Friday, January 4, 2013

Diet Research Run Around

There have been a lot of articles out recently on topics such as weight loss, exercise, and the national BMI.  I usually read the ones from The New York Times (NYT) because I've "liked" their Well Blog on FB and get links to the articles.  And then there are the magazine articles in Fitness, Women's Health, etc.  The magazines are typically trying to motivate/inspire a person to lose weight, improve health, etc.  The NYT articles regularly seem to be challenging the status quo.  I guess it is the NYT so that should come as no surprise.  In any case, the first one I read that got me riled up was The Fat Trap, so much so that I wrote a whole blog post in response to it.  In my prior post I summarized it like this, "it proposes that once we become fat our bodies strive to re-gain the lost weight.  That hormonally we are driven to seek out those lost pounds, otherwise we stay in starvation mode."  Ugh.  I won't re-hash my whole response here, you can read that post if you're interested, but suffice to say I took issue with a lot of what Tara Parker-Pope wrote.

Yesterday I read another NYT article, Good and Bad, The Little Things Add Up in Fitness.  It was a review of the author's reading of 2012 fitness research.  I agree with much of what the author says but I could also challenge some of it.  For example, she notes that people in a study who did more vigorous exercise (than the other study participants) subsequently were more sedentary the rest of the day.  What the article doesn't say is whether these participants were fit, active people or if they were just starting a fitness program.  She's reading this to mean that the "sweet spot" of exercise is a little, but not too much.  Maybe that's true, but maybe it's not.  Anyway, that's not my point, my point is that these articles can make me feel like I'm getting the run around.   

How long have we been reading about the "obesity epidemic" in this country?  And then we get this (admittedly op-ed) piece Our Imaginary Weight Problem (which seems to have changed titles to Our Absurd Fear of Fat?).  The "science" of diet and exercise, or maybe it would be more appropriate to say the reporting of the science, can be very confusing.  I can't imagine how it must be for someone trying to figure out the "right" thing to do to get healthy and stay in shape.  More exercise?  Less?  More protein?  Less fat?  What about "good" fats?  It can feel like a barrage of mixed messages and over-simplified yet conflicting information.  

I'm just venting.  I have no solution or recommendation.  Well, maybe I do.  Find what works for you.  Try not to read too much into these articles or the "latest research".  Start with what feels attainable (and maintainable) and build from there.  Just because an article says 30 minutes of vigorous exercise five days a week is the recommendation of such-and-such committee doesn't mean that's what you should do.  If 15 minutes a day three days a week of light exercise is what feels doable to you right now, then do that.  Remember, when you're just starting out it's more about the habit than anything else.  You want to build and maintain healthy habits, how you go about that is really a matter of personal preference.  Later, when you've established a fitness base and are looking to fine-tune things, then maybe you can start trying to glean something for yourself out of these articles. 

When I finally realized I didn't have to do 45 minutes of cardio it was like breaking free from a cardio machine prison.  I had read somewhere that 45 minutes was the minimum to do somethingorother and had that stuck in my head as what I had to do.  I would get so friggin' bored on those machines.  Thank goodness I broke free from that idea or who knows, maybe I would have given up altogether just to save my sanity!

Anyway, I'll continue to read the articles for the nuggets of wisdom I gain here and there, and for the motivation.  Just reading about diet and exercise keeps it on the front burner, even if it does sometimes rile me up.  I also really enjoy reading the comments on the articles, they are sometimes more informative and interesting than the article itself. 

Shifting gears...I had a great run today.  30 or so minutes of a lovely mix of road and trail.  I did the run that leads onto a trail and to a small waterfall.  I kept the pace easy (though I wasn't wearing my Garmin so I can't say for sure) and just enjoyed the engaging surrounds.  And I paused for a second at the falls to take in the moment before turning around to run back to my car.

I've already done my three weight training sessions this week so once the run was over it was back to my day.  Oh, and I had a better-than-usual lunch.  I went to Jennie Low's with a friend and had spicy green beans with shrimp and brown rice.  It came with a bowl of soup and one fried shrimp, both of which I happily ate.  A bite or two of my fortune cookie and I was a happy camper. A full, happy camper.  I'll be mindful to eat a light dinner given the high calorie lunch.

We have no plans for tonight so not sure what will develop.  Given this lingering cough and cold I might stick close to HQ.  Tomorrow is a kid's birthday party during the day and a grown-up one (with kids) in the evening.  Sounds like a fun day.  Sunday is the long run, 8 miles, and rain is in the forecast.  Oh well, at least I know I have the clothes, and the fortitude, to run in the rain.  But I shouldn't be misleading you, running in the rain only seems like it takes fortitude, it's actually quite lovely. 

Oh, I almost forgot, it's weigh-in Friday.  I hopped on the scale this morning expecting a TTOTM bump but was surprised to see a low of 141.4 pounds. Maybe it was all the purging on Tuesday. Anyway, I had to keep my shoes and sweater on later at WW so I wasn't under my goal weight by more than two pounds.  I couldn't stay for the meeting so I plan to celebrate getting lifetime status this time next week!

p.s.  Thanks for the tip on what to do with the extra bacon.  I always forget about the freezing option.


  1. Congrats on your upcoming lifetime! Can't wait to get there day!

    1. Thanks Kristen! I'm looking forward to hopefully inspiring some new year newbies with getting lifetime next week. You'll get there yourself, just keep moving toward your goal, however slow, however many fits and starts you need, and you'll get there eventually. Thanks for reading!


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