52 Weeks of Healthy Eating- Week 13- It is Not as Easy as Calorie in/Calorie Out

I am guilty. I have said this too often to clients knowing full well that it is much more complicated than this. In the American Council of Exercise(ACE)’s March 2021 issue of Certified, Daniel Green visits this conventional wisdom and shows how much more complicated weight loss is. This will be a critique of Green’s article.

For many years, many, myself included have engaged in reductionist logic regarding weight loss. As I have gotten older and more educated, I have come to realize that there are many factors as to why a person is over fat and how some of these factors are out of that person’s control. As a mental health clinician, I also understand how unmitigated and untreated mental illness can also lead to obesity and other deterrants to optimal health. I am often fond of saying, much to my wife’s chagrin that depression is a progressive disease. Isolation then sedentary living, stress eating are not usually the first signs of a depressive episdode, but will eventually show themselves as the depression worsens. As one disengages from the world and maybe anxiety sets in, thinking errors around how the person percieves the world will cause one to get deeper into the throes of depression.

With this understanding of depression, let’s look at the classic tome, eat less and move more. “”The problem with the balance sheet approach to weight loss,” says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, ACE’s president and chief science officer, “is that every person’s response is going to be different.” Two individuals of the same sex, weight and age can follow the same dietary pattern and physical-activity program and see very different results due to hormonal, metabolic and genetic differences“(Green, 2021). Add to the equation, mental health concerns and daily stressors and you can see how complicated this can get. Also pointed out by Green and I would completly agree that the calories in/calories out narrative places the blame on the person trying to manage their weight.

Challenging the narrative, I try and move the client away from this narrative and help them think critically about their relationship with food, realistically about their mental health, mindfully about genetic factors and compassionately and gracefully about body image. Following thsi approach, I find that I am in allignment with ACE’s Mover Method (https://www.acefitness.org/about-ace/ace-mover-method/).

Green offers the heading in his article entitled “Accepting That Which We Cannot Change”. This is a big part of my philosophy, controlling the controllables. Green offers “While they may not be able to alter their genetics or childhood experiences with physical activity and nutrition, they can change how they respond to these things. This becomes particularly important as people age and their body no longer responds to diet and exercise as it once did“(Green, 2021). As a dad in his mid 40’s at this point, it is really interesting to see how much my body does not respond to diet and exercise as it once did. Especially exercise. I have been a long distant athlete since my late 20’s, running my first 50k in 30’s and back then, it was not uncommon to run straight through 7 days a week and within 3 days of completing a 50 k. Now adays though, I need a day or a couple of days to recover. Nutrition has been my nemesis for the last 5 years. Genetically, I come from short, often overweight people, prone to diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressures. I have watched even as I have dialed in my diet over the last 10 years, the biomarkers can be questionable. As you get older, energy levels falter, somedays now, it feels like falling off a cliff rather than a little stumble. “Wait, I can’t do 2 a day trainings ranging 4 hours in one day like I used to?” This has been an adjustment the last two years, especially as a person with ADHD.

In sum, this was a great article and I encourage you to hop over to the ACE website and read it in full.



Green, D. (2021). Certified™: March 2021 – Rethinking the concept of calories in vs. calories out. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/certified/march-2021/7804/rethinking-the-concept-of-calories-in-vs-calories-out/

This week’s menu features

Peruvian grilled chicken, rice and quinoa blend and steamed broccoli:

Keto Chicken Cheese Bake(https://www.afamilyfeast.com/keto-chicken-cheese-bake/):

Breakfasts are going to be my usual for the next few weeks, oatmeal, eggs and toast, muesli and random cereal mixed in.

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