My father-in-law just left.
He spent 2 months visiting us here in Costa Rica and I?m writing this from San Jose where he just boarded the airport shuttle to go back to Toronto.
?Pop? (that?s what we call him) isn?t a tall guy. But he?s overweight.
He arrived here 2 months ago weighing almost 190lbs (at 5?4? or 162cm).
Yesterday though, he clocked in at 161?
?2 months, almost 30lbs lost.
Funny thing though? he didn?t exercise all that much while he was here.
Even though he stayed home with our dogs for most days and had access to my kettlebells, he never ?worked out?.
So what was it then?
What can we attribute an almost 30lb weight loss change in 2 months to?
Here?s what I think happened?
1. He started sleeping more.
Pop works shift work in Toronto.
When he arrived in Costa Rica he told me he gets about 5 hours of sleep per night (and no naps during the day).
At first it was difficult to get used to our sundown, sun up sleeping times (we are in bed – dog tired, I may add – by 7:45pm and consistently get up at 4:45/5am every morning WITHOUT an alarm clock).
After about 2 weeks, he started going to bed at a consistent time and getting a full 8 hours of sleep.
Many experts believe that sleep is better medicine than anything you can get at a drugstore.
Sleep will allow you to fight off inflammation, regulate your hormones and give you more energy.
2. He inadvertently limited his access to convenience foods.
We don?t eat junk food here. We just don?t have access to it like we did in Toronto.
And, it?s honestly more expensive to buy a large bag of chips (almost $5) than it is to buy a mango ($0.50).
So even though we technically can afford to buy a bag of chips, you really give it a second thought when you know you?re spending 4x the price of what it should cost.
Instead, he ate what I cooked? meat, veggies & starch for dinner, fruit for snack, eggs & avocado in the morning and coffee (oh glorious, coffee).
Gone were the burgers & fries, Tim Bits & ?Double-Double?s? (it?s a Canadian thing) and all the drive thru crap that those who work shifts are known for turning to during down time.
3. He walked? A LOT.
Because Pop stayed home often, he got to hang out with our dogs.
We have a 2 year old Rotweiller (Phife) and an 18-month-old German Shepherd (Lupe) that are both super active.
They?re big, energetic dogs and need to burn off some of that steam often.
I take them for a 45 minute ruck every morning (this is my ?fat loss? training), but they need at least another one or 2 sessions.
So Pop?s been taking them everyday for 20-30 minutes.??Funny enough – I think because of the ?RESET? properties of walking – the shoulder issues he was plagued with when he arrived basically fixed themselves.
When he got here he couldn?t lift his arm over his head or reach behind him to touch his mid-back.
That condition went away a couple of weeks ago when he scratched his back and didn?t realize what he was doing until I pointed it out.
The natural swinging of the arms and the contralateral movement of walking may have helped nourish his shoulders and reset his body.
4. He changed his environment.
This, I think, was probably the most important change.
Being in an environment that you?re used to plays a HUGE role in you staying the same.
Being stagnant, not changing and not making progress a lot of times is a result of your internal environment (your ?head? as they say)?
?BUT discounting the the effect that your EXTERNAL environment has is short sighted.
Think about your favourite underperforming athlete who gets traded to a new team and all of a sudden reaches his ?potential?.
If you follow the NBA right now, then a good example of this is Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers.
Oladipo was a highly touted recruit that got drafted by the Orlando Magic (I actually did some work with Oladipo when I consulted with the Magic for a few years).
His career in Orlando was sub-par.? Playing out of position, a lack of motivation and possibly not enough support, Oladipo was slipping into obscurity.
Then he got traded to the Indiana Pacers (he went to Indiana University) and all of a sudden he’s one of the Top 15 Players in the NBA.
Sometimes that change alone can ?rejuvenate? a career.
Many factors, I’m sure.? But the most obvious was his external environment and the chance for a ?fresh start?.
I think the same thing happened to Pop.
Different environment and a chance for change.
Four simple changes that helped Pop lose over 20lbs in 2 months that had NOTHING to do with working out.
So what does this all mean?
It means that working out isn?t be all and end all of losing weight (losing fat).
In fact, I?d say – as evidenced by what Pop experienced – that it isn?t as big a factor as we think it is.
Working out isn’t the be all and end all of losing weight. In fact, I’d argue that it is nowhere near as a big a factor as we are led to believe it is.
I think your workouts should be designed to get you strong and to build muscle; to keep you young and to keep your body functioning to stave off disease.
But it?s in your habits and your environment that will make the biggest impact in your quest to lose weight and live a healthier life.??Obviously I?m NOT saying to stop training.
But if you?re constantly adding in more workouts in an effort to lose weight and it?s NOT working, I suggest you look elsewhere?
?like your habits or your environment.
This morning at breakfast before the shuttle, both my wife and I commented and complimented him on the weight loss.
Then, I asked Pop what the first thing he was going to do when he landed back in Toronto?
?Go to the Fish & Chips place?, he says.
5 thoughts on “Is Exercise The Best Approach For Weight Loss?”
I have heard and 80% + of weight loss or weight management is attributed to what goes into her mouth. Stay strong and stay healthy eat well also. Excellent article I love the way you write thank you
You’re absolutely right, Tom. Abs are made in the kitchen! Thanks for the kind words.
I like your comments that exercise isn’t the be-all, end-all of weight loss. While it sounds like your dad learned some great new habits, I’ll be curious to hear how me maintains after returning to Toronto. He may have been exposed to some newer, healthier ways of living but does he have (or even want to have) a plan in place to maintain these new habits once he returns to his own environment? Keep us posted on this. You’ve raised some interesting observations!
Yes, with the change in environment again (from our life here in Costa Rica back to a life of convenience in Toronto) it’ll be interesting to see. The good news is that he’ll be back in at Christmas. But you’re right Janice, it’s going to be about how he can stay consistent in his old environment with the temptation of old habits. -Chris
if you cannot leave your current environment, what do you do besides more sleep and better eating? same job, same hours, same to most things—what can you do to change things up? I teach fitness classes and do personal training daily–try to keep the classes different for myself and for the participants, but feeling the burn-out from lesson planning and trying to keep my people fired up to train and keeping myself “up” for teaching and getting enough sleep—–on and on——feeling depressed about it all most days lately where does the change come from