In which Morgan Spurlock is once again shown to be a lying sack of crap…

Science Teacher Loses 37 Pounds After Eating Only McDonald’s Food For 90 Days – Consumerist.

Morgan Spurlock can be an entertaining guy, but the film that made him famous is a load of malarky. Supersize Me is entertaining as heck, and shocking, and look, I’ve never liked McDonald’s (I don’t really care for fast food at all anymore, but in my junk food munching heyday I always preferred Burger King), but I remember watching Supersize Me and being just flat-out horrified at what happened to Spurlock over the course of the film.

The thing is, a few different people then tried to replicate what happened to Spurlock and couldn’t. In fact, some folks looked at his numbers and immediately called BS on them. Then Tom Naughton made Fathead, a humorous film in which he not only debunked Spurlock and Supersize me, but showed that if Spurlock had followed the diet he claimed he did in his film he’d have probably gotten the exact opposite results.

Now we have a high school science teacher who used a McDonald’s-exclusive fast food diet to show his students how to perform real world research, and show that, as he puts it:

“The point behind this documentary is, ‘Hey, it’s (a) choice. We all have choices. It’s our choices that make us fat not McDonald’s.'”

As I have gotten involved in health and fitness issues over the past several years I have watched people absolutely time themselves into knots over their food choices. I’ve gotten drawn into passionate arguments with people who claim that good nutrition and weight loss are only available to affluent people. I’ve heard people claim that you can only be healthy/fit if you eat 100% organic, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, raw food, cut out dairy, cut out grains, eat high protein, eat low-fat, etc., ad nauseam.

The reality is, as this high school science teacher suggests, there are good choices and poor choices everywhere. And even what seem to be horrendous choices to some are actually not so bad. What this gentleman did was limit his calorie intake, diversify his food choices (even though they all came from McDonald’s) and add 45 minutes of walking to his day and he lost weight and improved his cholesterol numbers.

So, why did that work?

1) He increased his activity level.

I wear a Fitbit Flex that tracks the number of steps I take each day. I got this one as a gift from my wife to replace a Fitbit One that I lost while playing soccer in October. Fitbit encourages you to make a goal of taking at least 10,000 steps per day. When I first started wearing my original Fitbit I was aghast at how inactive I was most of the time. Even with an intense 60 minute workout 5 days per week I was almost never able to reach 10,000 steps per day. It was only after I started making a commitment to myself (and my dog) to try to give the pup a daily, and decent-length, walk that I was able to regularly hit or exceed that goal.

So, what does that tell us? That even someone doing an intense fitness program is still pretty damned sedentary if that person has a typical desk job. If you want to get fit and stay that way, you need to find ways to move more. A lot more.

2) He limited his total calorie intake.

This guy’s limit was 2000 calories per day, and it was monitored not just by him, but by the students who were participating in the assignment. 2000 calories per day is what the USDA recommends for the average American male. What tends to happen to the average consumer of McDonald’s (or other fast food) products is that they grossly over consume. Why people who subscribe to various “clean eating” regimens tend to lose weight is pretty simple – if 2/3 of what you consume each day comes from whole veggies and fruits you’re going to fill up fast. The fiber (both soluble and in insoluble) in those foods will fill your stomach and intestines much more rapidly and keep them feeling that way for longer.

You can eat burgers and fries and lose weight. But you have to control how much and keep track.

3) He was accountable.

It’s a sad fact, but how we behave when we’re being watched and how we behave when we think no one is looking are often dramatically different things. This teacher wasn’t just tracking his own intake and exercise. They were being monitored by his students. He didn’t cheat because he would have gotten caught. Not only that, he would have disappointed his students.

This is basically the same principle that applies to the Team Beachbody Challenge Groups I have participated in, although not as rigidly. When you make a commitment to others to follow through on a plan it’s a bit more likely that you’ll actually follow through. Enough, for most people, to get them over the hump of adjusting their behavior until it becomes a habit.

So, how do you apply this to yourself? If radically altering the things you eat is going to make you crazy, don’t. Just be consciously aware of the calories you’re taking in, and try to manage that actively. Get off your dang butt and move more. I’m data-obsessed, so the Fitbit is perfect for me, and keeps me honest (I will admit, I bailed on the doggie walks way more in the two months I was without my tracker – I’m sorry pup.), but if that’s not your style, just make a commitment to move. If you’re doing a program, great, but you really do need to move more than that. And find a way to be accountable. Make a bet with someone (One technique that has worked great for some folks is to make a bet with someone they really don’t like, and agree to give a donation to the charity or cause of that person’s choice if they fail to keep up with their fitness goals, with that person having to do likewise for their charity or cause if you keep your commitments.), or join an accountability group. Team Beachbody always has a challenge group going on (I will be starting one of my own soon).

My overall point is that getting fitter and healthier is not something that requires insane changes. Would you probably be healthier eating an organic, whole food diet? Sure. But if that’s out of the question for you that doesn’t mean you’re doomed.

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