Thursday, April 21, 2011

Take it off and keep it off!

I tried – goodness, how I tried – to burn off my muffin top by exercising more and harder and longer, but no matter how many times I climbed the virtual Matterhorn at the gym, the muffin stayed with me.

It was only when I combined activity with a change in my eating habits that the pounds began to disappear.

So I was already a convert when Dr David Docherty, professor emeritus of the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education at the University of Victoria, said in a recent public lecture that combining activity with changes in diet is more effective for weight loss than exercise alone.

Dr Docherty’s source was a recent article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. DJ Macfarlane and GN Thomas surveyed a jumbo pack of recent weight-loss studies that yielded, among many other great tidbits, this morsel: While there’s conflicting evidence on the early weight-loss benefits of combining exercise with reduced calories, the longer-term benefits for losing weight and keeping it off are clearer.

You see, only 30 percent of participants in weight-management programs successfully maintain their losses for more than five years and that’s not good enough for me. I don’t want to have to shake off the same ten or 20 or 30 pounds again and again. That’s way too much work.

So here’s the good news.

“Over longer periods (>1 year),” write Macfarlane and Thomas, “the benefits of adding exercise to dietary restrictions seems unequivocal.”

This is good news for several reasons. For one thing, exercise adds health benefits far beyond those gained by only ditching the pounds. And for another, it’s so very heartening to only have to lose the weight once.

I mean, who wants to keep losing those same ten pounds over and over? Not me!

If it means I can keep buttoning my comfy old jeans, I’ll happily skip a muffin or two and add a few brisk walks to my week!

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