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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Weight Loss – Myths and Truths

So many Americans try different diets or think some myths like “gluten free” will lead to weight loss success.  Time magazine has an excellent article, The Weight Loss Trap:  Why Your Diet Isn’t Working.  They interviewed many experts and discuss the National Weight Control Registry.  What is this registry?  It is a study of over 10,000 people who have lost 30 or more pounds and have kept it off.  The study attempts to figure out why these people were success stories and others who go on diets gain back the weight they lost. 
What are some of the take-a-ways from this article?

      1.  Find a diet or eating plan that works for YOU.  What worked for your neighbor, your best friend may not be what it best for you.  People react differently to diets.   One person can lose a lot of weight on a diet and another person on the same diet loses only a few pounds or may even gain weight.  A student in my class said her parents tried Weight Watchers – a good diet program.  Her mom didn’t mind tracking the points.  But her father found all the point tracking burdensome.  

2. Slow and Steady wins the weight loss game.  Ever see the I Love Lucy Show, The Diet, in which she wants to lose 12 pounds in only 5 days?  She tries jumping rope, running laps around her apartment building, eating a celery-only meal while her neighbors the Mertzes feast on steak and potatoes.  In final desperation, she sits in a steam box all day.  Hilarious show, and she does lose some weight.  But weight taken off this rapidly is often a lot of water loss and one loses muscle as well as fat.   Time highlights Lexi Reed, a 26-year-old, who tried many diets, lost weight and then gained it back.  What did he finally do to lose 278 pounds?
a.       Tracked calories – so many ways to do this using the many apps available such as Lose It! and MyFitnessPal
b.       Working out – adding exercise to your day is a way to burn up some calories, add some muscle, get toned and feel better
c.       Eating healthier – Lexi started eating healthier versions of the food he loved.  I like KFC chicken but choose the grilled chicken which is a healthier option.  I like the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin but order it without butter.  What are some of your favorites that you could modify to a healthier choice?
d.        Take Lexi’s Advice:  My advice is to focus on each day, not how far you have to go.  Weight loss is a journey, not a sprint.  (Time)

      3.   Follow some Steps that have worked for people on the National Weight Control Registry, read their facts at NWCR Facts
a.        Eat breakfast every day:  78% of those on the registry eat breakfast every day.  Less likely to get those mid-morning hunger pains when one often goes to the snack machine for a candy bar or two.
b.       Change your Diet:  Try smaller portions, try adding protein to each meal.  Focus on cutting back on the fat and added sugars in your day.
c.       Less TV, more exercise:  94% of the people on the registry increased their physical activity and the most common way was to walk more.
  4.  Cut the Added Sugar – avoid sugary drinks that not only provide calories but can produce belly fat as suggested by Dr. Dean Schillinger UC San Francisco (Time).    Skip the soda/pop and go for water, unsweetened tea.  I like Crystal Light lemonade or their Peach tea.  Great summer drink. 
        5.  Take a Break – a relative finds some ways to treat herself while on a diet.  Whether it be some occasional wings, a 100-calorie bag of cookies, some treat so she isn’t just giving up all the good stuff.  Learn to make some of your favorite foods with less calories by modifying a recipe.  My younger daughter is a great cook.  We often try to modify recipes to make them healthier with less calories.  We will cut down on the fat in a recipe by using 2% milk fat cheese.    We will use half regular pasta noodles and some whole grain noodles.  We don’t want to modify a recipe so much the food is tasteless but enough to keep the good taste, yet reduce some fat or sugar calories and add more wholesome ingredients like whole grains.

Time also notes that many people may not need to lose weight as much as focus on better health.  Exercising more is a good healthy habit.  Cutting back on fat and foods with added sugar is healthier. And, if an overweight person lost 10% of their weight, they would reduce their risks of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and probably lower their blood pressure.  

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