You Can’t Outrun An Unhealthy Diet

By Martin Brown

As summer approaches, thousands of women will tie up their new pair of cross trainers and get out there in the hope of losing some, if not all, of that extra winter weight.

But in truth, you can’t outrun an unhealthy diet.

Perhaps the most classic story about attempting to outrun an unhealthy diet belongs to Jim Fixx.  In the 1970s his book, The Complete Book of Running, topped national bestseller lists for over two years. Fixx was more responsible for America’s short-lived running revolution than any other fitness guru. A surprising turn of events considering that ten years earlier Fixx was a two-pack a day smoker, weighed 220 pounds, and loved hamburgers, shakes and fries.

At thirty-five, Fixx changed his ways, dropping his cigarettes and picking up a pair of running shoes. Once on his way he just couldn’t control his love of the open road and before long he was running up to 80 miles a week. Running marathons and feeling better than he had ever felt, Fixx became America’s evangelist for distance running. He lost all of his excess weight and preached that running–not diet–was the key to health. At the age of forty-three, Fixx’s dad died of a heart attack. Fixx preached that as long as he dropped smoking, diet in and of itself was not an issue.

But in 1984, at age 52, when his body was found on the side of a road clothed only in running shoes and shorts, Fixx proved that you can’t outrun an unhealthy diet. An autopsy revealed that three of his four coronary arteries were blocked over 70% and one artery was 99% obstructed. He never gave up on his love of hamburgers, French fries, and milkshakes. The results of his autopsy testified to that fact.

Exercise is an essential part of fitness. But what Fixx never realized is that the food you put in your body is even more important than any form of exercise. Eating a plant-based diet that is high in whole grains versus a high protein animal based diet filled with refined grains and added sugars, can make a staggering difference in health outcomes. A healthful diet can lead to amazing results in reversing or preventing a variety of illness from breast cancer to stroke, from heart disease to diabetes even in women who are mostly sedentary.

The China Study, a book by noted nutritional researcher Dr. T. Colin Campbell, does a brilliant job of putting forth a well documented and highly convincing argument that no matter how far we run, how many hours we put in at the gym, you simply cannot escape the harmful effects of a bad diet. On a predominantly plant based diet that delivers approximately 35 grams of fiber a day, you can have a wide variety of delicious foods, yummy deserts and never have to worry about weight loss.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some wonderful meal plans in detail. There is no need for extreme exercise or draconian diet measures. Eat the food nature intended for you to eat and you can live thin, live long, and live happy!


Martin Brown is the Heath Channel Editor for, and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right.

His next book, Fit in 50 Days, is available now.