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Monday, January 17, 2011

Tip: Low-Carb and Low-Fat Both Win when It Comes to Losing


In the “battle of the diets,” both low-carb and low-fat diets win, when it comes to losing. A two-year study paid for by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the low-carb diet had a slight health edge, however. While both plans resulted in similar changes in total cholesterol, blood pressure, percentage of body fat, and bone density, the dieters in the low-carb group had about two times better improvements in their good (HDL) cholesterol than people in the low-fat group. Read the whole article at

I never felt an affinity for the low-fat plan, because it involves too much caloric restriction and often calls for foods I don’t find tasty. I must admit that a little fat on my meat, a little butter in my oatmeal, a little fat-filled dressing on my salads all give my taste buds the lift they need to keep me satisfied with my meal. I’ve followed the low-carb plan, therefore, primarily avoiding starches. For six months, now, I’ve spurned or eaten only small quantities of white rice, white potatoes, pasta, bread, and sugar.

Both low-fat and low-carb group in the test kept food diaries. A food diary is something I use when I start a plan, but I let it fall by the wayside at times. When I do, the fat stops falling off. That darned diary is a godsend to me. It not only reminds me not to snack on bad things, because I have to write down every item that goes down my gullet, but it also gives me a record to review, if I see my weight at a standstill or rising. I can read my food diary and see what I changed. Did I add a new item that might be tipping the scales in a bad direction? Did I skip breakfast too often? Breakfast is a downfall for me; I forget it often, and it’s important to set my metabolism for the day by eating something in the morning. Even as I write this blog entry, it’s quarter past eleven, and I forgot breakfast again. Darn it!

Both groups in the study also exercised regularly, starting slowly and adding more exercise per week. Exercise. Ha! This week has been a true challenge to me, when it comes to exercise. Atlanta had a record snowfall eight days ago, followed by freezing rain that added a layer of dangerous ice to the roads and made my steep, curving, shaded driveway impassible. As a result I could not get my car out of the garage to get to the gym and couldn’t even walk down the driveway to walk my dog, for almost a full week. The car is still in the garage after eight days, but on the fifth day after the snowfall, I was finally able to break through the ice enough to walk to my neighbor’s driveway, which was clear, walk down it to the street level, and take the dog for a decent walk. I usually don’t think of those walks as exercise for me, only exercise and enrichment for him, but in truth, when I don’t take him for walks, I become mighty sedentary.

I heard the weather reports and knew the ice was coming, so I went to the gym the Sunday the snow was predicted to fall, but I didn’t know I wouldn’t get back to the gym until the next Saturday. That’s when friends gave me a ride to the gym. I still couldn’t risk backing my car down my icy driveway.

Exercise, darn it, is vital to weight loss, and my inactivity resulted in no weight loss this week.

I’m having to be more realistic with my weight loss. I know people lose more weight per week when they first begin a food plan, as I did. I couldn’t realistically maintain my rapid weight loss forever, but I did want it to last a long time. Now I’m in the phase of weight loss where I can’t lose a pound a week, but I could lose a pound a month, if I stick to the plan, stay active, and keep my eye on my goals. Instead of beating myself up mentally for the slowdown in my weight loss, I’ll accept that I’ve entered a new phase of my plan. I have accomplished some of my goals. I lost fifty health-endangering pounds, relieved the pains in my knees, returned to being able to walk without pain, improved my cholesterol levels, reduced my blood pressure, reduced the volume of my daily medication, went down two or more clothing sizes, improved my appearance, and increased my flexibility. While I won’t stop and rest on my laurels, I will accept that my weight loss will continue, but at a slower rate than it did in the first six months of my plan, and at this point, exercise becomes vital to my continued weight loss.

Up to this point, my exercise involved walking the dog and performing water aerobic exercises and lap swimming. As I reported earlier, last week a friend showed me how to use some of the exercise equipment in the gym. I’d thought working out on the equipment would not be much fun, so I’d avoided it. I don’t like feeling like I’m sweating, which is why working out in a pool works well for me. Still, I had a blast learning about and trying out various machines in the gym. The time went by quickly, and the next day, I enjoyed the feeling in my body, muscles I rarely used. As a result, the next time I went to the gym alone, I worked out on some of the same equipment, tried a few new machines, and did water aerobics and laps as well. I’ve used a combination of machines and water aerobics only three times, and I already love the new feeling in my body. My abdominal muscles are tightening, and I feel more strength in my back. I intend to continue the combination of machine workouts as well as water workouts. I’ve also read that weight lifting helps bone density and is therefore vital to older folks. Yes, yes, I fit that category.

Guess where I’m going this afternoon. Yup, back to the gym. My nephew asked if I was turning into a gym rat. I can only hope!

I must admit to humility and lack of self-confidence, though, when people turn to me as some sort of weight-loss guru. I didn’t invent anything new, I simply pulled together all the things that work for me and have worked for others. Part of me says I won’t be a guru until I reach my ultimate weight-loss goal, but even then, I’ll feel the same way, that I’m just an ordinary person who put information to good use. If I can inspire others, that’s a bonus, but I’m not the originator of any weight-loss information and don’t claim to be. I’ve gotten help from every source I’ve researched, and I get inspiration from writing this blog and getting feedback and/or praise from readers. In other words, if you’re reading this blog, you’re helping me, rather than vice versa, so thank you all.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 195
Goal weight for this week: 194
Actual weight this week: 195
Total pounds lost: 50
Goal weight within next three weeks: 194
Goal weight: 150
Mini goal: 190 by February 28

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