30 May

In response to my post of 20th March:- Eat Less. Move more, I recently received the following comment from San Smith.  I have no idea who San is – male, female, fat or thin, but the blog post really rubbed her/him up the wrong way, which only serves to illuminate the very problem I was trying to address.  I have reprinted the comment here (in bold) and my response follows on from it:

“What we put into our mouths must be burnt off by our body’s daily activities or weight gain will result.  All we really need to do then is get up and start moving,  ditch the fizzy drinks and the takeaways, take a brisk walk for 30 minutes every day and once this becomes a habit, we will be half way there”.  (quoted from my blog post).  THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!
This assumes that all overweight people are eating takeaways and drinking fizzy drinks and not walking for at tleast 30 minutes a day  it is also NOT A FACT that what goes into your mouth must be burnt or turned to fat – it may also end up down the loo, how much may depend on your body’s chemistry.  It is also ridiculous to say we are ‘over scienced’ – are you asking us not to consider objective scientific findings? The research evidence for the calories in/calories out argument is pretty megre and what exists does not stand up to much scrutiny either.  This smug argument simply supports the view that overweight people are weak and even morally reprehensible and does nothing to help those who need it most.

It only takes a few seconds to google ‘obesity primary causes’. First up, the NHS: The main causes of obesity are unhealthy food choices and inactivity.  The NHS website states,

“If you are not active enough, you do not use up the energy provided by the food you eat, and the extra calories are stored as fat instead.”

Further down the same page, The Department of Health recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes (2hours and 30mins) of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week.

Number 2 up on my google search is BBC Health which states simply: Obesity is caused by 2 simple factors: an unhealthy diet (typically too rich in sugar and fats and not enough fibre and carbohydrate) and NOT DOING ENOUGH EXERCISE to burn off the calories consumed (emphasis my own).

There are, of course, exceptions.  Environmental and emotional factors can influence weight gain; there are some very rare medical conditions: Froehlich Syndrome, Laurence-Moon-Biedl Syndrome and Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Cushing’s disease which cause obesity.  However, the prevalence of these syndromes have barely increased over the past 30 years and so cannot help in accounting for the trebling of obesity rates over the same time frame.

Some diseases with a genetic component can also lead to obesity including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism.  Certain drugs: corticosteroids, antidepressants and oral contraceptive pills to name a few common ones can also lead to weight gain.  Genetic factors can predispose one towards obesity: they can affect appetite, the rate at which you burn energy (metabolic rate) and how the body stores fat.  Crucially though, these genetic factors simply put you at an increased risk of becoming overweight,

“lifestyle is one of the most important factors that determines how far the genetic predisposition to weight gain develops – the good news here is that we can make choices about our lifestyle to control this weight gain” (Dr Patricia Macnair GP- Netdoctor.co.uk)

THE VAST MAJORITY – pun intended – of the overweight people in this country – and that is me on a bad day as much as the next person – are overweight for the simple reason that we eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t take enough exercise.

Obesity has trebled since 1980 when only 6% of men and 9% of women were obese.  TREBLED.  The only reasonable explanation for this explosion is the dramatic change in our lifestyles: During the last 30 odd years the availability of energy dense (fatty and sugary) convenience foods has exploded and car journeys have replaced walks to work and school which in Grit-Doctor speak translates into:  MORE CRAP.  LESS MOVEMENT.

These are the facts.  This is the science.

I am trying to use blunt, simple, honest language – and humour – to motivate people to unglue their fat arses from the sofa and get outside moving again.  I am trying to get us all to take repsonsibilty for what we put into our bodies and for our fitness.  It is your defensive response which smacks of, ‘its not my/their fault, someone else or something else is to blame’ that frankly keeps overweight people thinking there is something different about them that makes them the way they are and thus paralyses them from doing anything about it.  9 times out of 10 there isn’t anything wrong except a poor diet and a lack of physical activity.

The Grit Doctor says AGAIN:

If you are overweight and want to do something about it, review the arse shaped dent in your sofa and go outside for a walk.  Do it NOW.


16 Responses to “FAT FACTS”

  1. siany1 May 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Some people are just in complete denial about what causes them to be overweight. I was overweight and I knew exactly why I was overweight. I ate junk and did absolutely no exercise. Hey presto – lost 2 stone by just being more mindful of what I eat and now I love exercise. I agree with you – it really isn’t rocket science is it?

  2. Nikki May 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I find your outlook to this really refreshing and extremely motivating. Having struggled with
    weight for many years and blaming EVERYTHING but myself for it I finally had to accept that it was my responsibility to sort it out!
    Yes it’s fair to accept that there can be reasons for weight gain whether medically or emotional but at the end of the day it is our own responsibility to get out there and get the help we need… be it emotional support or medication. This is so readily available if you actually seek it out…
    We are responsible for our actions and no more will I sit back and blame genetics, my mother, my boy friend or my job… I put into my mouth the foods that see me gain weight and I take the taxi up the hill rather than walking! Only I can change that and the freedom I have got from finally accepting it is so powerful that I have already shed 1 stone!!
    This post is about FACT… you eat more crap and do less movement you will be at risk of gaining weight… FACT.
    Whatever the reasons you have for it there are solutions and no it is never easy… but as soon as we accept that and get on with it the easier it gets. Sounds strange but I challenge you to try it!!

  3. KateT May 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    I agree- I bought the book and was inspired to release my inner bitch, and got off the sofa. Not just running, but horse riding and swimming add up to losing 10lbs whilst still eating plenty. I do cook most of my food from scratch,(try Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book, Veg everyday) but my diet is far from perfect. I feel better, and now can blame no-one else- I am in control and I know I can carry on even if I lapse for a week or so and lose more weight!! Keep the sense of humour, it seems to me that some people need to find that first before the arse shaped dent begins to shrink……….

  4. Bonnie May 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I have to agree with Ruth. As living proof. I ran regularly ate healthily 90% of the time. Sugary and fatty foods were very occasdional treats. I was 8 stone size 8 and very happy. Then I injured my back and was imobilised for 5 months. Well meaning friends and family brought me goodies to eat to cheer me up. I was banned from running until last year. I did my back end of 2009. Result? My healthy lifestyle of sensible eating and regular exercise out the window. I was 12 stone 6 lb and lazy and eating rubbish. Not me at all. Finally tired of it I started to eat sensibly in January this year. Then found her wonderful book and got back to running in April. I can honestly say that it is down to eat less move more. I now weigh 9 stone 12 lb am size 10 but have some left to lose given I am short and a very small frame. I am in the normal BMI range simply because I follow Ruth’s very sound advice. I could have just blamed it all on my injury. But in truth it was me no one made me eat all that junk no one tied me to the couch. I was essentially greedy and lazy because it had become my new habit.

  5. Marina May 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Absolutely 100% agree! It’s a very simple formula!

  6. Rozie May 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Fantastic response Ruth !! I also read your book and the first day I honestly could run/jog for less than a minute. That was just a month ago and On Friday I ran 7km or for 45 mins non stop!! The main benefit I feel is happiness, self achievement and yes , people Are telling me Ive slimmed down. I was a couch potatoe, but u know what, there’s a world out there, so like Ruth says , run fat bitch run….

  7. Marguerite May 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    well put to both yourself and the commenter San (just from the point of view of self expression ability)
    Just a note though with regard to the Oral Contraceptive Pill….I was under the impression that so far there is no solid evidence that supports the pill causes weight gain. An awful lot of anecdotal evidence but no real scientific stuff.

  8. Michele Tunnicliffe (@MicheleTunnicli) May 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    I too agree, even since injuring myself and stopped running I have gained weight. I even cut back on the dark chocolate. Simple really, not burning enough of what I am eating and I am not even eating bad stuff.

  9. Renee Finlay-Notman May 31, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    Here here!! Sometimes the truth is hard to take. Congratulations for putting it out there.

  10. sharon May 31, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    as a fat gal soon to be thin lol i just think san sounds like a person in denial, and found her/his speach confusing love your book ruth xxx

  11. Judith Harvey May 31, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    It is clear, having read both your book and your blog, that you are not placing yourself on the moral high-ground/fingerpointing at the overweight, but instead offering clear, rational assistance. In fact, you not only address weightloss, but cover widely the myriad of health benefits that are associated with running.

    I have noticed that the internet attracts a segment of our population who like to vent their negativity, and often choose sound, successful and positive speakers as their targets. Your response to San Smith was well-articulated. Continue your excellent work, but be aware, you will attract this sort of comment from time to time – the delete key is a very useful tool for this white noise!

  12. Emily Elkhoury May 31, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    It still amazes me how we can quite bluntly tell someone they should stop smoking because it is bad for their health and may kill them, however, if you tell someone to lose weight because they are obese it is like you are insulting them. The hard true facts can hurt but I believe sometimes they need to be stated for reality to set in. It is a shame someone came down so hard on you Ruth when all you are trying to do is help people. I am sick of having to pussy foot around all the overweight people to make sure we are not hurting their feelings. Being overweight is a serious health issue and not only put immense pressure on your own body it adds to the growing pressure on our health system. Life is simple and we as people seem to make it complicated. What goes in must be burnt off to lose weight. People need to realise we are responsible for all the choices we make in life whether it is to lose weight, go for a run, eat yourself senseless with take away, sit on your butt and watch tv or play with your kids outside. It all comes back to making a choice. I choose life.

  13. Pauls May 31, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    Love it! Shame you had to waste all that time googling to get those facts when all you did was waste good running time! OMG – I can eat all healthy foods but I know if I eat more of any type of food, good bad or otherwise and not burn it off I will put on weight. It’s simple really. Grit Doctor does not take any shit from people like that. Ignore them as they are ignorant and keep inspiring the rest of us who are getting it!

  14. Casper June 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    I think the previous posters have said it all Ruth. I love your book I totally agree with you 100% on your approach to diet and exercise. Keep it up Ruth! xxx

  15. Samantha June 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    As a new reader of your book and a beginner of your programme (I have just completed the first week and was chuffed that I actually managed to jog for the sake of it for 5 minutes for the first time in 15 years) I am overweight/obese not sure which just know that I have around 3 stone to lose and you are absolutely right. Joined weight watchers, tried everything except listening to my grit doctor. last week listened to my grit doctor, didn’t do any weightwatcher pointing, just started your 8 week programme and I lost 2lb.if you want to lose weight you have to first admit you are fat and don’t want to be that way, once that is achieved you then have to get off the couch, no matter how much it sucks and aches, and exercise. Being overweight I have used all the excuses, that is probably why I struggled for so long.

    I know it is only a week, but thank you I will not being going back to my bad habits. Aches and pains aside I feel 100% better than before. Armed with the knowledge that there will be days when it sucks (this morning out in the wonderful “Irish summer” weather was one) and that if I stop I will just go backwards I am hoping this is the beginning of a wonderful affair with running.

    Your book is amazing with just the right amount of humour and motivation to get a 3 stone overweight 30 year old mother of 3 get out of bed at 5.30am and actually do the 1 thing I hate, exercise.

    Anyone that claims what you say is wrong is either in denial, or just plain crazy. you have to exercise and eat less crap to lose weight.

    Will definitely send you an update when I finally get to jog/run my full route.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, it is inspirational.

    • gritdoctor June 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      and thank you for sharing your’s – hugely inspirational for me x

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