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The Real Reasons Your Last Diet

Did Not Work



The No. 1 reason diets fail: simple lack of exercise, according to the Calorie Control Council. To combat the rise in obesity, we need to splurge less and move more.


Do the math: To lose 1 lb. per week, you would have to burn 500 calories a day more than you take in.


In my previous newsletters, I reported that research out of my alma mater, Brown University, showed that successful weight losers actually exercise a lot more than previously thought—one hour, six days a week.


The U.S. Government’s Weight Control Network reports only 22 percent of U.S. adults get even the recommended regular physical activity (5 times a week for at least 30 minutes) of any intensity during leisure time.


Only 15 percent get the recommended amount of vigorous activity (3 times a week for at least 20 minutes). And 25 percent of adults claim they do no physical activity at all in their leisure time.


Meanwhile, in an increasingly couch-comfortable culture, 36 percent are reporting they too often splurge on their favorite foods. Consider that 33 percent snack too much, 28 percent overeat for emotional reasons, and 26 percent often overeat at mealtimes, the Calorie Control Council reports.


In the beginning, cutting back on calories may help start your weight loss, but successive studies have proven that the key to continuing that success is a matter of movement. That’s because relentless calorie restriction lowers your metabolism.


Best solution: plan to burn 2,000 calories per week through exercise. That works out to about 4 1/2 hours of walking, weight training or yoga for someone who weighs 140 pounds, or 3 1/2 hours of the same activities for someone who weighs 180. Cut 500 calories per day out of diet to create a net loss of 3,500—equal to one pound.


Bonus: adding one pound of muscle through weight training burns 30-50 more calories per day.


Client Success: Jere Pitner



Take it from weight loss winner Jere Pitner, who has been counting down nearly 20 lbs. The candy jar on her desk is no longer for her personal enjoyment—it’s a token for the employees at her job as office manager for a large medical practice.


When Jere came to me, she had been hitting raquetball with a friend a couple of days a week, then eating a large meal late at night afterwards. We worked on increasing the number of times of day Jere ate while spreading her activity throughout the week, including twice-weekly weight lifting sessions at Total Fitness. “I was surprised how easy it was once I changed my eating and exercise became part of my life,” Jere says. “It wasn’t laborious.”


How To Splurge Within Reason



Make a list: Your top 5 trigger foods. These are foods that if you eat one, you want to have the whole box, the rest of the Shoney’s dessert bar or the entire bottle. If there are foods that you feel cause you to lose control, do your best to avoid them completely. Hint, hint: studies show that high-glycemic foods that have a high sugar content are frequently implicated in bingeing. Other research indicates dieters tend to lose their resolve when they drink alcohol with their meals.


Make another list: Your top 5 splurge foods. This may include everything from a Mexican sundae to your local bakery’s favorite chocolate chip cookies. Of that list, figure out if there is a lower-calorie version that might satisfy you. For example, if you absolutely, positively can’t live without fudgsicles, see if you can’t find a lite version at your local grocery and eat a moderate amount.


If you absolutely, positively have to have the real thing, do so once a week and absolutely, positively enjoy it. Give up the guilt, and plan ahead. For example, if you have to eat a sundae regularly in order to feel like a fulfilled human being, figure out a normal day’s calories that would maintain your weight (for example, 2,000), figure out the damage from the sundae, eat it, but cut out a corresponding number of calories from the rest of your day’s feedings.


Progress and Get Thinner and Stronger



Imagine this: In school, you pass 1st grade. After you’ve learned ABC’s, you continue to read Dick and Jane books. Not only would you become irretrievably bored, your mind would never improve.


Often, as a trainer, I’ll get a call like this. “My wife has been exercising for about a year and hasn’t lost a pound or anyinches. She’d like to come to you for two sessions to get a new program.”


Personal fitness training with Total Fitness is a matter of personal development—mind,body and spirit. Learning how to do a biceps curl is maybe, at best, 10 percent of what we’re about. If you’re stuck with your program, it’s important to look at all the reasons why that’s the case. Often it’s a matter of not understanding the principle of progression. In the beginning, primary gains in strength from weight training are mostly neurological. To continue to build muscle, lose weight and tighten up requires increasing the number of sets you can complete and the amount of weight you can lift.


Even women whose primary goal is to lose weight and tone up won’t continue to see those results unless they progress. Learn how to do more safely—and see results.


Overcome Your Plateaus with Total Fitness



If you’ve been dieting and exercising and seen no results, call us for a consultation. We evaluate not only physical fitness programs, but also offer weight management seminars and life coaching programs to help you become the best you can be.


Some tell tale signs that it’s time to change your workout: no post muscular soreness, mental boredom and/or burnout and stagnation in your physical progress. Getting more results doesn’t have to be painful. Learn new exercises and find out how to change your repetititions, weight load, rest times and speed.


Frequently, with women dieters especially, I frequently see overtraining. Signs you’re exercising too much: lack of progress or decrease in physical performance, constant muscle or joint soreness, insomnia, increased injuries or a higher resting heart rate or blood pressure and loss of motivation. Learn to work smarter, not necessarily harder.


Catherine Carrigan is president of Total Fitness of Atlanta, Ga., www.totalfitness.net, and the author of Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide (New York: Marlowe and Co., 1999). She teaches seminars worldwide on health, fitness and nutrition and is an internationally-recognized expert on mind-body fitness. She is honorary board chairman of the Depression Welness Network, www.depressionwellness.net, a national fitness spokesman for Johnson and Johnson and the mind-body fitness expert for www.aboutstress.com.

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