Is the key to weight loss exercise or eating less?

Jim and I read this Time article at about the same time:

Why exercise won't make you thin

(A friend on Facebook pointed me to it.)  The article suggests that exercise has comparatively little to do with weight loss. What does make the difference is simply eating less.  The calorie-burning effect of exercise is marginalized or negated by a few things:

  • Replacing 10 pounds of fat with muscle only results in an extra 40 calories per day burned.
  • Exercising doesn't burn as many calories as you might think.
  • People tend to eat more than they should after exercise, and there are a number of reason why they do.

The article does not state that exercise is unimportant.  There are other health benefits to exercise, such as enhanced cognitive ability and cardiovascular health.

Just don't expect to get skinny without eating less, too.

Signed up for Man vs. Debt’s weight loss challenge

I'm on Team Delta for the Man Vs. Debt weight loss challenge.  I'm joining 29 other personal finance bloggers in a competition to reach weight goals.  The challenge will run from June 1st through July 31st.

I've set as a goal to lose 10 pounds during that time.  So it's more Wii Balance Board, more elliptic trainer, and less candy for me!  (I'm actually up a bit since I stated my interest in losing weight.  Guess I wasn't that interested!)

Anyway, let's try again!

Eleven times

That's the number of days over the past three months I've exercised 30 minutes or more, according to my records at Joe's Goals.

Ouch.

Like most every great plan at the beginning of the year, this one fizzled.

It takes a lot of discipline to be the one out of twenty that will lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off for life.  (That's one doctor's estimate on another site I frequent.)  The other nineteen die young and are miserable for a good part of their shortened lives.  I fear it might take diabetes to get me to change, but I hope not.

Oh well, have a great week everyone! 🙂

Find somebody to bug you about exercising

One of the guys that works in the same building I do at work bugs me every chance he gets about whether I'm going to the YMCA to exercise or not.

This is a very good thing.  I've asked him to keep needling me.

He's a little older than I am, and he's trying to get back into shape before it's too late.  He's trying a lot harder than I am, and doing what he can.  He's admitted that it takes longer to recover between workouts than it used to, but he still does what he can.

I have done a little better at exercising than I was at the end of last year.  I've exercised for at least 30 minutes at least twice a week this month.  Keeping track of this is one of only two goals I have this year.

Hopefully my colleague will bug me about getting there three times a week. 😉

Elliptic trainers are fun

I'm working out on them a couple times a week.  Four or five times a week would be better.

I prefer the ones that give an arm workout as well as the other parts.  Holding onto the railings on the other machines seems a little like cheating, but I'm not one to talk right now.

The machine says that I burn around 450 calories during my 35-minute workout.  (I weigh myself before I work out and enter that into the machine.  I probably actually burn no less than 350 calories; they're not too far off.) 

Through all this, I realized that people who lose two pounds a week are doing some serious dieting and some serious exercising.  It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound.  Cutting back 500 calories a day should mean a net loss of one pound per week.  Burning another 500 calories each and every day would be another pound per week.

At the rate I'm working out, I'd lose one pound a month.  That's probably not fast enough.  It's better than gaining a pound a month, but I'll be fat for a looooong time at that rate.

Elliptic trainers are fun.  I'll use them more often. 😉

Well, Wii Fit didn’t keel over from shock

It had been a while since I logged any time on Wii Fit.  Bad me.  It teases me a little when I miss a few days.  The animated Balance Board was happy as always to see me again, and I put in 30 minutes for the first time in about a month without keeling over myself.

I guess there are bound to be a few false starts with any habit-changing endeavors like weight loss.  And this particular one is really tough to overcome:  It's estimated that only 5% of people who lose 10% of their body weight will keep it off for five years or more.  That's twenty-to-one odds.  Even worse odds than staying married.

One thing that has been really throwing a wrench in the gears has been my sleep schedule.  Many people have commented that I've been staying up, and getting up, way too late.  I've come to realize that this ripples through the rest of my life and backs everything up against a wall.  I've kinda-sorta gotten away with being an ultra-night-owl for quite a while, but it's catching up to me, and calling attention to things that aren't really too complimentary.  People at work notice that I roll in pretty late (even though we have flexible hours), and getting up early for church on Sunday is always a challenge.  Throwing off my sleep schedule so often affects how well I sleep, so my desire to exercise goes down, which decreases my productivity and how well I sleep.  That's a bad cycle to get into.

Anyway, I'm trying to address my sleep schedule and re-commit myself to exercise.  Thanks for sticking around as I figure this out.  I appreciate it!

I hate fundraisers

Well, maybe I should be a little more specific:  I hate fundraisers at work where they just leave a box of candy bars and an envelope in a high-traffic area.

I fell off the wagon over the past week or so and became a really, really good customer of this particular fundraiser.  As in I bought a couple dozen candy bars and practically bought the whole softball team new uniforms.

Food, food, food.  Buy some food.  It's for the kids.  BAH!  "Apply directly to hips" is more like it.

I pray that I can resist temptation for sweets more.  It's something I know that I won't be able to do with my own power.  A 5% success rate for keeping weight off five years or more says that it's difficult even with His help.

Here's a question for you folks who aren't as tempted by sweets:  How do you say no when your taste buds are screaming yes?

Got a perfect score on Wii Fit Soccer Ball Heading

I just about scared the collar off of one of my dogs when I yelled "YEEEAAAHHHHH!" at the top of my lungs, though.

Five hundred fifty-five points on beginner level.  The advanced level is still eating me for lunch.  I cracked 300 points once and most of my other tries were in the low 200s — a far cry from the maximum 655 points.

You're reading this, and you might be thinking, whoopee, good for you, let me share my excitement, nah I'm not really excited, that's lame.

Have I mentioned that it's really easy to slack off on exercising?  I've put in a half-hour tonight and last night but there was a pretty big hiatus, as in a few weeks.  As it was, tonight I just did balance games — which is exercise but not a huge amount of exercise.

I was in good shape in graduate school ten years ago, but I was putting in 45 minutes to an hour, five or six days a week, on an elliptic trainer.  That's a fairly hefty routine.  Now an accomplishment is playing Tilt Board, Penguin Slide, and Soccer Ball Heading a few times, not breaking a sweat, and writing about it.  This wasn't what I was doing ten years ago, or even two months ago.

Oh well. maybe I'll get a bunch of exercise cleaning up after the storm. 😉

Slim down, or pay the piper

The State of Alabama isn't taking its workers' obesity lying down.  The state's 37,000 employees have been given an ultimatum:  Slim down, or pay an extra $300 per year.

Obesity has become a bit of an oversized target for cost-shifting.  With over 30% of the state's residents obese, Alabama will be the first state to assess a fat tax on its workers.

Increased health insurance premiums are but one way that being fat costs money, but typically this has largely been an issue with self-employed people.  Group health insurance policies even the playing field, and the healthier, often slimmer members of the group subsidize the premiums paid by, or on behalf of, the less healthy members.  Since obesity leads to many health issues, it makes budgetary sense to charge the people who contribute most to the rising costs of health insurance.  Smokers have already been taxes in some places.  Now apparently fat people are on the chopping block.

This will be a permanent money-maker for the state.  Many people won't take off the weight, and only a small fraction (about 5%) will keep it off for five years or more.

But there's always that 5% that will win!

It’s my own fault that I’m fat

A report issued this past Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health blamed a bunch of things for the rising obesity rate in thirty-seven states, including:

  • Federal, state, and local governments
  • School cafeteria meal planners
  • Long commutes
  • Longer work hours
  • Exclusion of obesity treatment from health coverage
  • High cost of health club memberships
  • Lack of grocery stores in lower-income areas
  • Sedentary entertainment
  • Stress
  • "Relentless advertising" of unhealthy foods
  • Shortage of safe walking routes to school
  • Mochas with steamed milk and syrup
  • Sedentary desk jobs
  • Lack of bike racks and showers
  • Lack of employer support for employees' exercise time
  • Weak top-level leadership at the state legislature level
  • Lack of legislation requiring restaurants to provide nutrition information on menu boards

Wow!  I sure am glad it's not my fault!

Yeah right.  Just like nobody cares for my finances as much as I do, nobody cares about my health as much as I do.  Everyone else cares (a) about making money off of me, (b) expending as little as possible to get me to continue expending energy to benefit their own interests, or (c) making money off of other people by not impeding their ability to make money off of me.  If I'm fat, it's because I didn't care about my health as much as I should, and nothing else.

I know that I can be normal weight; I've done it before.  To do that, I have to overcome odds stacked against me.  I have to exercise on my own time, without my employer's financial assistance.  I have to pony up for a gym membership (which I did) or find cheaper ways to exercise.  I have to resist heavily-advertised fast foods.  I have to pay for my own obesity treatments out of pocket.

If I don't, nobody else will care, I'll still be fat, and it will still be my fault.  It's my problem to fix.