There Is A Way To Keep Off The Weight
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY 1-2-2001
Before Neil Grigg of Fort Collins, Colo., discovered CRE, his weight was like a roller coaster, always going up and down. An eating binge at the holidays would put five pounds on him practically overnight. A single ice cream cone seemed to show up immediately on the scales, where it remained despite his best efforts to get rid of it.
But for the past 20 years, Grigg, 61, has managed to maintain a healthy weight of 190 pounds on his 5-foot, 11-inch frame, all because of a skill he developed to a high art: CRE, or chronic restrained eating.
Researchers are finding that, for most people, chronic restrained eating is what it takes to keep obesity at bay in this country, which is glutted with tasty, inexpensive high-calorie foods.
Chronic restrained eating is not a formal, structured diet with specific foods or portion sizes. Instead, it is a general philosophy about food.
People who practice CRE to manage their weight are constantly vigilant about what they eat: They often eat less than they want, plan their meals ahead of time, and think through what they'll eat before they go out to dinner, attend a party or sit down to a big family dinner. They don't sit around and mindlessly nosh while watching TV. They go back for seconds only when they're hungry and don't routinely indulge in sweets and other high-fat foods.
"Most people have to be chronic restrained eaters to maintain a healthy weight," says Thomas Wadden, director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "They have to eat less than they'd like to, and eat less than they are being encouraged and urged to eat by neighbors, friends, advertisements."
Research is backing up this idea. People who have successfully lost weight and routinely kept it off use about the same amount of restraint and vigilance in eating as those who have just finished a weight-loss program, according to a study of participants in the National Weight Control Registry, a group of more than 3,000 people who have maintained at least a 30-pound weight loss for a year or more.
Registry members also are very physically active, typically exercising for at least an hour a day.
The habits of registry members are being examined in ongoing studies so scientists can pinpoint the keys to being a successful loser. The dieters share information about what worked for them, but the researchers do not offer any intervention or help. Grigg is a member of that registry.
The people who succeed at controlling their weight do it by using "cognitive control," agrees James Hill, an obesity researcher at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver and co-founder of the weight control registry.
Diet doctors have been talking about chronic restrained eating for years, but now people are becoming more aware of it.
"For most of mankind's history, we haven't had to regulate our body weight," Hill says. "It's something that happened naturally. But in the current environment, if you let it happen naturally, you become overweight or obese. If you trust your instincts, you'll overeat and under-exercise. You have to override your instincts."
A rotund America
Millions of people in this country are losing the battle against the bulge. A startling 61% of Americans weigh too much, and about 27% of them are obese — 30 pounds or more over a healthy weight, according to preliminary results of a new government survey. Experts say they expect the problem to get worse over the next decade if Americans don't get a grip.
On average, adults are gaining about a pound a year, says George Blackburn, director of the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "Anybody who is gaining more than five pounds in three years is asleep at the switch," he says.
Some people of average weight are always practicing chronic restrained eating, experts say. Others try CRE for a short period of time, become frustrated because it's so much work, and give up.
Still others may be restrained eaters most of the time but have gained five to 20 pounds because they've let their guard down occasionally, falling prey to sweets and other high-fat treats. They have indulged themselves too much, too many times, or been lax about doing physical activity.
CRE has its downside: The chronic restrained eater can go overboard, becoming an extreme restrained eater who is obsessed with an unrealistic body weight, Blackburn says.
The trick to being a happy restrained eater is to limit what you eat without completely depriving yourself. If you cut back so far on the foods you love that you no longer enjoy food, you'll end up feeling hungry, unsatisfied, unhappy, he says.
Restrained eating also can backfire with children and teenagers — and actually predispose them to becoming overweight, says William Dietz, director of the division of nutrition and physical activity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
One new study from Harvard Medical School shows that normal-weight girls who diet are more likely to become overweight than those who don't diet. One possible explanation: The frequent teen dieters may be overeating or binge eating during the times when they're not watching what they eat.
Experts say some people have to struggle more to control their weight than others.
There is a small segment of society whose members don't have to worry about their weight at all because they seem "genetically protected" from gaining too much, Hill says. And there is a small group of people who are going to be obese no matter what they do.
But the vast majority fall somewhere in between. Whether they can maintain a healthy body weight depends, in large part, on how much effort they are willing to put into it. Genes and physiology play a role in how easy or difficult that is going to be, Hill says.
Genes don't dictate weight but help set the upper and lower weight limits, experts say. Genes affect how the body is going to relate to the environment.
For instance, a 5-foot-10 man may have a genetic predisposition to obesity that will put him in a range of 190 to 230 pounds, Wadden says. He'll be bigger than most guys his height. But if he eats a low-fat diet and gets plenty of exercise, he'll probably settle at 190 to 200 pounds, Wadden says.
On the other hand, if he spends most weekends on the couch, watching football and chowing down, he'll settle at 220 to 230 pounds.
Eating and exercise habits make a difference even if someone has a genetic predisposition to obesity, Wadden says. Studies have shown that some people gain weight more easily than others. When people in one study were overfed by 1,000 calories a day, there were remarkable differences in weight gain. Some gained as little as nine pounds in 12 weeks, and others gained as much as 29 pounds. "That looks like it's due to genetic differences," he says.
A constant vigilance
Most people have to pay attention to changes in the scales, waist size, belt size and skirt size. When they see that they're climbing up, they need to "put the brakes on" when it comes to eating, Blackburn says.
They must use common sense and have a strategy every day for controlling their eating and working exercise into their lives. That's where CRE comes in.
When they go out into the world, they must realize that the portion sizes are huge, and plan accordingly. Bagels, muffins and sandwiches are big and getting bigger. "It used to be that one restaurant dinner would feed two people," Blackburn says, "but now one dinner will feed four."
Before going to a buffet, he says, ask yourself: "Am I going to wallow in it, or am I going to prepare myself and imagine what I'm going to eat when I'm there?"
Many people also need to do about 60 minutes of physical activity a day to control their weight, he says. One way to do that: Buy a pedometer and try to take 10,000 steps a day, which is equivalent to walking about five miles.
People know what they should do, but they aren't doing it, Blackburn says. "We're all talking the talk, but not walking the walk."
Grigg, a professor of civil engineering at Colorado State University, is one who is walking the walk. He watches everything he eats, limits his calories to 2,100 a day, jots down the calories of foods he has eaten in his day planner, and walks at least three miles a day. He has learned how many calories he burns in a day through his own experience and by visiting a scientific laboratory that was able to help him figure it out.
Keeping track of calories
Writing down calories keeps him honest and makes him think twice about wolfing down food. When he is less vigilant, he finds his weight starts creeping up.
Grigg doesn't completely deprive himself. If he wants an ice cream cone, he has a small one and counts it in his calorie total for the day. He eats only his favorite kinds and doesn't settle for less than the best.
In addition to his daily walks, Grigg does some weight training and calisthenics. He tries to integrate exercise into all aspects of his life. He sometimes walks home for lunch and parks his car in the farthest corner of parking lots to get in more walking.
"I'm really consistent with exercise, just like I am with eating. I figure this is the key to longevity, health and vigor."
He was heavy as a child and teen and knows the unpleasant social consequences of being overweight. That motivates him.
"Nothing works for the long term except restrained eating," Grigg says. "I'm very disciplined. The fact is that not gaining weight and remaining healthy is more important to me than indulging."
Editorial: Health & Fitness is not a "12 week program"
Not long ago, one of the members of my health club poked her head in my office for some advice and assistance. Linda was a 46 year old mother of two, and she had been a member for over a year. She had been working out sporadically, with (not surprisingly) sporadic results. On that particular day, she seemed to have enthusiasm and a twinkle in her eye that I hadn’t seen before.
“I want to enter a before and after fitness contest called the “12 week body transformation challenge.” I could win money and prizes and even get my picture in a magazine."
“I want to lose THIS”, she continued, as she grabbed the body fat on her stomach. “Do you think it’s a good idea?”
Linda was not “obese” by any means, she just had the typical “moderate roll” of abdominal body fat and a little bit of thigh/hip fat that many forty-something females struggle with.
“I think it’s a great idea” I reassured her. “Competitions are great for motivation. When you have a deadline and you dangle a “carrot” like that prize money in front of you, it can keep you focused and more motivated than ever.”
Linda was eager and rarin’ to go. “Will you help me? I have this enrollment kit and I need my body fat measured.”
“No problem,” I said as I pulled out my Skyndex fat caliper, which is used to measure body fat percentage with a “pinch an inch” test.
When I finished, I read the results to her from the caliper display: “Twenty-seven percent. Room for improvement, but not bad; it’s about average for your age group.”
She wasn’t overjoyed at being ‘average’. “Yeah, but it's not good either. Look at THIS,” she complained as again she grabbed a handful of stomach fat. “I want to get my body fat down to 19%, I heard that was a good body fat level.”
I agreed that 19% was a great goal, but it would take a lot of work because average fat loss is usually about a half a percent a week, or six percent in twelve weeks. Her goal, to lose eight percent in twelve weeks was ambitious.
She smiled and insisted, “I’m a hard worker. I can do it”
Indeed she was and indeed she did. She was a machine! Not only did she never miss a day in the gym, she trained HARD. Whenever I left my office and took a stroll through the gym, she was up there pumping away with everything she had. She told me her diet was the strictest it had ever been in her life and she didn't cheat at all. I believed her. And it started to show, quickly.
Each week she popped into my office to have her body fat measured again, and each week it went down, down, down. Consistently she lost three quarters of a percent per week – well above the average rate of fat loss – and on two separate occasions, I recall her losing a full one percent body fat in just seven days.
Someone conservative might have said she was overtraining, but when we weighed her and calculated her lean body mass, we saw that she hadn’t lost ANY muscle – only fat. Her results were simply exceptional!
She was ecstatic, and needless to say, her success bred more success and she kept after it like a hungry tiger for the full twelve weeks.
On week twelve, day seven, she showed up in my office for her final weigh-in and body fat measurement. She was wearing a pair of formerly tight blue jeans and they were FALLING OFF HER! “Look, look, look,” she repeated giddily as she tugged at her waistband, which was now several inches too large.
As I took her body fat, I have to say, I was impressed. She hadn’t just lost a little fat, she was “RIPPED!”
During week twelve she dropped from 18% to 17% body fat, for a grand total of 10% body fat lost. She surpassed her goal of 19% by two percent. I was now even more impressed, because I had only seen a handful of people lose that much body fat in three months.
You should have seen her! She started hopping up and down for joy like she was on a pogo stick! She was beaming… grinning from ear to ear! She practically knocked me over as she jumped up and gave me a hug – “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
“Don’t thank me,” I said, “You did it, I just measured your body fat.”
She thanked me again anyway and then said she had to go have her “after” pictures taken.
Then something very, very strange happened. She stopped coming to the gym. Her "disappearance" was so abrupt, I was worried and I called her. She never picked up, so I just left messages. No return phone call.
It was about four months later when I finally saw Linda again. The giddy smile was gone, replaced with a sullen face, a droopy posture and a big sigh when I said hello and asked where she’d been.
“I stopped working out after the contest... and I didn’t even win.”
“You looked like a winner to me, no matter what place you came in” I insisted, “but why did you stop, you were doing so well!”
“I don’t know, I blew my diet and then just completely lost my motivation. Now look at me, my weight is right back where I started and I don’t even want to know my body fat.”
“Well, I'm glad to see you back in here again. Write down some new goals for yourself and remember to think long term too. Fitness isn’t a just 12 week program you know, it’s a lifestyle - you have to do it every day - like... forever.”
She nodded her head and finished her workout, still with that defeated look on her face. Unfortunately, she never again come anywhere near the condition she achieved for that competition, and for the rest of the time she was a member at our club, she slipped right back into the sporadic on and off workout pattern.
Linda was not an isolated case. I’ve seen the same thing happen with countless men and women of all ages and fitness levels from beginners to competitive bodybuilders. In fact, it happens to millions of people who “go on” diets, lose a lot of weight, then quickly “go off” the diet and gain the weight right back.
What causes people to burn so brightly with enthusiasm and motivation and then burn out just as quickly? Why do so many people succeed brilliantly in the short term but fail 95 out of 100 times in the long term? Why do so many people reach their fitness goals but struggle to maintain them?
The answer is simple: Health and fitness is for life, not for "12 weeks."
You can avoid the on and off, yo-yo cycle of fitness ups and downs. You can get in great shape and stay in great shape. You can even get in shape and keep getting in better and better shape year after year, but it's going to take a very different philosophy than most people subscribe to. The seven tips below will guide you.
These guidelines are quite contrary to the quick fix philosophies prevailing in the weight loss and fitness world today. Applying them will take patience, discipline and dedication. Just remember, the only thing worse than getting no results is getting great results and losing them.
1) Don’t “go on” diets. When you “go on” a diet, the underlying assumption is that at some point you have to “go off” it. This isn’t just semantics, it’s the primary reason most diets fail. By definition, a “diet” is a temporary and often drastic change in your eating behaviors and/or a severe restriction of calories or food, which is ultimately, not maintainable. If you reach your goal, the diet is officially “over” and then you "go off" (returning to the way you used to eat). Health and fitness is not temporary; it’s not a “diet.” It’s something you do every day of your life. Unless you approach nutrtion from a lifestyle perspective, you’re doomed from the start.
2) Eat the same foods all year round. Permanent fat loss is best achieved by eating mostly the same types of foods all year round. Naturally, you should include a wide variety of healthy foods so you get the full spectrum of nutrients you need, but there should be consistency, month in, month out. When you want to lose body fat, there’s no dramatic change necessary - you don’t need to eat totally different foods - it’s a simple matter of eating less of those same healthy foods and exercising more.
3) Have a plan for easing into maintenance. Let’s face it – sometimes a nutrition program needs to be more strict than usual. For example, peaking for a bodybuilding or fitness contest requires an extremely strict regimen that’s different than the rest of the year. As a rule, the stricter your nutrition program, the more you must plan ahead and the more time you must allow for a slow, disciplined transition into maintenance. Failure to plan for a gradual transition will almost always result in bingeing and a very rapid, hard fall "off the wagon."
4) Focus on changing daily behaviors and habits one or two at a time. Rather than making huge, multiple changes all at once, focus on changing one or two habits/behaviors at a time. Most psychologists agree that it takes about 21 days of consistent effort to replace an old bad habit with a new positive one. As you master each habit, and it becomes as ingrained into your daily life as brushing your teeth, then you simply move on to the next one. That would be at least 17 new habits per year. Can you imagine the impact that would have on your health and your life? This approach requires a lot of patience, but the results are a lot more permanent than if you try to change everything in one fell swoop. This is also the least intimidating way for a beginner to start making some health-improving changes to their lifestyle.
5) Make goal setting a lifelong habit. Goal setting is not a one-time event, it’s a process that never ends. For example, if you have a 12 week goal to lose 6% bodyfat, what are you going to do after you achieve it? Lose even more fat? Gain muscle? Maintain? What's next? On week 13, day 1, if you have no direction and nothing to keep you going, you’ll have nothing to keep you from slipping back into old patterns. Every time you achieve a goal, you must set another one. Having daily and weekly short term goals means that you are literally setting goals continuously and never stopping.
6) Allow a reasonable time frame to reach your goal. It's important to set deadlines for your fitness and weight loss goals. It's also important to set ambitious goals, but you must allow a reasonable time frame for achieving them. Time pressure is often the motivating force that helps people get in the best shape of their lives. But when the deadline is unrealistic for a particular goal (like 30 pounds in 30 days), then crash dieting or other extreme measures are often taken to get there before the bell. The more rapidly you lose weight, the more likely you are to lose muscle and the faster the weight will come right back on afterwards. Start sooner. Don't wait until mid-May to think about looking good for summer.
7) Extend your time perspective. Successful people in every field always share one common character trait: Long term time perspective. Some of the most successful Japanese technology and manufacturing companies have 100 year and even 250-year business plans. If you want to be successful in maintaining high levels of fitness, you must set long term goals: One year, Ten years, Even fifty years! You also must consider what the long term consequences might be as a result of using any "radical" diet, training method or ergogenic aid. The people who had it but lost it are usually the ones who failed to think long term or acknowledge future consequences. It's easy for a 21 year old to live only for today, and it may even seem ridiculous to set 25 year goals, but consider this: I've never met a 40 or 60 year old who didn't care about his or her health and appearance, but I have met 40 or 60 year olds who regretted not caring 25 years ago.
That's what Laura Howard, a Lean Plate Club member who has trimmed an impressive 60 pounds during the past 18 months, reports experiencing these days. To drop from 190 to about 130 pounds, she's done all the right things, including working out four times a week, changing her eating habits, even altering the way she thinks about food.
Yet she's now slipping into "bad habit" quicksand.
"Over the past few months," she wrote in an e-mail last week, "I've been finding it harder to stay motivated . . . and am feeling the pounds come back. . . . I'm up to 136, which isn't a lot, I know. But I'm so worried I'm going to be fat again.
"The weird thing is, I don't do anything about it. I will sit around and worry about being fat and gaining the weight back, but I have no ambition to get on the treadmill or go for that bike ride except for once or twice a week. . . . I don't even have a reason like 'I'm too busy.' I just simply don't want to.
"I have hit a wall . . . and can't get seem to get back to the mind-set I was in during my most motivated time. Help me so I don't gain it all back!"
At the University of Pennsylvania's Weight and Eating Disorders Clinic, "about 100 percent of the people we see feel this kind of fatigue," said Leslie Womble, assistant professor of psychiatry. It's so common that Womble warns them about it before it happens so "they won't be surprised."
Most shrug off her alerts -- and a few get annoyed -- until it happens to them. That's because losing weight can feel exciting when reinforcement is strong.
"At first, when you're plugging away, it feels great because everyone is noticing," Womble said. "You start to look great and your clothes size is changing."
But maintaining those hard-fought losses takes just as much effort and comes with less positive feedback because it's simply keeping the status quo.
"Quite honestly," Womble said, "it is hard to keep the weight off."
Most research has focused on how best to shed pounds -- not on how to maintain the loss for the long haul. So these days, "we're trying to develop whole programs to study this very point," said Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University School of Medicine and co-director of the National Weight Control Registry, a database of more than 3,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained the loss for at least three years.
Until scientists can shed more light on the mystery of weight maintenance, here's what experts advise:
Look at the big picture. "Most diets are a 100-yard dash," said John Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton and author of "Changing for Good" (Avon). "We know that changing lifestyle is a marathon."
Relax -- a little. Womble advises figuring out small ways to loosen up, not quit. So if you've been recording every morsel that passes your lips and can't bear the thought of writing down another entry, then note what you eat every other day. Or just on weekends. Or just after 3 p.m., if nighttime eating is a problem. "That way," Womble said, "you can get a little bit of a break. These are ways that people can step back a little."
Draw a red line. At the University of Pennsylvania clinic, Womble suggests people in maintenance draw a red line either five or 10 pounds above their current weight. If weight rises above the red line, participants immediately reinstate the full spectrum of habits that worked to help them achieve their weight loss goals.
Make it fresh. Boredom often undermines long-term habits. "So try to create variety," Wing said. "If you always walk, this might be a time to try biking. Same thing with diets. If you're in a rut, this may be the time to get out your magazines and find some recipes. Invigorate yourself."
Recruit a buddy. Being accountable to someone else means that it's not so easy to skip a workout. "If you know a friend is waiting to meet you, you're less likely to not go," Womble said. "I do that myself." Another option: consider a session or two with a personal trainer.
Mix things up. Research suggests that doing different types of physical activity helps create muscle "confusion" so that plateaus -- and boredom -- are less likely to occur. So walk a different route to work. Do the weight machines at the gym in a new order. Work out at a different time of day. Get a pedometer to help boost activities like walking and taking the stairs. You get the idea.
Test yourself. Changing behavior takes time. Figure on at least six months -- often far longer -- to make a new habit a permanent lifestyle change, Norcross said. How do you know when you've reached that point? One test, Norcross said, is that you can engage in the behavior at any time or in any situation. So whether you're under stress, celebrating a holiday or visiting a friend, you have confidence that you still stick with your new routine. For Norcross that test is travel. "The last thing I want to do is to haul my butt out to the exercise facility at a hotel," he said. "But I do it."
The second test is if you can overcome the temptation to slip into old habits with nary a thought. "It's when you can see the dessert cart and it's not gnawing at your soul," Norcross said. That's when "a short-term change has become a permanent lifestyle," he said.
Share Your Tips or ask questions about healthy nutrition and activity when Sally Squires hosts the Lean Plate Club online chat, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today, on www.washingtonpost.com. Can't join live? E-mail email@example.com anytime.
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By Sally Squires
Tuesday, August 10, 2004; Page HE01
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a successful loser.
In the past 18 months, he has whittled 110 pounds from his 5-foot-11 frame, going from 280 pounds (and a body mass index of 39 , which put him roundly in the ranks of the obese) to a trim 170 pounds and a healthy body mass index of 24.
These days, Huckabee finds himself talking as much about his healthy new habits as about his public policies. Earlier this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson invited him to address the Steps to a Healthier U.S. Summit in Baltimore. In June, he was a keynote speaker at a Time/ABC News obesity summit in Williamsburg.
Huckabee, who is also writing a book for TimeWarner about his personal health successes, didn't plan on being an icon in the war against obesity. He simply wanted to get healthy after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002. The condition, which afflicts an estimated 14 million Americans, is closely tied to being overweight or obese, and it significantly increases the risk of heart disease, kidney problems and eye ailments.
Huckabee's doctor handed him two oral medications and delivered a sobering message. "The doctor told me, the way you are living, your stress levels, the kind of job that you do and your health situation, you may have 10 years left, and that is being optimistic," Huckabee said. "Frankly, I was facing the fact that I was in the last decade of my life."
It was a turning point for Huckabee, then just 48, and one of the youngest governors in the nation. Huckabee, a Republican, has served in state office since 1993, when he won a special election for lieutenant governor. He became governor in 1996, when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, a Democrat, resigned.
Huckabee doesn't pretend to have all the answers to weight loss. He's quick to note that the path he took involved commitment and hard work. In his weightier days, he recalls being offended by "buff gym rats" preaching their messages about getting fit. So he is cautious about offering a blueprint for success. "I try not to go around saying, 'Well, you ought to do this because I did it,' " he said.
Even so, Huckabee -- he says he was a chronic overeater who hated to exercise -- sees in his story a few nuggets for others. "To be able to see my whole attitude change so radically gives me hope that other people can make adjustments and change, too," he said. "I am just one beggar telling other beggars where to find bread."
Here are some of the lessons he learned:
Find the big picture. "This is a process," Huckabee said. "There will never come a day where you can say, 'Wow! I can wipe my brow, call it quits and go back to my ways because I have done this thing.' That is critical to know. Everybody wants a quick fix and something that doesn't require any change or any effort."
Small goals. Worried that he wouldn't succeed, Huckabee set the bar low. "My original thought was, 'Gee, I need to lose 30 or 40 pounds,' " he said. "And I needed to lose more, but I didn't think that I could set myself up for a big failure. I just said if I could lose 40 pounds, I'd be in better health. I'd be better off. I just wanted to get healthier."
No dieting. Huckabee said he tried nearly every weight-loss plan. They all worked -- briefly. "I would have periods that I would call temporary success," he said. "What I really had to learn is that there is a difference between going on a diet and changing a lifestyle. Going on a diet is typically going to result in failure, for two reasons. First, because the person is focused on losing weight rather than getting healthy. And when the weight-loss program has been completed, a person feels that the process is over. Well, the process is not over. The process is a lifestyle, not a program. . . . This thing will not work on autopilot. You can't just sit in the front seat on the passenger side. You've got to be willing to drive."
Go slow. Huckabee's doctor first advised against any physical activity. The reason? His weight was likely to damage his knees. So Huckabee dropped a few pounds, then started walking. "My first exercise routine was probably six minutes a day," he said. Even that was an accomplishment. "Walking a city block just about had me winded," Huckabee said. He gradually worked up to walking a mile and a half a day. "Then one day, I was walking and I thought, 'This is kind of slow. Let's pick up the pace.' And I was running. It just developed, you know, it wasn't a planned thing. Every step became its own reward."
Find a daily routine. Always an early riser, Huckabee still gets up at 4:30 a.m. These days, however, he spends the time working out instead of just working. First stop is the track that circles the governor's mansion in Little Rock. Huckabee walks a mile, runs three, then walks half a mile to cool down. (In bad weather he uses a treadmill indoors.) Then he spends 30 minutes on a recumbent stationary bike while reading the daily newspapers. "I love the recumbent bike because you can do something else while you're on it," said Huckabee. "I can be very efficient."
Biggest Changes. No food or drink with highly processed sugar or white flour. "I have pretty much just eliminated it," he said. "And I find that not only do I not need it, but I don't want it." He consumes plenty of fruit and vegetables. "A year ago, I'd just as soon eat lawn clippings as eat asparagus, and now I love it. I find that my whole appetite has changed, and I can eat asparagus or some other type of fruit or vegetable and enjoy it so much." Other food staples include poultry without the skin, lean meat and the occasional steak and pork ribs. "I am certainly more careful about portions than I used to be," he said. And he's cut out salad dressing. "I'd never tasted a salad, I'd just tasted the dressing," he notes. "Now, if I do anything I'll put salsa on it, which is great."
Make the Time. "People say, 'How do you find the time to work out?' I say, 'There is no such thing as finding time, you make time.' For 48 years, I never found the time. But I have the same 168 hours in the week that everyone else does. And I have as busy a life . . . virtually as busy as anyone. So, do I have time to do it? Not if I find it, but I do if I make it."
Be a Road Warrior. When he travels, Huckabee packs a small cooler with smoked turkey, strawberries, apples, bottled water and diet soda so he won't be tempted by higher-calorie foods. "It's easier for me to say, 'No' than 'not much,' " he said.
Know Your Weakest Time. "The biggest battle for me is late at night," Huckabee said. "Everyone else has gone to bed and I am catching up on the end of the day's work and [eating] is kind of a stress reliever. I don't drink alcohol, but I can always eat. Nobody minds. What I find is that I just have to be very careful. An apple is better than a bag of chips. I think the amazing thing is [my] changing appetite. . . . I actually crave the apple more than I do a candy bar. And that is something that I thought I would never experience."
Weight Loss Is an Effect, Not a Goal. Gradually but steadily, Huckabee's habits improved. When he'd lost 70 pounds, he stopped trying to lose weight. The remaining 35 pounds of loss just happened as his healthy habits continued.
Exercise Cravings. "If for some reason I don't exercise, I feel absolutely robbed," he said. "It is like I didn't get to eat that day. That's just incredible. The thing about that is that it's almost like I don't recognize myself saying that."
Life-changing benefit. At his last annual physical, tests showed that Huckabee's diabetes has been reversed. Blood levels of hemoglobin A1C, a substance used to monitor the health status of people with diabetes, are now in the healthy range. Huckabee hasn't taken any medication to lower his blood sugar for more than a year. "The doctor said, 'You are now as if you never had diabetes. You will have no long-term effects.' Now I am entering the first half of the rest of my adult life, as opposed to looking at the last 10 years of it winding down."
Researchers Say Certain Habits Can Maintain Weight Loss Efforts
By Kelli A. Miller
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
on Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Aug. 4, 2004 -- Has dieting got you down? Concentrating more on your behavioral patterns and less on your middle may help keep off the pounds for good.
A study published in the July 2004 Nursing Science Quarterly reports that 18 women who lost 10% of their body weight and kept it off for at least a year did so by embracing six behavioral patterns.
Study author Diane Berry, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Nursing, evaluated the weight loss experiences of 20 women, aged 33 to 82, who were enrolled in Weight Watchers or Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS). Berry questioned the women about their childhood, their relationships with others, stable periods of time in life, and major life-changing events.
Ninety percent of the women successfully maintained a weight loss of 15 pounds to 144 pounds for a period of one to 27 years. Those who were successful exhibited six common trends. The patterns involved an initial period of chaos, followed by a time of conscious decision-making, and the development of new behaviors.
In pattern one, women exhibited self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and a high sense of vulnerability before losing weight. They were also naïve regarding events that contributed to their weight gain.
Pattern two involved problem recognition and a readiness to change. Making a decision to lose weight gave the women more overall energy, according to the study.
Pattern three revealed the women taking control and engaging in behavior change. During this phase, women felt empowered and experienced a new sense of control over their lives in general.
Pattern four showed women regularly incorporating the new behaviors into their life, such as routine exercise and food portion control. All women reported an increased awareness of food.
Pattern five showed that social support was immensely valuable in reinforcing behavior change. Attending weekly weight loss meetings offered comfort and helped foster new friendships. Some women required more support than others.
Pattern six brought increased self-confidence, self-esteem, and weight loss maintenance. Positive energy abounded across the group. Once women reached this step, weight loss was maintained.
While many diets can help shed pounds, most provide only short-term success. Researchers say close study of the six patterns may shed new understanding on why some women can maintain weight loss while others cannot.
I have been reading a good book about overcoming bad habits. Its called 'Changing for Good' by Prochaska, Norcross, and Diclemente, 1994, Avon books, NY It was recommended to me by a friend who lost and has maintained about a 200 pound loss.
It presents a 6 stage program for changing bad habits from smoking, drinking, and overeating. They studied over 1000 people who were able to change bad habits permanently without psychotherapy. They say Change does not depend on willpower but is a process that can be managned by anybody. Its obviously not solely about weight loss but the same methods of change apply. In the book there are two quite good chapters that would apply to this maintainers forum, as well as other good information for others earlier in their weight loss process.
Chapter 8 is 'maintenance - staying there'. In it are things such as:
"For all of us, former problems ... will hold some attraction long after the habit is broken. To remain strong thru-out maint. requires that you acknowledge you are still vulnerable to the problem even while youre building a life in which the old behaviour has no value."
and, "The most common threats to maint. are social pressures, internal challenges, and special situations. ......"
Under 'courting relapse': "There are three common internal challenges that are closely related to slips, or brief lapses: overconfidence, daily temptation, and self-blame." They differentiate between lapses and relapses.
And, "In maintaining a weight loss, overeating may not be the first danger sign. Instead, the early warning signs may involve a lessening of commitment to the new lfiestyle...... suddenly it becomes too late or too hard to exercise...."
Chapter 9 is ' recycling - learning from relapse'.
"Altho. relapse is never desireable, our view is that change is often circular and difficult. ... Relapsers most often take one step backwards in order to take two steps forward."
They list 10 lessons of relapse with a small section for each- (the following are their headings)
'few changers terminate the first time around'
'trial and error is inefficient'
'change costs more than you budgeted'
'using the wrong processes at the wrong time
'substituting one bad behavior for another'
'be prepared for complications'
'the path to change is rarely a straight line'
'a lapse is not a relapse'
'mimi decisions lead to maxi decisions' (few relapses are conscious)
'distress precipitates relapse'
"The most common cause of relapse is distress. Researches consistently find that distress (including anger, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other emotional problems) is involved in 60 to 70% of relapses in alcohol, drug, smoking, and eating problems." ... "Social pressure is the other major cause of relapse." ... "Since distress and social pressure trigger the vast majority of relapses, it is improtant for you to include coping with these formidible forces when you create your action plan."
I dont know if this book is worth buying for only two chapters of interest for maintainers, but you might see if your local library has it, or see if amazon has any used copies of it. Its not the easiest of books to read.
I've been reading loads of posts in the Maintainers area and you are all so inspiring! I'm Ann-Charlotte, a 27 year old Swede who's still not a Maintainer, but will be.
Thought I'd recommend the Daybook that builds on the excellent Thin For Life by Anne M. Fletcher. The Daybook is marvellous, it has 52 weeks worth of logging, but you can of course start it at any time during the year. Every week you write down the following things, before you start logging your daily intake of food:
Goal(s) for this week
Anticipated Obstacles and Possible Solutions
On each day you have space to write down your food and also exercise, if any, and accomplishments, whatever they may be.
On the first 10 pages or so you can read about "Setting Goals", "Anticipating Obstacles", "Coming up with an exercise plan" and "Don't go it alone" - all these things are of course described more extensively in the Thin for Life book, but it's really nice to have them in the Daybook too.
The book is in a nice format, same as the latest edition of Thin for life. The paper is really nice, you can easily write on it in pencil and erase it without the page getting ugly (very important ). The book has a plastic comb spine so that it lies flat on the table (you can't fold it 100% though..).
I can really recommend this Daybook, I believe everyone can use it - people who are currently losing weight and maintainers. I think it's a good tool to use when you feel that you start to slip a little? It gives you control without going all drill sergeant on you.