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Friday, 15 June 2012

An Elder Weight Control Plan

category_bug_journal2.gif A few days ago, I mentioned in reference to something else that after having lost a great deal of weight last year, some of it has been creeping back so I'm being extra diligent now about what goes in my mouth.

There is only one way to lose weight: eat less than you expend in energy. Fewer calories in than out will always result in weight loss. What will not help with weight loss is exercise.

Increasing numbers of studies show that exercise contributes almost nothing to weight loss. Sure, it's good for you. It enhances cardiovascular health and people who exercise regularly develop cancer, diabetes and other illnesses less often. But it doesn't help them lose weight.

The reasons are obvious when you look into it. A pound is equivalent to 3500 calories so you must use up that many in energy expenditure to lose one pound. Walking briskly at 3.5 miles per hour for an hour burns about 250 calories depending on your weight. Cycling at a moderate rate for one hour burns an average of about 550 calories per hour.

If you know a little math, you see the problem.

Plus, studies show that rigorous exercise makes people hungry (duh!) and they then “reward” themselves with high-calorie drinks or snacks afterward. There is a good review of dieting, exercise and weight loss at Time magazine.

My weight loss plan is just a more stringent version of my normal eating plan:

No red meat – ever
Little or no chicken*
Lots of fish
Lots of many kinds of fruit
Lots of many kinds of vegetables
Brown rice and other whole grains
Whole grain bread
Olive or canola oil
Very little butter for cooking
No fat milk
No fat, unflavored yogurt
Any amount of spices, herbs and flavorings
No salt
No pastries, cakes, pies, etc.
Keep sugar to a low roar

Sugar is mostly for making apple and cranberry sauces which I use in a variety of ways – in hot cereal, as side dishes, etc.

*Note: I want to avoid antibiotics, etc. in food and chickens raised without drugs are so expensive, I rarely buy them.

So I eat piles and piles and piles of vegetables. In winter, I roast them. In summer, I make “gorilla salad” - 10 or 15 different cut-up veggies – pre-cooked when necessary - maybe some fruit like grapes or melon and hold it all together with homemade dressing.

Commercial salad dressings can be gigantic calorie hogs and the low- and no-fat varieties have an awful, chemical taste. But if you make your own, you can control that. (What else are you doing with your time in retirement.)

As one example, I use no-fat yogurt or no-fat sour cream with a little lite mayonnaise for flavor along with some honey, fresh chopped ginger, a few red pepper flakes and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice to thin it a bit.

You probably know this, but just in case: when using oil-based salad dressings, add only the barest minimum amount to the salad and then toss and toss and toss the salad. The more you toss, the less dressing you need.

In summer, breakfast is almost invariably a fruit smoothie – whatever berries I found at the farmers market and melon with no-fat yogurt, chopped fresh ginger (I like ginger a lot), pineapple juice, very ripe banana. It varies depending on what's available and can be made just as easily with any frozen fruit.

Winter breakfast is almost always oatmeal with a variety of additions – several at once: cranberry or apple sauce with sliced banana and some frozen berries, peach, cherries, etc. I like a little cereal with my fruit...

Three or four times a week, lunch or dinner is fish, usually steamed or broiled with a small salad or a pile of veggies over rice. Often, gorilla salad is the full meal; occasionally I add some fresh-cooked pasta. If there is a particularly good bread in the house, a slice or two of that – no butter.

All of this is so naturally low calorie that I never need to count. When I think I'll die without a snack in the evening, I nuke a bag of Orville Redenbacher “Kettle Corn” – the small, 100-calorie bags.

Also, I've recently discovered that when I think I'm hungry between meals, if I take a quick walk – 15 minutes or so – the feeling goes away.

With all the fish and fresh fruit and vegetables, this sounds expensive and it can be. But frozen fruits and veggies are equal in nutrition to fresh and can be bought in bulk when they're on sale.

Cod and other fish is often only $5 or $6 a pound and you don't need more than a third of a pound for one meal. Even fresh, in-season salmon doesn't cost much when that's all you buy.

There are a lot of other things I eat, but that is my basic diet.

The weight piles up when I indulge in cheeses – something I've been know to actually dream about – and drink wine with dinner. A normal-size glass of wine is about 200 calories. An ounce of cheese averages about 100 calories and who eats only one ounce at a time.

Ice cream, of course, is hundreds of calories per serving - almost all of it, as with cheese, fat which is bad for weight, bad for your heart. When I crave one of these things, I usually crave the other two.

Even when I'm having a cheese and/or ice cream binge, I never drink soda – just don't like it so that saves calories – and I never eat fried foods of any kind.

When I eat in restaurants, it is usually Asian, Thai or Japanese. And when I occasionally indulge in a pastry from the lovely French bakery in town or overdo at the Italian place, I just make sure I don't do it again for another couple of weeks.

Now, what about you.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Barbara Sloan: A Woodland Birth


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I've lost weight a number of times and each time it has been hard work. But really the worst part has always been after the weight loss, trying to keep it off. Something happens that I find difficult to understand, but it is a real phenomenon.

Losing a pound requires cutting back soooo much, gaining a pound back happens instantly. The hunger is incessant, like a bee in your ear. And the kicker is, when you gain it back, your plateau weight is suddenly higher than before. It is hard not to view this as punishment.

Sometimes the enormous, constant effort required just doesn't seem worth it.

I don't think it is like this for everyone, but it is for me. Naturally slender people just think it is gluttony and laziness.

Dieting; What a timely topic. I have been determined to lose my "spare tire" and as I get close to doing so, I hit a wall where no a single fat cell seems to budge nor does my scale go down short of starvation (and I'd fear triggering a health event or even death if I went to less than 800 calories\day). I read on the internet where the body goes into starvation mode and can nearly shut down. I feel like I'm there. Perhaps, at my age (64.656), my body is telling me to be happy with the results I've gotten and that I should accept less than perfection?? This is today's debate and this topic was indeed timely. By the way, I get cranky when I'm dieting, is that just me or is it common? 1,000 calories today--and how much of it should be wine--that's the big debate today. Thanks for listening. I feel better already :)

John...
One of the things that makes weight loss easier for me now than when I was younger is that I don't care how long it takes now.

When I was younger, the diet aim was always to fit into a certain dress or swim suit and look cute by a certain date. Nowadays, the goal is health, and comfort in my clothes.

I know that if I worked hard enough to get down to the 110-115 pounds I used to weigh, my body would not look the same as it did in those days.

So ditching those younger time and shape goals for health goals makes it a lot easier to stick with a regimen.

This is a direct quote from a recent article (Yahoo I think); this makes a lot of sense:

The Leptin Connection

Here’s why willpower alone doesn’t work over the long haul: Shedding 10 percent or more of your body weight triggers hormonal changes that increase appetite. And as a double-whammy, your metabolism also slows down.

Leptin levels can remain depressed for a year or more after you have lost weight. That’s why 75 percent to 95 percent of people who lose weight regain most of it within two or three years.

To overcome the effects of leptin on metabolism, dieters who have lost 10 percent of their body weight have to trim daily caloric intake by 22 percent to stay at their goal weight, Columbia University Health Sciences researchers report.

For example, if you’ve dropped from 150 pounds to 135, you’ll need to eat about 250 calories less than someone whose stable weight is 135, or torch the 250 calories through exericse. In other words, it’s essential to continue the habits that helped you ditch those pounds in the first place.

Weight loss/maintenance is a long-term thing. I forget the details of a report on NPR; but, the basic thought was that it takes about six years for the brain/brain chemistry to adjust to maintaining a lower weight. Otherwise/until then, folks are fighting the firings of the synapses - or something to that effect - much as in addictions to other chemicals.

BTW: I never did understand why they touted exercise for weight loss. As you mentioned, all exercise does for me is keep my cardiovascular system working and increase hunger.

Oh, I left out one important thing: when I'm working on losing weight, I assign one meal a week as my treat meal.

There are 21 meals in a week, so one won't make much difference and I'm allowed any amount of whatever food I crave - usually cheese or ice cream.

The important trick is to allow the treat only on the same meal/same day (Friday lunch, for example) every week so you don't hit treat creep. You know, "Oh, I'll do it on Thursday this week."

Yeah, right. And next thing you know it's Wednesday then Tuesday, then twice a week.

No good. Gotta be the same meal/same day each week.

Great regimen ... I lost 40 pounds on this exact method about 4 years ago, and have follwed this identical type of eating since. My health is great, I'm off of Lipitor, and when I told my new doctor how I had succeeded in revising my life style, he told me, "Whatever you're doing and however you're doing it, don't stop!"

Only variation is -- dried cranberries on cereals, hot or cold. And when hungry, a glass of water fills you up very nicely.

Of course, walks are always good. That's why I have a "rescued" dog along with my cat now. I walk him 4 times a days around the neighborhood. It gets me away from the computer and the books on my Kindle for a while. PLUS, he and the cat are now great friends and they play and wrestle together, which is more entertaining to watch than television!

That's the way to do it. Farmer's market produce. Soy and almond cheeses. You are doing great.

Granted there are too many books and methods to loosing weight, but how about those of us with the opposite problem; trying to gain weight. Actually it is just as big a problem only no one wants to talk about it, they just moan and groan about their own weight problems since we are in the minority. Therefore I will not say another word.

My wife, the school nurse, is off for the summer and had some arthroscopic surgery done on her knee, so has spent a lot of time watching food documentaries on Netflix.

Needless to say she has already began to formulate a plan where we eat little to no red-meat, even though I buy it through organic suppliers. We will also be eating lots of veggies and fruits but when cooked over the grill with certain natural seasonings like garlic, oregano and cumin, you can get some tasty dishes that are filling and satisfying.

Great suggestions. If you're dairy averse (lactose intolerant), silken tofu instead of yoghurt is great in fruit smoothies.

Most people lose weight in their 70's; my good friend lost 20 pounds last year. I keep waiting....

Thank You Ronni for additional ideas. And, I've picked up a lot of good info from other comments. This diet is kind of a WAR! If I didn't try, I'd weigh 300 lbs instead of my yo-yo 220 to 243 range. This range was 190 to 210 when I was 34, and crept up over time. But, part of the added weight was due to maturation / aging; For instance my skinny legs got less skinny, my head got "thicker" (what a setup), and my hips broadened. So, I think my new range should be 215 to 230 and just live with it and maybe, also, a little bit of a spare tire. Thanks again.

I am overweight but don't diet and do eat meat, fish and chicken. I rarely eat sugar. If someone only eats fish, they do have to watch for mercury and any farm raised fish have something toxic in them too. I think mixing what one eats is the best idea and getting grassfed meat is good and can be done reasonably if one buys from the growers.

Diets have the drawback of causing metabolism to slow down, hence can lead to gaining weight. I try to exercise regularly (but with all the writing time haven't done as much as I like) but agree exercise doesn't lose weight. it does firm up the body though and is good for cardiovascular health.

My main concern now is trying to live healthily. Sure that would be thinner than I am but I am not putting a lot into changing it. I know what would do it. I am not willing to do it ;). As was mentioned above. If you want to use a system to lose weight, you have to be willing to stick with it. Losing and gaining back, the experts say, is worse than never losing at all (assuming one is not morbidly obese, of course).

I hardly ever talk about food and never did. It's something I do and not something that interests me a lot. I could pretty well eat anything and be happy with it which is why carbs sneak up as they are soooo easy to fix and satisfying to eat. Most of the weight I have gained is when I was totally off my game and literally eating desserts I knew I could never afford. Unfortunately when you stop eating them, you won't lose that same weight-- or so it has seemed to me. The merits of never gaining it to start are many but at the time I do it, I tend to forget about that and am living in the moment of a delicious cheesecake with strawberries.

I discovered that after around the age of 55 that I don't need much dinner. I eat dinner for lunch and then something very light. I've also learned to eat dessert in no more than 3 bites, so it better be satisfying food and not empty calories. I also weigh myself every day because I 2 pound weight gain can easily start a trend!

Exercise has to be part of the mix as we age because without it, muscle and bone loss lead to all sorts of decrepitude. Ronni's diet is excellent and an example to us all, but exercising 45 minutes per day, five or six days per week, will enhance circulation as your body creates new blood vessels and guard against dementia because exercise prompts your brain to build new neural pathways. Muscle mass also burns more calories even at rest. Yes, exercise lead to a weight gain on the scale -- muscle weighs more than an equal volume of fat -- but you will be more toned, which helps you maintain your balance and other vital health measures. I've always found it more useful to focus on my size and whether my clothes fit properly (instead of pinching my waist, where fat likes to settle) than to let the scale rule.

As for losing weight in one's 70s, without any particular effort, that's likely due to bone loss and muscle wasting and not healthy.

I am 64 and am doing the Weight Watchers Points Plus. I have lost 17 lb which is 10% of my starting body weight. I have found that what I crave is volume--a big bowl of raw veggies is as good as a bag of chips to me. And also I have found that sugar simply makes me crave more sugar. I'm really liking the WW plan and have not had any real difficulty staying with it.

I was interested that you limit your salt intake. After I had a hemorrhagic stroke, my internist's edict was no more than 1500 mg sodium per day.

Trying to do that has been an eye opener about how much salt is in so many foods I was consuming without thinking. Sticking to low-salt menus and substituting natural flavors like onion, garlic and red pepper have had unexpected side effects of weight loss. And sometimes, especially as a guest, my only route to reduced sodium is to cut portion size.

Ten pounds disappeared in about three months without my feeling hungry. Of course I eat a lot of raw veggies but rarely more than two servings of fruit a day. Keeping sugar levels from peaks and valleys--whether the spikes are the result of too much bread or overdoing fruit, helps keep me from the hunger attacks that typically for me include nausea, headaches and a tendency to binge.

From this post and comments, I guess my next health step should be finding local sources of healthy protein.

Are you kidding me! Just kill me now . . . that would take the discipline of a silenced monk!!!

After being determined to be in the low diabetic range three months ago, I've completely had to change my 63 years of eating. For me, low low carbs have taken off 15+ pounds so far. Low as in not more than 50 carbs a day, w/ no bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, sugar, etc. Testing your blood is a sure way to hear a wake-up call re your pancreatic processing.

I swim aerobically 3x a week but have been doing that for 2 years & it sure doesn't drop any bs in itself.

As someone said above, it's all a royal drag & esp. at breakast. And grocery shopping with all that hidden sugar is infuriating!

But it's wonderful to reach in your jeans drawer and fit into two sizes lower!! I hope I can keep up the strict discipline. Good to hear what others are doing.

Good tip for salad:
Put a little dressing in the bottom of an old 2L icecream tub. Pile on the veggies, put lid on and shake shake shake.

Excellent eating plan Ronni. My weakness is MORE. I could never do 1 treat a week as I'd be Godzilla.

XO
WWW

I agree, Ronnie. Common is sense most usually valid. For me, it helps to remember the obese people I saw the other week when I was in Indiana. Personally, as an elderman, I don't want to look like them.

My Dad used to say, "Eat to live, don't live to eat."

It works for me.

Linda Skupien...
Convinced by health reports decades ago about the danger of excess salt, I stopped adding it to food then and haven't missed it.

I learned to use herbs, spices, small amounts of condiments and other flavorings to enhance foods.

Sometimes I buy canned soups to have around for quick Microwave meals but you need to read sodium content on cans very carefully.

Lately, in specialty markets, I've been finding some good, prepared soups with reasonable sodium levels although they are usually a lot more expensive than supermarket brands.

My mother(still slim at 92) told me how to keep the weight off. Her advice? Eat whatever you like. Just eat less.

I lost 80 lbs. in my early 20s, and despite minor lapses in my 40s and 50s, have managed to keep it off. Disregarding all expert advice--especially that I'm doomed if I skip breakfast--I have maintained pretty much the same eating pattern for the past 55 years. I'm 5'2-1/2", weigh under 100 lbs. and am in good health. I consume one meal a day, in the evening, usually consisting of a large green salad with a bit of chicken or fish and parmesan cheese, a whole wheat English muffin and high-fiber cereal with a banana for dessert. I try to buy antibiotic and hormone-free chicken.

I don't monitor my salt intake particularly (although I never add salt to food), and occasionally I'll have a small steak or other meat dish. I also have a two-bite cupcake or cookie now and then--and even pizza (rarely). I walk for exercise, although not as much as I should. I get LOTS of exercise as a volunteer for a cat adoption center, where I clean cages, replenish supplies and play with the kitties.

My approach is very much tailored to me, and I'm well aware that it wouldn't appeal to--or necessarily be good for--most people!

I don’t eat meat of any kind (including fish/poultry). I eat a huge variety of fruits and vegetables; whole grains, yogurt, etc., etc.

However, having said this regarding all things healthy, I have not given up my taste for all things sweet and my biggest weakness is Hellman’s “Real” mayonnaise…
I rarely drink soda of any kind and drink mostly soy milk and distilled water.

I swim; attend spin class twice each week and lift weights once a week. I do this because I have always done some form of exercise going way back to high school where it was emphasized strongly.

I agree that in order to lose weight one must change their diet; exercise won’t do that, but it does help mentally. I cringe when the instructors at the Y tell people about the calories they are burning and how great they are going to look for summer.

I’ve never had a weight problem, but even though I’m the size I like to be, nothing quite looks the same, of course.

I used to love fruit, but I find that the taste and texture for almost all of it has changed in unpleasant ways so I rarely buy it any more. Tomatoes, too, have become not worth the price unless I can find them at a farmers market, which are nonexistent in Colorado except in the summertime. My downfall these days is sweets. I know it, but so far haven't found the gumption to quit them. :(

Ronnie:


Although conventional wisdom states that exercise does not help to any large degree in weight loss, my experience has not shown this statement to be totally true. As you correctly state the key to weight loss rests on more output than input. However because of the body's default position of preserving itself at all costs, I have found that simply reducing calories to lose weight will work only for a little while. At some point on a reduced calorie diet, body metabolism will adjust to the reduced level of calorie input and weight loss from that point on becomes very problematic and frustrating.

In my case, I am a retired male, 5'10", 66 years old who has maintained his weight between about 155lbs and 165lbs over the years, with periodic spikes as high as about 185lbs when I got lazy about exercise. Like you, I am a "mostly" vegetarian (I do eat some chicken/turkey/fish - but absolutely no red meat of any variety) and have been for most of my adult life (heart problems abound in my family). And, boy do I love to eat. Even eating mostly vegetables and grains, it can still be overdone with consequent growth to the rear, unless I am constantly on alert and counter measures are implemented as a matter of course.

The "counter measures" I use are simple - keep a daily log of calorie consumption and expenditure so that my daily average does not exceed more than 1500 to 1600 calories a day, and staying active - hiking/biking in summer, skiing in the winter, and moving my legs most of the day. When I exercise heavily, expending let's say 800 calories on a 20 mile bike ride, I am able to eat up to an additional 800 calories that day without busting my daily caloric average. These exercise days are my reward days - as I said I sure love to eat - so I look forward to them and eagerly engage in the exercise.

Once a pattern is established, it becomes easy to maintain - and the more you exercise, the less you hurt and the more you can eat. Simplicity.

I am finally, in my 60's, not skinny. Part of this is due to age, I'm sure, but also because I have some issues that require me, now, to add milk to my coffee and tea, to not eat certain fruits and spices. What I have is not a weight problem so much as where the weight is, so exercise is important to me. But for the first time since I was so young I didn't care, I can wear sleeveless shirts and lower necks. This is nice. Our diet has always been low salt, many vegetables and fruits, olive oil and lots of herbs and pepper, now often gluten-free because of one of our children who can't eat gluten. But meat is vital - not so much, but it's there, usually chicken or small steaks, and a lot of fresh-water fish. I still wear the same size I always have. My husband wears a smaller waist size than he did in his working years. Exercise, less food in quantity, and pleasure in our food.

I've lost 16 pounds since I eliminated all refined sugar from my diet (including all processed foods containing sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup.)
I wasn't trying to lose weght, I just discovered that the average American consumes 174 pounds of sugar every year and when I thought about the obesity/diabetes pandemic, I thought that it might be a good idea to eliminate a substance that offers no positive health benefit and has so many negative effects and side-effects that it should be a controlled substance like cocaine or "meths"

The keyword here is "all" like in "all sugar" Just cut it out and in little time you'll be a lot healthier and much slimmer. "Try it, you'll like it"

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