Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's Not Your Fault - Hormones LinkedTo Weight Regain

Puhleezz - quit with the "it's not your fault" rhetoric.  An article in the Denver Post refers to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests that hormones are responsible for regaining pounds after successfully losing them.  I'm not a scientist and don't dispute their findings, however as I read through the article I saw several glaring issues in how they conducted their study.

I suggest you go read the article, and carefully review the data as presented.  Try not to make any snap decisions - instead take some time to read between the lines.  Then come back here to see the problems that I saw with the study.
Here Are The Problems I Saw With The Study:

Rapid Weight Loss - First of all, successful weight loss and long term maintenance are challenges - there is no doubt about that.  Thus, you have to be prepared to use methods that you can comfortably live with forever.  Quick weight loss has proven to be ineffective because you can't maintain the process.  The participants (who survived) lost  almost 30 pounds each in 10 weeks.  CRAZY!  Normal weight loss is in the range of 1-2 pounds per week.  That is a shock to the body and it will naturally fight back, especially in terms of hunger.  Plus its an uncomfortable, unpleasant process which makes the individual long for "getting back to normal".

500 - 550 Calories Per Day - Are you kidding me?  Yeah, that can produce some quick weight loss, but what a nightmare.  I would fantasize about eating non-stop!

Optifast Meal Replacement - Great, force them to starve, then pump some chemicals into their body to trick them into feeling like they are getting a decent meal.  Unfortunately, this is so common in the masses who try to lose weight - replace "normal"with something artificial.  First of all, you lose the pleasure of eating the foods you like.  Second you are taking something that you can't wait to get rid of, meaning its a short term solution.  Once you end such a diet you will gain weight back.

Reintroduced To Ordinary Foods - Here we go again.  Lose the weight quick, then get back to normal, which invariably leads to weight re-gain.

Listen, I don't dispute the facts that our bodies tend to work against us and certainly hormones can have a real effect, but in my opinion this study has too many flaws because it used the wrong approach to weight loss.  Actually, I said that wrong - it used the same stupid approach that most people take (and ultimately fail).

The reality is that weight loss has some challenges and it will always take a high level of mental focus to succeed.  But you simply cannot dump a bunch of weight using artificial methods, then return to normal life and not expect to regain the weight you lost.  Thus you need to carefully, gradually and effectively reshape your normal life in such a way that you don't feel like you are missing out or are burdened things you hate.

I lost 70 pounds, 50 pounds of it in 5 months!  That was almost 5 years ago.  Sure, I fluctuate - usually gaining 5 pounds in the winter when I don't exercise quite as much.  (By spring its gone).  I still eat what I like, but in much smaller quantities and I offset that with exercise, so that I control calorie intake.  I am happy with my new lifestyle and have very little problem maintaining it.  I put together a formula which is illustrated in my book that worked for me.  No big secret - you can figure that out on your own without me - plus I have some details on my website under MY PLAN. 

And please, whatever you do, don't fall for that statement in the article that says "it's better not to gain weight than to try to lose it."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Set A New Personal Best Walking Record

My typical walk is 5 miles and I treat it as a competition - against myself.  I'm always striving to go just a little bit faster.  If speed is my goal, then why don't I run you might ask?  Too many knee surgeries sevearl years ago, which left very little cartilage in my right knee.  I actually can run without any problem, but on the advice of those in the Medical Profession, walking is less damaging to that remaining cartilage than running.  As one Orthopedic Surgeon once said "why would you want to run when walking has done so much for you?".

But don't confuse power walking with casual walking.  I move fast and it feels great!  It took a long time to go from 15 minutes of pure agony on a treadmill to 5 miles (or more when I have the time) of high speed, pain free fluid motion.

So today I did 5 miles of walking in 62 minutes!  My old record was 64 minutes.  And considering that I have just recovered from a fairly long bout of pneumonia (and I was still walking while sick, just not as fast and furious) that is pretty amazing in my book.  I'm not bragging, ok maybe I am, but my point is that I used to be a couch potato and now I'm completely reformed and loving every minute of it.

Successful weight loss is a long term investment and its tough to see where you might be when you are just starting out.  There is hope for everyone - I am proof of it.  So don't give up and don't expect any quick miracles, just set a course and stay on track.  One day you might just be able to pass me by on a power walk of your own - NOT!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Learn How To Lose Weight While Unlearning How To Gain It

Unlearning is just as important as learning when it comes to losing weight.  A bona-fide weight loss plan not only focuses on helping you to LEARN good healthy habits, it also has to deal with UNLEARNING bad ones.  And the unlearning is much harder than the learning, by far!  Imagine if you suddenly had to unlearn basic math or to read or to speak.  Those things have been ingrained in you over many years and so have bad habits in terms of health and fitness. 

Enter Drew Manning.  He is a Certified Personal Trainer and self-confessed fitness addict who has decided to gain 50-60 pounds over a six month period, then lose it over another six month period, all in full public view via the Internet.  In an interview on Good Morning America, he said he felt the experience would help him to better understand what someone who wants to lose weight has to go through, which in turn would help him be a better personal trainer.

On the surface it seems like a noble cause, and I am not here to malign him in anyway, but when I step back and look at what he is doing, I see the same Learning VS Unlearning issue that comes with weight loss, except in reverse.  Here is a guy who in his own words says: "I’ve always had a passion for fitness. My love of fitness began at an early age and through sports it became an addiction. Throughout college I gained more experience through not only sports, but college courses as well. This inspired me to become a certified personal trainer through NASM."  

In other words he has spent his whole life being healthy and fit, and now must temporarily learn how to go the other way in order to gain weight.  Luckily for him he doesn't need to unlearn the good habits, as he plans to go right back where he was.  So will he really find out what its like to have lived a life of fatness and then be tasked with losing it and keeping it off?????  I think not... as he doesn't have to unlearn a lifetime of bad habits to be successful with weight loss. 

But if his efforts help others be successful, then more power to him.  But for you as an individual, there are plenty of people like him or me who stand ready to help you learn good health and fitness habits, but its up to you to unlearn all those bad habits that got you there in the first place.  That is why I always say, whatever system you use to lose weight must be sustainable forever: Learning And Unlearning together in one package!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Success Stories Prove It Is Possible To Maintain Weight Loss

I didn't need a research report to tell me what I already knew - it is possible to maintain your weight loss over an extended period of time.  But its always nice to see that there are plenty of others who are also beating the odds and defying the statistics about long term weight loss success.

USA Today ran an article about a study of successful dieters (I hate that term as it doesn't give you the real picture) who are members of the National Weight Control Registry.  In the analysis, researchers gathered data from 3000 members who have been in the registry for 10 years.   The participants had dropped an average of 69 pounds (each) and maintained a 52 pound weight loss at five years and a 51 pound loss at 10 years.  

What's really interesting to me is how close this is to my own situation.  I lost 70 pounds and now flirt with a 5 pound fluctuation each year.  I can burn it back off, but for some odd reason, my body seems to really like to park itself at the 65 pound lost mark.

In a sidebar, the article list lifestyle habits of those interviewed, which almost mirror my efforts.  Thus, if you are looking to lose weight and keep it off, you can use that information as a guideline for building your own program that is sustainable in the long term, provided you stick with it.

You don't need supplements, weird food, icky diets or painful workouts to lose weight, just a good set of parameters that you can merge into your current life and slowly replace bad habits with good ones that you can live with forever.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Souping Up Your Weight Loss

If you are on the quest to unload pounds you might want to consider stocking up on soup.  It has definitely been a part of my weight loss success, as I found it to be a good way to eat a filling meal without loading up on too many calories.  

Of course, just like with salads, soups aren't guaranteed to be low-calorie and/or healthy so read the labels, but within reason its a great way to avoid overeating because it makes you feel full quicker, so you tend to consume less.

A great article by Rocco DiSpirito illustrates this concept even further.  Checkout his recipe for Mushroom and Miso Soup.  He builds it from scratch and throws in some extras like shrimp and still ends up with an interesting dish that weighs in at an astounding 103 calories.

Just another great example of how you can lose weight without supplements, icky diets, paid programs, berries, etc.  Do it your way by creating a plan that assures good food, fun exercise and life-long sustainability.    That's how I lost 70 pounds and have kept it off for over 4 years.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fat Tax? - Fat Chance!

If you haven't heard by now, the government of Denmark has enacted legislation to TAX foods based on their level of unsaturated fat, under the theory that if it costs more people are less likely to eat it.  Fat Chance!  Minor increases in the cost of unhealthy food (as defined by the Government) is probably not going to have a lot of effect on the ingrained habits of the masses.

Let's see, a typical burger will go up by $0.15 while a small package of butter gets hit with a tax of about $0.40.  Really?  A Big Mac at McDonald's cost a lot more than a basic burger, and has far more calories and fat, yet it remains the top-selling product.  No fat tax there, but definitely a higher price for a less healthy food item - see what a difference it makes... NOT!

Just look at the amount of tax that has been added to cigarettes (in the US) over the past 20 years.  In 1970, a pack cost about $0.38, whereas today its in the $5.00 range, with most of the increase being taxes.  Studies show that the higher tax actually has led to fewer people smoking, however it took a fairly large increase to make a dent.  The so-called Fat Tax in Denmark has a long way to go before it really starts to cause financial pain.

At the end of the day, I have a lot of heartburn with the Government trying to control what I eat by taxing what they perceive to be bad.  For those of us who have lost weight and maintained that loss for multiple years, its safe to say that Government intrusion had nothing to do with our success.  It all starts with what you want to do.  No amount of pressure from friends and family, warnings by Doctors, messages from the media, etc will make a difference if you aren't committed to yourself.  All those external influences can certainly get your attention, but it takes a strong desire on your part to make it happen.

I figured out on my own how to eat what I like while controlling the affect on my body mass.  Creative things like substituting unhealthy food ingredients with alternative ingredients that provide rich taste without all the nasty stuff can go a long way in controlling what enters your body.  But it doesn't take a fat tax to make it happen, just the ability to read the labels and explore the Internet for new recipes.

So will a Fat Tax make people less Fat?  Fat Chance!