Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 27, 2012

Stopping the yo-yo of continual weight gain, loss

On Fitness
The Andover Townsman

---- — Question: Why do most people gain and lose weight and very few keep it off? How can we stop the cycle?

Expert: Lisa Swanson, owner of Fitness Together, AASDN nutrition specialist, ACE certified personal trainer and group fitness Instructor

Answer: Every year thousands of people across the continent vow to lose weight this year, saying this time they’ll keep it off.

How many times have you tried the latest fad diet in hopes that this is the one that will work? How many times have you beaten yourself up because YOU failed, you just didn’t have the willpower? The diet industry is a $68 billion-per-year industry with a 95-percent failure rate. There is a reason people regain their weight, and it’s not their fault.

There are many factors to consider when putting together a nutrition plan. First and foremost is the individual person. Everyone’s metabolism and body composition is different and needs to be treated that way. Some of us can handle eating carbs all day while others have to limit them to only two servings. Protein and fat serving needs vary as well.

Next, you need to consider your lifestyle. Are you a marathon runner or a weekend warrior? Do you sit at a desk all day, or is your job physically demanding? All of this plays a role in how many and what type of calories your body, specifically, needs on a daily basis.

All diets will work in the beginning. You will most likely be eating differently than you have been, so your body will react to that change. You’ll be able to follow the guidelines set forth in the diet since it is new and you’re excited. Then the problems start: you can’t stick to the diet because it is unrealistic to eat this way day in and day out; you didn’t learn anything from the diet, so you go back to your old habits; more than likely, if you were following a restricted diet, you lost some muscle along the way, which means your metabolism is even slower and you will re-gain the weight you lost and then some.

Your body’s nutritional needs change daily, and a good plan will allow for flexibility. So what’s the answer? Your first step is to get educated. Find a good nutritionist who can guide you towards your goal and educate you along the way. You will learn a lot about nutrition and yourself. Weight loss can be a very emotional journey, so support is key to success. Take a good look at what you are eating now and find out which dietary changes need to take place. Allow for occasional indulgences — that’s life — but know how to handle them when they pop up so they don’t wreak havoc on your goals.

Expert: Jamey Lachiana, of Yang’s Fitness Center, local exercise physiologist since 1996

Answer: The majority of people gain and lose weight throughout the year because of an inconsistency with exercise and/or calorie consumption.

Paying for a membership to a fitness facility is the easy part. Going to the gym on a regular basis is the more difficult and rewarding route. Unfortunately even that isn’t always enough.

By changing up your exercise routine every eight weeks it helps to keep you from hitting metabolic plateaus. By changing your physical movement on a regular basis, you keep building new muscle by keeping them from getting stale from the same old routine.

Maintaining a healthy metabolism by keeping your muscles finely tuned is a major piece of the pie when dealing with one’s weight and can also assist in fighting off cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Speaking of pie, if you often drastically change the amount of calories you eat, that can easily (and more likely) be the culprit. Try to keep dining out to a minimum, if possible, because you never know what oils and flavor enhancers are hidden from sight. If you must, many restaurants have a calorie index of their foods on the internet.

Going on the next diet craze is not the answer either. Changing your diet by lowering portion sizes, eating healthy fibrous carbohydrates, serving low-in-fat meats such as chicken, turkey, fish, and very lean cuts of beef are very important. Reducing the amount of sweets in your diet can vastly cut down your calories and help reduce fat in your biggest trouble areas. When you do have sweets, try to be more active to make up for it.

Remember this simple rule: energy in verses energy out. If you take in more calories than your body needs and don’t work off the extra energy, then you will gain weight.