I haven't been on this earth that long, and I don’t have the cynicism of a bitter 80-year-old shaking his fist at the neighbor kids. But I like to think of myself as a realist. I'm also a strength coach who believes that everyone—everyone—has the ability to be better than they were the day before. In fact, on the wall of my gym, Ambition Athletics, it says the words, "Better Every Day."

What I saw the other day shocked me on both counts. and made me wonder: What has this world come to?

No, you don't vacuum half of the food off your plate. You vacuum it out of your stomach, from a hole in your belly. They cut a hole in your body and suck the food out of your stomach.

Just let that sink in for a minute—and then vacuum the thought out of your head.

Seriously, Are You Kidding Me?

Once again, doctors and scientists are trying to remove the human element of weight management rather than understand it. This completely ignores the real reasons people are overweight. Ask people who've successfully kept weight off, and they'll tell you it's not about the substance, it's about the behavior.

Put another way, the problem is not the cause of the problem. Yes, some people eat too much. Yes, they take in too many calories. Yes, they store too much body fat. No, they don't exercise or build necessary muscle.

But what happened first? Don't just analyze the problem; look for the source of the problem. In the case of the stomach vacuum, doctors looked at this in a way that was very logical from a caloric-absorption standpoint, but in a completely idiotic way from a behavioral psychology standpoint. Is it really fair to call a surgically implanted stomach pump a "solution?"

I say no. Go back a few steps and see where this is stemming from. It will be different for everyone, and it should be. The solution should be just as personal.

A Question Of Control

Your history, and particularly your critical-developmental years, can shape who you are...to a degree. If your parents overate, made bad food choices, fed you awful food, and exercised too little, then of course those habits will seem normal to you. They can be incredibly tough to overcome. There's no doubting that!

Likewise, if you were overweight as a kid, it can be harder to have a healthy metabolism later. These are the facts.

That being said, I and plenty of other trainers who have worked with overweight clients will swear to the end that everyone can exist at a normal, healthy weight. It all comes down to choices. In particular, it comes down to one choice: Your choice of the two options for the reality you'd like to live in:

  1. You have control over your life.
  2. You do not have control over your life.

You have the freedom to choose, at any point, that you are in control. What comes after that can be hard as hell, but there is nothing more liberating than committing yourself to the idea that everything in your life is your fault—the good and the bad alike. Take that responsibility, and don't blame anyone but yourself for your situation.

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Isn't A Hole In Your Stomach

Behavior change, lifestyle change, whatever you want to call it, is a forever process. It is not a 30-day challenge. It is not a seven-day detox.

It is about small victories done consistently over the long term. Small forward progress, but always forward progress. Don't expect to get "8-minute abs." That's a hollow promise, and total bullshit. Start something—anything—but start today, and do it again tomorrow. Go for a 5-minute walk, or do 5 lunges. Don't worry about the minor details; just get moving!

That may sound vague, but I can attest that it's effective. I've written books and led countless courses, but the thing I've gotten the most positive feedback on in my career so far is what I call the "5-Minute Flow." All you do is move, in whatever way feels best, for 5 minutes each morning. Then you drink some water. That's it—and people tell me that it straight-up changed their lives.

There is a secret to long term health and fitness, but it isn't a stomach vacuum. It's finding joy in moving like a human being again and having activity be the reward itself. Decide you'll enjoy the process, and I can guarantee you can find some exercise you like and some healthy food that tastes good.

Now go do it.

About the Author

Max Shank

Max Shank

Master RKC and Owner of Ambition Athletics in Encinitas, CA.

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