Long Term Weight Loss: Why Training Alone is a Bad Idea

Long term weight loss requires an investment of time and energy, and money. It’s a whole lot more fun to spend those three things working toward something that gives you both immediate gratification and longevity that you get to enjoy however, so don’t let that statement deter you. When you feel better, move easier, and feel better about yourself, you get to enjoy life more. Getting sick, tired, and having a lower quality of life is what’s waiting if you don’t opt for a healthy lifestyle.

Even if you don’t have a lot of weight -or any- to lose, your habits still impact your quality of life. Most of all, I think, your ability to share your unique gifts with the world is enhanced by your health.

If you’re going to lose weight and keep it off, you’re going to want a coach or trainer, or a group to hold you accountable. Here’s why.

After 6 months of resistance training in a supervised program, followed by 6 months either discontinuing or continuing on their own, subjects ages 61-80 reverted back to baseline measures of body composition and their strength was reduced from end of the supervised program in both cases. That is, whether subjects were continuing to exercise or not, they went backwards and reversed their progress. Why?

Apparently, we all work harder with someone watching and tracking results. Other studies have shown that women underestimate the weight they should be lifting by about 40%. In fact, so much so that they aren’t even lifting at the threshold to attain minimum health benefits let alone if you have a weight loss or bone density goal. Blindfolded the same subjects easily lift significantly more weight without perceiving it as any heavier.

The flip for long term weight loss?

  • Get a coach, trainer, or partner (who knows what they are doing is not what you should be doing, necessarily)
  • Get a support group you participate in (members of groups who hang in the background get far fewer results than those who ask questions, and do the work)
  • Pick ONE and drop the rest (the lie you tell yourself is that by joining groups and forums about weight loss you’ll find all the answers: the truth is you are just shopping and have no intention of doing consistently: members in our groups who are in 6-12 others are making the least progress and asking the same questions hoping for a different answer than – you have to DO the suggestions you’ve asked for)
  • Track your programs like a coach (coaching progression involved calculating volume carefully week to week and month to month it is not random or simply consistently exercising: you must consistently overload, increase and decrease to allow gains without increase in injury or too much adaptation that makes the body slow, stop, or reverse progress)
  • The “something is better than nothing” statement is one to avoid in application to your exercise program too often

More Long Term Weight Loss Essentials

Two components of a successful long term weight loss program that are crucial are effective exercise and appropriate nutrition. Eating for fat loss gets tricky. It’s absolutely not intuitive. A calorie deficit has to be managed closely in order not to initiate the undesirable loss of muscle that then will slow metabolism further. Weight loss can by itself slow metabolism. Maintaining and potentially gaining lean muscle mass while losing weight is the best way to ensure you’ll keep your metabolism high. That’s done by resistance training and increasing protein intake to an adequate, but not excessive amount.

The Moving Nutrition Target for Long Term Weight Loss

Sadly, on the phone with a practitioner the other day, I was asked, “Are you eating more than the RDA of fat?”

The RDAs were designed with disease prevention in mind… at a time when foods were actually whole food, soil was still rich with nutrients… breads were made at home… and seasonal foods were eaten…a few minutes after they were picked from the land, washed, and cooked minimally.

We live a far different life today. The RDAs alone don’t apply to a life where we want to thrive in a chemical-laden world where we’re exposed to toxins constantly. The same practitioner next said, “... they’re antiquated” yet didn’t have a framework to determine or define a good amount of macronutrients. We’re in trouble. When you go for help, help may also be struggling with how to suggest what you uniquely need and what the range of healthy is for you right now. Using the RDA has long been the standard and is still used for apps for tracking and dietitians in clinical sessions. The alternative is a challenge: combining personal preference, heritage, emotions, along with genetics, energy requirements, and gut health requires a depth of knowledge in many areas.

Your genetics play a bigger part in what combination of foods helps you. I’ve seen a balance of nutrients work for clients, a lower fat higher protein and low to moderate carb work for others, and a higher fat and protein and low carb diet work for still others. It is the timing and type of those foods however that matter most. The quality of your foods matter. Not the “points” you acquire. Chemical-laden freezer meals, void of nutrients, artificial sweetened low calorie foods… will not create a vibrant healthy disease-free body. Your body gets confused with chemicals and it stops working well without micronutrients.

Tests can give you some answers. If you have the right tests. The results are breadcrumbs of clues that need to be strung together. Signs and symptoms you have are the same. Your body is sending you messages, test results if you will, all the time about what’s working and what’s not. Exhausted? Overweight? Yes, examine the obvious: your food, your exercise, your sleep habits, and stress level. Then you’ve got to go deeper: your rest & recovery, your joyful activities, how closely you’re living a life that fills you with purpose, and the exposure to toxins (in your body, on your body, in the air around you).

If you were to take in the RDA of protein, you would be far below what research has shown to support optimal Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) in older adults. If you hope to lose fat, you will want to increase lean muscle to boost metabolically active tissue. That will help you lose fat. As it also helps you be stronger and have more stamina you will naturally want to move more. It will be less of an effort and more of a pleasure.

One of the things that supports MPS in older adults is … fat. Eating omega 3 rich fatty foods and taking Omega 3 supplements both have been proven effective for supporting MPS and increase fat free mass in older subjects. It’s a daily flip I’m including in Hot, Not Bothered (on pre-order now) in fact, so I’ve been pouring over the research recently.

Doing exercise to create lean muscle, what you’re doing is laying down the foundation. You’ve got to have the nutrition, and the lifestyle habits that support it for it to enhance your long term weight loss.

exercise card for long term weight loss metabolism The Exercise for Long Term Weight Loss

The science of long term weight loss is different for a 5-10lb loss than it is for a 20-50lb or more weight loss. In fact, there will be many more cycles for a long term weight loss plan if you more weight to lose. As you initially will lose weight more slowly or quickly depending on your starting point (do you need to nurture your metabolism a bit to get it going?), you’ll slow and go again off and on.

A plateau during weight loss that is accompanied by higher energy, improved sleep, less stress, often tales of reduced heart burn, and inches lost is a good thing. Making internal environment changes that help you gain muscle and lose fat will make you feel stronger but may not reflect on the scale. Body composition testing is a wise way to show change. You also want to remember that you don’t want to take an elevator from the top floor to ground that simply accelerates as it goes down. A stop here and there breaks the fall. Metabolism changes you want to be permanent. Holding at a spot temporarily is usually a positive part of long term weight loss.

Interval training, heavy weight training, full body workouts and hormone balancing exercise (that are not high calorie burners) are all a part of long term weight loss with focus on fat burning. Coupled with the type and timing of food intake these exercise strategies are a must. I have a smoothie every day for breakfast. If I have a long and packed day I will have a fourth meal mid to late afternoon of a second smoothie. Four high protein meals a day each full of vegetables that include leafy greens, deeply colored veggies, and those from the onion-cabbage-mushroom family provide a wide variety of nutrients and fiber. Fat and spices add flavor and pleasure. You’ve got to love your food.

When you’re weight training, overload is an absolute must. If you reread the first paragraphs of this blog about supervised exercise, you’ll be reminded why slipping back into our comfort level fails to produce results. Putting time in is NOT enough. If your goal is to feel better after exercise, you will do that. You can create endorphins from low level exercise. You can’t create lean muscle, or enhance metabolism from it the same way however as when you focus with specific intention on the right intensity.

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