Saturday, April 28, 2012

Diets For Weight Loss - I Just Don't Get It

I came across a study presented by the Cancer Therapy & Research Center concluding that an intermittent low-card diet could be better than a standard low-calorie Mediterranean diet.  Ok, I'm already lost cause I don't know what a Mediterranean diet is!  So I will try to ignore the specifics and focus on the generalities.

Anyway, all that aside, the report compared three diets:
1. Calorie-restricted diet - 650 calories - with low carbs for 2 days per week.
2. Low Carb diet that allowed unlimited amounts of proteins and healthy fats for 2 days per week.
3. Standard Mediterranean Diet - 1500 calories - every day.

Diets #1 and #2, which are more carb focused beat, beat Diet #3 which was strictly calorie based, in both weight loss and improved insulin resistance.  Though the time frame was not given, participants in the low-carb groups lost an average of 9 pounds, while those in the low-calorie group dropped about 5 pounds. 

So when you read this do you get a bit confused as to how all this works?  I just can't see having to deal and keep up with specific foods on specific days.  Plus I can see where you might feel that you have free rein on the off days, which could easily negate the positive effects of the "diet days".  Can you sustain that correctly and successfully for the long term? 

I really don't like complex and restrictive diet plans, instead preferring EASY!  I simply cut way back on how much I eat in conjunction with increased exercise.  I still eat most of what I like, though as I lost weight I did start eating better, as my focus expanded to include better health, not just lost pounds.  Thus, I am not a fan of diets because they just don't work well in the long term for most people.

Congratulations to those participants in this study who lost weight... but for me, I just don't get it... there really is no need to make something so simple into something so difficult.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wanna Lose Weight? - Got 20 Minutes?

Hmmm, that sounds like the opening headline for another one of those weight loss scams getting hurled around the internet and plastered on TV.  But not in this case. (Like that is reassuring...) But for real, researchers have found that if you engage in certain patterns of exercise for 20 minutes per day, you can make a significant improvement in your health and lose weight.

In an article by Leslie Barker Garcia this concept is explored in great detail, with the key factor being "how" the 20 minutes is utilized.  For example, a leisurely walk for 20 minutes is much better than sitting, whereas a power-walk is better than a casual one.  (A power-walk has been proven to burn as much calories as a medium jog.) And of course if you add another element of effort such as steps or hills, you get that much more benefit for the 20 minutes of effort. 

The article is worth the read if you are seriously looking to lose weight the right way, which means a lifestyle change that you can live with forever, not a short term approach.  But don't get too bogged down in the details when it comes to stuff like interval training.  The most important thing to take with you is that "not having the time" is not a reasonable excuse.  You can accomplish a lot in a little if you are smart about it.  

Oh yeah, start with BABY STEPS!  Don't try to do too much too soon or you will give up.  Successful weight loss is a gradual thing, and if you can get to the point of losing 2 pounds a week, you are on the right path.  It doesn't sound like much until you put it into perspective.  If you had started your program a month ago, you could be down 8 pounds by now. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lose Weight, Live Forever!

OR NOT... But the headline certainly sounds good and its one of my enduring goals, as I have found that my health has improved 1000% since I got rid of a large amount of fat. Though I have no illusions about living forever, my expectation is that I have increased my chances of living longer.  And its not just wishful thinking as data from various Agencies shows that Americans who control their weight through proper diet and exercise really are extended their life.

For example, in my area of the country, Wilmington, NC, estimates released from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation show that men could expect to live 5 years longer in 2009 than they did in 1989.  Of course its not just from weight management, but rather a combination of healthy initiatives like quiting smoking, eating better, staying active, etc.   To learn more, read this article written by Jim Ware of the Star News.

If you are under 40, you probably don't pay a lot of attention to the concept of getting old and running out of years.  But once you pass that mark, your perspective may change greatly as you realize you are probably at the halfway point of your life or maybe past it... depending on your health.  This has been a driving force for me!!!!!  I cherish every day that I get to feel the sun on my face, breathe in the air around me and enjoy my time with family and friends, but I also hear the clock ticking. 

It's kind of like the movie In Time where the people have a time clock built into their wrist and can see it ticking away.  Once it hits ZERO they are dead, but they can recharge the clock by buying time credits.  As long as they are continuously getting new credits, they are thwarting the inevitable.

So I know very well, that genetics and wayward trucks slamming into my car are factors I have no control over.  But for the things I can control, I focus on everyday!  And I have made a huge improvement in my health!  Key indicators:

Resting Pulse Rate - 41
Blood Pressure - 118/72
Sleep Apnea - GONE
Knee Pain - GONE
Ankle Pain - GONE
Energy - Extreme
Sick Days - Rare

So maybe that is the motivation you need - one more day doing the things you love with the ones you love.  Its never too soon to focus on weight loss and health management, but it can easily become too late if you don't pay attention!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lose Weight And Have Fun Doing It

Anyone who says that losing weight is a painful experience, doesn't really understood how to lose weight.  Yep, it does require exercise - which so many people abhor - but exercise doesn't have to be a horrible experience, because there are plenty of fun options available.  I for one, have never set foot in a health club, don't have a home gym, haven't used a personal trainer, yet I managed to lose 70 pounds.  Some secret diet or magic pill?  Nope, just a balance between calories in and calories out. 

 My main exercise of choice has been walking, which grew from a tiring 15 minutes per day, three days per week, to a fast paced 5 miles per day, six to seven days per week.  The key is finding great places to walk that have enjoyable views among other things.

And now I have added yet another fun option to my exercise choices - Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP).  For the uninformed, SUP involves an over-sized surf board and a long paddle, and of course some water. 

I bought my first board, a beginner model, from Imagine Surf several weeks ago.  But because I had some minor surgery with a lot of stitches and strict instructions not to get them wet, my wife wouldn't let me go out on the open water with the board.  Instead I paddled around my pool when she wasn't looking...

But this week, I finally had the chance to get a real taste of paddleboarding.  I launched under the drawbridge at Wrightsville Beach, NC and headed up the waterway to Lee's Cut.  A mile later, against the wind and tide I finally made it to the Salisbury Street bridge.  Then it was time to turn around and enjoy some extra speed courtesy of flowing with Mother Nature instead of against.  On the return route I steered over some shoals, where the water was only 1 to 2 feet.  It was so clear you could see the bottom, where there was a variety of sea life such as crabs and small fish flitting about.  At one point I startled a sizable flounder who quickly broke loose from his perch on the bottom and glided away to find a more secluded spot. 

It was great ride, very peaceful with just the sounds of the gulls, and the paddle breaking the water.  And of course, the views were fantastic.  And even better, with all the arm action, it was definitely a calorie burning experience!  In fact, when I went for speed, I could feel a lot of muscle action in my legs as well.

So I realize this is not a sport for everyone and it does require equipment and location, but it's a great example of making weight loss fun and enjoyable, so that you look forward to your exercise regime rather than dreading (and avoiding) it.

If you haven't been successful with weight loss, its probably because you are approaching it entirely wrong!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Drunk Diet? Now Thats A New Twist

Diets come in all shapes and sizes, and I never cease to be amazed at the angles that pop up on a daily basis.  But this one really takes the cake... keg... The Drunk Diet: How I Lost 40 Pounds...Drunk, A Memoir By Luc Carl. 

(It sounds like a subject for my other website - The Ultimate Margarita)

The title certainly caught my eye, and a brief review suggests that there is a lot more to the book than a bunch of drinking stories.  Which is a good thing, cause I'm not quite sure where alcohol fits into the picture, unless you are in to "splurge and purge".  But really it seems like a fun read which is just the angle a lot of people need to get started down the weight loss path, the same approach I took with my book Eat Slow Walk Fast.

For the record, I lost 70 pounds without getting wasted, but I will say that I still drank what I wanted, when I wanted.  Yes, margaritas tend to be high in calories, but I can find ways to fit them in without going too crazy.  You certainly can't alter your lifestyle so drastically that you hate your life and that point seems to be made in the The Drunk Diet book as well.

Of course, that also is why I don't believe in diets, as they usually can't be sustained for any significant amount of time... such as THE REST OF YOR LIFE, because that is the only way you will manage your weight.

But what the heck, grab a cold beer and check out yet another angle for busting some pounds...