To Weigh Or Not To Weigh?

I was listening last week to Clare Balding on R4’s Woman’s Hour chatting about the Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Boat Race. This year it took place on the Thames for the first time ever, and occurred on the same day (Saturday 11th April) as the men’s.  What interested me was that Clare Balding had been along to the weigh-in and was pointing out that while the rowers are all quite small women, they do weigh a fair amount. They are small, lean and full of muscle.

Ox and Camb weigh in

This reminded me of a diet and fitness statement one often hears bandied about: a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat. Well, no. They weigh the same. But the point (which is correct) is that muscle is about 18% more dense than fat and one pound of muscle occupies less space (volume) than one pound of fat.

These pictures illustrate the point.

Muscle V Fat

same weight pic

Some people weigh themselves every day, and there is research to show that they do in fact lose the most weight. The research was published in 2014 in the online publication PLOS One (you can access it here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113164). Although a relatively small number of people took part (40) there are two or three other studies which show much the same thing.

I NEVER weigh myself. I did get super slim aged about 20 and enjoyed jumping on scales as often as possible, but the more I weigh, the less happy I am to know the truth. When I am forced onto the scales (perhaps at the hospital or by the GP), thankfully very rarely, I look off into the middle distance with a thoughtful, intelligent look in my eye and pray I am not going to get a lecture from the health professional. Often it is in kgs anyway, which is complete gobbledy-gook to me.

scales

I have lost weight recently (see posts on the Side Plate Diet) but am still going nowhere near the scales. For me it is all about how I feel, how I look, and how my clothes are fitting. Also how much muscle I have – the aim is to be lean and fit. Bring it on.

Let me know if you weigh yourself, how often, and whether it is motivating – does it make or break your day? Do you calculate your BMI? Or do you have your body fat percentage measured?  I am not sure I am brave enough to face those body fat calipers just yet, but you never know.

calipers

Annie Bee x

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The Nightmare Cycle of Diet Loss and Regain

Hello again

Put your hand up if you have been on a successful diet and NOT put at least some of the weight back on? Put your hand up if you put it all back on and then some. Are you confused about the very latest thing we are all supposed to be giving up? (Sugar seems to be the most recent baddy, but it is sometimes hard to keep up). Studies show that between 50% and 80% of dieters will put all their lost weight back on and some may well find they are heavier than they were when they first started the diet. How incredibly depressing.

In April 2007, UCLA research in American Psychologist, (the journal of the American Psychological Association) concluded that, “you can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back”.

Traci Mann, UCLA Associate Professor of Psychology and lead author of the study, conducted the most comprehensive and rigorous analysis of diet studies by analysing 31 long-term pieces of research.

“What happens to people on diets in the long run?” Mann asked. “Would they have been better off to not go on a diet at all? We decided to dig up and analyse every study that followed people on diets for two to five years. We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all. Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.”

“We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”

Traci Mann

So where does that leave us? Depressed? Unmotivated? Confused? Turning to the nearest donut?

diet pic 2

Diets are a very personal choice – there is probably one to suit everybody’s preferences and lifestyles. For some people, five small meals per day works best; the 5:2 diet (fasting for 2 days of every 7) suits others.  Some enjoy counting calories, others hate it. What seems indisputable is we have to conquer how to make them work in the long run. Many dieters relax after initial weight loss and then the diet slips. Or results are too slow and people become unmotivated.

diet pic 3

We all feel better at an optimum weight so we need to remind ourselves of that: it is easier to move around, easier to run for the bus, our joints don’t suffer, we feel more attractive and (perhaps counter-intuitively) we seem to have more energy. So where do we find this extra motivation? Sadly I don’t have the magic answer – I wish I did.

There is a book called ‘Mindless Eating’ by Brian Wansink which has some interesting information on the psychology of overeating and how we make decisions about the food we eat. He has done some research into the correlation between the size of bowl/plate and the amount of food people subsequently help themselves to. If you have read my previous blogs on the Side Plate Diet you will know that I am a convert to eating off three (occasionally four) 7 inch plates a day. It works for me, but I realise it won’t suit everyone.

If you missed the pieces, use these links below and I would love to hear from you.

https://buzzanniebee.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/the-side-plate-diet-the-background/

https://buzzanniebee.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/when-is-a-side-plate-not-a-side-plate/

https://buzzanniebee.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/the-side-plate-diet-portion-distortion/

https://buzzanniebee.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/the-side-plate-diet-breakfasts/

diet pic

Annie Bee x

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The Side-Plate Diet: The Background

Most of us who are even slightly overweight are aware that, although no doubt a  complex area from a medical/nutrition point of view, our weight comes down to Calories In, Calories Out. As a neighbour of mine pointed out once, when I had exclaimed about her marvellous weight-loss (and rather put me in my place), “it’s not rocket science”.

Indeed it is not, and yet why do so many of us struggle with our weight? And I do not just mean middle-aged women like me; obesity (the description of which, on the NHS website, is  ‘somebody who is very overweight, with a lot of body fat. It’s a common problem, estimated to affect around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 in the UK’) is one of the biggest problems facing the long-term health of the population in the UK today.

The Guardian recently reported, “The UK has higher levels of obesity and overweight people than anywhere in western Europe except for Iceland and Malta, according to an authoritative global study that raises fresh concerns about the likely health consequences”. And from The Lancet: ” Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene.”

We know that the Calories Out bit is to do with burning the fuel which is our food; also not a simple issue (we are all different with different abilities, different metabolisms and definitely different levels of motivation) but essentially we all know we need to be ACTIVE. (The additional health benefits impact on our chances of getting cancer, dementia and a whole host of problems).

For the purposes of this piece, it is the Calories In bit which I want to share some ideas with you about. We are bombarded with information on healthy eating, diets, fitness regimes, super-foods etc. I went onto Amazon UK and found there were in excess of 131,000  diet books to be had  – it is mind-boggling to think how much more information is out there on the internet about the subject. How may different diets can you name? How many have you been on? Has the weight-loss been maintained? (If the answer to that last question is ‘yes’, well done). Has a diet you have been on left you feeling weak and pathetic rather than strong and healthy?

To make things simple I have devised the Side-Plate Diet: no calorie counting, no eating different things from the rest of the family, no need for bizarre ingredients (unless that is what makes you tick), but rather finding the “Golden Mean” –  the desirable middle  ground between the extremes of deficiency (not enough food) and excess (over-eating).  Healthy eating but with portion control at the forefront of the approach. I came across one diet (which no doubt has its avid followers and no doubt works for some people) which seems to use little ladles of different colours in which foods must be weighed, added up before being turned into a meal (not to mention you have to buy these cute little ladles). By limiting yourself to a set number of side-plates per day, being sensible (yes, I know, a Mars Bar fits very nicely onto a side-plate – the occasional treat is OK but this is a diet), and sticking to nutritious, balanced foods, you avoid the danger of over-eating and, very importantly (a problem for so many of us and certainly me) snacking.

Research has long highlighted  that people who keep a record of what they eat and drink and how active they are – known to health professionals as ‘self-monitoring’ have more weight-loss success. With the Side-Plate Diet I would urge you to keep a photo diary every day: unless you are a Luddite, chances are you, or somebody who lives in your house, will have access to a digital camera (preferably on your mobile phone). By taking pictures of the plates, you can see just how well you are doing but also analyse whether you are still managing to get enough fruit and veg, what the level of carbs are (it is easy to think that a piece of toast fits well onto a side plate and make that the basis of your meals) but also share what you are eating with others (including me). If taking pics is a problem, write it down.

My next piece will be “What Exactly Is A Side-Plate” – you probably think that sounds mad, but let me tell you, size matters! Also coming soon: Being Active, Portion Distortion, Calories Out.

Thanks for reading.

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ANNIE BEE X