The Downward Trend


Feeling Overwhelmed, Exhaustion and Being Overweight Go Hand in Hand

– By John Allen Mollenhauer

Why are so many people tired, stressed and overweight? It seems the majority of people have a motivation problem; overeating and lack of exercise are implicated as the causes of the overweight condition.

You could say we are overweight because we eat too much and live sedentary lives and that both are causes of obesity and you would be right, at least in part, acknowledging the obvious.

But what is not so obvious, are all the hidden causes of obesity and overweight that are by far more influential in the rise of the obesity epidemic, that reinforce our food and fitness habits to begin with and many motivated people fall prey.

These are matters of lifestyle. Our stories that we tell about our lives, past, present and future drive how we manage to spend and recuperate our personal energy, including but not limited to, the quality of the food we eat and our activity levels every day as we achieve our goals.

Physical inactivity plays a major role in gaining weight, but the reason we are physically inactive most of the time, is exhaustion. How often have you said “I want to exercise” but you find yourself simply too tired throughout the day to get anything done. We’re overwhelmed and tired, lacking time, space and energy to do what we need for healthy bodies. Inactivity is a result, an effect, but not the original cause.

What about the claim that overeating is to blame? We are overeating, yet the primary reason, long before discussing a market saturated with addictive fatty foods, is that most people faced with relentless demands on their time and energy, are worn down and looking for a quick pick me up.

In that besieged state, not only do they eat more for the stimulation they crave and more of the addictive fatty foods that are extraordinarily convenient, but the combination of excessive stress and nutrient-poor food virtually guarantees they will overeat. Overeating is a result, an effect, but not the original cause.

Overwhelmed and exhaustion is the greatest threat to our wellbeing and our weight. They go hand in hand. Look at your life for a moment and think of the ways you feel overwhelmed or exhausted. How often do you feel this way? What makes you feel this way?

Where are you putting your focus – cause or effect?

Are you combating the negative effects of your lifestyle by eating less and exercising more? Or, are you addressing the lifestyle that is promoting over eating and inactivity…?

You can only deal with the primary causes of weight gain at the level of lifestyle. Everything else is an attempt at manipulating your current condition for a short term gain and the results of this approach are well documented.

Do you ever wonder why diets and fad exercise programs don’t work for you? Do you wonder why you start off good for a week or so but then the big plan fails and you feel even worse than you did before?

Besides simply running out of energy, hitting the wall and “falling off the wagon” so to speak, there is more to change than changing the story about your life. There are also practical aspects of your story that require you gain knowledge without which you will fall for manipulative traps.

The high protein/low carbohydrate fad was the classic example of manipulation. Millions of overweight people, addicted to super stimulating junk foods, stopped eating refined carbohydrate and started eating no-carb animal protein to manipulate the storage of carbohydrate in their body to lose weight.

This so-called “solution”, while beneficial in the sense that less junk food was being consumed, replaced an already unhealthy way of life with another (consuming large amounts of high fat, nutrient poor animal protein) to lose weight. In the end, this does not lead to a healthier person. You are replacing one bad habit with another and this doesn’t really get you anywhere but further into the downward trend.

Where in this grand misdirected project was there any talk of the lifestyle that was giving rise to the consumption of junk food to begin with? Or talk about food quality? The discussion was about weight loss and was non-existent. Meanwhile millions of people struggled, got sick, including Atkins himself (who died) and gave up. This is discouraging to anyone who hopes they can break free of the downward trend they are just discovering. But there is hope out there- once you discover the real problem.

The Real Problem

What is the real problem? Most of us are suffering from a bunch of hidden challenges, not the least of which are personal stories about our past, present and future lives that are driving us a little bit crazy. We are overwhelmed, caught up and overcommitted and this excessive energy expenditure promotes the downward trend – exhaustion, over consumption, physical inactivity and being overweight.

The addictive, stimulating food and drinks all around then purport to give us more energy and they don’t. Over stimulation by its very nature is exhausting. These nutrient-poor foods then drive us to over consume in an effort to get our nutrient needs met and it doesn’t happen. Our now overwhelmed and exhausted bodies are no condition to be active. And the answer is eating less and exercising more? You could not assemble a better trap for staying stuck.

Countless weight loss programs aim at dealing with the most obvious symptom of our lifestyles when they go awry. They are sold as lifestyles and what’s really being said is, “lose weight for life” and of course that’s not a successful lifestyle. Human beings want the natural experience of life and living on a manipulative weight loss program is not natural. It’s not that these weight loss solutions don’t or won’t work; it is that they don’t work alone, forever or in some cases, at all.

And so the cycle continues…

Few solutions address the real problem; your lifestyle – why you are tired and overeating, and physically inactive to begin with and the downward trend stays in play. It is this trend, complicated by all the solutions that do not solve the problem that give consistent rise to obesity statistics, even though we spend billions of dollars per year on weight loss.


This graphic above illustrates the downward trend on a population basis and it makes the point that the weight loss industry is not working. Eating less of foods that don’t serve you and exercising a fatigued body even more does not work. You will not see success and any illusion of success will be short-lived.

How you look, feel and perform ongoing are the direct result of your lifestyle, not the result of “eat-less” diets or “exercise-more” workout programs created for the express purpose of losing weight that are not based on a successful lifestyle.

Looking, feeling and performing better is about avoiding becoming overwhelmed, exhausted and overweight. The only way to do that successfully is to think and live better and that requires we change our lifestyles at a deep enough level to get the benefits. A change in lifestyles is always preceded by a change of story.

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Arthur Ciaramicoli PhD

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