Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why weight loss is not a worthwhile goal

Losing weight is a global obsession. Health club marketing, fitness and beauty magazines, diets and drugs cater to the desire to shed pounds. But why do people want to lose weight?

Our industrial food and sedentary lifestyles have made a majority of people fat and unhealthy. Excess weight is only the most obvious symptom of ill health.

The human mind is finely attuned to the health of other people. We respond instinctively and automatically to the health of others. Although we live in a completely different environment than our ancestors, our DNA -- our bodies and brains -- are essentially identical.

We are intensely social creatures designed to live in a small tribe or village. Our minds are built to evaluate the health of others in our community. This evaluation helps us to choose mates and establish the social hierarchy of the group. The fittest members of any human community are usually held in higher esteem than others.

And this is why people diet: to hide the most conspicuous evidence that we are unwell. We diet to simulate health in order to become more attractive, powerful and respected in our social groupings.

We can do better than that. Much better.

The appearance of good health is no more valuable than the appearance of education or the appearance of athletic achievement. For example, you can "attend" some unaccredited online university and receive a bogus diploma you can frame and hang on your wall. You can buy a trophy on eBay.

Striving to lose weight without improving health is like buying a diploma or trophy: You might impress some people, but you haven't gained the thing of real value, only the superficial appearance of having done so.

We believe that life and death isn't binary, but exists on a scale. At one end is death, and the other end is the most alive you can be given the totality of your circumstances. Most people exist between those extremes.

The purpose of the Spartan diet is to become as alive as possible.

Sure, everyone on the Spartan Diet who is overweight loses excess fat. But the weight loss comes as a result of fixing what was broken, not breaking it further.

If you simply cut calories, or embrace some gimmicky fad diet – in other words try to lose weight without bringing your physical body into balance – the weight will come back. And worse, you’ll knock things further out of whack.

Faking health through weight loss is a losing proposition, and an unworthy goal. A vastly superior goal is to actually achieve lifelong health.

Your whole metabolic system will be restored to balance, but so will your immune, digestive, circulatory, muscular and other systems. Your energy level will soar, and your mind will be clear and function much better. Your immune system will defend you from all kinds of diseases, and you'll have the strength and energy to pursue all your dreams.

In short, you will become much more alive.

Now that's a worthwhile goal.