Monday, July 25, 2011

Losing Weight Is A Hopeless Waste Of Time? Thats Bull@#$%

I am incensed!  Ticked, mad, whatever...  Read an online article from The Telegraph that pretty much said losing weight was a waste of time and people shouldn't even bother.  For the most part, the Author Stephen Adams references data from the UK science community that suggests that once you are middle-age, the pounds start to pile on and there is little you can do to reverse the trend.  Their work found that, while 12 million try a diet every year, only 10 per cent manage to lose a significant amount of weight. Of those of those that do, most will put it back on within a year.  Thus they conclude that trying to lose the weight and keeping it off is more or less a lost cause.  Instead they advocate focusing on preventing weight gain in younger people.

I agree that the statistics prove just how inept people are at losing weight and keeping it off.  But instead of just accepting the data, why don't people look deeper and determine what is driving those numbers.  It's actually pretty simple - the average person does all the wrong things when it comes to dropping pounds and keeping them off.  Just look at the Internet - its flooded with scams - yes scams - about losing weight.  People toss millions of dollars at every promise of quick and easy weight loss and end up losing nothing but their money.  So at the end of the day, very few people successfully lose weight and even fewer keep it off. 

Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.  You want to know how to successfully lose weight?  Find people who did it on their own without any gimmicks (myself included) and they will all tell you the same thing: adopt a lifestyle change of healthier foods, smaller proportions and plenty of exercise to burn off what you take in.  Most of us didn't lose huge amounts every week either.  According to my Doctor a healthy weight loss would be no more than 2.5 pounds per week.

Nothing about losing 70 pounds and keeping it off (4 years now) was magic.  I discuss it on this site and in my book - common sense combined with a bit of science... no magic pills.  In addition, no icky short term diets and no dreaded workout sessions.  You can't go to extremes, you must develop programs you can live with and abide by forever.
Forget the naysayers!  Focus on reality, not hype and you too can be successful in the weight loss game.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Commercial Weight Loss Plans - Do They Work?

If you have read many of my postings or my book, you already know that I am not a fan of commercial weight loss plans and packaged food systems.  If you do manage to lose weight with one congratulation on your success! - but what are you going to do next?  Eat that same food for the rest of your life or hurriedly get off the plan and back into the real world?  

Typically a commercial (or fad) diet is a short term reaction to a long term problem, but if you can't sustain it forever, then you are probably going to gain back the weight within a couple of years max - and the stats prove it!

Consumer Reports has now jumped into the diet fray, conducting a review and issuing ratings for several well-known weight-loss (diet) products.  Rather than risk people yelling at me, I will defer to their findings which were the subject of an online article from Tara Parker-Pope, published via the NY Times News Service.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a weight-loss plan that works, don't assume that because a celebrity endorses a product that it is going to be the perfect solution for you!  People burn off pounds, not products.  You should focus on creating your own plan based on science and research into the facts, rather than falling prey to hype and marketing.  And ALWAYS remember that weight management is a long-term process not a quick solution.  Whatever you start, you need to be able to maintain until the day you are ready to get fat again.

Read my book or some of the other pages on this site for more info.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Running - Pleasure Or Punishment

Hilarious read about Running, written by Mike Voorheis of the Star News in Wilmington, NC.  Whether you walk, jog or run, you gotta check it out.  Being that I am a walker, not a runner, I can relate to what he is saying.  Here is an excerpt: "Today, running is no longer essential to human survival.  It's not even a practical means of transportation.  It is merely a form of exercise - vomit-inducing, knee rattling, mind-defeating exercise."

I'm sure the runners our there may find this viewpoint to be less than amusing, but its still a good read.  The reality is that the author isn't slamming running, rather the is making jest of his attempts to keep up with the Wilmington Roadrunners, a local group that runs the hills in downtown Wilmington, NC.  Not terribly big those hills, but when you are running up them, they can seem somewhat daunting.

Anyway, great column from Mr. Voorheis and if you are a local looking for the same opportunity, check out the Wilmington Roadrunners.   BTW you don't have to run to get some exercise in historic Wilmington, you can certainly walk those same hills.  Been there done that!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celeb Diets - Real Options Or Publicity Stunts?

Ridiculous!  That pretty much sums up the quirky diets of Celebrities that were profiled in an article in the Mirror. (They enlisted Dr. Carrie Ruxton, a nutritionist to provide real feedback on each of the plans.) 

Tell me which one of them can be sustained indefinitely in order to not only lose weight, but to keep it off as well?  You want to eat baby food like Jennifer Anniston?  Or how about lemon juice and laxatives as used by Beyonce.  

Whats the point of losing weight if you can't keep it off?  Most of these diets are nothing more than short-term, desperate measures for dropping off a few pounds and pretty much none of them have any long term strategy.  Oh wait a minute, there was a meal replacement strategy mentioned, one where real food was gradually substituted for the fake food once the target weight goal was reached.  Hmmm... let's think through that one... the stuff that supposedly generated the weight loss is replaced by the stuff that caused the weight gain - I wonder where that will lead.

What is with these people?  Why engage in such bizarre methods, when there are plenty of proven sensible methods to maintain weight control.  Or maybe its just another publicity stunt to stay in the headlines... 

Don't fall prey to their methods focus on smart weight loss methods, as evidenced by the one bright spot in the article - the sensible eaters plans - which are based on the proven concept of healthy eating balanced with daily exercise.  Duh... what a novel concept!

WEIGHT LOSS TIP - Pay attention to Dr. Carrie's comments in the article!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weight Loss Reality TV - Motivation Or Fear Factor?

Just caught a segment on Good Morning America about LaRhonda Darby who lost 203 pounds via the Extreme Makeover - Weight Loss Edition reality show. First of all my congratulations for the momentous task that she undertook and succeeded at!  My comments are in no way meant to downplay what she accomplished.

In the GMA segment they of course showed video clips about her GRUELING weight loss experience.  In fact, according to a news report from TMZ she was actually hospitalized at one point due to dehydration. 

During the interview the concept of  "motivating others" came up, but as I was watching all the snip-its of LaRhonda Darby's brutal weight loss battle I begin to wonder if instead the opposite was happening in the minds of other overweight people, to the tune of "IF THAT"S WHAT IT TAKES,  I'M HAPPY TO STAY FAT!"

Now most of us realize, that this is reality TV full speed ahead, where the real goal is ratings, thus everything has to be tailored to generate the highest level drama, suspense, and emotion, so as to entertain the viewers and keep them tuned in.

So I am not blaming LaRhonda, she really should be an inspiration to others. proving that the task can be done.  But I have a lot of problems with weight loss being turned into entertainment, because these reality shows aren't very realistic.  And in a nation of ever increasing numbers of fat people - one stat says 63.1% of Americans overweight in 2009 - we need a healthy dose of reality as to how the average person can lose weight without killing themselves or taking on herculean tasks.

First of all, who can devote themselves full-time to the endeavor - most of us have to work and/or raise a family.  Second, most of us do not have access to a dedicated  professional  trainer. Third, safe sustainable weight loss is a slow process that involves a lifestyle change that can be maintained forever, not just until the pounds are gone.  Finally, the average person who wants to lose weight, is only looking at 10-20 pounds which certainly doesn't require such an arduous experience as taken on by those we see in prime time TV.

Watching one of these shows could be just the thing to ensure that the average person NEVER even takes a stab at weight loss, simply because they feel they could never deal with the aggressive measures shown on TV.  

The power of weight loss entertainment TV - motivation or fear factor?????

Again - not being critical of LaRhonda Darby - she did something amazing and I don't want to take anything away from it.  My 70 pounds of weight loss are very paltry in comparison to her 203 pounds...

Friday, July 8, 2011

View From The Street - An Electrifying Experience

A couple of days ago, while power walking The Loop at Wrightsville Beach, I noticed the Ocean Rescue Trucks heading AWAY from the beach at full speed with lights flashing and sirens glaring.  And that was followed up by most of the fire department.  

Now Wrightsville Beach, NC isn't all that big and since they were headed in the direction of the mainland I knew they weren't going far, in fact my instincts said the destination must be the boat ramp. What the heck, I figured I might as well head on over myself, the more miles I put in the merrier!

Sure enough they were all parked at the boat ramp, surrounding a sailboat on a trailer.  Obviously it had just been pulled out of the water and it was quite apparent what the problem was - the mast was leaning on the power lines that ran parallel to the parking lot.  Wow!  

One of the boaters was sitting on the bow, with the EMS guys instructing him not to move, as the entire boat was now part of a 10,000 volt circuit.  (Having worked for a power company I knew the dangers of trying to evacuate a vehicle that was in contact with downed power line, so I knew full well the hazardous situation this guy was in.)
Within minutes the Power Company arrived.  They quickly assessed the situation and de-energized the lines, then used a bucket truck to go up and remove the mast from the power lines.  The EMS guys then helped the guy on the boat down to the ground and onto a stretcher.  He seemed fine and as the ambulance left for the hospital they were not running the siren, so hopefully he didn't suffer any injuries.

Exercise and drama! You never know what you will see when you hit the street.

One question though - who came up with the brilliant idea to run high voltage lines parallel so close to where boats are being pulled out of the water and prepared for trailering?  As a power boater, I never paid much attention, but after this incident  I'm seeing things in a totally different light.  These guys are real lucky they weren't killed!

You can read more about the incident in an article from Lumina News.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hydration - The Proof Is In The Potty

Now that summer is in full force, you have to pay close attention to your level of hydration, especially if you are running, walking or biking outdoors for exercise.  Call me crazy, but I love to power-walk in 95 degree heat with a ton of humidity tossed in for good measure.  I had to work up to it, but I now have a pretty high level of heat tolerance, but of course, that doesn't mean I can't get dehydrated either.

So short of having a heat stroke, how do you know if you are getting enough fluids?  Well, the proof is in the potty, cause your urine color can tell you a whole lot about how well you are hydrated or not.  

The normal color, which usually indicates you are right on target is a straw-yellow.  As the color darkens towards an orange, then you probably need more fluids, whereas a trend towards being clear means you typically are well-hydrated.

Want to learn more? Visit the Urine Colors website, where you can find out everything you wanted to know and probably a bunch of stuff you didn't want to know about the power of pee as a predictor of bodily performance.

So next time you are putting in some miles and want to know your level of hydration, just take a moment to step behind the nearest bush and get a sample...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Weight Loss Is A LONG TERM Initiative Not A SHORT TERM Goal

Most people who are gearing up to lose weight focus on one basic concept: lose as much as I can as fast as I can.  Because its the challenge at hand, it's a natural tendency - BUT - it's also short term thinking, and being that the majority of people who lose weight gain it all back within a couple of years, it may be counter-productive.  The reality is that most people who successfully lose weight find that its harder to keep it off than it was to lose it in the first place.  And in my book, it all comes down to one simple concept: Lifestyle Change!

Whatever means you use to lose weight must be sustainable forever.  If you starve yourself, eat weird meals, use special foods, engage in mind-numbing workouts, etc, the chances that you will be able to continue on that path once the weight has been lost are slim.  Thus, when starting a program, you want to think LONG TERM and focus on making permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits that you can happily live with.  I have successfully maintained my weight loss for 4 years and while that may not seem earth shattering, it definitely is bucking the trend of gaining all the weight back in 3 to 5 years...

Joseph Brownstein, writing for My Health News Daily discusses this same problem in an Article posted on Today Health.  Though it takes a different approach to the issue, the underlying message is the same - people have a tendency to "slack off" once they reach a weight goal.  

My point here is that BEFORE you begin a weight loss program, you need to think about how you will keep the weight off once you lose it.  Focus on finding adequate exercise that makes you feel good so that you look forward to it. (I walk 5 miles plus per day).  Target foods that you like that are healthy and eat more of them, while gradually backing away from the really bad stuff.  You don't have to cut out the unhealthy stuff completely, just consume less of it.  And you don't have to do it overnight.  I still eat what I like, but in much smaller quantities - a simple trick is to EAT SLOW - very slow - so you fill up quicker and end up eating less. Read my e-book for full details on how I transitioned my life style and lost 50 pounds in 5 months.

Ignore all the ads for "guaranteed weigh loss programs" and focus on developing a system that works for you that will help you lose weight, then keep it off forever.  Weight loss is a LONG TERM initiative not a SHORT TERM goal!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quit Bashing The Potatoes

An article by Oliver St. John earlier this week looked at a study released by the Harvard School of Public Heath that linked eating potatoes with gaining weight.  At the heart of the study is data from Researcher Walter Willet that shows that potatoes break down very quickly into glucose, insinuating weight gain via high levels of sugar.  But Katherine Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple, suggests that potatoes shouldn't bear all the blame, as you typically find a large juicy steak next to that pile of mashed potatoes on the plate.  I tend to agree with her.

I don't believe its so much what we eat but how we eat it.  For example, Diet Coke and a Snickers bar (an old-time favorite) isn't going to help you out too much in the healthy category.  And the studies that show low calorie sodas as being a culprit for weight gain, usually reveal that the user is offsetting the reduced calorie effects of the soft drink with high calorie snacks, etc, because of the false sense of security that comes with the low calorie soda. 

Let's go back to potatoes.  I'm not discounting the fact that the starch breaks down into glucose, seems like a lot of foods I eat do that (I usually burn if off with exercise).  But how you are preparing the food may be the real question.  For example, most people use whole milk and butter in mashed potatoes, which jacks up the calories pretty quickly.  Considering that a stick of butter is 810 calories, a cup of whole milk is 146 calories and 5 pounds of red russet potatoes is 1630 calories (approx) and you end up with that pot of mashed potatoes simmering on the stove weighing in at somewhere in the range of 2500 calories. 

Now, I know (hope) you aren't going to eat the whole batch single-handedly, but if you managed to get about 25% of that on your plate during a meal, you would get around 600 calories just from the potatoes.  Add in meat, bread and who knows what else and you probably just blew thru 2000 calories for one meal.

See where this is going?  So if you still want to eat mashed potatoes, consider using alternative ingredients such as skim milk and margarine to reduce the calorie content.  At first, it may taste rather bland, but as you get used to the new version the taste will improve greatly.

This is just one example of the things I put into practice as part of the lifestyle change that lead to my 70 pound drop.  I knew I couldn't quit eating everything I liked, so I learned to cook differently to improve the health aspects of my favorite foods, so that I could keep them on the menu.  And of course, I learned to eat very slowly in order to fill up quickly and reduce my overall food intake. And truthfully, I did cut some things off my routine food list, as there was just no hope for every salvaging anything good out of them.  

Always remember this, successful weight loss is about a long-term (forever) lifestyle change, not a bizarre diet couple with painful workouts.  Make gradual, practical and sensible changes to what you eat and how you prepare it so that you can enjoy meal time without feeling deprived of your favorite foods or wracked with anxiety over the calorie content.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What The Heck Is Tabbouleh?

Being a Meat & Potatoes Guy, my 4th of July menu (ok - everyday  menu) was traditionally focused on logical things like hamburgers and chips.  But now that all the researchers say that potato products, most notably those in the thin crunchy oval form, are going to kill us, or at least turn us into walking blimps (oxymoron - if you are walking the right way, you should not be turning into a blimp).  So maybe its time to experiment with something different for the annual Independence Day cookout, something that meets the criteria of being healthy without gagging you. Welcome to Tabbouleh!

What the heck is Tabbouleh you ask? (I had to ask it myself...) It is a Middle Eastern salad composed of bulgur wheat, parsley and tomatoes, flavored with mint, scallions, lemon juice and olive oil. I know Meat & Potato fans, that sounds absolutely "soul-less" when first described. But when you spice it up with some other ingredients such as diced chicken, maybe a bit of feta cheese, some sun-dried tomatoes, etc., it adds another dimension.  In fact, it kind of reminds me of the "internals" that go into lettuce wraps.

An article by Alison Ladman of the Associated Press entitled Tabbouleh Trio profiles this unique dish that is low in calories and high in fiber and protein. In addition to providing a pretty decent description of what the Tabbouleh is all about, she also includes some recipes.  And even more importantly, for all those like myself who have trouble thinking outside of the Meat & Potatoes diet spectrum, she has pictures!

I found another recipe (and snagged a picture) at West Coast Nest .

Long-term weight loss isn't about crazy diets and painful exercise, its about lifestyle change and experimenting with new foods is an excellent way to stay on track.  Read the article and try something new.  What the heck, you can always wash it down with some good ole potato chips...

NOTE: In the newspaper where I read this article, it was adjacent to another one about baking a potato on a grill with all of those cardiac-attack ingredients that give potatoes a bad name. I'm just guessing, but I bet more people read that article than the one on Tabbouleh.