FINDING PROGRAMS THAT WORK FOR YOU. I was cleaning house and sorting print journals and magazines for recycling when the cover of a 6-month old TIME magazine issue grabbed my attention “The Weight Loss Trap…Why your diet isn’t working”. The featured article was written by Alexandra Sifferlin.
The weight loss secret Sifferlin identifies up front, on the first pages of the item, is that “no single diet, from low carb and paleo to low fat ad vegan-will work for everyone.” That’s the big message of the entire 7-page article!
The article begins by describing the efforts of an NIH (National Institutes of Health) scientist to find the answer to the puzzling question of how people could successfully lose weight. The scientist had started watching the television show “The Greatest Loser” to learn how contestants were able to shed so much weight week by week.
The startling revelation uncovered by his interest in the process was that even under the ideal conditions created by the show, which resulted in speedy reduction in mostly fat mass, 13 of the 14 persons he studied gained back much of the lost weight, and a few became even heavier. At a rate of 2-4 pounds per year. The extensive discussion explains that the metabolism of most dieters was reduced by the process and remained low even after weight was regained!
The gist of the advice provided to readers, who search for the answer promised by the article’s title, is that the path to successful sustainable weight loss will be different for everyone. That most persons who eventually decrease their weight and maintain the loss will have tried at least one method, and likely several, without good results before identifying one that WORKS FOR THEM. The diet that seems to take the pounds off a spouse, or friend, or celebrity will probably not have the same effect on everyone who tries it. Individuals will respond differently to different diets. And it doesn’t appear to relate to genetics.
Sifferlin described a program that tracks people who have achieved and maintained weight loss of at least 30 pounds for 1 year, the National Weight Control Registry, which offers this information:
The article says that Registry leaders learned at least one valuable lesson from the collected
data, that of 100,000 “real-life biggest losers, no two people lost weight in the same way.”
Other experts, consulted for this article, advised that the best strategies take a whole-person approach to finding the magic mix of tactics that will result in success. It’s not just the biology of calories in and energy expended that should guide the construction of a plan. Psychology, budget, and behavior, for example, should also be taken into consideration.
What does this have to do with EXERCISE? Earned Runs doesn’t have data from a registry of exercisers from which to make conclusions about how to successfully become fit. But here’s the leap of faith: perhaps we can borrow from the work and lessons learned about weight loss. We can translate the findings about dieting to exercise activity; there’s no single program that will be make everyone physically fit. Each person must search for ways to incorporate healthy activity into daily life. No one studio class, sport, or fad exercise will likely lead to overall fitness that can be enjoyed over a lifetime.
Those who are interested in maintaining and possibly improving functional fitness may need to try different approaches before finding a winning combination that syncs with individual biology, behavior, psychology, and budget. And like the dieters will need to do, make adjustments as lives and circumstances change. What works well at age 30 may not at ages 40, 50, and beyond. And what seems ideal for single, working, urban dwellers will not probably not fit the needs of a suburban parent of young children.
The happy lesson that we learn in the TIME article is that we are not doomed by genes or any other characteristic when it comes to successful dieting, and likely not in achieving fitness either. If the exercise program or gym routine our neighbor is addicted to doesn’t seem to keep us interested or on track to achieve personal fitness goals, no worry. There’s an activity combination that will; each person must continue to explore and try different approaches.
As fitness and health resolutions are being formulated for 2018, it is encouraging to believe that a successful strategy may be to evaluate and change what doesn’t seem to be working. NOT to accept failure when a plan doesn’t motivate or inspire perseverance.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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