LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates Weekly Message
Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.


It's 10 p.m. in Portland, OR and I've already received eight Emails and three phone calls asking why I was not on tonight's local, 6-7 p.m. weekly Town Hall TV show that discussed the merits and demerits low carb diets. Barry Sears, author of ENTER THE ZONE, (1.5 million copies sold) was featured in one of the hot seats. Sears diet strategy maintains that you must eat "blocks" of food that assure a dietary ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat if you want to lose weight and/or perform optimally.

In fact I was asked to participate in the show, accepted, and sent the producers the requisite pertinent points I could offer to provoke "thought" about the rationale of this and other low carb diet. It included a synopsis of a consulting job I had at Reebok corporate offices last year when Sears and I had a face to face in front of 30 people who know a lot about marketing shoes and apparel, but not much about nutrition. Sears was there to propose that Reebok license his 40/30/30 bars.

Sears is very well media trained (that means he's well prepared to respond to questions without answering them.) He has a beautiful and convincing slide presentation that is error-filled, manipulates the results of research, and omits key points that do not support his message. For example, he said the Stanford Swim team won the NCAA the year after they adopted his diet. He failed to mention that Stanford also initiated a comprehensive free weight training program that year AND hired the coach from the University of Texas who had taken his swim team to NCAA victory the previous year. Sears emphasized his "research" role at Harvard University, inferring (though not actually saying) he'd received his Ph.D. there. Sears was a research assistant at Harvard. His degree came from a small Ohio college. I was reminded, as I listened (then asked more questions than he wanted to hear) of the saying, "Statistics are like bikinis--they reveal only part of the truth." I asked Sears what he thought about the role of exercise in fat loss. He admitted that it "contributed" and added, "I don't address exercise issues. I leave that up to people who already wrote about it better than I can--people like Covert Bailey." Then he added, "but Covert Bailey knows nothing about nutrition." The people in the room who knew of my long association with Covert, a competent nutritional biochemist, squirmed. I smiled.

So, why didn't I go tonight? After all, it was a great PR opportunity for me to continue to spread my message that manipulating diets in specific ways is not a lifetime health habit and has nothing to do with success at losing fat. A quiet, reflective few minutes on my sun drenched deck after a successful lecture presentation followed by a vigorous episode of leaf raking put my head on straight. I realized I no longer want to give purveyors of misinformation any chance to look good. I don't want to support their effort to sell a book that is filled with fiction and promotes quick fixes instead of long term health. I'm tired of watching them bask in their royalties while those of us with a sensible message are lucky if our books break even. As it turned out a young woman I mentored 15 years ago called on the spur of the moment and asked if she could take me out to dinner so we could have a long overdue conversation that would give her feedback on her burgeoning career as a health educator. There was no choice. I gave up the free publicity in favor of dinner, shared pictures and stories and warm reminders of what's important in life.

I don't know how the show went. Perhaps Barry Sears came out smelling like a rose. Perhaps the rose was garlic. Instead of engaging in battle I engaged in the peaceful exchange between two women who know what's important in our personal and professional lives. If an opportunity passed me by I don't care. My reward was seeing where good efforts, directed appropriately can lead. My evening was quite wonderful, thank you. I hope yours was too.

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LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates
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