Late January tends to be about the time when everyone who resolved to lose weight on January 1st either notices that what they are doing is working, or are starting to slack on nutrition/exercise, or are reconsidering if their goals were realistic in the first place. Hopefully you are in the 1st category, but if you are one of the fortunate to have seen some results at some point you will plateau or hit an obstacle life tends to throw at us. Then what?
Well, the answer sometimes isn’t so clear, but having some strategies in your pocket to rely on is important. Whether that is exercising 4 times a week and eating a vegetable with every meal or something more detailed, the idea is to have strategies that you know 100% you can follow and make into a habit.
I was reminded of what happens when minor setbacks occur today when a client had commented that he had gone down a couple of pounds since the holidays, but the bad news was he is back where he was before the holidays started. He then mentioned this article (which got quite a lot of play in fitness circles) in the Times and how what he took from it is that sometimes keeping weight off is a near impossible task.
The gist of the article is that the more overweight a person is the more that person’s body will want to maintain homeostasis. But the part of the article I believe most important is that when people across many studies who successfully took off weight and kept it off were asked how they did it answers were some variation of realizing they had to permanently improving their nutrition and exercise habits.
In other words they changed their lifestyle instead of doing this or that diet and P90X for a couple of months then going back to a lifestyle that had made them overweight in the first place.
Fitness author(itarian) Lou Schuler reviews some of the most current research into fat loss in this article and summarizes an interesting new theory:
To replace set-point theory, the authors offer the dual intervention point model. Each of us has an upper and lower intervention point. Your body won’t allow your weight to sink below the latter, or rise above the former. The range between my floor and ceiling seems to be relatively small, which is why my weight rarely goes below my current 180 pounds or above 190. But for someone else, it might be huge.
To quote the authors:
Within the gap between upper and lower intervention points is the space where environmental effects on energy balance hold sway. … More broadly, the model can explain the obesity epidemic as a consequence of increased food supplies driving up food intake, while also explaining why only some people become overweight and obese in this obesogenic environment.
So how much of your weight is determined by genes? According to the authors, our current best guess is 65 percent. The rest depends on the life you live and the choices you make.
Could there be any scarier word than “obesogenic”?
I believe that whether or not that particular theory, or the set point theory is more accurate makes relatively little difference because the take home point is the variables that really matter are those we can control. Lifestyle. Consistent exercise, more active/less TV, be aware of what you eat and how much of it, and so on.
As a final note if you have time please watch this documentary on an extraordinary individual that changed the lives of many by utilizing principles and philosophical perspectives learned through physical, mental, and spiritual training martial arts in Japan.