How to Keep the Weight Off

Christmas Break 2008 10

This time of the year, many people are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and a popular one is to lose weight. Just ask anyone who is a regular gym-goer and they can tell you that the first few weeks of January are always the busiest; fitness facilities are loaded with what I call “resolutionaries.”

Of course, a better way to look at this is to go beyond the mere number on the scale. While weight as a number is a data point, our fitness level depends on other factors as well: endurance, strength, power, cardiovascular health, etc. A better resolution might be to “become more fit” or “pursue a healthier lifestyle.” What both of those mean is up to individual interpretation, so it is important to come up with goals that are beyond merely a number on a scale such as “I want to be able to run a mile without stopping” or “I will do 30 minutes of cardio 3 times per week” or “I will begin training regularly with a Personal Trainer.”

Numerous studies have pointed out that we should take a more holistic approach rather than simply focusing on the readout on the scale. In fact, when we focus more on overall health we actually have greater success at weight loss and especially keeping the weight off.

Research shows that those who put an end to their sedentary lifestyle and become more active will do a better job of losing weight and keeping it off compared to those who simply diet. Studies show that dieting can take the pounds off but unless we engage in a healthy lifestyle that includes diet, exercise and other healthy habits (not smoking, getting enough rest, etc.) , there is a higher chance that the pounds will return.

There is no easy fix to getting healthier. Diet alone or exercise alone won’t cut it for the long term. It is all about a lifestyle that promotes healthy habits. A lifestyle isn’t just something that lasts for a month or six months or a year until we achieve our goal weight; a lifestyle is about what we do from this point forward.

As the New Year approaches consider not only the changes you want to see right now, but also how to make them last for a long and healthy lifetime!

When it Comes to Weight Loss, One Size Does Not Fit All

Bathroom Scale

An article that appeared today in the health section of http://www.nbcnews.com highlighted the story of a woman and her husband who embarked on a weight loss journey together. A big part of the article talks about what sparked the change and how the two of them set out to make healthy changes in their lives. Their choices and approach are instructive and are highlighted in the article in a sensible way.

Samantha Cassety, a dietitian and weight-loss expert in NYC whose articles I have referenced in the past, drew some conclusions from this story.

  • Any diet that leaves you feeling deprived has less of a chance of success in the long run. Recognize what you need and make sure you get at least some of it.
  • Having a supportive partner–or someone who is going through the process with you–can bolster chances of sticking to the plan. Joining forces with someone else to get healthy is a powerful thing.
  • In contrast to the top bullet point, identify not only what doesn’t work for you, but what does work for you. The process is highly personal and what is beneficial for one person won’t necessarily be effective for someone else. One size does not fit all.
  • Watch your weight in a way that makes sense. Monitoring is important–whether it is daily, weekly or at some other interval. This is especially helpful in triggering you back to the right path after vacations, holidays, etc., where eating habits may have changed. One size does not fit all, so find what is best for you.
  • Don’t just focus on the numbers; be aware of what comes with healthy habits: increased energy, greater mobility, ability to participate in activities, clothing fitting better, etc.

The main point is really that the process must be specialized to each person. Recognize negative triggers. Understand what you need. Understand your weaknesses and strengths. Find others who will support you or join you in your journey.

The healthy choices we make today, affect the health we have tomorrow.

To read the full article, go to: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/how-woman-lost-80-pounds-visual-cue-sparked-her-weight-ncna1059276

Losing Weight: It’s All About the Math

Numbers

Those of you who follow my blog know that for the last few months I have been “struggling” to take off the weight that I put on during my mostly sedentary recovery from foot surgery.

Newsflash: going on a week-long Alaska cruise does NOT help the cause. Luckily, I only put on two pounds during the vacation, but it could have been worse.

When I returned home, I had the latest issue of ACE Fitness Magazine weighting for me. Much of the issue was devoted to discussions about nutrition and weight loss. There were articles about the latest trends in dieting (Keto, for example), the debate about whether eggs are good for us or not, as well as the latest research on the role of carbs.

The issues are usually not clear cut. Keto, for instance, is an effective method for dieting IF you can actually stay on the diet. The food choices are so limited that it is estimated that 50% of folks who try it do not last long enough to see results. It is also not recommended for older adults since the lack of protein in the Keto diet can contribute to loss of muscle mass–a serious issue as we age.

As was the case in many articles in ACE Fitness Magazine, the conclusion is that “more research is needed.”

So what do we know? A simple truth: weight loss is achieved when we burn more calories than we put into our bodies. It is a simple question of mathematics. If we eat 3000 calories worth of food but only burn off 2500 each day, we will put on weight (approximately one pound/week). On the flip-side if we burn 3000 calories per day and only eat 2500, we will lose about a pound a week. Simple math.

How does this effect me in my weight loss journey? I have started using the My Fitness Pal app again; I stopped on the vacation. This app (there are others out there) allows me to calculate how many calories I am ingesting, how many I am burning through exercise and activities of daily living, and suggests a proper calorie intake per day to achieve my goals. I have to be super-diligent to make sure I enter in the info in order to actually have this work. The app works on one simple principle as well: math. The numbers don’t and won’t lie.

We should all feel free to try different diet plans, but there are certain underlying truths:

  1. Eat less processed foods.
  2. Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits.
  3. Eat fats and carbs in moderation; try to switch out saturated fats for unsaturated fats.
  4. Burn more calories than you consume through eating.

I will keep you posted on my journey. The fact that yesterday was a Jewish fast day (17th of Tammuz) did help the cause, but I know there is a lot more work ahead to get me back to where I was pre-surgery.

Good thing I always did well in math class!

Is “Eating Clean” a Dirty Word(s)?

sshhh. dont say it! the x-word is the un-word of the day. and tomorrow!

As some of you may recall from my June 17 post “What I Hadn’t Counted on After Surgery,” I am working on taking off the weight that I put on after my foot surgery. I had even turned to a subscription weight-loss app to help me; the jury is still out on that.

I have been counting calories using the app and generally feel like I am depriving myself of a lot of stuff I really like…(mmmm, pastry). Not seeing the results I would like yet, but I am being patient. I am also trying to follow the advice that I give to others about what they eat: a lot less processed foods, more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc.

In my mind, I am trying to remind myself to “eat clean.” I first heard this term from a personal trainer and wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. Turns out, there is no one definition of what eating clean means. To me, it means trying to eat the right stuff–cutting out junk foods, fatty foods and overly-processed foods.

Turns out that the term “eat clean” has some pretty serious connotations for a lot of people. There are those who argue that this kind of terminology makes moral judgments. I think this is a bit far-fetched. A donut is a donut; it does not have moral implications. It has no moral force for me, but for others it does. Can eating a brownie make a person feel somehow “less than?” I guess so.

A recent article by Samantha Cassety (who else?) was published on http://www.nbcnews.com today, exploring this issue: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/better-way-think-about-clean-eating-ncna1020996 . She gives what I consider to be sane advice about approaching “clean eating.” Cassety recognizes the complexity of the concept for many, but says it need not lead to negative results. Each of us can create our own definition of what eating clean means–one that is helpful to us rather than intimidating or shaming.

Beyond the journey that I am on now to lose the weight that accumulated after my surgery, I know that I want to continue to eat in healthy ways after I hit my goal. It is not about being “clean” as a opposed to being “dirty,” but rather about remembering that I am what I eat. While I may not see this directly as a moral issue, I do see it as a way to help me live a longer and healthier life.