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Weight Loss: What’s Hot and What’s Not

June 4, 2011

My doctor says if I keep eating like this I'll need stomch surgery by the time I'm forty!

You’ve tried everything but a gastric bypass, and now you’re considering that. Or, your body is packing on pounds. How many? You don’t know how many because you gave away your scale last year. Your pants have elastic waistbands and you’re buying oversized shirts  to hide your belly. There are the abandoned meal plans, leftover diet pills, and fruits and vegetables piled in the shopping cart to hide the half-gallon of Ben and Jerry’s.  Exercise is something for when you have a free day, which is never. Anyway, people who work out all the time are obsessed with their bodies. They’re “gym rats.” Everyone  you know who is carrying around extra pounds is doing just fine. It’s nice not to count calories! But you can’t help thinking that you need to get rid of some extra weight. Maybe a lot of weight.

 What’s hot for losing weight

  • People who fidget and get up and down a lot burn 300-400 calories extra every day. That’s about 3 pounds of fat a month! Volunteers who allowed cameras in their homes showed that heavy people just sit there – for hours – watching TV, reading, or just doing nothing. Keep moving!
  • Outside activities increase your metabolic rate and keep you out of the kitchen. Gardening, walking to work or the park, even shopping, if you don’t stop for that Mrs. Field’s cookie.
  • Calorie counting works if you can keep it up. If not, think of food as an exchange of energy. The Mrs. Field’s cookie is 200-250 cals and requires you to walk for almost an hour to burn it off. Figuring out calories and knowing how much exercise you need to compensate will stick in your mind, and soon you won’t need to run around with a diet journal.
  • Aerobics and cardio really do work, and even 20 minutes 3 days a week will start to reverse the weight gain. When you get up to 45 minutes 3-5 days a week and sweating, you’ll drop weight so fast people will beg to know your  “secret.”
  • Pump up the volume on fruits and vegetables. You can eat a pound of veggies a day, feel full for a while, and unless you’re buttering them up it’s no more calories than a cookie. Steam them or microwave them. Very few people enjoy the taste of raw veggies. (Of course when you do eat them, you’re skipping the dip).
  • Gastric bypass: people who are at risk of death from obesity need to consider this. As extreme as it sounds, it is one of the few ways in real medical journal clinical trials that keeps weight off long-term. The doctor will make you try other ways to lose weight before considering the surgery.
  • Caffeine: stimulates lipolysis (breakdown of fat), acts as a mild appetite suppressant, and increases your ability to do cardio and even lift
    weights. More is usually not better – up to 2 cups are the recommended 1-2 hours before your workout. It doesn’t work by itself, just enhances your diet and exercise program.

What’s Not

  • Jenny Craig: Jenny’s diet recently took number one against other diets over a two-year weight loss program. People lost an average of 8%. What’s the big deal? A man who is 5’ 11” and weighs 260 pounds needs to lose about 80 pounds, or 30% to get to “ideal” body weight. 8% is only 21 pounds. He still needs to lose 59 lbs after two years on Jenny Craig! And, there’s no study that shows a commercial diet plan will keep the weight off after that.
  • Other diet plans: if Jenny doesn’t measure up, then neither do the others.
  • Diet pills: Phen-fen was released by Wyeth years ago, based on faulty studies. Thousands had heart attacks or died. Besides, no diet pill has ever been proven to keep the weight off. Unless you’re a hard-core amphetamine user, forget it. That’s a road you don’t want to take.
  • Exercise gadgets: infomercials persuade you to call in for a plastic pole or some rubber cords, promising that in 6-12 weeks you’ll have the sculpted body of their model. It’s common knowledge that every one of these products is a scam. Ask any trainer, coach, or physical therapist. If they worked, all of their clients and athletes would be using them. Search “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” for the video documentary that exposes these gimmicks, and what those hard-body models really do to look that way.

Putting it all together: people will lose weight when they are good and ready to lose weight, whether it’s on subway sandwiches and fruit, or a solid diet and exercise plan. It’s individual. Everybody who loses weight did it differently – just ask them. Success is not from finding a magic diet or a new pill but getting and staying motivated. The human body is highly adapted to storing extra calories as fat, and it’s a lot of work to burn them off. The old, boring diet and exercise recommendations actually work. Expensive, time consuming diet plans and pills are a commercial enterprise built on profits, not proven success, and they aren’t doing anything to stop the worsening crisis of obesity in the U.S.  The Obamas are following the USDA new “food plate” diet recommendations. They know what they’re doing. The first lady has been long campaigning against childhood obesity.

Do your best. When you backslide, or convert from a commercial diet plan to regular food and gain weight, don’t get discouraged. Just start over
with the next meal. It’s okay if you start over a thousand times.  You’re working against an incredibly efficient fat storing machine. But if you stay at it and keep making the effort, your body will and must respond by losing pounds and keeping them off.

For more information and valuable references, also see other posts in this site.

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