Couple of weeks ago I went on an urban hike in the city of Saint Francis (Frisco to yous not from dees parts). This was a fifteen mile hike through the Mission, up Russian Hill, out to the Marina, meandering through Pac Heights, venturing into hippie town, AKA Hashbury (Haight/Ashbury), saw the Painted Ladies, ending up at Civic Center where we devoured our dinner, downed some beers, and traded words, sentences actually.
Earlier in the morning, we had met up at Tartine before the hike, a boutique bakery that sold baked good. I know. Captain Obvious here. They're known for their croissants, which costs $4.99 after tax. Damn. After waiting in a 30-minute line and getting a small loan to pay for my flaky bread, I stepped outside and sat down to focus my attention on experiencing this masterpiece. With each morsel, I noted how flaky and crunchy the outside was and loved chewing on the thick moist inside. To say this is a fulfilling experience would gloss over how satisfying the croissant had been. And then I cursed myself for not buying a second one, but that would require a second small loan. Now, the sign of a good croissant is how much of it got on your lap after you're done eating it. Looking down confirmed the flake fall had been good.
I looked over at our hike leader, and she was entering her calories from her croissant. "I'm trying to lose 20 pounds."
Whoa. That's like an arm!
We were off. One of the guys delved into a debate with our leader about her weight loss. I was eavesdropping, which was easy because I was walking next to them.
“So that's all you do is count calories?” the dude asked.
"Yep," she said. "Most of weight loss comes from managing your food intake."
"Don't you think adding exercise would help?"
"Decreasing your caloric intake doesn't mean you'll just lose fat. You'll lose muscle as well unless you do something to keep it." The dude was correct.
When I had studied kinesiology, we explored and looked at studies in regards to this very subject. Managing your diet was key. Including some sort of weight bearing exercise helped keep the muscle a person had, which at the very least kept their basal metabolism level. Cutting calories with no exercise meant that fat and muscle loss could lead to a lower metabolic rate. Think of it this way. Imagine burning a hundred-hour candle. It'd take the flame a hundred hours to burn through it. Ok, Cap. Burning the candle at both ends would cut that time in half, much like lowering your calories and doing some exercise. But lowering your calories not only was ineffective, but your body is not a candle flame. It would adapt and lower its metabolism to conserve energy, a side effect.
I bring this up because our hike leader seemed very close-minded. I dug a little further on the reason she didn't believe this would help, and she admitted that she was lazy. Lazy? She was taking us on a 15-mile urban hike. What the hell is your definition of lazy?
I see two things going on. Being closed minded hinders progress. We see this politically. Religiously. Traditionally. When I had taken martial arts, the ol'grandmaster espoused, "What you're learning here is over 2,000 years old. There's wisdom in what I teach."
Yeah. That wisdom should have told you that shit had changed. But he was very reluctant in changing his ways, always touting formality and tradition. He touted thinking outside the box and being a leader. But you can't do those things without throwing out the old and exploring the new.
The second thing that I saw from our hike leader was her unwillingness to do whatever it took to lose those 20 pounds. I'm not suggesting she actually cut off her arm. But she had been doing the minimum, which was counting her calories. Science had proven that doesn't work. At least for the general population. Exercising her whole body could be an important component of changing her body composition. However, no amount of exercise can work off the worst diets. So her initial effort of keeping track of what she ate was the keystone to her goal.
For me, I try and learn from anything and everything. When my writing group and I meet, I'm listening to everyone's critique, even they're not talking about my pages. When I critique pages, I don't see everything. So it's enlightening when someone spots things that I miss. From that, I learn just as much as the writer whose pages are being talked about. Because I can't know everything. I don't see everything. But I can think outside of the box by listening to what others have to say.