Fitness Isn’t About a Diet

VLC Diet

Along my fitness journey I’ve been able to learn many lessons (most of them the hard way) about being in shape. At the top of the list is one I learn just about every January.

Fitness isn’t about a diet

Now of course weight loss is a part of fitness. But unfortunately many of us (myself included) believe that skinny=fit and that creates a serious problem.

From a physical standpoint losing weight is just one part of fitness. There is also a need for strength training, exercise, and a healthy eating plan [1]. In other words true fitness is a lifestyle that continues to keep that weight off for months or years at a time.

My First Real Run from John Wilburn on Vimeo.

For many years my belief that fitness was all about weight loss led to a cycle of extreme dieting that would usually begin in January

At the beginning of the year I would always go on what’s called a VLC (very low-calorie) diet. Basically this is one of those diets that involves drinking shakes for breakfast and lunch every day, along with some healthy snacks.

There is some good news, and bad news about a VLC diet

  1. The good news is you will lose lots of weight in two weeks
  2. The bad news is that weight will be gained right back almost immediately

A VLC diet usually only lasts two-weeks since it’s goal is quick weight loss, and more importantly breaking the old eating habits. Unfortunately it’s very easy to fall back into those habits, and gain all of our weight back.

My point is most diets don’t lead to health because they can’t be continued for an extended period of time [2]. But there is a deeper problem with dieting that affects more than just physical fitness.

Most diet’s cut down our calorie intake or make drastic eating changes in the first three weeks. This will normally result in loss of energy, or strength.

Which harms us mentally:

  1. It’s very difficult for us to concentrate
  2. We struggle focusing on something for long periods of time
  3. Inability to be as effective at work
  4. Often leads to our crashing in the afternoon (needing a short nap) in order to focus

Which harms us socially:

  1. We lack patience
  2. Lots of anger over small or unimportant things [3]
  3. Not enough energy for social activities (crash at night instead of meeting with friends)
  4. At times we isolate ourselves from others (just don’t feel like being around anyone)

Which harms us spiritually:

  1. Instead of having a Christian testimony we are going around angry all the time
  2. Can become very apathetic and lazy [4]
  3. Relationships become very selfish (only care about me)

I know that all these are true because I’ve experienced them countless times while on a VLC diet.

Some of you may be thinking “Okay if we aren’t supposed to go on a diet how do we lose weight?

The answer is actually simple…make small changes, and think long-term.

Eat a carrot instead of a cupcake
Drink water instead of a Pepsi
Have a smoothie as your snack

These smaller changes won’t lead to massive weight loss right away (sorry guys) but the good news is it will lead towards true fitness, and won’t turn you into someone who you hate.


  1. Healthy eating habits that can be continued for the rest of our life  ↩
  2. we will get into the difference of a diet and an eating plan next week  ↩
  3. I know this from experience  ↩
  4. lack of energy does mean we do less, but it’s easy to just quit doing almost everything because we just don’t feel like it  ↩

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