Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Long Term Weight Loss

As a certified fitness trainer - not training anyone because I'm homeschooling and writing books - I enjoy sharing my knowledge and learning with others regarding getting in shape, and losing weight. I find that there is so much misinformation out there - even from the so called professionals, who are out there to make money on weight loss tricks that simply do not work, or work only temporarily and actually set you up for even greater weight gain when it's over. I want to clear up the muddy waters and give the SCIENTIFIC facts on weight loss, metabolism and exercise. What you read in the papers changes from day to day. But the science, the true science, stays the same. Yet, no one reports on that because it's too boring. Too simple even.

Let me begin by stating that the worst way to lose weight is by skipping meals, restricting calories or depriving ourselves of food. Many diet centers utilize this philosophy of weight loss to the detriment of the public. The reason this does not work is because God designed your body so magnificently that it will do what it needs to in order to hold onto as much of the fat as possible, thereby avoiding death by famine. At first, for about 2-3 weeks, you may see some results. But then, your body, which was created to avoid starvation as long as possible, will lower its food intake needs. Suddenly, you only need the number of calories you consume each day to stay at the same weight you are. You have now lowered your metabolism. Metabolism is basically how your body uses fat for energy. And now, if you go back to eating three meals a day you will gain weight, because your body only needs the fewer calories that you caused it to need. You will gain it all back, and then some. All this because you chose to skip a few meals for a few weeks!

If this seemed hard to understand, let me explain it with an example. Say that you normally consume about 2,100 calories a day. You eat about 700 calories at each of your three meals. You feel you need to lose weight so you begin skipping lunch. You lose weight for about 2-3 weeks, then your body says "Oh my! It looks like we are about to enter an Egyptian famine. If we keep losing weight like this, we will not make it to the end of the seven years! Let's all work together and lower our metabolism to only need 1,400 calories per day since that is all we are getting. Then we can stop losing all this weight!" So God's design for our bodies makes that happen quite easily.

Now, our diet program isn't working anymore. We were losing weight. We saw some major results, but now...nothing." So we do one of two things, we eat even less, lowering our metabolism even more, or we go back to our former way of life. If we go back to consuming 2,100 calories a day, when our body only needs 1,400. Guess what! We will gain all the weight back and more, and more, and more. Okay, now you know how you got yourself in the mess. How do you get yourself out of it? By weight training and eating!

Resistance training is a vital part of success with raising your metabolism. You should train two or three days a week to effectively raise your metabolism. High intensity cardiovascular exercise might have some metabolic potential as well; studies are still inconclusive. Studies have shown that moderate or low intensity aerobics does absolutely nothing good for your fat metabolism, in fact, since aerobics tends to be catabolic (tearing down your muscles), high intensity exercise will actually lower your metabolism if it done too often. However, aerobics and walking are wonderful for how you feel - the cardiovascular nature of it gets your blood flowing and, though it actually does not help you lose weight, it will give you more energy.

There is a way to eat that will actually work to raise your metabolism. You MUST eat five or six times a day. I know it sounds strange that such a routine would help you lose weight. But it is necessary. Don’t eat more than you normally do. Just eat more often. What happens is that if you wait 3-4 hours between meals, your body goes into a food shortage/fast/famine mode and lowers your metabolism so that you aren’t hungry or in need of food in that four hour time frame. What you want to do is trick your body into raising your metabolism. If you are continually eating, your body kicks into high gear, working to burn off the calories that you are constantly consuming. Your metabolism raises to meet the demands of your constant feasting. Now, remember, you are not eating more food than you would normally eat. You are simply spreading it out over the day; eating a well balanced meal with small portions throughout the day.

If this seems difficult to accomplish, you can find a meal replacement bar or drink to have between meals. But please remember to cut down on the portion of your noonday and evening meals since you have already eaten. However, even if you do not, your body will still raise your metabolism to deal with your feasting. This is the opposite of what happens when you wait 4 hours between meals; your body lowering your metabolism to deal with your fasting.

What should you eat? I recommend a balanced diet, eating natural foods (didn't come out of a box), in the ratio of 1:2:3. One part healthy unprocessed fat, two parts protein (preferably animal) and three parts low glycemic carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate consumption is very misunderstood today. We must have good healthy carbohydrates for proper brain function, muscle and organ function, and just to feel good and have energy and vitality. However, the carbs should always be low glycemic, that means they are complex carbs. They take a long time for the body to break down, releasing a steady flow of energy and fuel to our bodies for hours. High glycemic carbs give us a quick up and a quick down. We feel really excited, then really tired and lethargic. And that crash often leads us to be irritable, unproductive and feel bad about ourselves. So, try to avoid high glycemic carbs if at all possible, except on Delicacy Day, which I'll explain momentarily.
High glycemic carbs include such things as anything that has been processed. For example, oat meal is a low glycemic carb, Quick Oats are high glycemic carbs because they have been processed. Stay clear of corn products, popcorn, corn syrup, white bread products including large portions (bigger than your fist) of pasta, and potatoes. Avoid like the plague things such as crackers and cereal. In fact, it would be better to eat a piece of cake made with freshly ground wheat than to eat one cracker. Think of crackers as your enemy - except on Delicacy Day.

Okay, now here is the key of all keys. The trick of all tricks. The crown jewel of treasures in the weight loss world. Once a week, you need to go off your healthy diet and gorge yourself on high fat foods. This is your Delicacy Day. Believe it! You WILL lose weight if you do this. But you need to do this ONLY once per week. Perhaps on Saturday? Or Sunday may be best for you. The physiological reasons behind this is that your body does begin to adjust (remember homeostasis? Your body resists change) to even the six-times-a-day eating, the healthier food, the continued workouts. And as your body adjusts, it will quit losing weight. But if once a week, you CHEAT, gorge yourself, have a Delicacy Day, your body will continue to lose weight. Your trick your body into a continual raising of your metabolism. And physiologically, this is also helpful. If you know that on Sunday you can have a chocolate croissant for breakfast, chicken fried steak with gravy for lunch, a big plate of linguini Alfredo for dinner, plus three deserts and still continue to lose weight, you will happily eat and workout with diligence the whole week long.

Losing weight and getting in shape has value in this life. It really will enable you to accomplish more each day because you will have more energy with your higher metabolism. People ask me how I am able to do so much. I don't think I do that much, I simply have the energy necessary to accomplish things I want to do, in addition to what I need to do, each day. It also brings honor to our marriage when we care about how we present ourselves to our husband. Getting on the right track is not hard, once the habit is formed.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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