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Friday, January 30, 2009

What Successful Maintainers Do..and a Shout-Out To Rosy of Canada

I want to thank Rosy of Canada, author of BREAKIN' FREE for commenting on my previous post. I'm glad you got a chance to clarify things and offer your point of view. I think that your desire to inspire is a beautiful thing. Keep doing it!

And since the subject was about maintaining (or rather, how hard it is to maintain fat loss and how few do), here are some things that successful maintainers of weight loss have in common:

Based on data from more than 7,000 people, Wing says there are few similarities in how people lose weight. But those who succeed in maintenance sing the same song.

Instead of trying to eat less for the rest of their lives to bridge the energy gap, these people exercise more. They typically spend an hour or more each day in aerobic exercise and strictly limit time spent watching television.

Physical activity, in ways that researchers don’t really understand, influences some of the biological systems that promote weight regain, encouraging the body to become more sensitive to leptin and insulin, for example.

“Everyone thinks exercise is about burning calories,” Fujioka says. “But you are actually returning the system to more like what it should be. Things start working again.”

The successful maintainers also change what they eat: The registry found that they keep their calories in careful balance with what they expend – religiously referring to calorie charts and writing down everything they consume. They also tend to eat low-fat foods.
--from "Why It's Hard To Maintain Weight Loss"

One thing that Rosy has in her favor is that she has focused a lot on exercising--on working out, getting fit, not just getting thin. And her ongoing success will depend on that focus on exercise, as it has for those The Biggest Loser winners/contestants who kept it off. They kept exercising along with watching calories.

The whole metabolic/obesity physiology is complex, as the constant stream of studies show. Once you become obese, you set yourself up for a lifetime of struggle, and that's just how it is. But exercise does seem to be key, and I can admit freely that when I got sick and was stuck in bed most of the time and was totally sedentary for years and years, I piled it on bigtime.

Now, I'm moderately active (nowhere near daily). And I have not lost, because I'm still not moderating the intake as much as I need to. I know for me to win this battle, I have to move MORE and build more muscle, and I need to eat less and better. The equation stands. Calories used have to be more than calories eaten. Way more.

As much as I'm proud of doing my 1 hour of strenuous strength-training and flexibility work 3x a week with my trainer, I'm not proud that on the other days, I'm still my mostly sedentary self. And although I've moderated my intake enough not to have regained all plus more (the general pattern of dieters), I am still undisciplined. I ignore the things I know I should do in favor of what is easy.

I'll let the doctors and researchers figure out ways to help us work around the hormones and systems in the body that favor fat, that wants to keep us roly-poly. I can only work on my own systems and processes that keep me fat, and that's enough work for a half dozen folks.

But yeah, I think exercise cannot be emphasized enough, because of its manifold benefits and the fact that it's another discipline, another "do it for your own good," a better habit. Just like eating less. We may not want to do it, but you can't really leave it out and succeed at being healthier and leaner.

So, Rosy, thanks for showing off your muscles to inspire. Those are some mighty arms you've got!


moonduster said...

I've definitely noticed that, now that I've lost so much weight, diet alone doesn't lose the weight for me. On the weeks that I don't exercise, I start gaining again. I only lose weight on the weeks I exercise.

MizFit said...

yes yes yes!

Im doing a guest post for back in skinny jeans next week about why I weight train and you so nailed it with Rosy.

it's to be big and strong and HEARD/noticed in the world.
not small and thin and quiet...

JC said...

I still have so much weight to lose that I don't even let my mind go to keeping it off. This is a great post. I all boils down to eat less; move more.

JavaChick said...

This quote is exactly how I feel about exercise:
“But you are actually returning the system to more like what it should be. Things start working again.”

For me, weight loss seems to be more about food than exercise. But, I know that I feel better when I exercise - I remember saying to someone that my system functions better when I'm getting regular exercise. Healthy eating and exercise - if you want to be healthy, you need both.

Jim Purdy said...

It's a struggle, isn't it?

justjuliebean said...

I can only maintain, not lose, if I don't exercise. It's not an option, it improves my mood so much anyway.

Susan said...

Thanks for posting that link. The comment from the NWCR about successful dieters doing aerobic exercise for an hour or more every day was interesting. It rings true for me - I have lost 90 pounds and kept it off for over 5 years and do about that much aerobic exercise. On paper, I shouldn't need to work out that much, but my instinct is that my body really does need that much cardio.

Another explanation is that I'm a member of the NWCR and may have skewed their figures!