20/20 on 6/23/2006

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20/20 this evening featured the good doctors who wrote “You: The Owner’s Manual”. I’m still reading the book and learning new things daily. It’s a great read. My only complaint is that it’s too chock full of information. I hope somewhere near the end they summarize all of their recommendations into a 1-2 pager.

On 20/20 they discussed some of the myths that they dispel in their book, one of them being that exercising too much is not good on the body, which I wrote about in an early post. First Oprah, now 20/20 – the doctors are making their rounds. Hopefully people will listen.


Bicycling Magazine and the BMI

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Last year Bicycling magazine dedicated one of it’s issues to weight loss. In one short article, they discussed and “dissed” the BMI (body mass index). The author’s take was that it wasn’t realistic and he even quoted a physical therapist (if memory serves me) as saying that we all have “pre-programmed” weights.

This article was the perfect embodiment of how I use to think of the BMI – utter denial. For those of you who don’t know, the BMI is a number that you can calculate from your height and weight to determine if your weight is normal for your height or not. I go into more detail on how I came to believe in the BMI in my book. Suffice it to say now, I think the BMI is a great tool for identifying your target weight.

I was digging through my files and I found the letter that I wrote to Bicycling’s editor, Steve Madden. Unfortunately, it didn’t get printed and I didn’t get a response. That’s too bad, because I expected a magazine that I’ve been reading off and on for over 20 years to be more responsible in its reporting.

I was hoping that even if my letter didn’t get printed, that the argument I made for the BMI in it would at least prompt the editors to dig deeper on the BMI and retract the rubbish they printed. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anything of sort since.

But, that’s not surprising. Now that I think of it, I got much of my diet advice from Bicycling as a teenage bike racer. Carbs, carbs & more carbs – which isn’t very good advice for the waistline, unless you’re a Tour de France rider.

In Steve Madden’s letter from the editor column, he has complained about the few extra pounds that he carries around his waist and his desire to shed those. Perhaps he’s just at his genetic preprogrammed weight.

In my next post, I’ll recount the letter I wrote.

Parade Magazine; 6/11/2006

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Dr. Michael O’Shea writes a “Better Fitness” column for Parade Magazine (the magazine insert that comes in most major Sunday newspapers). His column on June 11 is the first time that I can recall where someone agreed with one of my non-conventional tips – to weigh yourself often.

“Daily weigh-ins are key to keeping weight off, according to research of Brown University Medical School. By stepping on a scale every day, 61% of people in an 18-month study managed to gain back only 5 of the average 44 pounds each had lost. (Most dieters will gain back a third of their weight within a year).”

I’m a big proponent of getting in the habit of weighing yourself daily. I do. While many diet experts seem to recommend to pay attention to how well your clothes fit rather than the scale, I think that’s bunk. You should pay attention to both.

Weighing yourself daily has several benefits. First, there’s no escaping reality. When the needle doesn’t tell me what I want it to tell me, I first check the scale calibration. If that doesn’t work, I may try to run through a couple of excuses, but I usually end up where I should – realizing that I’ve been letting my eating get a little out of control.

Next, you learn more about how your body weight responds to certain things. I’ve learned that I usually pick up two pounds of water weight after enjoying one of my favorite Mexican meals due to the high sodium content. After a couple days, that weight seems to evaporate. Likewise, I found out that I could easily lose 3 – 5 pounds on a 100 mile bike ride. Because of this, I drink much more fluids and eat more often during rides in order to stay hydrated and energized. Now I feel better at the end and I rarely allow myself to lose so much weight on one back ride.

Finally, weighing yourself daily keeps your weight control on top of your mind. Avoiding the scale just makes it too easy to avoid the whole subject of weight loss.

It is a tough habit to start, but I do believe it’s essential. In order to lose weight you have to be completely honest with yourself and the scale makes it that much tougher to delude yourself, unless, of course, you are better at calibrating the needle on scale than I.

"You: The Owners Manual" Part II

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I’m finally reading “You: The Owner’s Manual”. It contains some interesting concepts indeed. Here’s one interesting tidbit.

The good doctors speak in terms of Real Age and Calendar Age. They contend that our lifestyles make our bodies younger or older than our true calendar age. For example, the body of a 55 year old smoker is more like the body of a 65 year old non-smoker.

Regarding exercise, they contend that you receive the optimal age benefit from 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day and 1 hour (or 3 – 20 minute sessions) per week of vigorous exercise at 80% of your max heart rate (which is 80% of 220 – your calendar age).

They also contend that any more than one hour of vigorous exercise actually reduces the benefit of exercise on your Real Age. They said that a 55 year old man that followed their exercise routine would have a real age of 45. But, a 55 year old man that exercises more would have a real age of 52.

Interesting! Perhaps there is a such thing as too much exercise.

Over the years I’ve settled into an exercise routine that involves copious amounts of rest and moderate exercise. On average, I probably only get about 1 hour of high intensity exercise each week. I do take 2 days off a week. Perhaps I’ll consider adding a short walk on those days to get in the 30 minutes of physical activity.

50 Weight Loss Tips

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A friend sent me this link to Chris Pirillo’s blog that contains 50 Weight Loss Tips. It contains some really nice tips, with the first one being the crux of my weight loss success.