March to a Different Drummer

We have already discussed Alaisdair Wilkins, who had lost 100 pounds in a year, and the team of writers who analyzed his success. As mentioned, the consensus was, “He found what worked for him.

In 2015, people were talking about a meta-study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The question was, “Which diet works best?” and the answer was, “None.” After examining the academically respectable breakdowns of 59 different dietary schemes, the meta-study authors said that “practicality reigned”:

There were no major differences between the diets, and success was completely dependent on what the individual could adhere to.

This confirms what Wilkins had also indicated: People need to find what works for them. We know that he basically lost the weight by walking an uphill treadmill for an hour a day. Writing for, he elaborated:

I moved out of my parents’ house and away from their immaculately stocked refrigerator, and also meant the place where I worked all day was located more than a 10-foot walk from where I slept…

He also wrote,

Basically, after convincing myself that I was a failure — a belief in which I saw my weight as both cause and effect — I’ve removed the limitations that I once placed on myself, and it’s because I lost 100 pounds.

But then, having ruminated on various things in the sentences that preceded that one, he disparaged himself for having written them because…

[…] everything I’ve just written perpetuates our noxious, damaging cultural narrative on weight and obesity. Ours is a culture that simultaneously incentivizes people to gain weight and stigmatizes them when they do…

And why is that? Why, as previously mentioned, is “diet versus exercise” such an irritatingly persistent discussion? Because of emotional issues and, even more important, because of financial issues. Professionals in the fields of nutrition and physical fitness deserve to make a decent living, of course. But it is regrettably recognized by society at large that weight loss, whether via exercise, diet, or other means, is a major industry.

Where does Wilkins weigh in?

On the exercise-versus-diet question, he personally found it much easier to “hop on a treadmill” and watch a movie, than to reduce his food portions — at least in the beginning — although that changed. Wilkins ignored advice about the “best” way. He took the trouble to get to know himself, what he could tolerate, what he could live with, what he was able to commit to. He did it his way, not as an arbitrary choice made from blind contrariness, but because, when he had done the inner work, a way showed itself to him.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Exercise vs. Diet: Which Is More Important for Weight Loss,”, 01/05/15
Source: “I lost 100 pounds in a year. My ‘weight loss secret’ is really dumb,”, 01/01/16
Image by Elvert Barnes/CC BY-SA 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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