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The #1 Cause of Obesity and Diabetes

I'm making some YouTube videos about obesity and what causes it. The million-dollar (or billion dollar if your a pharmaceutical company) is this: why do some people get obese and others don't?

The superficial answer is that obese people eat too much and exercise too little.

Obviously. But go deeper, what compels them to do that?

People like Robert Lustig at UCSF would say it's the fructose found in sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB's). That's why there are calls to regular these beverages with a combination of age restrictions, advertising restrictions, school bans, and taxes.

I'm not sure any of those would work, but let's save public policy for another day.

Then there are people like Gary Taubes who say that we should eat no carbs so that we don't release any insulin. It's insulin that's making us fat.

Then there's people like Stephen Guyenet who says that it's access to cheap, tasty food that makes us eat more. I find this hypothesis the most plausible.

I'll say this: the texture, taste,...

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Fitness Incest

I was enjoying my incline walk yesterday when someone got onto the treadmill. After a few minutes I saw her going sideways on the treadmill.

I asked myself, "does she know what she's doing that, or is she doing what everyone else is doing?"

See, in the fitness world, it's monkey see, monkey do. If it looks cool, or some fitness star on YouTube did it, or I saw it on my Facebook feed, it must be true.

I have been guilty of this myself.

I remember in my early years of fitness when I was learning everything I could. Those were the days when I absorbed every issue of Men's Fitness and Men's Health.

If I saw a new exercise in a magazine, I would immediately adopt it into my own routine despite the fact that I had no idea how to incorporate it, why to incorporate it, what effect it would have, what the proper progression was, and what benefit it would have on me.

It's not hard to influence the ignorant mind. That's what I was then. The ignorant mind.

I've written in previous e-mails that you...

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Gwyneth Paltrow Gives Bad Nutrition Advice

In the past week I've been having fun on YouTube uploading videos. I read articles and read books and then cut the crap so you can have the best advice possible:

How to spot bad nutrition advice:

In this video I explain why Gwyneth Paltrow's fad diet is, well, a fad, and it doesn't work. Any diet that eliminates nightshades (tomatoes) is stupid if you ask me. And "green juice" is another think celebrities drink. Celebrity diet advice might be the worst kind, right up there the advice that bodybuilders and personal trainers give.

How to eat less processed food:

I like to say that we should worry less about what we eat, but I also don't think eating a ton of processed food is a good diet either. In this video, I'll explain why and how to do it. I'm not a nihilist. I don't advise people to "eat whatever because it doesn't matter." I do think that we should stop overthinking everything.

How men can overcome eating...

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The Truth About Fitness Porn

I subscribe to a number of fitness YouTube channels. It's part of my job. I need to keep watching what my "competition" is doing and what they're saying. I have to say, they're giving me plenty of good ideas for future videos!

I've referred to the fitness-cosmetic industry in past e-mails. That's because we've seen a merger of the fitness and cosmetic industry over the past 30 years.

Fitness used to be good enough, but then fitness had to be something more. It had to be about looking good, having a "six pack", having a "flat tummy", and a nice body.

"Fitness" channels only promote this, showing their viewers how fit and fabulous they are.

I want to see a channel about actual fitness and what fitness actually is. Fitness in the real world means being mentally sane, taking all the challenges that come at you without losing enthusiasm, being able to handle the demands of everyday life, being able to lift heavy things, being able to perform foundational movements (squats, lunges).

Being fit...

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Hilarious Claims from Food Marketers

A part of me wishes I were a food marketer instead of a marketer for health and fitness. Here's why.

As a food marketer, you are paid to come up with the most outrageous claims possible for your products (within legal limits of course) despite the fact that your product is probably the worst option for your consumers.

It's almost naughty in way. You can take a box of cereal like Krave or Cocoa Puffs and put a heart on it that says, "diets high in whole grains can prevent heart attacks." Welcome to America, folks.

Now this upsets nutrition and health gurus and public health advocates like nothing else. How dare General Mills make health claims on Lucky Charms?

With the sense of humor that I have, I actually think it's hilarious, and the more ridiculous it is, the better.

I'm always scanning supermarket aisles for the latest, most outrageous claims I can find. I remember seeing some Hostess pie that made that claim that it had no cholesterol. Duh. With no butter and tons of hydrogenated...

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The Truth About Health Magazines

One of my favorite pastimes is going through various health and fitness magazines and seeing what's "new."

Actually, there's very little in these magazines that can be considered "new." Most of the stuff in there is regurgitated BS from previous issues.

It only took me 2 years in my early 20's to realize what was going on. Then I stopped reading them.

I once had an anatomy professor who told me to only subscribe to Runner's World (sorry to pick on Rodale) because every year was exactly the same. He was right!

January: new year, new you
April: spring training and new gear
May: marathon training guide
November: offseason training guide

Sure enough, when I looked at the latest issue earlier this year, the marathon edition was right on schedule. The font, color, and formatting was a little glossier than it was ten years ago, but not by much.

My point is, most of these magazines have very little "new" information. In fact, many times they tell you to do the opposite of what they said...

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Fat Loss Advice from the Emperor of Rome

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from the great Stoic Marcus Aurelius who once said, "a man is the sum of all his thoughts." Something to that effect. Whatever the exact Latin was, his point was that we are what we think.

Poor quality thoughts produce poor results. I know this sounds kind of voo-doo and something you would read in The Secret (which is almost gospel in the coaching world- it's #573 on my reading list, which means I'll never get to it).

Robert Kiyosaki, the famous real estate investor and author talks about in Cash Flow Quadrant how he went to this seminar in 1973 with a coach, similar to Jim Rohn. What he told the class was: be, do, have. Marcus Aurelius couldn't have said it better!

In other words, to have something (body, money, hot wife/husband, travel), you need to do something, but in order to do that, you need to be that. I would add more step: you have to think...

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Al Bundy Fat-Shames His Own Customers

First of all, I hesitate to use the word 'fat' due to its negative connotations.

But one of my favorite shows in my TV-watching years (a long time ago) was Married With Children. Why? It's my kind of humor. It takes a sacred cow, the family, and slaughters it. Nothing against family, but I like comedy that treats nothing as sacred.

The protagonist of the show, Al Bundy, played by Ed O'Neil (The Wire, Modern Family), is a blue-collar shoe salesman for women. He has the worst customer-service skills anywhere. One way he offends his own customers is with relentless fat-shaming.

I remember one episode where a woman stands for a few seconds without attention and yells, "am I invisible?"

Bundy responds, "maybe from Pluto."

Listen, that kind of comedy was funny and it had its place.

I'm not sure I would laugh at that today. Being overweight, not liking your body, and struggling with body image are difficult to deal with. I dealt with it for many years. I hated it. There was no amount...

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Don't Obsess Over Nutrition Labels

I was reading about nutrition labels the other day. Yeah, that's what I do in my spare time. I read about the history of nutrition labels so I can write these entertaining e-mails to you.

Anyway, Rice Krispies, of all things, was one of the first cereals to publish nutrition facts on its label. Rice Krispies! They started doing this back in the 1940's. Then the FDA (in the United States) mandated them in the early 1990's. Then they mandated trans fats on the label in 2006. Now, they're putting nutrition information on the front label.

One way to know that you're paying too much attention to nutrition labels is that you look at every nutrition label like a detective with magnifying glass.

Everything can go too far, and looking at nutrition labels is no different.

I remember I would look at every line of every product I ever bought. It really only wasted my time and it was completely unnecessary because I kind of knew what was in it.

These days, I have a good idea of what's in cereal,...

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Was Today a Good Day or a Bad Day?

On my long journey to recovery, I used to categorize days by how much I ate and how well I behaved in relation to food. I used to say, "today was good because I only x, or today was bad because I binged, purged, overeate, showed a lack of self-restraint.

It didn't matter what else happened that day. If I binged, it was a bad day. And if I ate right (which was rare- I fluctuated between 0 and 6000 for about 10 years) or if I didn't eat anything, I was good.

I was living in a black-and-white world. There was no in-between. I wanted to eat enough to have energy, but not so much that I didn't lose weight. That's the classic dilemma for dieters.

The problem was, I was never close to what I needed. Hitting 1800-2000 cal a day (just enough to lose 1-1.5 pounds a week) was like hitting a bull's eye. That's what I wanted, but after a while I realized that if I ate anything, I would eat everything.

If I were in that state of mind again, here's what I would do.

I would judge the day by...

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