I’m wondering why I woke up this morning with weight on my mind.
Is it because we’re into a new year and I’m hearing lots of people talking about hanging onto their promises to shed some pounds?
Or is it because with each passing year, it’s getting tougher – dammit! – to keep off those extra pounds?
Or maybe it’s the (ridiculous, non-age-appropriate) fashions in the magazines that make us feel like we aren’t thin enough….that we can never be thin enough.
How about all of the above?
I just came back from visiting my BFF in California and I think that might be influencing my perception just a wee bit, too. People are gloriously un-bundled up in winter garb and I couldn’t help but notice how so many people are incredibly fit – thanks to a wealth of good weather where you can be outside to your heart’s content.
(That is my kind of weather. With apologies to hubby and sons and local friends: what the hell am I doing here in Connecticut?)
We hiked way above the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines, an awesome natural reserve in San Diego and while the view held me rapt, so did the fact that I could walk for a good two hours and never tire of it.
So, what does this all have to do with dieting?
Except that when I hopped on the scale this morning, I’d lost some pounds – the same few pounds I was struggling to shed for the past few months.
And why? Here’s what I can come up with:
- I didn’t think about dieting.
- I ate when I was hungry. Sometimes, I even went hungry -I’m so used to snacking the minute a hunger pang hits. Sometimes it’s not hunger – it’s thirst – or plain habit – or it’s temporary, then passes.
- I shared meals in restaurants -something I should always do, since I can never eat all that’s served to me, anyway. It takes a lot less than you think you need to fill you up, actually. (Tip: stop eating when you are 3/4 full. That usually translates to 100% full, since it takes your stomach a few minutes to get the message to your brain).
- I walked. A lot. And when I wasn’t walking, I didn’t sit around. I don’t know exactly what I was doing, but we were always
busy with somethingon the move.
Interesting to note is this news that’s hitting the wires. The New England Journal of Medicine debunks lots of conventional wisdom about weight loss in a study aptly titled, “Myths, Presumptions and Facts About Obesity.”
Turns out many of the so-called “facts” you think you know about obesity and weight loss are misguided or just plain wrong.
Reliable medical evidence is lacking for many of the conventional ideas about obesity that people take as truths; it’s not just us laypeople who are lacking the knowledge, say the study authors. Even physicians, academic scientists, government agencies and the media are also misguided.
Curious? Here are three:
Eating a little less – or exercising a little more – will lead to large weight loss over time (as long as those behaviors are sustained). Sorry, but exercising does not burn off that sugary glazed donut you had last night – unless you walk at a brisk pace for about 80 minutes. Most of us overestimate the effect of exercise on weight loss.
If you’re too ambitious with your weight-loss goals, you’ll fail. According to studies that have examined setting realistic weight-loss goals, you shouldn’t worry that if you shoot for the moon, you’ll fail. Some studies have found that even though people did not reach their initial goals, those who set the most ambitious goals lost the most weight.
Slow, gradual weight loss is the way to go. I’ve always thought this to be true; if you lose weight too rapidly, you’ll gain it back more quickly. But no. Clinical trials have found that people who drop a lot of weight in the beginning of their diets (by eating between 800 and 1200 calories per day, for example) enjoyed the best results long-term. Maybe the jump-start and joy of seeing quick results spurs them on to continue their weight-loss quest.
So, how do you feel knowing this? Better – or worse?
I, for one, feel better informed…until the next study turns what we thought we universal truths on their proverbial head.
Want more info? You’re welcome to read something I wrote last March for www.healthywomen.org, 5 Unexpected Reasons You’re Gaining Weight.