level.

I know that if given this opportunity, I will not disappoint.  I enjoy being challenged, no matter how difficult something may be.  I am truly a fighter and I am confident that I will fight the entire time to complete this course, and complete it with valor.  I will prove to myself and to everyone, that I have the determination, strength, and fierceness that it takes to complete this intense athletic course.

Here is Gus’s essay:

Am I a Spartan?


                As the son of Zeus sits on my shoulder reminding me that Spartans are decedents of him….Hercules, I need to compete in this race because I am a Spartan.  What does that really mean?

Spartans were always up for a challenge.  No obstacle too big. Remember the movie 300?  As a Greek, in my mind I am a Spartan and no obstacle is too big, but one obstacle was almost too big for even the strongest of Spartans.  WEIGHT LOSS!!!!

April of 2008 was my turning point.  I was blessed with two wonderful children, who at that point were 3 and 1.  Kids that young only want to do one thing: play, play, play and play.   What dad in their right mind wouldn’t want to do that?  This guy!  At a weight of 356 lbs, it was difficult to move around, get on the floor, get up from the floor, and breathe to follow my kids around and do the simplest of things….PLAY!   I did what every good dad would do, go to my doctor and ask for help.  Yes he did tell me I was overweight, and all my levels were elevated, DUHHH.  He didn’t give me a miracle diet plan and exercise routine, he gave my advice.  He said, “If you don’t start to exercise, eat right and lose weight, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE YOUNG.”  Well that was the brick to my head that woke me up.

I am a food addict.  Food is legal to buy, it taste good, it’s comforting, it doesn’t talk back or judge you, and I can get it anywhere and everywhere.  That was my toughest obstacle.  How to avoid something that was all around me?  It was easy, living past my 30’s and 40’s to watch and enjoy my 3 and 1 year old grow up.

The weight loss wasn’t easy.  I did think about the pills.  Pills wouldn’t be a 6 billion dollar industry if they actually worked.  I had to do it the right way.  Eat right and exercise.  Well exercise is boring.  The gym isn’t fun.  What can a person do to stay active?  The answer was a 3some.  No, no not the one that is every guy’s dream, but a TRIATHLON (swim, bike, run).  A total body workout all rolled up in one.  So my journey began.  I signed up for one in April and I had six months to train until my first Sprint Triathlon.  With the support of my family and friends, and more importantly, I was able to take my kids with me for my bike rides and swimming and spend time with them, I completed my first Sprint Triathlon Sept 2008.

Total weight loss in six months:  70 lbs.

Total weight loss since April 2008: 125 lbs.  Was it easy? No, but it was there for me to lose.

To this day, five years later, I still do Triathlons to stay in shape, but I also added a new twist to my workouts.  I spend 3-4 days a week being mentored in fitness by Jim Wing.  We put the class in fitness class.

The Spartan Race will be another challenge that I will look to accomplish.  Through weight loss, training and just trying to live right, on September 29 I will wear with pride a finisher metal and tee shirt from the SPARTANS!!!!

Here are their pre and post weight loss photos:

Are you a warrior athlete? Prove it.

The Spartan Races are the progenitor of  the “obstacle races”. Obstacle races are races where you run through, jump over and crawl under all kinds of nut busting  and bone jarring obstacles. They truly test the mettle of an athlete. In the last few years there has been an explosion of fitness/obstacle themed races. I believe however that the Spartan races personify the embodiment of the “warrior athlete” Are you an athlete or a warrior athlete? An athlete is an individual that excels or specializes in one sport. A warrior athlete is a person that is fit enough and mentally tough enough to tackle athletic events outside of their comfort zones. In the case of the Spartan Races, way way out of their comfort zones. 

spartan raceSince you are a reader of this blog you know that I engage in many fitness activities. I rock climb, mountaineer, mountain bike and do martial arts. I am never afraid to try a new physical activity. In fact I’m thinking about taking scuba diving lessons. How cool would it be to go to a stone quarry rappel down the quarry cliff then scuba dive the quarry. At the end of the dive I’d have to have the mental and physical strength to climb back up the rope to the quarry lip… That is what I mean by being a warrior athlete. You should always be eager to take on and attempt new physical challenges to prove to yourself that you are the best.

Click here to watch a really cool video about the Spartan Races. The folks at Spartan Race have given me a PROMO code for one of my readers to enter a Spartan race for free! The code will only work one time for any open heat in any 2013-2014 Spartan Race in the continental US. How cool is that! You guys should consider yourself lucky that I don’t keep this code for myself! Here’s what I’m going to do; email me at and tell me why you want to prove that you are not just an athlete but a warrior athlete. Tell me your desire and motivation for wanting to do a Spartan Race. The person that has the most compelling reason/story will win the free promo code. This is not some cheap T shirt give away. It can cost as much as $130 to enter a Spartan race. Email me your essay and you might win the ability to prove yourself a warrior athlete!

For my Philadelphia readers there is a Spartan Race in Philadelphia on September 28’th.

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