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Reducing Obesity – What Does and Doesn’t Work

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Pass the Expensive Fat Please

Alexandra at strawberry fields

Sleeping Beauty in her Field of Lean Dreams

Many want to lose weight, yet few manage to reduce fat despite billions of dollars and years of dedicated effort. What is it about eating healthy foods and working out that proves so elusive and off-putting? Unless you’ve been in a Sleeping Beauty coma, you know that obesity has skyrocketed in the last 30 years. Simultaneously, sedentary behavior has plopped itself into a deep couch into which we are sinking deeper and deeper. Pass the remote will ya’?

As Dr James Hill, Executive Director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, author of State of Slim, and leading world authority on obesity bluntly tells us “our lifestyles are killing us. Selling deprivation has not been successful.” Let’s face it; who wants to embark on a journey of calorie deprivation and lifelong struggles against temptation to keep fat at bay? Many launch; some arrive; few stay at the new destination. If you are on a weight loss or weight maintenance journey, we have news for you and you and you.

What Has Not Worked Yet

James Hill, PhD

Dr. Jim Hill = State of Grin

Dr. Hill and his colleagues point to three decades of what does NOT work to lose and keep off excess weight:

  • restricting calories. Did you fully ingest that tidbit?!! Calorie restriction DOES NOT WORK. Excuse the yelling but this is kind of big.
  • taking entire food categories off your “ok to eat” list. (Such as no more sugars or no more fats)
  • depending on willpower
  • being told to work out intensely and often to achieve exercise benefits
  • thinking that “eat less; exercise more” will work (surprised by this one? So were we. Keep reading Also click this link to our post on step one for losing weight).
Inflamed Foot

From Fat to Foot to Fit

What Does Work (Dare Us to Prove It!)

After attending sessions at the recent FitSocial conference  keynoted by Dr. Hill, we want to share with you strategies he has proven WILL work.  These strategies are evidence-based, peer-reviewed, and thoroughly researched. No gimmicks, no quick buck to make: no random anecdotes.  If you go through the suggestions quickly they seem usual and obvious. If you put them into a context you notice they have twists to former “truths.”

  • Move More; Sit Less  – Replace “Eat Less; Exercise More” with this revised mantra;
  • Match your diet to your exercise habits (not in the sense that being inactive matches eating cheese fries with gravy on them);  Ewwwwww

    Products from NPEW

    Loads of Healthy Choices to Make Automatically

  • Eat a high performance diet (for details on what this really means read the recently released book, State of Slim;
  • Strive for physical and cardiorespiratory fitness;
  • When moving, make decisions in this order: Aim first for Amount of movement; Next for Type of activity; then for Intensity of exercise level. (Again, this surprised us as other research suggests looking first at high intensity exercise to burn fat or lose weight. Dr. Hill and his colleagues were very clear – if your goal is to KEEP weight off, then the order of Amount, Type, Intensity is most efficacious. ATI people!
  • Use multisyllabic words such as “efficacious.”  Ok, I made this one up to check who’s paying attention.
  • Make healthy decisions automatic. As the day progresses, willpower diminishes. Like a muscle, willpower fatigues with a lot of use. Decisions require willpower. So reduce the need to make healthy decisions by setting yourself on autopilot for adding in movement and foods that fuel you.

Did you catch our post on ways to successfully make permanent lifestyle changes? If nothing else, remember this young grasshoppers (and fellow baby boomers!): Willingness, NOT Willpower is the Key!

Got an event that could use a twin pack of movement and great fitness info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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26 Responses to Reducing Obesity – What Does and Doesn’t Work

  1. Aqiyl Aniys October 21, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Bahahahahahaaha, “Use multisyllabic words such as “efficacious.” Ok, I made this one up to check who’s paying attention.” Yeah yeah, I was paying attention, LOL!

    I agree that restricting calories doesn’t work, but if this idea is not fully explored it can send someone to obesity. I don’t restrict calories and i also eat a wholefood high-carb plant based diet, and I avoid starches. I need someone to show me that they can be big eating this way.

    The body needs calories but it needs dense calories form plant based food and not empty calories from processed foods. If we don’t restrict empty calorie foods, we are in for some trouble.

    I eat plenty of sugar and plenty of fat but they are from whole-food plant based foods. Sugar and fat in processed foods will contribute to obesity.

    Yes we need to move a lot more than we do and because we don’t because many of us lead stationary lives at work for most of the day, we need to incorporate exercise into our daily routine…
    Aqiyl Aniys recently posted..Almond BenefitsMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit October 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

      Thanks for rolling with my sense of humor! As for your comments on calories, Dr Hill’s point is that long term caloric restriction is not sustainable. Theoretically (and most likely in reality) given individuals could go on lifelong low cal “diets” to MAINTAIN weight loss. But statistically and in general populations, he and we have already seen that people do not and cannot stick with it once the initial weight loss period is over. His real focus is on long term health/ leanness. I probably needed to clarify better too that the initial weight LOSS phase does need to look closely at intake and caloric reduction. Dr. Hill’s book, State of Slim covers this much better than I did. Though without my fine multisyllabic digressions!

      As for you, he of the tough to pronounce name, you are the success story!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Reducing Obesity – What Does and Doesn’t WorkMy Profile

      • Aqiyl Aniys October 22, 2013 at 3:32 am #

        LOL Alexandra: Aqiyl = A keel :)
        Yeah I agree calorie restriction is not good, eating healthy foods is better.

        • Fun and Fit October 22, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

          Hi Even keel Aqiyl! It was I, Kymberly who commented. Alexandra is off to Seattle scaring the rain away. I am home eating healthy foods. Hers.

          • Aqiyl Henry October 23, 2013 at 3:38 am #

            Make sure you leave Alexandra a little bit of food, LOL!
            Aqiyl Henry recently posted..Almond BenefitsMy Profile

  2. Kathy Radigan October 21, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Thanks for these great tips, which actually make a lot of sense. Love the sit less move more mantra, especially for someone like me who spends so much time on her computer! Thank you!
    Kathy Radigan recently posted..Don’t Buy A Black Lipstick and other life lessons I wish I knew when I was youngerMy Profile

  3. Alex Sheehan October 21, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I find that cutting out processed foods and eating more local produce has helped me lose weight unintentionally. I feel more satisfied when I eat this high quality food, and I stay fuller longer. These are some great tips here!
    Alex Sheehan recently posted..Long-Term Care Insurance: A Primer for RetireesMy Profile

  4. Jody - Fit at 55 October 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Quite the interesting post! I am so on board with the cutting out whole food groups & restriction of calories too much like the below 1200 calories stuff – depending on how muc you MOVE as you mentioned above.

    Yes, it has been all about intensity for sure… I do a mix of intervals, HIIT & steady state but with age, the higher intensity for me has been important – but making the point based on how I want to look & my goals – that is the thing I think is a point missing here.. it really does depend on goals of the person.

    I think for the general population that is just looking to be fit & healthy & not be super lean & all that – this fits the bill & does not overwhelm them.

    I also think some of “push yourself out of the comfort zone” is needed too for the heart/cardiovascular as well – I am not trained like you – this is just my personal opinion.

    I also think not eat less but eat smarter – healthier foods 8-85% of the time – the whole foods vs. crap. :) There is room for fun but we can’t have everything we want to eat all the time & not gain weight. :)
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Gratitude Monday, Somersaults & Other “Stuff”My Profile

  5. Liana@RunToMunch October 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Move more, sit less! That’s truly the answer to everything we face in the first world.
    Liana@RunToMunch recently posted..2013 Tufts 10K Race Recap with ReebokMy Profile

  6. Kristine October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Placed a hold on the book on the library :) I’m really interested in these concepts, so thanks to my fav efficacious twins for introducing me to it! ;)

    Does the book go into greater details on ATI, specially what TYPES to pick? :)
    Kristine recently posted..instagram: this is walking me! it’s a sunshiney autumn day and I have refreshed my library book pile. #watchmedothisMy Profile

    • Fun and Fit October 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Great question Kristine. It gives a few examples, though does not go into detail depth. However, we can help give you specific answers if you’d like. Either send the question via our submission box or post it here and we will devote a post to it. Make sure to indicate your goals as that will drive the advice.
      Fun and Fit recently posted..Why You Want to Lose Weight Affects Your SuccessMy Profile

      • Kristine October 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

        sweet! so my goal is to get more fit – what that looks like for me right now is a brand-new-to-me yoga-pilates class, low-moderate intensity walks when it’s nice enough to do so, my exercise bike, and then at home yoga, stretching, small dumbbells, and body weight exercises like crunches. I want to build muscle and increase flexibility, while being careful of my body because I have fibromyalgia. I might want to try hula hooping or other classes at the Y where yoga is.

        So my question is: How do I pick what types of exercise will meet my goals, besides just alternating through them all? does that help to direct your post a little? if not, feel free to msg me on Facebook or email :) I’m happy to be as open with you about my specific circumstances as I can!
        Kristine recently posted..instagram: don’t let anyone tell you the NW doesn’t do autumn. beautiful crunchy leaves on my walk! #instacollageMy Profile

  7. Lois Alter Mark October 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I’m printing this out and taping it on my wall. Not only did you make all this crystal clear — “Move more. Sit less.” will be my new mantra — but you even taught some valuable multi-syllabic vocabulary words. Nice!
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted..vicki lawrence and “mama’s family” by cathy chesterMy Profile

  8. Nicki Anderson October 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Great info gals. I love it when you use big words!
    Nicki Anderson recently posted..Don’t let good health trump intelligenceMy Profile

  9. Fun and Fit October 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    We’re just naughty mavericks that way! S-Nicki S-nacky!
    Fun and Fit recently posted..Stress, Relaxation, Bread & ExerciseMy Profile

  10. Yum Yucky October 23, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    the Sleeping Beauty Coma Diet. I suddenly feel the next big trend coming on…
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Amazing Arms & Shoulders: Yoga Pushup QuickieMy Profile

  11. Sam of October 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    With all the great info Dr. Hill’s made available, you did a great job encapsulating the key points of his State of Slim approach. As a fan of HIIT, I was definitely a “whoa” in the room when he shared the ATI hierarchy of activity. Great post!
    Sam of recently posted..22: Maggie Jasmin from MassachusettsMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

      I thank you on Kymberly’s behalf Sam. I do HIIT with my university students, but it’s not my personal favorite type of workout. Great for losing weight, which isn’t where I’m at. I’m at weight maintenance, and love my walks and step workouts.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Baking and Cooking in Seattle with MieleMy Profile

  12. Al Green October 30, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    I love the part about healthy decisions becoming automatic. I’ve noticed that time and time again and I really think it’s something that needs to be taught.

    If we can just have the willpower long enough to create those habits the path to getting and remaining healthy becomes so much easier.

    Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If we allow ourselves to eat poorly even though we know better, it will become easier to keep eating that way.
    Al Green recently posted..P90X3 Is On Its Way!My Profile

  13. cherylann August 22, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    People over-think things and I think it puts them in a state of paralysis. Too much information out there and too (most) much of it is bunk. Eat a balanced diet, move your body (do what you love to do), when you are tired and quit thinking about FOOD FOOD FOOD all the time (and don’t buy the junk ’cause then you won’t have it at your fingertips to shove it into your mouth!)
    I don’t think people are honest about what and how much they are eating- I don’t care but don’t tell me you “look at bread and put on weight”. Eat the damn bread. It’s good for you.


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