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April 19, 2010



Well done to this lady!

I would second her comments about strength training. I always had problems with losing and then maintaining weight. Even though I did masses of cardio, I still seemed to be fighting a heavy battle with the pounds.

Of course, it wasn't helped by all the rubbish that I used to throw down my gullet! When I think now of what I used to eat :-(

The key to overcoming these issues for me was the discovery of strength training and eating more healthily. I'm not sure that it has been shown that strength training does raise metabolism, but my personal experience is that it really helps with weight control.

Added to that the great benefits in terms of everyday function and I'm only sorry I didn't realise this years earlier.


Oh, and I wanted to add that careful strength training also greatly reduced a chronic lower back disc problem.

Maybe this wouldn't work for everyone - and to me it is counter-intuitive that strength training would do so - but it worked for me.

Concerned Citizen

I'm happy for Brenda, but to brag on your "lifestyle changes" and "huge weight loss" is problematical after such a short time. It took her two years to lose weight and shape up, and while there are no dates, I assume she reached her goal weight maybe in the last year or so. Until you have KEPT THE WEIGHT OFF for five years - and in her case, during menopausal changes -- it won't mean that much.

There are countless stories (including on the abominable show "America's Biggest Loser") of people losing huge amounts of weight, even for a year or two or three, but if you follow up, you find that 97% of all obese people who lose weight, end up gaining the weight back -- and more.

In Brenda's case I note several red flags. She does not mention a husband or children (teens): having to cook for a hungry adult man, or teenagers and have their types of food in the house can be a huge trial for a middle-aged woman with a smaller body and lower metabolism. Even if you have the willpower of a saint, it is very difficult to avoid eating situations if "everyone else" is having pizza or hamburgers or barbeque and you are stuck with "the chewy broccoli".

Eating 1300 calories a day is commendable in the sense of real discipline and commitment, BUT it also represents NEAR starvation by the standards of the World Health Organization. (Poor third worlders who have 1300 calories a day are pitied; fat white women who starve on 1300 calories a day are APPLAUDED...but it's still starvation.) Starvation or semi-starvation are hard to maintain unless you are anorexic. They lead often to binging, and the regaining of massive amounts of weight very quickly, which is worse for your health than moderate obesity. What happens when Brenda can't stand living on such a meager semi-starvation diet any more?

And lastly: at 53, Brenda might have been just entering peri-menopause...or in full menopause. I don't know. It might be too personal to ask. But it is relevant! Menopause totally changes your metabolism and the way your body deposits fat. A diet that works before menopause may be totally ineffective AFTER menopause.

There is some erroneous information here as well: a small bag of potato chips has 150 calories and should not "blow" anyone's diet. Normal diets (like Weight Watchers) have an allowance of 150 calories a day for "treats".

And in conclusion: because this worked for THIS ONE INDIVIDUAL LADY does not mean much for the 200 million overweight/obese Americans who are all different ages, ethnicity, race, DNA, family background, gender, height, build and so forth. Most of us have been on hundreds of diets in our lives; most of us are still overweight. My own personal conclusion is that DIETING DOES NOT WORK for permanent weight loss...neither does exercise (proven now by multiple scientific research studies). Exercise is a good thing for cardiac fitness and strength and flexibility but it does not cause permanent weight loss.

Once again, I am happy for Brenda. But one story does not extrapolate how hundreds of millions of people can lose weight permanently.

Healthy Librarian

Dear Concerned Citizen,

I'm sorry that you didn't appreciate Brenda's story, and discounted her success as "temporary". It was only a short summary of her history and what she has figured out that has worked best for her. I tried to email an "offline" reply to you, but it came back as no such address.

Just to be clear-the word "Diet" in that post meant what one eats--not a calorie-reducing diet. Brenda is all about a life-long non-diet eating plan, that allows for indulgences.

Perhaps you would appreciate reading the summary of Dr. Sharon Alger-Mayer's lecture that does an excellent job of explaining all the difficulties of losing weight mid-life.

That's what prompted Brenda's original email to me. Here's the link: "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Losing Weight, Exercise, Stress, and Cardiovascular Risk from an Expert, Dr. Sharon Alger-Mayer. The Best Diet, How Much Exercise, the Hormone Stress Connection, the Best Phytonutrients, and the Healthiest Carbs"


My thanks to “Concerned Citizen” for pointing out information that I left out in my post.

It took me one year to make the changes in my daily diet, exercise and activity regimen, and gain the muscle and lose the fat that changed my metabolism and pants/dress sizes. I have maintained my “new normal” way of life for two years. I went through the last year of peri-menopause during the first two years of the process and have been post-menopausal for a year.
My caloric window of 1350-1550 calories a day was based upon what my muscle mass could support when I began the program. This window would vary with each individual, and should be based upon an accurate reading of the individual’s body composition. The 1350 calorie number represented the number of calories below which I should NOT ever go – because it would put me into famine mode. I averaged about 1500 calories a day, plus doing the interval training, getting my steps in and doing weight training three times a week.

Now that I am maintaining, my new muscle mass allows me to eat in a window of 1550 – 1850 calories a day. I do weight training just twice a week and my interval training is pretty much riding my bicycle to do errands. I take a brisk hour’s walk every day with a friend, so my steps have actually gone up to about 1400 – 1600 a day, just because I enjoy it. At this point, this is a way of life that I can’t imagine changing, because I feel so good when I am active and eating well and I feel yucky and get sick more easily when I don’t.

I live with my 17-year-old son, my 27-year old daughter (who is a dancer) and my 6 foot 3 inch husband. They eat what I eat, usually oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, a lot of hearty soups for lunch and often for dinner, a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and some lean protein. When we eat this way, sometimes I find I have to have a snack in the evening because I didn’t get enough calories that day! (And a 150-calorie bag of potato chips represents 10% of my daily calories – so no, I don’t eat potato chips a lot. Besides, it’s the one thing that I don’t have control over – I can’t just eat 150 calories worth. 700 calories worth, maybe!) We don’t eat a lot of pizza or burgers anymore – we find that we get stomach aches when we eat high fat food and it just doesn’t taste that good anymore. None of us are overweight, we enjoy what we eat and we hardly ever get sick.

I would like to say that my trainer has trained dozens of women in this program – anyone who joins his gym, as a matter of fact, agrees to the nutrition and exercise program as part of the gym membership. Everybody who follows this program has seen improvement.

I agree with Concerned Citizen that diets – that you “go on” and then “go off” do not work. But making a permanent change in what you eat and in your activity level DOES work.

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