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Losing weight doesn't have to be difficult

Published April 06. 2013 09:02AM

You should never assume similar experiences produce similar feelings.

While that statement should strike you as being rather straightforward, failure to recognize it produces problems in many areas of life.

I thoroughly enjoy writing, for instance, but there's a specific element to it that I enjoy even more than the rest. Rewriting. Most forms of writing especially fiction do not come easily to me. I struggle to get my ideas from my mind to the page.

And when I finally do, the words rarely possess the clarity, impact, or emotion of my initial ideas.

That's why rewriting is so important and why I like it so. Much like a teenager trying all sorts of strategies to conquer a high level of a video game, I rework paragraphs again and again, searching for the combination of sentences, phrases, and words that will vicariously create experience for readers, make them see my point of view or feel what I felt.

Since most teenagers like video games and playing them is similar to rewriting, shouldn't teenagers enjoy that? Yet many dare I say most? dislike it.


Here's a clear case where similar experiences do not produce similar feelings.

While I'll sometimes labor over a key paragraph for an hour, rewriting to the typical seventh grader means changing two spelling mistakes and hitting the print button.

Now it's time to consider the headline of this column and how it can be true despite the introduction. Because if I provide a checklist of things that need to be considered during the rewriting phase, students will usually follow it and really improve the piece of writing even those who loathe doing it.

That's the point of today's column. Your feelings toward dieting get colored by the fact you probably don't want to be doing it.

Yet if you follow a checklist of sorts, it does not have to be difficult.

What might be difficult, however, is knowing what checklist to use. For that, you should invoke this quotation: "Success leaves clues."

Were you aware, for example, that since 1994 Rena Wing, Ph.D. of Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D. of the University of Colorado, have run the National Weight Control Registry, a compendium of the habits of over 10,000 successful dieters? To qualify for the registry, you need to keep the lost weight off for at least five years and lose a significant amount of it, an average of 66 pounds.

Then your habits are entered into the database and others who want to accomplish what you have done can access the information. Here are the strongest patterns found in the data at the NWCR.

While every imaginable diet strategy has emerged in the few decades and most have proved to be at least somewhat successful, there are a few constants in the eating habits of NWCR members: they follow relatively low-cal diets that only contain moderate amounts of fat and very limited amounts of fast food. Furthermore, more than three out of four NWCR members eat breakfast.

This statistic supports the generally held belief that breaking the long fast resulting from a night of sleep as soon as you wake jump starts your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day. Breakfast also seems to reduce cravings for crappy foods high in sugar and other simple carbs later in the day.

But possibly the most important trait of successful dieters doesn't deal with food at all. NWCR members not only tend to exercise, but they also tend to exercise regularly and heavily. In fact, 90 percent do some form of exercise every day for at least 60 minutes.

While that might seem like an excessive amount of time, please remember that these people have lost an excessive amount of weight, an average of 66 pounds, and have managed to keep it off.

To shape your own successful weight-loss strategy, however, you do not have to limit yourself to people who have lost an excessive amount of weight. You can also consider the strategies of successful athletes, people who strip away body fat the type of body weight any dieter is really trying to lose to aid in athletic endeavors.

Competitive bodybuilders, for example, need to do this regularly. After period of relaxing their diet to help add muscle mass, they take their body fat percentage from 10 to 12 percent to as low as 3 to 4 percent while maintaining just about all the muscle mass they just developed.

The way they do this is by manipulating what's called the insulin-glucagon axis. All you need to know is that this requires altering your consumption of macronutrients.

This works for all people. If you need to add muscle, increase the proportion of carbohydrates you ingest while eating a moderate amount of protein. If you need to lose fat yet retain muscle, eat more protein while significantly reducing the amount of carbohydrates, specifically simple ones, you consume.

For just about anybody who is working out regularly and with some degree of intensity, eating 2 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs for every pound of body weight, along with a small amount of dietary fat, produces fat loss while maintaining muscle mass.

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