The FINAL 5 Pounds...Not Quite. Research Reveals Why

5 years ago

You may recall that I gave up alcohol for 2 weeks in order to lose the final 5 pounds, as promised by my exercise guru, Julie.  Everyone else reported success in meeting their goals. That includes people who self-reported only drinking 3-4 glasses of wine weekly, not most nights like me.

Here’s my progress…
Week One – No alcohol intake and I’m on track with a weight loss of 2.5 pounds.

Week Two – I’m motivated, so I say yes to everyone who wants to exercise.  But,  the truth is, I knew that I probably needed to rest my knees a little more.  You know the early warning sign –that little twinge feeling– sort of like the first signs of a cold?  Well, I got that, but said yes to one hike too many and wham!  My knees revolted with inflammation.  So, last week I still went to exercise but modified my routine and didn’t do any cardio that would be hard on my knees.  I took it easy and spent time testing recipes in for the 2012 edition of our heart-healthy booklet.  The result?  I stuck with the no alcohol policy and lost another pound, just 1.5 shy of my 5 pound goal.

That got me thinking, “Was it the no alcohol policy or exercise that actually dropped the weight?”

Then, I read an interview with Linda Bacon, PhD, a nutrition professor at the City College of San Francisco.  She contends that scientific studies lead her to question our focus on dieting and losing weight.  There are many overweight people who are not at risk for heart disease, and in fact, are healthier than their thin opposites.  Why?  Simply because they exercise.  She says that restricting food intake to lose weight is a losing proposition.  Long term studies show that dieting rarely works.  You know, the yo-yo effect, which is far more dangerous for our risk for disease than being steadily overweight.

One study from 2008 found that overweight women who walked more than four hours a week significantly lowered their risk of heart disease compared with those who didn’t exercise.  That lead Bacon to surmise that the most important risk factor isn’t being overweight; it’s being sedentary.

This conclusion leads us back to lifestyle – something we all know.  Every guideline for good health is clear: we all need to move at least 30 minutes a day to maintain our weight, and more in order to get to a healthier weight.

As for my no alcohol policy?  I’m going for another week and then I’ll decide – exercise or wine?  Maybe the answer is simply, “a little bit of both”.

If I can do it, you can, too!

Susan Levy
Publisher, Well-Fed Heart

What do you think would help you more – decreasing your alcohol intake or increasing your exercise?

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