Diane Tarantini: Exercise is not the key to losing weight

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For years I felt guilty for not exercising on a regular basis. Because I believed working out was the most effective way to stay healthy and trim.

Then I remembered that not one, but two gym owners, have told me, “90% of the way your body looks is not due to exercise. It’s due to the food you eat.”

Earlier this year as I sat down to write a blog post about weight loss, the exercise versus food intake theory came to mind. When I Googled the topic, I learned the gym owners are right!

An article at Vox.com pointed out that you actually have to exercise a ridiculous amount to cause a significant calorie deficit. Not only that, exercise can also cause you to eat more, because you think you “earned” it. In truth, an hour of hard exercise can be erased with five minutes of ravenous post-workout eating.

That’s not to say exercise is without benefits. There are tons of advantages to moving your body. Things like: improved blood pressure, cholesterol and/or sugar numbers. Reduced risk of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. Improved sleep quality.

So, yes, exercise is good for the body. However, the old weight-loss formula of “burn more calories than you eat” is turning out to be flawed.

The journal “Obesity” published the results of the research done on 14 contestants from the reality show, “The Biggest Loser.”

The study found the people who lost the most weight on the show did not exercise the most. They ate the least. In addition, it might be interesting to note, 13 of the 14 contestants studied gained back 66% of the weight they lost. Four of them actually became heavier than they were before they competed on the show.

You may be thinking, “But I’ve heard stories of people who lost a ton of weight by exercising.”

Yes, such stories exist. But the bulk of evidence shows these individuals are in the minority.

Even so, dozens of government departments and organizations — from the American Heart Association to the U.S. Department of Agriculture — have told us increased physical activity (with or without a change in diet) is the way to reverse weight gain.

Sadly, the emphasis on exercise for weight loss encourages people to ignore or underestimate the greater impact of diet.

As researchers at one journal said, “You cannot outrun a bad diet.” And goodness knows, the world, especially the U.S., needs a good diet. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled world-wide. In the U.S., nearly 70% of the population is overweight, and 40% of the population is actually clinically obese.

So exactly what does work for weight loss? An article in Time magazine listed best practices from a group of individuals who had lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a minimum of one year.

These successful losers recommend: changing your diet and keeping a food journal to help you identify negative patterns. Weigh in at least once a week. Eat appropriate portion sizes. Remember that slow and steady wins the race. If you fall off the “diet wagon,” don’t give up. Heave yourself back on and try again. And, if the first diet you try doesn’t work, try another one. No diet works for every single person.

When these people exercise, it’s not to lose weight, but to maintain their weight loss. Walking was the most common activity.

In addition, two other factors were significant with this group. Many of them had experienced a health scare and were told in order to live longer, they needed to lose weight. So they did. Also, the majority of this group reported they watch fewer than 10 hours of TV per week.

Another thing to remember is, don’t be too ambitious with weight loss goals. People tend to set goals up to three times what a doctor might recommend. That sets you up for failure. Not only that, “Research shows that with just a 10% loss of weight, people will experience noticeable changes in their blood pressure and blood sugar control, lowering their risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes — two of the costliest diseases in terms of health care dollars and human life.”

For more information on this topic, check out this post on my blog: dianetarantini.com

Lifestyles columnist Diane Tarantini is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Morgantown. Check out her blog, “Lessons from a Life Half Lived,” at www.dianetarantini.com. She can be reached at diane@dianetarantini.com

Funerals for Sunday, December 15, 2019

Barker Sr., Wendell - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.

Blake, Beverly - 3 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.

Bowers, Edna - 2 p.m., Slate / Bowers Cemetery, near Spencer.

Cottrell, Patricia - 2 p.m., Humphreys Memorial United Methodist Church, Sissonville.

Franco, Stephen - 2 p.m., Simons-Coleman Funeral Home, Richwood.

Goffaux, Elizabeth - 3 p.m., North Charleston Baptist Church, Charleston.

Higginbotham, William - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hutchinson, Madeline - 2 p.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

Moore, Edna - 2 p.m., Groves Cemetery, Canvas.

Truman, Alice - 2 p.m., Gary & Alice Truman Cemetery.

Tucker, Larry - 1 p.m., John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer.

White, Roger - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Wyne, Neta - 3 p.m., Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs.