The Truth Behind the Need for Weight Loss

The increasing number of overweight, and outright obese, people in the western world has been a concern of health authorities for some time. Their efforts to promote weight loss have created a whole new world of cliches and buzzwords, which fill the mass-market magazines. Looking at a magazine such as Vogue, I even see writers competing to come up with new twists on the same tired phrases in order to boost sales. But has anyone looked at the reality behind our overweight epidemic and the real reasons why so many of us carry so many excess pounds? I want to do that here.

The real problem is that biology changes slowly. Our subspecies, homo sapiens sapiens, originated about 200,000 years ago, and our bodies are still pretty much the same as the bodies of people were back then. But back then, food was difficult to get, requiring an all-day search; and, when people found food, it was low in calories and poorly nourishing. There was no reason for us to develop an instinct limiting the human desire for food simply because, even after gathering and hunting from sunup to sundown, nobody got enough to eat.

But the world changes much more quickly than our bodies do, and has changed ever more rapidly over the past few centuries and even decades. Today, food is incredibly easy for most of us to get. It’s also insanely abundant and super-nourishing. Our bodies haven’t caught up to this reality and still assume that we’re living in the forager age, so we still have no upper limit on our desire to fill our bellies. We eat as much of the easily-obtained, excessively-nourishing food we have today as we did of the hard-to-find, poorly-nourishing food of 200,000 years ago. In fact, we often eat more, because much more is available. So we get fat.

A corollary is that we no longer have to search all over hell’s half acre for the food we need. We just go to the grocery store or restaurant. But that arduous search for hard-to-find food was what got us our exercise, in a natural and organic way, back when our species was young. Today, we are sedentary because we lack natural motivation to exercise; our food is close to hand, and we can just reach out and grab it. So, in order to maintain some level of fitness close to what our bodies are evolved for, we have to waste energy in contrived exercise for its own sake. Knowing this is the main thing that has discouraged me from exercising all my life.

Next time you see a glossy magazine with a cover screaming at you about “top 5 belly-busting tips” and “tone those abs!” think about what’s really behind the marketing hype of those headlines. It’s the fact that our retrograde bodies have not caught up to the changes in our living conditions, and we must adjust to their needs instead of, as we should, making them adjust to ours.

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7 thoughts on “The Truth Behind the Need for Weight Loss

  1. Wow can you write! I have a weight loss blog, http://www.mrsratfirelosesweight.com
    I completely agree with you regarding the ‘sales’ pitch for easy cures. The plethora of diet pills promising the eat what you want and lose weight should NOT be permitted to advertise this way. Most people do not have time to go to a gym, but you do not need to. I do my walking program INSIDE MY HOUSE and I do not even put on shoes. You do not need an organized facility to move. I have lost 135 pounds at this time, and I am never going back to old habits. Story and exercise plan are on my blog! Thank you for this post. You can really write.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. 🙂 I had a look at your blog but didn’t give it enough attention to do it justice. Now I’ll go see in more depth what your approach is. I’m 5’7″ and was 186.8 lbs yesterday–heavy, but not obese. My doctor wants me at 160, so I need to drop only about 25 pounds in order to get to the weight he thinks I should be at. The big problem, of course, is abdominal fat under the muscle, which is something afflicting many men. My gut is actually hard but the fat _under_ the muscle makes me look like I’m pregnant with a baby elephant.

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  2. This is so true. As a someone who is now over weight, I still remember when I was a kid.

    Back then, I was just solid. Solid muscle, solid bone, a light padding of “baby fat” that hadn’t burned off. Now, as an adult, I still enjoy most of the same types of past times – biking, swimming, horse back riding, walking, etc. but I don’t have time for many of them. With the schedule I have, fitting in much more than school, work, and writing means losing sleep (a no-no from the medical profession), skipping meals (another no-no), or cutting down time spent on other activities (a huge personal no-no!).

    I guess what I’m saying is that some may not have the motivation to exercise, others just don’t have the time. If my school stays as “calm” as it is right now, I think I’ve finally figured out how to “squeeze” in exercise. Now, I just hope the school gym times agree!

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    1. With all the activity most people have in their busy lives, it’s really a wonder that they don’t naturally burn off the excess calories they consume through our overabundant and excessively rich food. Alas, most of people’s activities days are a lot less physically strenuous than chasing down ibex on foot. Exercise is foreign to our lives and very often feels like an intruder, a way in which our retrograde bodies atavize us. That’s probably the biggest reason finding motivation to exercise is for so many people.

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      1. Oh, I’ll grant that most people’s lives are too sedentary. My own included. But, from the ones I know, people’s schedules are so hectic for sedentary things that need to be done, they just don’t want to get up. And, the mental exhaustion often leads to the lack of motivation or initiative to actually get up when their limited physical activity stops.

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        1. Thanks for bringing up mental exhaustion. It is true, isn’t it, that if our minds are tired from mentally strenuous but sedentary activities, it’s like we can’t get our bodies moving even if we want to.

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          1. Yup. There are days after a full day of work and school that my mind just flat refuses to cooperate in helping me move. All I want to do is “veg.” (Usually by writing more on my books. Go figure!)

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