In Exercise

Lose Weight With Less Realism and More Dreaming?

It’s true I put a lot of emphasis on the need for sleep into my programs and writings. Yet that’s not where this headline is going. A New England Journal of Medicine study suggests small changes are too little and big goals are better.

We’ve been told that reducing our caloric intake by 200 kcal (skip the after dinner chocolate or use a smaller bowl for soup) a day or expending an additional 200 kcal (walking two miles) – or both – over time will add up. This study published in January of 2013, mind you focuses still on the pervasive information around calories controlling weight. After 50 and during hormone fluctuations the reality is HORMONES not calories control body weight. Just keep that in mind as you read.

Logically, we get that. But we have years…decades of old thinking that just doesn’t get erased. It’s practically in our DNA because we’ve made choices and been conditioned with it in our habits for so long. We skipped breakfast because it meant a head start on weight loss. We left meat off our plates when we filled up because that was tied to more calories and fat. We focused on a rigid schedule of eating foods whether we wanted them or not, enjoyed them or not in the hopes we might lose weight and then could get back to normal.

I’m willing to bet that even reading that you see the futility in it. But while we’re in that storm… we don’t. Here in part is some of what research has uncovered because unknowing subjects have given all too much information for study.

Myths that prevail: The calorie reduction will add up over time. Because of unique body chemistry and individual calorie burn it never works that way. Never. And you know …the rest of the story. Yes, diets work sometimes, temporarily. What we conveniently forget is that they backfire and cause weight gain to balance the checkbook again and usually leave you with more fat because you’ve lost: muscle and fat. You don’t get a visit from the muscle fairy when you regain. It’s all fat. Cycles of that during your adult life leave you fatter over time.

The Take-Away: Reducing calories serves to send the brain information so that it uses fewer calories. When we exercise there is too often a compensatory increase in food we eat if we exercise incorrectly. (too long, too hard, or both).

The idea of setting realistic goals is not new. It’s supposed to set us up for success. Take a small task from the whole and keep repeating or then go on to the next and you’ll make more optimal progress than a big goal. The study, which is actually a review of research literature, revealed that big goals – not necessarily extreme measures of reaching them – are better. Small, maybe seemingly silly goals may get you frustrated much sooner than setting a big goal you’re in love with.

Start focusing on the Bucket List things. Forget the 5K if you reallyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sVYRdttGVs want to do a marathon get that on your list. I’ve pointed to two middle-aged boomer babes in Facebook more than once. The Middle-Aged triathlete and Living- Instead of Existing. They’ve both begun doing triathlons, which is coincidence. But from 497 lbs and from 30+ year cancer survivor and 1 year hip replacement to the gumption to train for and do triathlons is big in my book. And it worked.

I don’t think Donald Trump sets realistic goals. I doubt that most business people who you or I talk about do. The vision for building something is big and bold and exciting. Dr Henry . Dodge and Chris Crowley authored Younger Next Year a few years ago. It’s a great read and it’s right on target with this information. All the stuff you believe about being conservative and realistic (or extreme) got you right here. You need to find that place right on the edge, of big but safe and do it.

The Take-Away: If your goal doesn’t get you excited, find a new goal.

If you have significant weight to lose set some big goals. Confide in someone who will remind you what those goals are.

Do realize if you have small amounts or moderate amounts of weight to lose- setting a goal like triathlon training or marathons… is not a “weight loss” program. You have to fuel your body. But you will remove the focus on the scale and you will change body composition and your relationship with your body for the better.

Nothing we think used to matter really does. The capstone comments from this study show…it doesn’t matter if you or overweight kids have physical education in school or not. Sex doesn’t really burn that many calories. Bread feeding didn’t hurt or help you with weight problems. Assessing “readiness” and spending time with your “obstacles” is really not as valuable as we thought.

What does emerge from this, now two year old study a reader shared with me, is confirmation that hormones…. not calories matter. That goes both ways. Eat WELL, exercise but focus on movement you love not slaving away to the dreadmill. You don’t love it? You won’t stick with it…so try to couple with a happy event or something you DO love. Music while you’re walking. New shoes for X amount of miles, or a book. There are stories out there to motivate you to reach your goals- find them!

~Debra


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