Exercise is not enough

Updated 11.13.2014; reformatted 8.22.2015
The New York Times reports on a study where 81 overweight women were made to exercise more, but no attempt was made to monitor, control or even DEFINE their eating habits.

The result? Increasing exercise alone doesn't guarantee weight loss. Why? Because those who didn't lose weight likely (we don't know because NO effort was made to determine it) ATE more after exercising (because they'd "earned" it) or moved LESS (lowered their NEAT* because "I exercised today so I can sit down for the rest of the day") after the exercise interlude.

What a complete waste of time and money.

* NEAT = Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (calories burned doing everything else involved with life except intentional exercising) NEAT represents a MUCH larger portion of calories out then Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT). Why? Because most people are awake for 16+ hours a day but only exercise 30-90 minutes (unless you're an athlete of some sort).

Personal Diet Update

So I realized as I was ranting above that I haven't written any update on my own diet/weight loss progress.

Still following the 5:2

Roughly 18 months ago, my husband and I started following the 5:2 eating regime as proposed by Michael Moseley in a BBC television show. He also wrote a book describing the diet, but I never read it. It's a very simple idea: twice a week you severely restrict calorie intake, but otherwise you eat as you like. My own weight loss occurred following the even simpler eat less, move more model. But my husband doesn't (and won't) exercise regularly or try to be less sedentary, nor does he have any interest in restricting calories daily. Thus the 5:2 for him, was the first and remains the only regime he's willing to follow.

In doing so he did lose some weight, and was briefly below a BMI of 30, but now maintains a weight below where he started, but not low enough to move him out of the obese range. He's content there and is pleased (as are his doctors) that he's no longer gaining weight. At this point we don't even think about it, we just eat lighter on Mondays and Thursdays (barring special occasions or events) and get on with life.

Still maintaining and new scales.

As for me, I continue to do what I did to lose weight, though now I'm in maintenance. I put on a few pounds while on vacation over the summer, then lost them again when I returned to my normal eating and moving routine.

Weight (more precisely mass, as weight depends on gravity, but no one discusses their mass number, just their weight), unlike time, is not a relative variable. You weigh what you weigh and that's that. However, the accuracy of the scale on which you weigh yourself will vary.

Cutting to the chase, I recently bought a new digital scale. Overnight I "gained" four pounds, which of course is nonsense. In fact, what I gained was a more accurate scale, so that the number I get at home now agrees with the number that's measured at the doctor's office. Does this mean I need to adjust my 25% weight loss total? No, because the "high" weight I measured was taken with the old, inaccurate scale. So if my low weight is four pounds heavier than I thought, so was my high weight (assuming the error is constant across the weight range) was also 4 pounds higher. The four pound differential is not enough to change the percentage calculation.

Technically obese

The percentages don't change, but what does change is the BMI measured at the two extremes. Adding an additional four pounds to my high weight results in a BMI just over 30. And at my current weight, it results in a BMI just under 25. I don't use BMI as anything other than a marker; the extent to which it's important for me is related to health insurance. If you're below a certain level (which for our policy is a BMI of 27) you get "do bee" points towards some alleged discount. Otherwise it's just a number.

Recent personal weight pondering

So fine, my weight isn't quite as low as I thought. I don't feel any different and my health is fine. At my last physical, my primary care doctor actually told me to stop losing weight. But lately I've been wondering if I am truly the healthiest I can be, and yes, part of that consideration is the fact that I still have excess body fat.

Thus I've begun to consider at what level I would need to eat and move to exist at a lower weight. However, that entire process is fodder for another piece.


One Mom in the Middle…
of parenting… of her career… of life…

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