An obese person may indeed have a thyroid problem, but if he or she doesn’t exercise, that’s a tremendous opportunity to lose weight that is being neglected.

Most obese people in the U.S. do not exercise, and this is backed up by a report in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Few obese people, who actually do make it to the gym on a regular basis, don’t exercise in a way that’s conducive to burning significant fat.

This has nothing to do with being large. It has to do with effort level. Today I was on the treadmill and was feeling quite beat, huffing and puffing, while the man next to me was breathing very comfortably.

I was pushing very hard, while he was walking at baseline, as though walking to the mailbox down the street.

No sweat. No heavy breathing. He could have applied himself more because he was looking too comfortable.

When I train my very heavy clients, I make them uncomfortable. Very. Mere movement is not enough.

The study was carried out by researchers at The George Washington University Medical Center, and utilized an online survey premised on Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior. 1,552 people were surveyed; 989 were overweight.

Survey results showed that overweight people, though believing in the benefits of exercise, expressed embarrassment and intimidation about exercising around younger and fit individuals — more so than survey participants of normal weight.

A layman can easily see that the percentage of obese people inside a health club at its most crowded times, and other times, is far below the percentage of obese people in the general population.

The logical reason? Obese people are not going to gyms. Are they working out at home?

Some do, as there are numerous home-based packages advertised on late night TV infomercials.

The question then becomes are they sticking to these programs, and if so, how much effort are they putting into them?

A woman at my gym weighs 220 and is about 5-9 (she told me). She looks like an overweight woman who exercises; she’s not like the Michelin Tire Man, but she’s definitely way too heavy.

She’s not the least bit intimidated or embarrassed about working out in the free weight area, and is very talkative with the fellows. She’s kind of built like Queen Latifah.

If this woman quit working out, I’m sure she’d gain weight — lots of weight, because her workouts are phenomenal; I’ve seen her deadlift 415 pounds for eight reps. She is not built like Hulk Hogan.

She is built like a 220 pound 5-9 woman who exercises. She doesn’t jiggle and is not pear shaped.

Don’t think for one second that heavy weightlifting made her big. No. It actually keeps her from being a lot bigger from body fat.

So if you’re obese, start lifting your heart out, and don’t be ashamed to take a group cardio/fitness class.

The self-conscious obese person should focus on what her body can do, not what it looks like to strangers at the gym!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Kokhanchikov