Friday, July 27, 2007

I'm Half My Size! - Weight Loss Success Stories

Good Housekeeping has an article, "I'm Half My Size," about several women who successfully lost a great deal of weight (they all lost over 100 pounds) and kept it off. These women didn't do it quickly either; it took a year or more to lose all that weight.

Each story includes a Worst Moment and a Turning Point, making them very poignant. Some interesting points:

  • Several women used formal diet plans, such as Weight Watchers, Weigh Down (a Christian organization), Nutrisystem, and Slim-Fast. I wouldn't actually recommend all of these, but this shows how rules can help you lose weight. Almost any rational diet plan would work, but having everything laid out for you, with specific do's and don't's, is helpful.
  • Several women mentioned the value of re-directing attention, avoiding TV and other times when it's hard to avoid eating, and so on. Avoiding food (and even the thought of it) can be a good way to avoid overeating.
  • Exercise was important to several of the women-- in addition to modifying the diet. A couple mentioned running. However, not everyone mentioned it.
  • Paying attention to your body was a recurring theme -- eating only when your body tells you you're hungry.
  • Several mentioned, in the Turning Point section, being told that they were borderline diabetic or had other health problems due to their weight. I've mentioned before how fear can be a motivator.
Here are Shelley Napier's Favorite Tricks: "I carry around protein bars, because if I don't, my hunger takes over and I end up in line at a bakery. When I'm cooking, I splash Tabasco sauce on everything — the spicy kick makes me eat slower, so I don't consume as much. Another trick: If I have time on the weekend, I'll grill up six chicken breasts, steam some veggies, portion everything into containers, and pop the food into the freezer. Then on weeknights, when I come home from work hungry, I can have a healthy dinner in minutes. During the holidays, when I'm hosting big family dinners, I insist that my guests take all the leftovers."

Obesity is Contagious

Not via a microbe, but via social norms. The study showed that if you have a friend who becomes obese, you're much more likely to become obese.

The researchers hypothesize that the same should hold true of losing weight. That is, if you have a friend who loses weight, you're more likely to lose weight. Thus, it helps to lose weight with friends who are doing the same. Trying to be the only one in your social circle who is losing weight will be very difficult.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Addicted to food?

Time's article, "The Science of Addiction," has a brief paragraph on addiction to food. It says that as many as 4 million adults in the U.S. may be addicted to food and that the problem is "strongly linked to depression. About 15% of mildly obese people are compulsive eaters."

Hmmm, what about strongly obese people?

What about the other 85%? They have slow metabolisms? Or they don't know what they should be eating? Or they just eat too much, but not compulsively? The figure seems low to me, but does highlight what I've been saying, that people are overweight for different reasons.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How to curb your appetite

One more post on Time magazine's cover story on appetite. One section lists 4 ways to stop cravings:

  • Eat fiber: Unrefined foods stimulate appetite-suppressing hormones and make you feel full. They show a picture of fresh oranges.
  • Brush your teeth: The flavor change helps you resist eating more. I think just getting up from the table also helps. And we all know how bad certain foods (like orange juice!) taste after brushing your teeth.
  • Be consistent: Eat at regularly scheduled times to keep hormone levels steady and "quash" hunger pangs.
  • Slow down: It takes time for the brain to realize that the stomach is stretching. So if you eat slowly, that gives the brain time to catch on. Well, if you're a compulsive eater, this one is hard, but worth the try. Here's a technique: put down your fork between every mouthful.

I've never understood this idea that the brain takes time to realize the stomach is full. If I put my attention on my stomach, I immediately know how full it is. I think that people just aren't used to paying attention to their stomach.

An excellent technique is simply to feel your stomach (with your mind, your attention) every 5 minutes while you eat. You'll soon get acquainted with it. Eating while reading or watching TV is especially harmful in this regard.

What makes you eat?

Time magazine's cover article on appetite included a little piece, "What Makes Us Eat More." Here are the points:

  • Time of day: Routine conditions us to get hungry at the same time each day. Solution: regular eating habits help! It's OK to be hungry at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But if you eat at odd times, you may find yourself hungry at odd times. Routine, routine, routine.
  • Sight: The sight of food that you like affects the brain. Your mouth starts watering. That's why avoiding food is so effective. (Avoiding food is one of my solutions to compulsive eating.)
  • Variety: Even when you're full, you make room for dessert. This might be a "sight" issue, too, but you can help curb the craving for variety, by adding variety to your main meal. They suggest a bit of fruit in a salad, for example. Ayurveda, India's traditional medicine, suggests that each meal should contain all 6 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. A variety of colors is also nice.
  • Smell: Smell also is a cue to eat. Smell can trigger the insulin secretion that makes you think you're hungry.
  • Alcohol: There's no scientific proof that it stimulates appetite, but it impairs judgment.
  • Temperature: Colder temperatures stimulate you to eat more. Guess what? Restaurants keep the thermostat low for this reason.
  • Refined carbs: After spaghetti, you may want to eat again in a couple of hours. That's because refined carbohydrates cause the blood sugar to drop, so you think you're hungry.
Here's a technique to try with a friend: After a meal, when you know you're not hungry, have your friend present you with a sweet treat, with the understanding that you won't eat it. Look at the food and pay attention to what you experience in your body. Do you suddenly feel the urge to eat? Probably. Where in your body is that urge? Close your eyes and see if it subsides. Open them again and feel the change as the sight of the food stimulates your desire. Learn to be aware of these signs and whether they're real or not. Notice that your stomach hasn't gotten any emptier, even when you wanted to eat the treat.

Time magazine's article on appetite

Time's cover article (June 11) on "The Science of Appetite" included a series of articles on appetite, diet, weight-loss, how people eat around the world, and more.

For me, the most interesting article was, "A New Diet Equation." This article talked about how different diets work differently for different people, specifically people who are high-insulin secreters and those that aren't. It fits in well with my idea that a solution to being overweight needs to be customized.

Here are some main points:
  • People who quickly spike insulin after eating a little bit of sugar tend to be apple-shaped, that is, they put their fat around their middle
  • People who don't tend to be pear-shaped; they put their fat around their hips.

In other words, some people (apples) have problems digesting sugar. Although this wasn't completely clear from the research, the suggestion was that pears probably have more difficulty with fats.

Apples lost 13 pounds over 6 months on a low-glycemic diet (low on sugar and processed carbohydrates that convert quickly to sugar in the body), but just 5 pounds on a low-fat diet.

Pears lost about 10 pounds either way.

But here's the interesting part. After 18 months, pears gained back half of the weight they lost on either diet. But while apples gained back 3 of the 5 (measly) pounds they lost of the low-fat diet, they kept off all the weight they lost on the low-glycemic diet!

Wow! Who has heard such a success story? This appears to be a real solution for apples. If you're an apple, cut down on the sugar and white flour. It's also good for your health, since if you have problems processing sugar, you're at risk for diabetes. And cutting fats won't do very much for you. That's not the reason that you're overweight. You can check with your doctor to get a blood test to evaluate insulin levels. This can help you decide.

Unfortunately, no one really knows the mechanism that relates insulin levels and body shape. In fact, scientists don't know very much about why certain digestion problems occur and how they manifest in the body. How do the fat cells know where to appear on your body?

But now we have some simple guidelines. If you're an apple, check with your doctor. If you're a high-insulin secretor, try a low-sugar diet. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A vacation without gaining weight!

I just returned from 8 days vacation in New York, visiting my parents and attending a reunion of my husband's college buddies -- Saturday night party in Manhattan and all.

And I didn't gain any weight!

I'm neurotic about this, because once I went on vacation, gained 5 pounds, and wasn't able to lose it for a very long time.

At the party, I kept a raspberry seltzer in one hand and my camera in the other -- that helped a lot! When I ate, I kept to 2 stuffed grape leaves and fruit.

At my parents' house, I didn't eat everything they served, especially for dinner, and avoided snacks when they snacked. Sometimes it was hard, but most of the time, it was OK.


Friday, June 8, 2007

A very basic guide to overcoming overeating

I've been talking about how to deal with a compulsion to overeat. Here's a basic guide from WebMD.

I say basic, because, although the advice is all good, it's probably not enough for most people. But, a good place to start.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

50 Weight Loss Tips

Chris Pirillo, whom wrote the Foreword for my book, Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds For Dummies, has a great post, 50 Weight Loss Tips, that you might find useful. He repeats much of what I've been saying about permanent weight loss.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I'm going on vacation

I'm going on vacation, and won't have regular access to the Internet, so I've pre-posted some posts. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well; I'd hoped they'd appear on the publish date I chose, but they appeared right away. So, if you read them, you're looking into the future!

While on vacation, I'll be focused on not gaining any weight. (Forget about trying to lose any!) For example, what will I do at that big Saturday night party I'm going to with my husband's college buddies? Right now, I'm planning to stick to veggie sticks, if any, and a big seltzer with a slice of lime.

We'll see how it works!

Should you lose weight, or not?

You'll find a lot of opinions out there about losing weight and health. Contradictory opinions. Here is a series of articles that should give you quite a range. Before making a decision based on an article or book that you've read, I strongly suggest that you actively seek out opposing opinions, and then judge.

Overweight Boomers Risk Early Death
This article is a pretty standard run down of the risks of being overweight

Lower Your Risk, Improve Your Health
This article is written by the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Focus on Fitness, Not Fatness
This article come in somewhere in between 2 commonly opposing sides.

The Case Against Weight Loss Dieting
This article goes against most opinions, and quotes lots of research doing so.

The issue can become very emotional. Sometimes you wonder about the weight of the people writing these articles.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another way to deal with eating compulsion

If you've read past posts, you know that one reason for being overweight is a compulsion to eat. I discussed this in my post, "Reason 2 for being overweight."

There I listed some ways to deal with a compulsion and in "How to deal with a compulsion to eat," I talked about one of the ways.

Now I want to talk about the first method on the list, "Rules."

If you have a compulsion to eat, when you're in front of food, your mind goes all gooey and your reason disappears out the window. Usually, the sight of the food initiates the compulsion (it could be a smell), which is why my earlier post (linked to above) talked about removing yourself from temptation.

But sometimes, you just can't. After all, you need to see food sometimes!

Creating rules helps you to avoid having to make a decision on the spot. "Should I eat that piece of cake? Maybe just a little piece. And maybe that cookie there." And so on.

Rules may rise out of a medical condition. If you have diabetes, you may not be allowed to eat sugar. That rule helps you make the decision. "No, I'm not allowed to eat sugar." Then you go find something else to eat, but it's probably something better for you.

If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your doctor may have told you that you should eat a low-fat diet. Maybe you even got some literature about how to eat. But it's all so complicated and sometimes vague. Simple rules can help. "No cream, no butter" for example. Then you can't eat the cake or the cookies. You just know that you're not allowed. Again, you find something else, something healthier, to eat.

You can even create temporary rules, but they're probably not going to be as effective in the long run. For example, if you're going to a party, you can say, "No sugar or fat for me tonight." Then you know what to do and don't have to make any decisions at the party, while you're staring at the food. That's not the time to decide!

Before going to any place where you'll be tempted, make a decision about what you won't eat. Set if firmly in your mind and see if this helps you.

A cute bit of advice I once read (for women, although men might be able to find an alternative): take a clutch purse with you and immediately get something to drink. Then both your hands will be full and you won't be able to eat as much!

Friday, May 25, 2007

My cholesterol is going down!

I just went to the local hospital's Wellness Clinic to get my cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose checked. Although my cholesterol is still high, I'm very pleased with the results.

The HDL (good) was 57.
The LDL (bad) was 136.
Total 213.

The other results were normal.

The total is not supposed to be over 200.
The LDL shouldn't be over 130.
My high HDL (which is a good thing) helps to increase the total.

In 2004, my results were the following:
HDL: 54
LDL: 198 (wow!)
Total: 252

What lowered my cholesterol? Mostly losing weight and exercise. But I have to admit, I did one more thing: I took a Chinese herb, Red Yeast Rice, which is supposed to reduce cholesterol. I took half the suggested dosage.

Unfortunately, I can't separate these two things out, so I can't be sure if exercise/losing weight or the Red Yeast Rice, or both were the most effective. You can't treat your health and life like a scientific experiment.

Read the research on milk

Sometimes I check out other blogs on losing weight. One, with an attitude, is The Lose Weight Diet Blog.

The blog has good information on it (at least for people without slow metabolisms or a compulsion to eat), but is off the mark in the post, "Milk: The Weight Loss Miracle Drink."

The article states, "Every commercial states pretty much the same thing their web site states. And, that is that drinking milk, as part of a reduced calorie diet, will make you lose weight. . .

"Well, guess what? Eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger, as part of a reduced calorie diet, will make you lose weight. . .

It’s not the milk… it’s the “reduced calorie diet” part. That’s it. Consume less calories than your body needs and you lose weight."

What's wrong with this? Not reading the research is what's wrong. I discussed the research in my earlier post, "Does drinking milk help?"

What he misses is this (among other examples): "...34 obese adults on a balanced, modestly reduced-calorie diet found that those who consumed a calcium-rich diet ... lost 22% more weight, 66% more body fat and 81% more trunk fat compared to those who simply reduced calories and consumed little or no dairy.

It's very simple. Both the people who lost weight and the people who didn't lose weight reduced their calories. But people who drank milk lost more weight. So, it wasn't the calorie reduction, it was the milk. At least that's what the study showed.

I want to add, in defense of the Lose Weight Diet Blog guy, that the research isn't easy to find on the site. You have to click Health & Nutrition at the top and then click Dairly and Weight Loss from the drop-down menu. Then click the Find Out More link.

For people with slow metabolisms and compulsions, just reducing calories is not necessarily enough. You do need to reduce calories, but you'll need some more help, both in metabolizing your food and in satisfying cravings. Perhaps calcium helps. Note, however, that the people didn't just scarf down calcium tablets; they ate or drank milk products.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I have metabolic syndrome, do you?

I learned about metabolic syndrome for the first time in an article by Andrew Weil in Time Magazine. Here's an article on the Mediterranean diet and metabolic syndrome from Dr. Weil's web site.

In that article, he defines metabolic syndrome as "a combination of obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar that raises the risk of heart disease."

Here's what the American Heart Ass'n has to say about it:

"The metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors in one person. They include:

  • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
  • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — that foster plaque buildups in artery walls)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
  • Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
  • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)"
Actually, all I know is that I have a family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that I have abdominal obesity, and that I have (or have had) high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Moment I remember: When I was 16 years old, and probably around 125 pounds, someone asked me if I was pregnant.

When I lose weight, my abdomen doesn't budge. I lose weight elsewhere, but not there.

While my cholesterol is high, my HDL (the good kind) is also high. Perhaps that's because I'm a vegetarian (lacto-vegetarian).

I've had a screening for clogged arteries and came out with flying colors.

Here are the official stats for diagnosing metabolic syndrome, from the same site:
  • Elevated waist circumference:
    Men — Equal to or greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
    Women — Equal to or greater than 35 inches (88 cm)
  • Elevated triglycerides:
    Equal to or greater than 150 mg/dL
  • Reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol:
    Men — Less than 40 mg/dL
    Women — Less than 50 mg/dL
  • Elevated blood pressure:
    Equal to or greater than 130/85 mm Hg
  • Elevated fasting glucose:
    Equal to or greater than 100 mg/dL
Hmmm, just took my blood pressure and it came in as 135/86, just barely above the limit. I'll have to get my other stats checked to be sure. My waist is 33, after losing the 17-18 pounds that I've been able to keep off. But I don't believe that makes the syndrome magically go away.

The recommendations are to lose weight, increase physical activity, and reduce intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.

Here's an interesting tidbit:
"Use of Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 16 weeks in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients improved blood pressure and insulin resistance components of the metabolic syndrome as well as cardiac autonomic nervous system tone compared with a control group receiving health education. These results suggest that TM may modulate the physiological response to stress and improve CHD risk factors, which may be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of CHD."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What kind of exercise should you do?

Exercise is an important part of losing weight, especially if you have a slow metabolism. So what type of exercise should you do?

First of all, it should be safe. If you're out of shape or have any sort of disability, check with your doctor.

Walking is always good, but don't stroll, walk purposefully, as if you need to get somewhere on time.

However, walking is not enough. You also need more vigorous activity. There are three types of exercise:

  • Aerobic, which is more active and works your heart.
  • Isometric, resistance, or strength training, which uses weights or pressure to strengthen muscles
  • Flexibility or stretching, which stretches and tones muscles
People argue about which is best, but the truth is they're all important. A good exercise routine includes all three types of exercise. Many exercise videos combine all three types of exercise.

If you have a slow metabolism, you probably can't lose weight without exercising, so what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to deal with a compulsion to eat

It's time to go into more detail about ways to deal with a compulsion to eat. I listed the techniques in this earlier post.

By the way, if you have a compulsion to eat, you might want to check out Overeaters Anonymous. OA is a group based on Alcoholics Anonymous principles; they have local chapters that hold meetings you can attend. I've never had any personal contact with members, so I can't give an opinion on it. Nevertheless, working on a compulsion problem with others can certainly be helpful.

One technique that worked for me, quoted from that earlier post, is: "Removing yourself from temptation, that is, food: An example is staying out of the kitchen."

Removing yourself from temptation means staying away from food. Here's my story:

When my kids were about 9 and 11, I started to realize that sitting down to dinner with them was a disaster for me. I always overate. If they left over anything on their plates, I scarfed that down in front of the sink.

I loved having dinner together. I have great memories of dinner time with my parents. We discussed the issues of the day and talked about science, history, politics, and more. I remember many times getting up to get the dictionary or encyclopedia during dinner to resolve some question.

But it wasn't working for me. I couldn't control myself. I had to break my attachment to having dinner together as a family. As soon as I did that, I was able to lose weight. I sat my kids down (my husband came home later) and gave them food, but I didn't sit with them. I put some vegetables in a bowl (plenty of food for me in the evening!) and ate them separately. Then I did other things.

Although I now cook two meals a day, I still don't sit and eat with the family at dinner time (I do for lunch), except on Friday nights. While the dinner is cooking, I take my own meal, which is different, and eat it. When dinner is ready, I get out of the kitchen and let others eat in the dining room. I go back to work in my office or do other chores. My husband, bless him, is repsonsible for cleaning up the dishes after dinner.

Whenever I come into the living room after dinner, where my husband is often parked in front of the TV, eating pretzels, I eat, so I try to avoid that, too.

All in all, this has been a very effective technique for me, a life-saver, in fact.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How can you tell how much you should eat?

Most of us eat according to habit or compulsion, not according to how much our body needs. Most people have no idea whatsoever how much food their body needs.

There's a Japanese saying, "hara hachi bu," which means "eat until you're 80 percent full."
But most people don't pay attention to their stomach as they eat.

So try recording how full your stomach is before and after you eat each meal. Just put your attention there and feel the sensation of food in your stomach. At first, you won't have much basis for judging, but after a while, you'll be able to use your previous sensations to get a better sense of it.

Then wait half an hour and feel the stomach again (with your mind, not your hand). Try to put your attention on your stomach several times throughout the day, for a second or two each time. Soon, you'll be much more aware of your stomach and how full it is. You'll notice when you're full and won't be as likely to keep on eating anyway.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What's a customized solution?

You may have noticed that the byline for my blog mentions customized solutions. What's a customized solution?

The main idea is that people are overweight for different reasons, so the way they lose weight will differ. But there's more.

People have different life situations. In my experience, most diet books assume that you're single and in total control over your food. But perhaps you're living with your parents and your Mom (probably) cooks for you. Or you cook for others and don't have time to cook two different dinners every night -- not to speak of the energy and patience!

You need to consider these situations. In fact, the family situation is often very intertwined with why you're overweight. For example, you may eat more or less the way your parents did.

For me, a big aha was that I didn't need to sit and eat dinner with my family. I wanted to, but it wasn't a healthy choice for me. I digest food painfully slowly at night and when I sat down with the family, I always ate too much. Eating dinner together with the family was a sweet memory for me from my childhood, but I had to break that pattern. As soon as I cooked for the family, quickly prepared something extremely light for me, and ate it elsewhere (where I wasn't tempted by the good food I made for my family), I was able to make progress.

Think about how your family situation constricts your ability to make the right eating choices.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My Overweight Story

Before I go any further, you probably want to know more about me.

When I was 18 or 19, I went on a diet and lost about 10-15 pounds. When I returned to college in the fall, I started gorging on candy bars and gained back all the weight I'd lost and more, going up to 40 lbs. It was so disheartening, that I didn't diet again for almost 30 years!

Then I tried again. I'd had 2 children and I was almost 50. I had gotten up to 159 lbs. and the 160 number scared me. I started exercising -- I even created my own exercise routine to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. (I still do it!) And I went on a diet. I knew that I'd have to stay on it all my life, but I wasn't sure what would work. I lost weight, down to 144 lbs., although it wasn't easy. But then, my weight started to inch up again. A vacation with the family in Florida cost me 5 lbs. and I couldn't shake that. Soon I was up to 156.

I went to a doctor and she gave me a diet, but I couldn't stick to it. The compulsion to eat was too strong. So, slowly, I developed my own diet.

I started on 12/23/05 at 156.5 (my scale measures in halves of pounds).
I weighed myself very often, usually a few times a week. This was necessary for me to see what worked and what didn't work. And my weight fluctuates a lot, up a pound, down a pound.

The lowest I got to was 136.5, which was a 20-lb. loss, and that was last November. Since then I've held at around 138-139 and I was 139 at my last weighing. That was 6 months ago. Over the winter, I was writing 3 books at once and the weather here doesn't encourage going outside, so I almost completely stopped exercising except for walking. (I walk almost an hour each day, in 4 15-minute stretches.) So I know I've managed to hold my weight.

Along the weigh(!), I've learned a lot about why I'm overweight and what works for me. I'm hoping that my insights will help you, too.

Of course, I'd like to lose more weight. That will take more exericse, because I can't eat any less and still be getting enough nutrition. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Reason 3 for being overweight

It's time to get to the 3rd reason for being overweight -- slow metabolism/poor digestion. This is a very common reason for being overweight. It applies to most people over 30 or 40 (like me!), but also to some younger people.

It's possible to have a poorly functioning thyroid that creates this situation; if you suspect this, you should see a doctor.

Everyone has noticed that some people eat lots of food and don't gain weight while others tightly control what they eat and gain weight, or at least don't lose it. Everyone is different. In fact, for this reason, the often-stated "fact" that 3500 calories = 1 lb. makes no sense. Perhaps they did the study on 18-25 males. It certainly doesn't apply to me!

You need to eat the amount of food that's right for your metabolism. It can happen that your metabolism is so slow that this wouldn't give you enough nutrition. The main solution for slow metabolism is -- you guessed it -- EXERCISE!

Exercise raises your metabolic rate. It's that simple.

Poor digestion is another, more difficult issue. There's not a lot of understanding of this problem, but there are a few natural solutions. More about that later.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Does drinking milk help?

You've seen the Drink Milk ads, with the white moustache. Is it true? Here's a page from the site on the studies. They're pretty impressive. Note that out of the 5 studies, one study, on normal-weight women, showed no weight loss. However, the other 4 studies all showed good results.

My experience with this was the same. When I started drinking milk or eating yogurt for breakfast and dinner, I was able to lose weight more easily.

I like to see research. When you hear claims that something will work to help you lose weight, check out the research.

Dairy and Weight Management: A Look at the Science.

Here are some quotes:
"...34 obese adults on a balanced, modestly reduced-calorie diet found that those who consumed a calcium-rich diet ... lost 22% more weight, 66% more body fat and 81% more trunk fat compared to those who simply reduced calories and consumed little or no dairy."

"Two randomized controlled studies were conducted . . . The first clinical study, a 24-week study of 29 obese adults, found that those who consumed 3 servings of dairy per day . . . lost twice as much weight and fat while preserving lean body mass compared to participants who consumed less than 1 serving of dairy per day.

"The second clinical study. . . found that those who consumed 3 servings of dairy per day on a weight-maintenance diet lost more total body fat and trunk fat and gained lean mass compared to participants who consumed less than 1 serving of dairy per day. . . In addition, in the weight maintenance study, consuming 3 servings of dairy per day produced a significant decrease in blood pressure."

"A 12-month study of 155 women . . . found that normal weight subjects showed no effect on body composition under energy balance (study was not designed for weight loss)."

"In a 12-month study of 19 normal-weight women (aged 18-30 years), the participants who consumed 3-4 servings of dairy each day burned more fat and calories from a meal compared to women who consumed a low-dairy diet (1-2 servings per day). "

Monday, April 30, 2007

How to Keep a Food Journal

The first step in losing weight permanently is to keep a food journal, for at least a week, and maybe ongoing. You should include everything, even gum and hard candies. You'll learn a lot from this journal; reading it will help you be more objective about what you're actually eating.

Here's a good set of guidelines.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Reason 2 for being overweight

In recent posts, I've explained that there are 3 reasons for being overweight, and discussed reason 1. Today, I'll talk about reason 2, a compulsion to overeat.

A compulsion to overeat is more than a bad habit. It's a stress, lodged somewhere in your body, that makes you feel uncomfortable if you don't take that cookie and put it in your mouth.

Many people have a compulsion to overeat, although I'm not sure why. Well, I think I have an idea, but it's probably different for different people. In general, when people experience some anxiety, they find that eating makes them feel better. Over time, whenever that stress comes up, they continue to eat. Eventually, the sight of food triggers the need to eat and people lose control.

Most diet books and even dieticians ignore the compulsion to overeat. "Just eat a little bit less at each meal." " Take smaller portions." Yeah, right.

However, there are a number of tools for dealing with compulsion:
  • Rules: "I am not allowed to eat sugar."
  • Motivational techniques: One is fear. The kind that happens when your doctor tells you that if you don't lose weight, you'll be dead in a few years of a heart attach or stroke. But you can also be motivated by the desire to look good, be sexy, and so on.
  • Removing yourself from temptation, that is, food: An example is staying out of the kitchen.
  • Removing the temptation: An example is not buying fattening foods, so they're not in your house.
  • Desensitization: This is similar to the techniques used for people who have phobias.
  • Stress reduction: Here I can only recommend what I know, which is the Transcendental Meditation technique. There's lots of research on it.
  • Finding the stress point: If you can find where the stress is, you can put your attention on it and start to heal it.
So, all is not hopeless, if a compulsion is one of the reasons you overeat.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Evidence that diets don't work

I've said several times that diets don't work. Of course, if you look around you and aren't influenced by the hype and ads, this is obvious. But it's always nice to see confirmation.

The Project WeightLoss site has an article, Diets Not Working, Sometimes Causing Weight Gain, Finds New Study, that confirms my thoughts.

Here's one statement from the article, "In the case of obese people, studies followed them for three years or more and showed that eighty-three percent of them regained the weight lost with a diet."

On the other hand, 17% did keep their weight off. My guess is that those people were really on a maintenance diet and continued on it permanently. They also probably made other changes in their life.

Top 10 Bad Eating Habits

Here's my hall of shame for eating, in no particular order:
  1. Eating in front of the TV or while reading (my particular problem: eating while reading)
  2. Eating before bed
  3. Eating too fast
  4. Eating until you're stuffed (this could also be a compulsion problem)
  5. Eating more protein, fat, and carbs than veggies and fruits
  6. Eating a dinner that's bigger than lunch
  7. Not drinking enough water
  8. Eating too many snacks (not everyone agrees, but I'm going to stick to this one)
  9. Eating at fast-food restaurants (in fact, eating at most restaurants)
  10. Eating irregular amounts and at irregular times

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reason 1 for being overweight

In my first post, I listed the three reasons for being overweight:
  • Lack of knowledge about healthy living/poor habits
  • A compulsion to overeat
  • Slow metabolism/poor digestion
There is no special order to these reasons, but today I want to discuss the 1st reason: lack of knowledge and poor habits.

Remember the lady who sued McDonald's for making her fat, because she didn't know the food was bad for her? That's lack of knowledge.

Remember Governor Huckabee who lost 105 pounds after having symptoms of diabetes? That's a sign that he had poor eating habits. He wasn't really interested in controlling his weight before he got scared. Then he enrolled in a controlled weight-loss program and lost the weight without too much trouble (although he made a big commitment).

How do you know what you should eat? Where do you get that knowledge? Come on, every magazine and newspaper has articles about a healthy diet. Here's a concise article, 13 Keys to a Healthy Diet from the University of California at Berkeley.

So, what are you waiting for?

Bad habits are not easy to break, but not hard either. You need to make a commitment. Write it down. Then start. Don't delay. Start with a little and never strain or go overboard. That's going on a diet! Remember, diets don't work!

After about 3-4 weeks, you should find that you've created new, better habits. At least, that's what most experts say about habits. You can start by eating less sugar and more vegetables. Do that for a month. Then substitute fruit for some of the fats you're eating and do that for a month.

One thing I can tell you is that you'll feel better about yourself. You may feel a little scared about missing your favorite foods, but after trying this new way of eating, you'll be much happier.

However, don't foget my reason #2 for being overweight: a compulsion to eat. Many people think that overeating is just a bad habit, but if you have a compulsion, you'll have a harder time. In later posts, I'll get to solutions for compulsion.

If your only problem is that you haven't thought about what healthy eating means, or haven't read those articles, you can solve that problem easily. Just read a few articles.

To start breaking a bad habit, you need to make a commitment. And while you need to make a lifetime commitment, after 3-4 weeks, you'll have developed new, good habits of eating. So it's only hard at first.

Many people are overweight for more than one reason. For example, I know that both reasons 2 & 3 apply to me. Some people have all 3 reasons. Just know that reason #1 is the easiest to solve.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Why diets don't work

Why don't diets work?

Your weight is a balance that comes from what you eat (take in) and the energy you expend (activity). When you go on a diet, you eat less, so you lose weight until you come to a new balance. Then you stop losing weight. The lower amount of food you're eating creates a new balance level.

When you go off the diet, you eat more, so you gain weight again. It's that simple.

Their are many components to losing weight, including both what you eat and your level of activity. From the eating side, to lose weight permanently, you need to change the amount of food you eat permanently. This principle is so obvious, that it's hard to understand why more people don't understand this.

If it sounds depressing, it's not really. That's because you don't need to be "on a diet" all your life. Diets are too extreme. The change you need to make permanently isn't as extreme; it's much easier. Not easy, but easier than being "on a diet."

The right diet for you depends on your situation. I'll be talking a lot in this blog about customizing a solution, but some people feel they need rules to follow.

Follow rules is one of many techniques for dealing with compulsive eating. So, if you need to follow a diet, here's my suggestion:

Find a diet system that's healthy and includes a maintenance diet. Then, forget the diet part! Just go on the maintenance diet! If the diet is in a book, it's probably in the last chapter. The maintenance diet will be less severe, more healthy, and easier to follow.

You're less likely to boomerang back and regain the weight. And you'll understand that you need to commit to it for the rest of your life. That's what maintenance diets are for.

Diets seduce you by telling you you'll lose weight more quickly, but it's just a seduction. The diet won't keep its promise, so don't be fooled.

I'm switching URLs

I've decided to post on the Blogger server, instead of mine. So the next post will be at That's if I successfully transfer the blog!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Welcome to the Lose Weight Permanently blog

Yes, you can lose weight permanently.

No, it isn't easy.

The solution depends on the reason you're overweight.
There are three reasons for being overweight:
  • Lack of knowledge about healthy living/poor habits
  • A compulsion to overeat
  • Slow metabolism/poor digestion
Many people have two or even all three of these causes. In this blog, I'll discuss solutions to all three problems.

Research and common sense shows that going on a diet doesn't work. You may lose weight, but you'll gain it back. Just look at your own experience or that of the people around you.