Back to reality

Health is my biggest passion in life. But, I’ll admit it–reality TV comes in a close second. And when the two are combined I find it absolutely irresistible. So when I came across this story I knew I had to share it with you.

According to Robert Huizenga, MD, the medical advisor on one of TV’s most popular reality shows, The Biggest Loser, super-intensive, exercise-based weight-loss programs are the best way to shed pounds and reduce the risk for diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors. But, much to his dismay, the medical community still resists this approach.

Now, as much as I love reality TV–especially health-based reality TV–The Biggest Loser is one show that I refuse to watch. It is ridiculous to think that anyone, let alone people as dangerously obese as the show’s contestants usually are–would have the time or inclination to do what they do on that show. Which makes The Biggest Loser the most un-realistic reality show on television.

But, apparently, “Dr. H” (as he’s referred to on TV) doesn’t think so.

“If we get away from dumbed-down exercise recommendations, we could see a whole new paradigm for treating type 2 diabetes,” Huizenga said at the recent annual meeting of  the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. “We have to teach people what exercise is. We have to teach doctors what exercise is because, unfortunately, there’s a bias in doctors against vigorous exercise.”

I agree that 99% of physicians don’t have a clue what to recommend when it comes to exercise. And that stems from the fact that many of them don’t exercise themselves. (I mean, seriously, if I see one more fat doctor at a medical conference…)

And I also agree that vigorous exercise is important. But what Huizenga isn’t recognizing here is that one man’s vigorous is another man’s deadly.

That’s why I have incorporated a medical fitness facility right in my office. To make sure my patients are getting the exercise they need in a safe, well-monitored environment. Individualized exercise approaches that work to each person’s particular strengths–and weaknesses–will go a long way in stemming the tide of diabetes. But not those ridiculous boot camps you see on The Biggest Loser.

In a retrospective analysis of 35 contestants, Dr. Huizenga showed how an “exercise-centric” program with only minor dietary restrictions resulted in a mean weight loss of 51.8 kg (36% of body weight) at 29 weeks. But here’s the catch… His “exercise-centric” program consists of two hours of vigorous exercise and two hours of moderate exercise every day.

First of all, 35 participants in a study is meaningless. They may as well have used rats. And the approach he’s suggesting simply isn’t realistic–let alone safe. Let me see a show of hands–who can spend 4 hours per day exercising?

Besides, it is foolish and irresponsible to propose just an increase in exercise without a change in dietary habits. You simply will not get better if you don’t change the quality of the food you eat. End of discussion.

However, Huizenga did bring up one important point that I’ve been hammering away at for years. He said, “We believe that current education is insufficient.” And he believes that without support in areas like sleep, psychiatric issues, diet, and sports-medicine, obese patients are much less likely to succeed at losing weight.

I couldn’t agree more. This sort of multidisciplinary support is what really leads to the staggering results you see on The Biggest Loser. Unfortunately, it’s far from “reality” for the average obese American.

And until insurance companies start to pay for these services (which would actually cost them a whole lot less than bariatric surgery and all those prescription diabetes drugs) the reality is that we, as a nation, will become sicker and sicker.

Which is precisely why I send you these Reality Health Checks. And why I encourage you to subscribe to my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter if you haven’t already. I use both of these forums to give you that well-rounded support you need to be successful.

Stick with me and you WILL win this battle. Without becoming a slave to the treadmill. Or giving up everything you love. I’ll continue to give you all the simple, easy tips you need to finally succeed at losing weight…and be healthier than you ever imagined. Not to mention the support you need to keep that success going for good.