A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how our Western diet and lifestyle has caused an explosion of obesity, diabetes and various cardio-respiratory diseases.

I also talked about how the health experts of the last 50 years have continued to feed us the same advice even in the face of our growing obesity and chronic disease epidemic.

And after looking at all of that data, I wondered: why do we continue to listen to these experts with their food pyramids and low fat diets and aerobic exercise programs?

We must be insane.

Albert Einsten once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And that’s what we have been doing. The same advice year in and year out. Even as we get fatter and fatter…we listen to the same advice.

I ended yesterday’s post by saying that there had to be a better way. Here’s my idea.

A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In the past few years, web 2.0 technology has allowed large groups of people to collaborate and combine their talents to develop new technology, carry out a specific design task , or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

This phenomena has a variety of names: crowdsourcing, open source, collective intelligence, wikinomics, social commerce and crowdcasting.

Examples of this activity include:

So, what does this have to do with losing weight and getting fit?

  • Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence and experience of each and every dieter, obesity expert, personal trainer, weight loss guru, bariatric doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist and obesity researcher.
  • And imagine if you could direct all of that intelligence and experience towards finding a better solution to our twin dilemmas of obesity and chronic disease.

Instead of an environment where snake oil salesmen and government approved health experts sell false hope to the fat and desperate, imagine an environment where all concerned parties can come together to find a solution.

I know, I know, it sounds a little socialist to me too. But, in fact, we are already seeing the first steps toward this concept.

Websites like SparkPeople have created massive communities of people interesting in getting fit, lean and healthy. And those communities are getting larger by the day.

If you look at the numbers, SparkPeople sees 2.1 million American viewers per month.


By comparison, my teeny tiny little blog sees almost 40,000 Global viewers per month.


Obviously, SparkPeople is doing something right. In fact, they’re doing lots right. But, they’re not perfect.

Earlier today, I entered an imaginary client into their system

The client was a 255lb. man who wanted to lose 40 lbs. He was also concerned about type two diabetes and hypertension.

This is what they recommended:

  • A diet high in starchy carbs & low in fat
  • A bodybuilding style resistance program
  • A moderate cardio-vascular program
  • Stretching at the end of the workout

Same old, same old. Repeating the same diet & fitness advice that hasn’t been working for decades.

Can someone please stop the insanity!!!

  • Where’s the HIIT training?
  • Where’s the Paleo or Mediterranean or Zone eating philosophies?
  • Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?
  • Where’s the discussion of supplements?

I don’t think that the folks at SparkPeople have any idea of what their site could be.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? Any website gurus out there eager to build a kick ass health and fitness community/wiki?

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  1. I joined SparkPeople on a whim, and have done nothing with it.

    “Where’s the HIIT training?”

    You’ve talked about so many different kinds–aerobic, anaerobic, resistance, etc.–that my head is spins and I don’t know which is best for me, and I end up not doing any. (Well, I have two martial arts classes a week, but I doubt they could be considered HIIT training.)

  2. Hear, hear!! Nutrition science has a lot to answer for. Everything they do is based on the same flawed logic – that fat makes you fat. A simple endocrinology class would teach them that you need insulin to transform fatty acids to triglycerides and that you get the biggest insulin spikes from eating refined carbs like breads, rice, pasta. The same food that you are supposed to eat 7 -8 servings a day of. No wonder the Western Diet is making everyone obese.

    Have you checked out CrossFit? (http://www.crossfit.com). Not only do they have an amazing HIIT training routine, but the site and associated forums are full of information about nutritional information and helpful advice on a wide range of topics.
    I have only been doing CrossFit for about 3 weeks and the change in my fitness levels and body composition has been incredible.

  3. Riayn,

    Yeah, I am familiar with CrossFit.

    Do you belong to a Crossfit gym or are you doing the WODs on your own?

  4. Interesting you should mention this. SmarterFitter was, at its inceptions, intended to be a new, better kind of health community based around a lot of the ideas you discuss. It’s interesting that you mention Web 2.0 – all of those companies you mention (Threadless, etc.) are successful because they dared to do something different. Something CREATIVE. We as humans need to break out of the bonds of crappy advice and start thinking for ourselves. Fitness is personal, and it takes a bit of personal creativity to figure out how to get there. For me, your following question is at the heart of the matter: “Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?” I don’t have the answer… who does?

    Great post, it’s really got my head spinning… in a good way. =)

  5. Thanks Monica,

    That post was a bit of a rant, but these ideas have been bouncing around in my head for a while and this is how they came out.

  6. Yeah I tend to think the original food pyramid is off, like Riayn was saying. and as for the mental side that is the biggest question. In my opinion someone has to really enjoy what they are doing to keep it up. Somehow you have to find something that doesn’t bore you. I don’t really enjoy running a whole lot for cardio so I try and play basketball and tennis to supplement. Also surrounding yourself with like minded people is key. The motivation you get from each other I think helps out tons.

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