The next new diet fad – the Satisfied Diet

I was inspired to write this post as coming to a cross-roads on exactly what is the right way to go about dieting the body. During all of my time keeping the weight off and yo-yo-ing, I’ve come to settle on either calorie counting or atkins/paleo diets. Each diet has a clear-cut line on what you can eat, and what you can’t. Though, the diets are very different.

For calorie counting, one can eat…whatever! It’s just a matter of calories in and calories out. The shock and awe of many fad-diet veterans usually leads to utter excitement. They say – “You mean, there’s a science to this after all?” and “We’ve uncovered the secret of weightloss?!” The answer is yes. It has always been right in front of us. I can’t recall what show it was, but I once saw an interview with Denzel Washington, where the host asked how he stayed so fit. Denzel calmly replied that it was all about “eating less.” That’s it. Just “eat less.” I’m not saying the Denzel is someone of dieting authority, but he summed up everything so perfectly. He then went on to joke about what happens when people eat ice cream. They rationalize. Oh, just a bite here, a bit there, oh, oh, that chunk right there. Soon enough, half the little Ben and Jerry’s container is gone and the person starts eating around the side of container, trying not to make it look like too much has been consumed. THEN, the person FLIPS the ball of ice cream over to get at the semi-melted-precious ice cream on the bottom. Soon enough, the container is back in the freezer with one or two bites left. This kind of leads me to why people may switch to primal/ paleo eating from calorie counting.

Calorie counting actually turns out to be somewhat of a difficult task. It takes some time to start to get-to-know how many calories make up what foods. But even then, sometimes you’re stuck with a group of people going to a place to eat and you have NO IDEA how many calories are in a sauce, how many calories are in this salad, how much does the turkey weigh in me sandwich?? Arrgh!! It gets frustrating. Now enter Paleo diet. Seemingly the diet that solves EVERYTHING. No need to count. Just make a clear-cut and THICK red line down the middle of your kitchen pantry and fridge. Grains on one side, everything else on the other. Now, take those grains and tell them goodbye forever. That’s it. It took two sentences. No numbers, just a small rule to obey. This is what I was getting at with Denzel’s theory. Calorie counting is the “eat less” principal. It is the METHOD. But Paleo’s method is the grain vs. everything else natural thing. However, it LEADS to the “eat less” principal. Denzel’s remarks about the ice cream is what gives Paleo the scale-tipping factor on which diet to embark upon. Grains cause insulin spikes and cravings. It’s like you’re fighting your own human survival desires. However, Paleo, once having done the diet for some time, eliminates cravings and keeps people full. It’s supposedly the fail-safe for accidentally eating too much on the diet (remember, the science is still calories in vs calories out).

What lead me to this post was a new issue. And it’s not “Paleo is too hard in this world.” No. It’s food boredom. Paleo can really get boring quick. It’s expensive to do right. And, as creative as I think I am, it’s really tough to beat that boredom. Also, if waist-line is truly the real indicator of health-related diseases, then why exactly does it matter what I’m eating as long as I can stick by the “eat less” principal?

This leads me to a possible new diet phenomenon. Forget everything. Now, just keep ONE thing on your mind. Eat until you feel satisfied. After eating half of your meal (or snack) – ask yourself – “Am I still hungry?” Get to know the FEELING of being satiated. Live by that feeling. Don’t mindlessly snack. You aren’t snacking because you’re hungry. You’re snacking because it’s salty-fatty-carby-goodness. Eat when you feel HUNGRY. Stop eating when you are no longer HUNGRY. I’m not saying to live by this, but in a world where you need to either cut that waist-line down to a healthy ratio or keep it there – “eating” less really is the true goal.

Why jump through so many hoops to eat less (calorie count, cut out foods, etc)? Get to know your body and just eat less or whatever you want. Go by the satiated principal and see how that goes.

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The Path of a Weight Loss Journey

It’s seems only yesterday that I started my weight loss journey. When I reminisce back to when I first started and everything I have done since then, I begin to feel just how long it has been. Aside from when my actual journey started some six years ago, my more current journey began when I started this blog on January 30th. I am just beginning to realize that this post is starting out a lot like my last one did. I feel like I left something out in the last post though – a realization about the Path of a Weight Loss Journey. If one is aware of the steps taken down the path of a Weight Loss (or Weight Gain) Journey, it can help them to be successful at reaching their goals and maintaining progress.

1. Build up of desire, passion, drive, sadness, opportunity and eagerness to TURN THINGS AROUND
2. Planning goals, building of interest in method to obtain goals, general excitement.
3. About 3-4 months of consistent progress – goals may change, method  may change, passion & drive still present
4. Reaching goal or reaching halfway point – clothes fit, weight is reached, etc – CONFIDENCE & COMFORT begin to set in
5. Routine sets in – unchanging workouts, lessening interest in method, less AWARENESS of goals, objectives, etc.
6. Trigger point – 1) Life changing event that takes precedence over routine exercise/ diet, 2) Or small life changing event (college finals, extended vacation, etc) that throws routine off
7. Make or Break of Weight Loss Journey: Breaks: Step #6 trigger point causes lengthy gap in routine. Makes: Fully aware of Step #6 trigger point and extra effort is made to hedge potential weight gain from a gap in original routine.
8. Steps #1, 2 & 3 are repeated and either further weight is lost and goal is reached or – for those who had reached their goal in Step #4 – goal is maintained.
9. Passion for exercising and being healthy in general. Person is content/okay/fine/interested/happy about the realization that one must constantly exercise and diet their entire lives in order to maintain weight loss for years.

Where am I right now? I am at the very beginning of Step #8. Step #7 took about three months, but I was able to maintain my weight loss and hedge weight gain by switching my diet up constantly and exercising once in awhile. Over th course of Step #7, I was FULLY AWARE of my Step #6 trigger point (graduating college, moving to a new city and starting a new job).

What is one secret (I hate saying those words when it comes to weight loss. It sounds like an advertisement!) to progressing down these steps? Step # 1 is VERY important. The BUILD UP of passion, drive and desire to turn things around becomes a memory that is constantly referred back to. I have many times where, I know I need to lose more weight, but the deep feeling from within to get me exercising and dieting is not present. I then reflect on my Step #1 memory and it comes back. In Step #1, you have to truly FEEL that desire to turn things around. It is like an an uber-fed-up-ness. If that makes any sense.

Up NEXT: Dieting and exercising in an Urban Apartment way of life.

Surviving Potential Pitfalls

In January of 2009, roughly seven months ago, I started a weightloss journey that felt very different fromt he last ones I had embarked on. I felt, as if this time, it was for keeps. By this I mean I just couldn’t imagine myself forgetting about my goals. Did I have some obviously bumpy times? Indeed. I graduated college and the festivities ensued. Not only that, I sit typing this post midway through my summer break before starting my full time job. My weightloss journey before January 2009 ended with me gaining all the weight back and more during this exact period of time (August 2008.) Unfortunately, I haven’t reached my goal yet. I went from 205 lbs to 185 with a goal of 175. I had planned to reach 175 months ago. Earlier this morning I thought about this, shaking my head in disappointment. But then I realized that, through college graduation, multiple vacations and summer break with mom and dad’s cooking, I have held my weight steady in the mid 180’s. I believe this is an accomplishment in and of itself. It hasn’t been easy though. Holding weight steady usually means one is going on a regimen, off a regimen, on, off, and so on. I have always prepared myself for the moment of lapse.  As eager as I am to get back on the wagon, there are still hurdles ahead. I have another small vacation and I am moving to a new city. I am already thinking of new diet and exercise strategies for when I’m in super busy mode and may not have certain food groups or exercise options available. I plan to practice an overall high reduction in calories and hope my busy mind is too busy to think of the desire for more food.

For the most part, this post is about documenting the survival of a potential pitfall and a reminder to those who know all too well of the diet lapse.

Covering all the bases of burning fat

Upon picking up weight training, I have been endlessly toying around with new workout regimens and schedules, never settling on just one. At the same time, I’ve been doing a ton of research. One article that lead me to this post was T-Nation’s “The Hierarchy of Fat Loss” by Alwyn Cosgrove. The article really reinforced everything that I have been reading lately and the basics that have stuck with me since I was young. Basically, the article states that there is a hierarchy of importance for fat loss: (1) diet, (2) strength trianing (lifting weights,) (3) high intensity interval training (HIIT,) (4) steady state cardio and (5) light exercise I recall from when I was much younger and heavier when I signed up with my very first personal trainer. They said that the best exercise program combines anaerobic and aerobic workouts. In other words, one must incorporate weight lifting and cardio to see the best results. From there, I believe that intensity is what makes all the difference. So, for my updated physical fitness regimen (always a work in progress, just like me) I am going to cover all the bases: dieting, weight lifting, high intensity intervals and steady state cardio.

Here is my list of bases to cover and how I will do it:

1. Diet: Consume 1800 calories daily
2. Strength training: Lift free weights
3. High intensity interval training: Cardio 1 min sprint, 1 min rest, 1 min sprint, 1 min rest, and so on
4. Steady state cardio: Cardio for 20 minutes
5. Light exercise: Easy going, conversational cardio 

Now, here it is applied to my workout environment:

1. Morning walk around my neighborhood for ~20 minutes (#5 base)
2. MWF: Upper body free weight lifting, TThSu: Lower body free weight lifting, ~ 30 mins (#2 base)
3.  Stationary cycle or elliptical, 1 min sprint pace, 1 min easy pace, back and forth for 10 minutes (#3 base)
4. Stationary cycle or elliptical, medium intensity for 20 mins (#4 base)
5. Consume 1800 calories daily  (#1 base) 

Total time: ~80 minutes

My current regimen has been fairly similar to this, yet I haven’t been strict about intensity. Adding the HIIT is the most significant addition. 

The goal of this workout regimen is to lose weight, yet have most to all of that weight loss come from fat. It has been shown in numerous studies that doing moderate weight lifting maintains or improves muscle mass while dieting and performing cardio workouts. 

This study really reenforces the basis of my regimen:

Kramer, Volek et al.

Influence of exercise training on physiological and performance changes with weight loss in men.

Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 9, pp. 1320-1329, 1999.

Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.

Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss. However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.

Free Weights

If you aren’t using free weights at the gym, you’re totally missing out. Plain and simple. I know, I know, the machines do all the balancing and positioning work for you and all you have to do is lift. But really, using free weights isn’t as hard as you think. At first, I was skittish about walking into the free weight section of the gym, but once you walk through it a bit and see where people place themselves and what they do, just go for it.

What are the extra benefits of using free weights? First off, it’s a lot more fun. The machines start to get monotonous. Second, lifting free weights actually improves strength a great deal more than using fixed form machines. This study states that “FX [fixed form] group increased strength 57% from baseline while the FF [free form] group increased strength 115% from baseline” (Spennewyn). 

Here is a list of some of the more fun free weight exercises I do:

Dumbbell Hang Clean and Press: This exercise is an explosive exercise in that you basically push off a bit and throw weights up (without letting go of course.) It works your shoulders, arms and legs. This exercise can also be done with a barbell.

Dumbbell Squat: My legs are actually still in pain from having done it two days ago. The Nautilus machines having nothing on this exercise. It works your thighs to the max.

Dumbbell Bench Press: Don’t have a spotter? Afraid to use a real bench press? No worries. Use dumbbells. Start with light weights so you can get a feel for it. It requires a bit more balance than the others. Also, getting up after finishing a set a bit tricky if you don’t practice. 

Dumbbell Curls: This is a great exercis for your biceps.

Lat pull-down machine: This is one machine that is very effective, as it is hard to work the back muscles with dumbbells. Yet, it is somewhat difficult to know if you are using correct form. This video will explain it.

 

There are so many more free weight exercises to do, but this list is a good start to building a beautiful relationship with weight lifting.

Motivating Scientific Studies

Westcott, W., Fitness Management. Nov., 1991.

Westcott, W., Fitness Management. Nov., 1991.

The website http://www.exrx.net has a ton of valuable information on it. The most interesting parts of the site are the studies posted. 

One such study found that one can lose weight, burn fat and still gain lean mass (muscle) while dieting and lifting weights.

Yet, this study, is my favorite. It was a study done with 72 overweight individuals placed in two groups. One group did 30 minutes of cardio on a stationary cycle while the other group did 15 minutes on the cycle plus 15 minutes weight lifting. The group that did weight lifting lost a great deal of more weight than the other group. Not only that, the weight lifting group burned more fat and gained more muscle. 

I enjoy these studies because they are a reminder that fat loss and muscle gain (mainly fat loss) are what people who are embarking on a weight loss journey are really looking for. Your weight is just a measurement, fat loss and muscle gain are the real results. It is important to not just have a program that focuses on a dropping scale weight, but also one that will burn fat and keep muscle stabilized or increasing.

The beauty of smoothies

 

image credit: acaiberryproducts.org

image credit: acaiberryproducts.org

Since the beginning of my relationship with smoothies, my days have been much better. That may be exagerating a bit, but smoothies really are a great meal/ snack that can provide a good serving of fruit and protein. I generally have my smoothies after my workouts since that’s the best time to consume protein. Here is a typical smoothie that I have been making lately:

 

1 packet of  Sambazon frozen acai puree: 75 calories
1 banana: ~120 calories
1 cup of light Silk soy milk: ~70 calories
1 serving of vanilla protein powder: ~115 calories
3-4 strawberries (optional): ~25 calories

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree. Serves one. Total calories: ~405

 

Since this smoothie is relatively high in calories, you may want to treat it as a meal. This is just one of many ways to make smoothies.

For some, you may not be able to find the Sambazon frozen smoothie packet. Just simply replace the Sambazon with some kind of frozen fruit. These days, Dole makes antioxidant blends that taste great.

EDIT: Here is another recipe that i just made this morning that tasted good:

1 cup Light Soy Milk: 70 calories
1 scoop Vanilla protein powder: 115 cals
1 scoop Sambazon Power Scoop (freeze dried acai powder): 20 cals
5 frozen berries: 20 cals
4 ounces of Natural Direction’s grape+acai juice: 60 cals (easy with this stuff, it’s fairly high in calories)
1/2 banana: 60 cals
Total calories: ~345 cals