It’s All Just Thermodynamics, Right?

I’ve been *thinking* about the contents of this post for 6 years.  I started writing this post 2 years ago.  So really, I think it’s time.  Yes.  It really is time to get this post out of my mind and onto the screen.

Let’s talk about weight-loss.  More specifically let’s talk about no weight-loss.

Am I the only over 30-year-old chick around here who hasn’t been able to lose weight?  No?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  There’s hordes of us isn’t there.  It doesn’t matter what you try – how hard you exercise your butt off (except it is STILL there after all that exercise), and / or how long you’ve eaten like a mouse – you’ve not lost a pound.  And you’ve maybe even gained a pound.  Or 2.  Or even 7.  Or more.  You can even look at food and gain weight.

I don’t think there is anything in my life that has caused me more utter frustration than my apparent inability to control my own body’s weight.  Even when I have done what the “experts” have been screaming at us for decades: Eat less and exercise more!  Eat less and exercise more!!  Eat less and exercise more!!!

Over the years I have tested this approach up and down.  And here’s the thing: it doesn’t work.  But hey, I suspect I am not telling you anything that you don’t know.  And yet, we still keep eating less and exercising more.  Why?  Because we don’t know what else to do.  And because they’re still screaming at us:  Eat less and exercise more!  Eat less and exercise more!!  Eat less and exercise more!!!

Enter a trip to the Doctor.  Because it must be me, right?  There must be something wrong with me that this whole eat less and exercise more deal is not working.  Is it my thyroid?  Do I have some disease?  Is my metabolism shot?  WHAT. IS. THE. DEAL??

I still remember the day that I sat in my (ex) Doctor’s office & cried with frustration.  I told him how little I’d been eating and how much I’d been exercising and for how long, and how I’d lost zero weight.  And how sometimes I’d even gained weight.  And then lost it, but never more than I’d gained.  There didn’t seem to be any correlation between what I ate or how much I exercised and my weight.

“But Honey!”, he said.  “It’s all just thermodynamics”.  What he meant was its calories in v. calories out.  So I explained to him again exactly what I had done for the past 6 months in terms of eating less calories and burning more calories.  And how it couldn’t possibly be thermodynamics because I HADN’T LOST ANY WEIGHT.

And he said, “It’s all just thermodynamics”.  Then he said, “Drink meal-replacement shakes for a week – that’s around 500 calories a day.  You’ll lose 10 lbs and regain the confidence that you do have control over your body”.

So I did that, and I continued the same exercise and then went back to see him.  I WAS THE SAME WEIGHT.  I told him what I had done and how even basic logic could see that it clearly wasn’t just all about calories in v. calories out.  There was something else going on.

And he said, “It’s all just thermodynamics”.

And then I fired him.  Because he just wasn’t listening.  Because he was giving me the same advice despite no results from following that advice.  Because I had proved that there was absolutely no logic in what he was telling me.  Because he refused to look at any alternatives or work with me on figuring out what was really going on.

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Humor me while I throw a few questions at you.  If it really is all just thermodynamics that controls our weight then:

1. Why do “the experts” weight-loss tips include not eating after 6 pm?  If it’s all just calories in v. calories out then the time of day you eat doesn’t matter, right?

2. How come as a nation we spend more time in the gym and more time exercising than ever before, but as a nation we’re fatter than ever?

3. How come as a nation we eat more “fat-free / calorie-reduced” food than ever before, but as a nation we’re fatter than ever?

4. Why do “the experts” weight-loss tips include at least 7 hours sleep?  You would burn more calories if you were awake and active, right?

5. How come, in times of extreme stress (think death of a loved one, ending of an important relationship), despite no change in amount of food consumed or exercise done, people can change weight dramatically in an incredibly short space of time?

6. How come taking anti-depressants or other medications can cause weight gain or loss?  If it’s all just calories in v. calories out then what drugs you take doesn’t matter, right?

7.  If it’s all just calories in v. calories out then how does stopping smoking often cause weight gain?

8. How is it that we all know people who eat whatever they want, in whatever quantities they want and yet they stay thin?

9. Have you ever known guys who stopped drinking soda and lost 10 lbs and yet when their wives did the same they didn’t lose any weight at all?  If it’s all just calories in v. calories out then how can that be?

10. Why do “the experts” weight-loss tips include always eating breakfast?  If it’s all just calories in v. calories out then the time of day you eat doesn’t matter, right?

11. Why do “the experts” weight-loss tips include not starving yourself?  If it’s all just calories in v. calories out then eating less calories will cause you to lose weight, right?

12. Why are we still hearing and reading the same weight-loss advice after 40 years and yet are still gaining weight?

 

I could go on asking questions until the cows come home – but I think you get my point.

If it really were just thermodynamics, and weight-loss really was just a matter of calories in v. calories out, then a whole lot of us would be skinny, right?  Because we ARE eating less food and we ARE exercising more.  But we’re not getting thinner.  We’re getting fatter.  And all the “experts” and magazines, all the TV shows and best-selling books, all the grocery store labelling and motivational speakers and gym memberships haven’t changed a thing.  Because we’re still getting fatter.  The answers to weight loss don’t lie within the pages of those magazines or on the scripts of those TV shows.

We’re not stupid – calories in v. calories out is easy.  Eating less and exercising more is easy.  And we’re doing it.  And we’re {still} getting fatter.  And despite the fact that we’re not stupid, we just keep on doing what all the hype tells us, even though it doesn’t work.  Because they are Doctors and “experts” and trainers and professionals – so they must be right.  Right?  And because we just don’t know what else to do.

So every year when the New Year rolls around we make new resolutions that this year we’re going to do it better and we’re going to lose weight.  We’re going to eat less and exercise more, but we’re going to do a better job this time.  Because all the “experts” tell us it’s just thermodynamics, so it must be us who are messing up.  And yet here we are again – we’re well over the New Year rush to start afresh, lose weight & get in shape.  And once again that New Year enthusiasm has dwindled & the gyms have emptied out again.  Because it doesn’t work.  And it never will.  Because it’s not just calories in v. calories out.

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So 4 years ago I determined that since it could not possibly be just a simple case of calories in v. calories out, I would someday find out what it was.  I knew what it wasn’t, so I stopped eating less and exercising more.  I ate more and exercised less.  Guess what?  I didn’t gain any weight.  That, at least, was a better place to be.

Then, a little over a year ago I had a hysterectomy.  With that came two weeks in bed with a laptop and a subscription to Netflix.  For reasons that I don’t now remember, I found myself watching Super Size Me.  That led me to watch Food, Inc and then Food Matters.  These re-ignited my passion for finding out what *IT* was, since it wasn’t calories in v. calories out.  I read a whole huge bunch of stuff online.  One day I came across Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It”.    Finally!  It was science.  Facts.  Reality.  I rush ordered it and when it arrived I read it in one day.  A book that made sense.

Since I am an all-or-nothing kinda gal, I immediately implemented what I had learned from Gary.  100%.  Within 3 days my muffin top had completely disappeared.  Vanished.  It was just…gone.  I hadn’t lost any weight, but it sure looked like I had.  People started asking me what diet I was on.  People started asking me what I was doing.  People started asking me how I ate so much but didn’t gain weight.  I hadn’t done any exercise and  I hadn’t eaten less food or calories.  In fact, I’d eaten a ton of food – most of it what the “experts” would deem ”unhealthy” or “fattening” and yet I had achieved in 3 days what I had failed to achieve in 6 years.  Thermodynamics?  BALDERDASH!

September rolled around and I got my annual numbers check-up – blood pressure, glucose, LDL, HDL, all that stuff.  And what a revelation!  All my numbers were *way* better then the previous year.  My total cholesterol was down 100 points, despite the vast quantities of animal products I had been consuming since reading Gary’s book.  My weight was down, my body measurements were down and my non-fasting glucose was way below what my fasting glucose was supposed to be.  I was literally doing all the “wrong” things and yet my numbers were doing all the right things.  And I felt great.  And I had lost all my sugar cravings.  And I slept better, had a bunch of energy and felt fantastic.  Plus, no muffin top.  So much for thermodynamics and all the other balderdash the “experts” have been throwing at us all these years.

I plateaued.  I knew I was onto something, but I also knew I didn’t have it all.  Then magically, the stars aligned once more and I randomly bumped into this dude on Facebook one day.  His name is Jonathan Bailor.  Jonathan had written a book, called “The Smarter Science of Slim” (now out of print and replaced with The Calorie Myth) which was to be published this past January.  He had posted chapter 1 of the book online as a teaser.  I read it.  And I instantly knew – THIS. WAS. IT.  He even had a whole section called PART 1: Myth: Calories In – Calories Out.  I could not wait until January to get his book.  So I emailed Jonathan and persuaded him to let me have an advance copy.  I was once again very thankful for the wonders that a cute British accent affords me.  (Just to be clear – I still paid for it :-) )

I devoured the book.  Eat more, exercise less?  Really??  Really.  Within weeks I had lost 10 lbs, and I knew I was losing body fat and not muscle tissue, because my magic body composition scales told me so.  Was I eating more?  Yep.  Was I exercising less?  You betcha.  Was I losing {fat} weight?  Yes, indeed.

The most asked question of me last year (second only to “Are you gay?”) was, “How do you eat like you do and not gain weight?”.  More and more people asked.  More and more people wanted to know what I was doing.

So I am adding a third dimension to my little blogette: Eat more, exercise less, smarter.  Or, How to be slim and healthy (and still eat things you love).  It won’t tell you the ins and outs of the science or how to do it – Jonathan already wrote the book on that.  Once you’ve read the book though (or if you’ve already read the book), you can wander over here and see how I put it into practice in my daily life – you’ll find recipes for living a *SANE lifestyle and you’ll learn how to eat out without falling off the wagon or feeling deprived or blowing your progress.  If you follow my Facebook page you’ll know what I eat at the weekends – and you’re probably wondering how I eat doughnuts without growing to be the size of a house.  Learn how I do that without gaining 10 lbs.

I’ll just show you how I put the science to work in my real, every day life.  Because I am a real, every day girl who spent way too many years eating less and exercising more but not being able to lose weight.  A regular girl who now eats more and exercises less, and is reaching her health and fitness goals for the first time in years.

Eat more, exercise less, smarter.

Would you like to never have to eat less again?  Would you like to only have to exercise for 20 minutes once a week?  AND be slimmer and healthier than you are now?

Eat more, exercise less, smarter.

We really can have it all.

 

PS.  No, I was not paid to write this.  No, I do not work for Jonathan.  Whatever you’re thinking about what financial motivation I may have to write this, I promise you I have none.  Reading Jonathan’s book has ended the greatest frustration of my life and I simply want to share that with you.  Everyone deserves to know the truth about how our bodies really work.  I’m just helping you put the science into practice.

PPS.  No I am not gay, BTW.

PPPS.  You deserve a photo for making it this far.

Happy Sunday!

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tiffany - It’s an amazing revelation! I am thankful that I read Why We Get Fat and even more thankful to have read SSoS. Yay for SANE :)

carrie - Yes! Yay for SANE! Stayed tuned for delicious SANE recipes. Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany. Looking forward to hearing from you again :-)

Sue - No time to read the details now, but I’m wondering if you’ve seen/read the book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”? Is the info similar?

Chris - I just found Jonathan about a week ago and in roaming around his sit came across your blog yesterday. Fun stuff, great read, beautiful pictures.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the movie Fathead. He made it in response to Supersize Me. It is a little silly, (he is a comedian by trade) but chock full of science and info. He also does a talk called “Science for Smart People” that is quite good.

Anyway, thanks for the recipes and lovely photos!

carrie - Thanks, Chris! I’ll make sure to get a glimpse of Fathead when I have some downtime.

I appreciate your taking time to swing by and comment – helps me to know which direction to head in. Let me know how the recipes work out for you!

Colleen - WONDERFUL post. Thank you!! Really enjoying your blog… just found it a couple days ago. I’m 50% through SSOS (hey, I’m a busy working mom of a toddler… sorry if I can’t get through more than 3 pages a night before passing out…), and determined to finish the book. I’m eating more SANE foods (wow, veggies anyone??!). I’m looking back on my plateaus, on the weight woes of my mom and my sister, and finally understanding them deeply in a way that I wasn’t ever able to before. So far I’m in this alone… hubby has seen the wrong end of too many fad diets to get into another one without compelling, visible evidence. Odds of getting him to read the book are roughly 2% :) And my kiddo is too young to eat all these raw leafy greens… she doesn’t even have all her molars yet. But for now, I’m determined, even going it alone.
Knowing myself, there will come a day when my resolve falters, my faith waivers, and I wonder if all the extra willpower is really worth it. For that, I now have you, to look at your posts, your recipes, and YES, your imperfections, and see that it can continue to work. So thank you :)
PS, really looking forward to trying your recipes. I LOVE the photos!!

carrie - Colleen – THANK YOU for your kind words. Let me know how I can help!

Heather - Hi Carrie

I am so glad I found your blog. I had started listening to SSoS about a month ago and was so wanting to know how you and Jonathan came to work together.

I just listened to the podcast about Jonathan and your latest photo shoot. I love your new picture on the podcast. There was an older picture of you before but you actually look so much younger now.

So thank you for your sacrifice of having that picture up that you didn’t like. It really gives me hope as I am a 48 y/o struggling with weight loss.

I hope you and Jonathan will cover the subject of emotional eating. I’m a nurse and know all the science but life and stress causes me to act like an ‘”addict” and I go Insane with my eating. Need lots of tips to help me with this.

carrie - Heather, thank you for your kind and lovely words! I am thrilled that we have given you hope, and I can totally relate to having been without hope in the past. You can do it!!! Our bodies ability to heal itself and turn-back-the-clock is amazing, given the right input. I will definitley be covering emotional eating here. It may be quite a while before we could get to it on the podcast as we record quite a way ahead of time. PS. I still have crazy inSANE eating days, but now I don’t let it bother me, I just get back on track the next day and it’s all good.

Lorrie Walter - OK I just read this and laughed my fanny off, and thanks for the picture at the end, love it :-) I just want to say that all of the above I’ve seen with my own eyes. I’ve tasted what I now call the food of “love” and it’s amazing – in fact people take it away from me for themselves it’s so good – not knowing at all that there is no sugar or grains lol. I’ve seen Carrie’s changes and I’m a believer, I’ve just recieved the book today and will be reading over the weekend and have already found (well my hubby has) some info out of Carrie that I’ve started using in my life. Can’t wait to get thru the book and start living and feeling better in a natural, healthy way.
Thank you Carrie for bringing this to light and for the fate that brought you and Jonathan together to benefit others.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Salad » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - [...] reason for my discombobulation is the response to my last post.  I was musing on calories in v. calories out, and it clearly struck a chord with an awful lot of you; along with an enormous number of lovely [...]

Dru - I always wondered how you and Jonathan met. I really enjoy the podcasts. You are always very inspiring. I’m a paleo/biohacker/westonaprice/ junkie who is trying to navigate my hormones. So, thanks for all the info. Keep up the good work. :)))

carrie - Thanks Dru for all the podcast love!!

Meghan Roddy - You are such a great writer! I was laughing the whole time reading it! Well done.

carrie - Thanks, Meghan!!

It’s All Just Thermodynamics, Right? | Healthy Intentions - [...] It’s All Just Thermodynamics, Right? » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts. [...]

Tiffany Crain - Hi there,
I live in Mt. Vernon, WA and I have been listening, and doing recipes since October, 2013. My mom kept telling me about you and Jonathan. I WANT TO WORK WITH YOU – AND, MEET YOU. AND, HAVE YOU GUYS SIGN MY CALORIE MYTH BOOK. I am now a nutrition and eccentric evangelist. I do happen to Seattle, and was wondering if you two will be appearing (I did watch the Creative Live event). I’d be there if I could with bells on. I had a stroke very young (33), and so the eccentric workouts are wonderful. I was so worried about not getting my heart rate up enough because of my brain injury, etc. I thought, “I’ll never exercise this off!” But, now I am eating more, and exercising less. Thanks to you guys. I understand why you do it for free! Best wishes in your ongoing endeavors. I am about to try your taco soup!

Felice - You put what I have been experiencing into words.
I just ordered “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” and have The Smarter Science of Slim.
Once more, into the fray. Thanks for giving me a boost ;-)

Ann - Have just found you all a week ago. Started my journey with the Robert lustig youtube lecture which led to gary taubes, which led to you. I am a sports scientist by trade and so I really love the geeky science stuff, and I am convinced at you are ‘right in the money’. I am sold. Trying to work out the eccentric exercises programme now. Thanks for all the fantastic info. I am working my way through the podcasts and I love it.

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