Diet...do or don't?

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The Evil Pixie    pirate
11/09/2002 at 11:58
I'm 5 1 and about 11 stone .... I have my nicely curved hips looking face on but also nicely curved belly bum and thighs looking sideways on!
11/09/2002 at 12:16
as someone who enjoys running, but is overweight I have faced a similar dilemma. This time last year, I did the GNR carry just over 16st 2 on a 5-11 (male) frame... Yes - i survived, but it wasn't pretty. I decided to give Dr Atkins a go, eating fish mostly grilled and salad together with lo-sugar desserts. The first 4 days or so I craved carbohydrate, but this wore off and I felt good in myself, and with some exercise (swimming was a good low impact sport) I shifted 1.5 stone in about a month.

Many will recoil at this... and I admit that I have put on a few pounds again since, but I know why - refined carbs and beer! I feel better in myself for having shifted the stone (net) and whilst I know theres more to do, I have shifted to a more "sensible" diet - (for which read balanced) combined with exercise - and am pretty much the master of my own destiny now.

For an interesting read, you might try "no more Mr fat guy" the book which got me going in the first place!

Good luck
12/09/2002 at 00:09
There are so many different approaches to weight loss (as the range of methods in this short thread demonstrates) that it can become confusing. But it shouldn't be! As Runnerbean says it is actually quite clear that you lose weight by expending more energy than you gain from your food intake. If you aren't losing weight then you need to exercise more or eat less (or both). But when I wanted to lose weight earlier this year I realised that this glib fact was useless without any numbers to give it meaning. So I did a bit of research to see what it meant in terms of how much dieting and how much exercise.

I wanted to lose a modest 2 lbs a week which is a 'safe' amount often recommended by doctors. What I discovered was that there are approximately 3,500 calories in each pound so to lose a 'modest' 2lbs a week by dieting alone I must eat 7,000 calories less each week than the amount my body required to "tick over". I don't know about you but eating 1,000 calories less a day is not even close to being on my agenda! In fact dieting to any degree just doesn't work for me - I'm with the raptor on this one excpet even if it's nailed down I'll probably do my best to eat it!

It had to be exercise. But again, the question is how much exercise equals 7,000 calories - or 2 lbs weight loss - a week? I had to swot up on how much calories are burned per hour for various activities and then fit that into 7,000 calories. For example running at 7mph is around 1,000 calories per hour (depending on runner's weight, weather, etc) so 7 hours of running at 7mph would fit the bill. But what worked for me was cycling. I cycle at about 14mph which expends around 700 calories per hour so I lost weight (about two stone in a little over two months) by fitting in at least 10 hours on my bike per week (or 140 miles).

Obviously you could lose 2 lbs by combining less intensive exercise with a slight reduction in dietary intake but it has to total the magic 7,000 calories to work!

Here are some of the links I came across when doing the research. I can't vouch for their reputation as I came across these using search engines but they were useful for me at the time:

Calories burned during physical exercise:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/sbs%2Dchol/calories.htm
http://kirtland.cc.mi.us/~balbachl/calorie.htm

Burning versus reducing calories:
http://bicycling.about.com/library/weekly/aa062698.htm

Hope this helps!

Grasshopper
12/09/2002 at 00:13
Just realised my photo is quite funny in the context of this discussion. That's the 'before' photo when I was 15 1/2 stone!

I really should have stuck a picture of a grasshopper up there. Maybe I still will some time!
12/09/2002 at 08:58
grasshopper... are you following me?
12/09/2002 at 12:48
Bouncer - are you suggesting I did a search on "bouncer" to see what nonsense you've been posting around here ;-)

Anyway - I've updated the photo (subject to approval of course). Are you ever going to submit something?
12/09/2002 at 13:18
not enough pixels!
(my apologies for this abuse of a serious thread)
12/09/2002 at 13:24
I've managed to lose approx 2.5 stone over the last two years or so by not dieting. I've made small but sensible changes to the things I eat and my eating habits but most of all I watch the fat content of foods. No more than 3g fat per 100 cals is a really useful guide and you can probably manage even the rough maths in your head at the shops. I'm vegetarian and eat heaps of fruit (not so much veg) - I'd have trouble keeping down to 5 portions a day! My 'rules', changes?
No pastry, if at all possible.
Don't keep alcohol in the house.
If you don't buy it you can't eat it.
3g fat/100cals
No snacking with the children, if they have drink plus something, I'll just have drink.
Low fat spread of course
Get stroppy when eating out - no olive oil all over stuff
Don't get hung up about it all. If you're out enjoying yourself then have a treat and don't beat yourself up. In the long run, you'll win.

And yes, I run 15-30 miles a week and do 3x1hour weights training sessions. The running burns off cals and has all the other benefits - cv fitness etc and the weights increase my muscle mass which keeps my metabolic rate up so I burn more cals even when doing nothing.

I'm not a stick-bean either, 5'7", 11st5lb.

I've never measured myself, I go by clothes, do they fit or not? I've had a fantastic time in the last couple of weeks buying some size 14 things without trying the 16s first, and they fitted! Can't remember how long it is since I last bought a size 14 anything.

If you take the long-term, sensible approach with small, permanent changes to exercise and eating, it will work.
12/09/2002 at 15:02
just half way through my nutri bar and I came across this forum - now it's in the bin as I think I was eating it because it was yummy and not because I was hungry. Now that I've put it in the bin I think I was actually hungry! oh bummer
12/09/2002 at 21:43
Gillian if you have any nutri bars you don't want lying around can you send them to me ...

Actually just posting because I wanted to underline what Karen said about "if you don't buy it you can't eat it". God that has to be the golden rule for sensible eating!
12/09/2002 at 21:55
Grasshopper, it doesn't work when you have several 24-hour supermarkets within easy reach of where you live and a 24-hour petrol station about 200 yards away. Not to mention endless fast-food outlets (very happy rats and starlings around here).

I don't find having food in the house a problem. My cupboards and three freezers are always overflowing, there are cereal bars and biscuits and crisps and suchlike by the ton (children's lunchboxes and a serious bulk-buying habit), I have a bit of something if I fancy it, but am far more likely to have a stress-induced (or hunger-induced) binge at work.

If I lived alone it might be a much bigger problem. At least now when I provide enormous quantities of food I know I don't have to eat it all myself or let it go to waste.
Bionic Ironwolf    pirate
15/09/2002 at 11:26
I'm lucky, no children in the house, hubby's mostly away during the week, and the freezers are full of dog food (we feed raw meat and bones). I rarely buy snack foods or chocolate, I should be stick thin but........
28/09/2002 at 23:35
Thanks for your various comments here.

I had a hip injury until a year ago so I stopped running for a long while and my weight went up. My GP cleared me to run a year ago, and in that time (since 1 October 2001) I have managed to lose 48 pounds. Some of my own thoughts:

(1) I agree most with the comment, said a couple of times here, that losing weight is a matter of COUNTING CALORIES. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight, and vice versa. I have my own suspicion that that statement encompasses all you need to know about losing weight, and that a whole industry of textbooks and ideas has been dumped on top of it because it's very difficult to make money out of weight loss unless you introduce tons of technicalities, arguments and counter-arguments.

(2) I keep a running notebook in which I list my activity and my eating (just a 70p notebook from WH Smith. The 7 columns I have ruled off on each page are headed:
Date - obvious
Mins - I list the number of minutes I have run for
Miles - I list the number of miles I have run
Weight - I weigh myself first thing each morning and then list my weight there
Cals - I calculate [A] my approximate daily requirement as a person, [B] the additional calories my exercise burns off, and [C] the calories in the food I eat. The result of A+B-C will hopefully result in a figure where I have burnt off more calories than I have eaten. That figure then goes in the calories column.
Exercise - This is a wider column than the first 5 above. Here I list briefly where I ran, for how long, my average heart rate (per lap if I have been doing laps) and other data about my run
Diet - Here I keep a list of the food I have eaten each day, and its calorific content. At the end of each day I can total up the figures and see how many calories I have eaten.

(3) In addition to the notebook, I also keep a sheet of graph paper on which I plot my weight each day, so I can see if the trend is downward or not and can see the pattern.

(4) Someone wrote above that they don't count calories but they are no longer losing weight. I think you need to count calories.

(5) I have become more disciplined about the food I buy. I try to have a steely resolve when I go to the supermarket, not to buy any junk food or the food I should not be eating, and only to buy the foods I should be eating. I work on the principle that if it's not around, I won't eat it, so the point of buying the stuff is crucial to avoiding having fatty or undesirable foods in the house. I also keep a stock of boring foods that are good for you in the house, so that I can eat healthily if I want to eat something extra, but won't be inclined to binge.

(6) I don't think there is any magic to gaining or losing weight. People who put on weight exercise too little and eat too much, and people who lose weight have an activity level in excess of their calorie intake.

(7) I recognise my own natural tendency to overeat, and to eat the wrong sorts of food (why do the wrong sorts of food taste so nice?) and that eating appropriate quantities of the correct foods is a discipline which the individual has to master. We are surrounded by too much food and it is very easy to overeat. It's a battle which I am winning because I understand myself better from reading a few books, and because I understand food better from seeing the pattern in how the calories on paper (on the labels) translate from day to day into actual effects on my weight. From the data in my notebook I can roughly guess now what my weight will have done each day before I get on the scales.

Hopefully these comments help someone here.
29/09/2002 at 08:24
I am gobsmacked, R4YL - I think you challenge Beth in the "Got this diet thing sorted" stakes! Amazed that you manage to keep such a detailed diary of your diet and exercise - but it has obviously worked for you.

Sometimes it is necessary to have that sort of determination to lose weight, and to be prepared almost to make an obsession of it, because we live in a world where there is so much pressure upon us NOT to eat healthily and NOT to exercise. If someone decided to take the broad easy road rather than the little uphill track, I can respect that entirely but my respect always comes with a caveat - "If you choose not to lose weight and do some exercise, you WILL keep getting those back and knee pains/develop diabetes like your mother and granny did/have a higher risk of dying under the anaesthetic when you have your gallbladder out/need pills for your blood pressure and cholesterol...". In fact, it's a bit like the achilles tendon situation in your other post - I can't warn them of everything that might go wrong, there's too much.

29/09/2002 at 10:50

Weight loss/gain seems to be a maths thing, by and large.

If you take in an extra 350 calories a day (say, about a Mars bar worth each day) above what you need, you will be putting on 3500 calories every 10 days (=1 pound of fat). That pattern, if multiplied throughout the year, would equate to 127,750 calories (i.e. 350x365 calories) over a year, which in turn would equate to 36.5 pounds of extra weight (i.e. 127,750/3500). So, just a small amount of extra calories per day above what you need (350 calories per day, in my example - easily done by any of us) would, at the end of a year, give you an astonishing 36 and a half pounds in extra (unwanted) weight.

The converse is also true (which is why running works in trying to reduce weight): A calorie reduction per day of 350 calories (easily achieved by anyone in a "half hour a day" run) will reduce a runner's weight by about 36.5 pounds over the year (in fact, a little less than this for the reason that it takes fewer calories to maintain a lower body weight, so, as weight decreases, the body's daily requirement of calories will also decrease).

Runners who want to lose weight but find that their weight has stabilised do need to look more carefully at the calorific content of what they are eating. The probability is that, although they are running off a certain number of calories by exercise, they may be increasing their eating correspondingly (maybe even using the fact that they are running as an excuse to eat more - the reward system we have!) which is cancelling out that potential weight reduction.

Although you may burn off, say, 400 calories on a run, unfortunately that isn't very much in food/fat terms in any one day(say, the equivalent of a chocolate bar or an extra portion of potatoes or 6 slices of bread) so the runner who wants to lose weight STILL has to be careful about what he/she is eating - which does mean a certain amount of counting of calories and being aware of what he/she is consuming. It is the gradual accumulation of a long series of days where the calories consumed are less than those burnt off which leads to the weight loss.

It seems to be a truth that we don't actually need very much food to keep us ticking over quite nicely - which is unfortunate if you like food and if you like big portions. The human stomach can hold about 30 fluid ounces (about one and a half pints) in terms of quantity of food, but we don't need to fill that container, and certainly don't need to do so at every meal - we are becoming a nation of obese people mainly because we have ample amounts of relatively inexpensive calorie rich food around us and we are not careful enough about making sure that we only consume such amounts of it that we actually need. So, we wake up one morning and ask ourselves how we ever got to be this big (probably because we have been eating too much and have failed to be sufficiently active to deal with the excess intake of calories) and we then, when we are ready, have to embark on the long reverse path of undoing the process by calorie reduction - by eating less and being more active.

Anyone who wants to lose weight has to prioritise it and practice good eating habits with restricted calories. If people run and still restrict their calories to a sensible, the weight is guaranteed to fall off, inevitably, in a very satisfying way, but they do still need to concentrate on restricting their calories. Exercise alone will not make a person thin if he/she has a natural tendency to overeat and is not prepared to watch the calorific content of what they are eating/drinking.


29/09/2002 at 11:29
glad i'm not the only one who writes down everything i eat!....until a few months ago, i was still trying (unrealistically and definitely unnecessarily) to lose another half a stone, and found that my body wasn't responding to anything but the kind of calorie restriction you can't run on , and soon went back to the same weight after resuming 'normal' eating...now i know far too much about food and calories (i have a veritable database after years of eating disorders!) and my body was beating it all....then i realised i'd found my set point....ok, that set point would be much much higher if i didn't run so much, but i'd still found it.....i 've started eating a lot more these days....some is fuel, and some probably comfort eating, but i'm not actually putting on weight....my body is winning there too....just think it's all pretty amazing....
i still have a lot of problems with food, and writing down what i eat is a really good way of a healthy control....i'm not always comfortable with the amount of food i have to eat for fuel, and then sometimes it turns into a binge, bringing back all the nasty old habits and thoughts....odd logic, eh, but it happens!
but now i've realised i like my weight, my running comes first.....and it's getting better too, i think (tentatively!)
talking of which.....better go out so i'll be back for east enders ....i started going to night school a few weeks ago to do some more a levels so i can apply to med school....the result being that i miss east enders in the week.....well that's sunday afternoon sorted ;)
29/09/2002 at 18:56
Fluffa, go for it! Med school rocks. From the little I know, I think you'd be great - lots of things you could already bring insights into from your personal experience, and even more different areas to fall in love with and decide that's what you've been waiting for all your life.

I have a lot of bother with the fact that people seem to think I can be persuaded that their bodies defy the laws of physics - what I call the "half of one chapatti and a spoonful of dahl" syndrome because my diabetic clinics are full of five foot nothing, 15 stone ladies who claim to eat precisely that amount every 24 hours. I cannot get my head round the idea that you can make fat out of food you're not eating. My community dietitian panders to the same myth by telling people that they're overweight because they don't eat enough.

On the other hand, I was mightily surprised to find that my own body seemed to be defying the law of conservation of matter when I was marathon-training. At about 7.5 stone (I'm a shortie so that's bang in the middle of my "ideal" running weight range, although it feels bloody skinny to me) with a body fat of about 20%, and running 30-40 miles a week, the calculations suggested that I should need about 2,800 calories a day to maintain my weight, but I was packing in 3,500 and my weight was slipping downwards. There wasn't anything wrong with me, because when I stopped exercising so hard I got ravenous and ate non-stop until getting back up to my normal weight, when it became safe to leave food unattended in my presence again. It didn't seem to make sense until I came across an article about how strenuous exercise can make some people produce a hormone related to the one that causes torrential weight loss in conditions such as heart failure and some cancers. Scay-ree!

But that was serious mileage. For someone with a thrifty gene, modest exercise is likely to lead to a compensatory increase in appetite unless they actively make healthy food choices and try to eat less overall, however that reduction is dressed up. Even so, for overall health it's better to be active and a bit podgy than a skinny sofa-spud.
30/09/2002 at 06:14
hey thanks for the encouragement about med school...i''m aiming to be filling in forms in a year's time, and hopefully try for one of the graduate entry courses....in the meantime i've got some therapy to finish, and i want to work as a nursing assistant in a psychiatric unit to get some experience with real people....long haul, but you never know!
i've got a meeting on friday with the medical admissions person at the mature students' college at my old uni to have a chat about the right strategy etc...so here goes!
i know what you mean about conservation of matter ....if i eat normally (and here i mean normally and generously!) i can't sleep as i get so damn hungry....i know when i haven't eaten enough as i dream about crispy loaves of bread and chocolate.....just wish i had the attitude where i could really listen to my body instead of worrying whether i've cut the loaf 'precisely' in half and get really stressed that i haven't.....but i really find i need more than the charts say...i'm supposed to need about 1500 cal to live, and probably another 600 or so for exercise, and it just doesn't work...no idea why, i just put it down to some kind of massive afterburn effect... i'm right at my racing weight, i think (5'4.5 and 8'1) and my body likes it as it is, though i don't have much in the way of fat ...(i realised this when i was giving my partner a massage! ...so these are normal shoulders !)
i heard that set points vary with activity level, and this makes sense, as i remember when i was 15 and carefree i was always 10 stone no matter how much i ate....shortly after that i turned into
a bit of an idiot and a nutritional contortionist.....

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