Twinkies, Weight Loss and Wellbeing Part 2: My Interview with Dr. Mark Haub

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Twinkies, Weight Loss and Wellbeing Part 2: My Interview with Dr. Mark Haub

Dr. Haub (of the famous “Twinkie Diet”) and I wrap up our discussion about the difference between health and wellbeing, talking about a balanced view of exercise, the problem with universal diet guidelines, how to combat weight bias, and more.

Dr. Mark Haub received his bachelors degree in psychology from Fort Hays State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in exercise science from the University of Kansas.  He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in geriatric nutrition in the Department of Geriatrics from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University where he conducts research to better understand the impact of food on human health and teaches courses pertaining to obesity and substrate metabolism.

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  1. Lucas
    Lucas01-28-2013

    I disagree with your advice in this podcast to do only exercise you enjoy. I think for a lot of overweight, out of shape people, saying “do exercise you enjoy” is basically saying “don’t do exercise”. I’ve been overweight/obese since I was a child, and I’ve received this advice from tons of people over the years.

    For example, one very fit rock climber acquaintance told me “Find an activity you can have fun with, like rock climbing. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore!” And I did try rock climbing (waaaaay too difficult), basketball (too boring and full of social pressure), swimming (too cold), weight lifting (too boring), running (too boring and hard), yoga (embarrassing and very difficult), etc. Since I don’t have a car, I actually walked and biked enough to reach 3-4 hours a week of exercise, but it wasn’t enough to improve my body or feel better. I don’t think “just moving your body” is enough to improve much, though it’s certainly a good start.

    The issue was that I was so out of shape that most exercise was inherently arduous and unfun. It’s really easy to subconsciously translate “do exercise you enjoy” to “don’t do exercise if it’s not fun”.

    I get it. For some people, viewing exercise as a chore can be quite discouraging, but so can quitting “fun” exercises because they’re not fun. For some people, viewing exercise as a chore is the right way to get started. There are plenty of chores I don’t particularly like doing (cleaning the toilet, laundry, commuting), but I do them anyway because they need to get done. For me, that was a much more productive attitude to approach things with than being disappointed in how unfun all the exercise I tried was

    I came up with two solutions (i) get over it and do it anyway, and (ii) try to distract myself from the fact that I was exercising as much as possible. I read a book and listened to music while on the treadmill or exercise bike. I listened to podcasts while I lifted weights. I got over my embarrassment and just went to yoga even though I was self-conscious for months.

    After a few weeks, my back started to hurt less. I felt better and had more energy. I formed habits so exercise became less arduous; more automatic. Some of the fun exercises started to actually become fun. Running started to feel good now that I wasn’t out of breath in the first two minutes. I started to really enjoy yoga, and got over the rows of intimidatingly slim people in spandex. A year later, after losing 50 pounds, I even started rock climbing, which had been painful and too difficult before. And it *is* fun now. But it wouldn’t be fun without months of boring weightlifting, exhausting running, etc.

    That said, I think everyone needs their own exercise plan. I injured myself when I tried Crossfit because the Workout Of the Day wasn’t adapted to how out-of-shape I was. I think a lot of high-intensity exercise programs don’t get the message across that exercise may not be easy or fun, but it shouldn’t hurt.

    • Michaela Ballmann, MS RD
      Michaela Ballmann, MS RD01-30-2013

      I’m really grateful that you took the time to share your experience Lucas, and it is absolutely true that the type and amount of exercise that a person enjoys is very unique to them and changes as time goes on and the body adapts to the movement. I’m very glad to hear that you got to a place where you feel good, have energy, and find activities like rock climbing fun.

      I’d like to go back to the idea of movement rather than exercise. In your experience, you found that walking and biking for 3-4 hours a week didn’t improve how you felt. For others who may have little movement in their daily lives, what seemed easy or of little significance to you may do wonders for them. It’s all about meeting people where they are and taking an individual approach to both nutrition and movement.

      I think what rings true for us all is that when we try a new type of movement or exercise, it is going to be uncomfortable and maybe even painful. Certain muscles haven’t been used much or trained, or maybe we aren’t used to drastic changes in our heart rate during high-intensity interval training. At this point, we can choose whether we’d like to continue with the expectation that it will get easier and more natural with time, or we can choose to do something widely accessible and fitting, like the walking or biking that you mentioned. Depending on the person’s goals, current physical state, history of activity, etc. the best type of exercise will vary greatly.

      It is good to hear your point of view and what has been helpful (and not) for you on your journey with exercise. I’d be interested to hear what experiences other listeners have had. Feel free to share!

  2. Lauren C.
    Lauren C.02-14-2013

    I loved the podcast! I was wondering if you’ve read “What’s Wrong With Fat?” by Abigail C. Saguy. I just started reading it. It speaks to weight stigma and prejudice that you touched on in the podcast. Just thought I’d mention it incase you hadn’t heard of it!

    Thanks again for the great podcasts!

    • Michaela Ballmann, MS RD
      Michaela Ballmann, MS RD02-14-2013

      Thanks so much Lauren! I haven’t read that book but I’ll have to look it up. Weight prejudice sadly appears to be a social norm, so I’m always glad to see people standing up for not just an acceptance but also an appreciation of all shapes and sizes. I myself have come to see both inward and outward beauty all around me in people of various weights and hope that we all can see people’s innate value apart from their size.

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