Guest Blogger, Dr. Carrie J. Carlson is an Osteopathic Physician, Board Certified in Family Practice and currently studying Functional Medicine with the Institute of Functional Medicine. A former Avera McGreevy physician for 10 years, she has also worked at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center in the outpatient Primary Care Department. She is interested in “thinking outside the box” when it comes to applying clinical medicine. Her hobbies include nutrition, holistic/herbal medicine, reading, running and potty-training her 3 year old. Her goals for 2013 include running a marathon, de-cluttering her home, and becoming a Facebook user. She is a little overwhelmed by these goals but will not let them deter her.”Let’s talk about a few diet myths and exercise.
There are many “myths” with dieting. Recently the New England Journal of Medicine had an article in the January 31, 2013 issue: “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity.” Briefly, I will summarize a few of the myths, please read the original article if you want more info. At the end of this article, I discuss my thoughts on exercise, which truly is not a four letter word.
Small changes in your diet/lifestyle in the long term will help you lose large amounts of weight.
The idea is cutting back by 100 calories a day, you should be able to lose one pound in 35 days. One pound = 3,500 calories. But studies have shown, over time, this does not cause continued weight loss. You need big changes for big weight -loss. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of our metabolism, it appears this small change theory does not cause big weight- loss over time. Basically, if you need to lose big, you need to change big. If you really want to lose weight in this lifetime and change your path away from chronic disease and illnesses, including but not limited to: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, joint arthritis, chronic back/joint pain and taking early nursing-home tours. Yikes. That list is enough to scare anyone. But is it enough to scare our brains to not crave salt, fat and sugary foods? The processed food industry is trying to keep us addicted to those foods. See an article titled, “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.” This article, dated February 20, 2013, in the New York Times, gives very revealing information. Maybe your cravings for chips and sweets are not completely your fault after all?The article is free, research Google for it. Recently, I gave up Diet Coke, not an easy thing to do. I think there is a secret ingredient not listed in it, increasing the cravings for it. Any soda for that matter is highly addictive. The soda people know this.
Setting realistic weight-loss goals is important; otherwise frustration will lead to less weight-loss. (For example: losing #50 vs. #10 is harder and you are more likely to fail.)
They claim there are studies that show just because you had a larger goal does not mean you will fail more often. Unfortunately, we have become a society of immediate gratification. We want weight loss now, not in 6 months. However, if you really need to lose #50 and are ready to make a commitment to it, maybe now is the time for you. Get some help with it though, join Weight-Watchers or have a Biggest-Loser contest at work. Losing big amounts of weight might mean getting big amounts of support from your family and friends.
Don’t lose weight too fast, or you might gain it all back.
Not too surprising here. But, I wonder how much water loss vs. actual fat loss is taking place with rapid weight loss. Most people fluctuate up and down every few days a few pounds. I think this is directly related to your sodium intake (salt). Whenever I bring up sodium intake to patients, I always hear, “but doc, I don’t use any salt!” Well guess what? It’s probably in the can of soup you eat, the pickles and ketchup, the frozen microwaveable lunch meal you bring to work every day, potato chips, and one of the biggest culprits? Ham and deli meats usually have a ton of sodium in them.
The original article has more details. Please review it if you have further questions…
Finally, to wrap up this discussion, let’s get moving people! And I don’t mean to a warmer climate, like Florida. Let’s start talking about exercise. My personal opinion is the more you exercise after age 40, the healthier you will be at age 70+. My healthiest patients at the VA Medical Center were the ones who had been very active and exercised frequently most of their lives. (Even if they were #20 overweight.) But why is exercise so hard to maintain? Or even start for that matter? Personally, I think people are just plain exhausted and say to themselves, “I will start tomorrow, or next week, or maybe the first of next month.” After a long day at work, it feels like one more thing on the “to do list.” Just move your body, preferably off the couch. There’s never a better time than now. Don’t wait for some epiphany, some great moment of time where you say to yourself, “I’m ready to start exercising and this time I’ll stick with it forever.” That moment might never happen. Just start, but be careful at first. It’s easy to get injured when you’re out of shape. Explore new ways to exercise, like indoor cycling, kettle bells, Yoga or even Zumba. You might surprise yourself into actually sticking with a plan, a plan that helps with gradual weight-loss, and helps you keep it off. An exercise plan you love. This is the key to long-term health: Find an exercise you love. Living in a rural state like ours, we don’t all have the access or money to join a gym or fitness center. You can rent DVD’s at your local library on many different types of exercise. And you can even watch most anything on your home computer, for free. Dig out those old Jane Fonda Aerobics videos. Remember those? Or Richard Simmons tapes. Wear whatever you have on. You don’t need fancy work-out clothes. Good tennis shoes are helpful.
One last piece of advice: if you ever watch T.V. late at night and see those inspiring exercise weight-loss Infomercial programs, like P90X and Insanity, don’t order any until you ask me about them. I own most of them, have tried most, and some are good, some are bad, and some are ugly (unless you have the knees of a 23 year old and/or have passed a cardiac stress test in the past 6 months.) Seriously. Good Luck!