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Eat to lose; move to remain

Sunday, April 07, 2013

I have a binder that I keep academic articles about maintenance in. I'm about to switch from a skinny binder to a small one. Last night I read a third paper about the same study, which was the STOP regain program for new maintainers where at 18 months half the participants were still within 5 lbs of goal weight. Half, not 5% you might have read in the media or 20% the academics say is closer to right. I'm a little obsessed with what these people learned. And digging deeper, reading the same papers over again and finding new ones, I do see things in a different light.

One particular mystery to me has been the depressive symptomology parameter. It was really tantalizing because I struggled with chronic depression for decades so I am concerned about it.

"these findings suggest that negative affect and tendencies to uncontrolled eating may be associated with problems in the long term maintenance of weight loss. Behavioral weight control programs teach participants to identify and try to change negative thoughts and to plan ahead to prevent lapses from becoming relapses. Those individuals who practice these skills may be better able to deal effectively with periods of overeating or slips from the program" (Wing et al. 2008)

So that was good to read. I was already tending toward the cognitive behavior approach in my maintenance FANS post. That is, you may not be able to choose your feelings, but you can work on your thought patterns and responses to events that lead to feelings.

And on this read through of the study I made a connection that seems rather obvious in hindsight. The primary predictor of maintenance success is consistent fitness, and fitness elevates mood. I'm not a fan of telling people to pump iron instead of Prozac; if you have distinct symptoms of depression you should get help because it is a disease just like cancer. But as a preventive measure exercise is good for the brain.

I used to feel people dismissed the importance of nutrition in a healthy lifestyle, that in losing weight I felt it was 60% nutrition and 40% fitness. But the value of fitness in maintenance is so important in preserving lean mass and revving the metabolism, sustaining mood and possibly in controlling appetite. So maybe it shifts between nutrition and fitness as you move into maintenance. Or maybe it's not one more than the other. I don't know, though. Maybe it's like marriage where 75%+75%=100%. Well, I'm leaving the blog title anyway.

The article is Maintaining Large Weight Losses: the role of behavioral and psychological factors (wing et al. 2008)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • RUSSELL1960
    Thanks. I'm shifting to maintenance after losing 50 pounds so this is timely and helpful for me. Again thanks.
    1291 days ago
    Thanks for sharing, very interesting. A balanced approach is important, but perhaps you are right that the balance may shift.

    I agree that depression is a big factor. If exercise is enough to keep depression at bay and maintain a positive self image, that is great. As some mentioned, that may not be enough and you may need additional help.

    I think a mental component is how you treat making your goal weight. If you say "Whew, I made it" and go back to business as usual, then you shouldn't be surprised if it comes back. But if you say "I got here by making healthy choices and changing my lifestyle for the better" then you probably have a better chance of keeping it off.

    Keep Sparkling!
    1291 days ago
    Thanks for posting! and ditto to what TINAJANE76 wrote :)
    1291 days ago
    My personal experience so far has been that nutrition is what keeps my weight stable and exercise is what keeps my overall health and sanity in check. All of these are essential components of weight loss and, subsequently, maintenance so I can't neglect either area for too long without it having a negative effect in some way. Can you lose weight and keep it off without exercise? Of course. Will you be as healthy and fit as you possibly can without adding exercise? Probably not and the research seems to underscore that idea. Watching °The Weight of the Nation," another aspect of exercise that has been researched is the idea that overeating provides us with an endorphin rush. When we restrict our calories, we lose some of that rush and exercise is a way of putting it back and helping us feel like we're on a more even keel. Like you said, people with psychological issues shouldn't substitute exercise for proper treatment and medical care, but supplementing that with exercise can be a great help and is something almost all of us can do.
    1291 days ago
    I wonder if any of your studies looked at hypothyroidism and its affects on weight loss, maintenance and that depression issue. I continue doing my own research, since I'm newly diagnosed and feel it's been a problem for quite a while. I'm amazed at all of the symptoms/complaints it can be responsible for. And while there might be issues that need counseling for recovery and long term maintenance once that underlying physical issue is managed properly, I would think that the basis for the counseling would go in a totally different direction.

    I think your one statement:" But the value of fitness in maintenance is so important" is very valuable to everyone. But my definition of fitness is very different. And I guess I need to write a blog about that myself.
    1295 days ago
  • SUGAR0814
    Thanks for sharing! emoticon
    1295 days ago
    Awesome info.
    1296 days ago
    Thanks so much. Very interesting!
    1296 days ago
    Thanks. Very informative.
    1296 days ago
    Thank you for the very informative blog.

    No matter the ratio -eating well and exercising have so many benefits, it's great to do them no matter what!!
    1296 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1296 days ago
    Thanks for sharing.
    1296 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    I have to think that fitness for me is at least 50% and nutrition/portion size is equal to that.
    Thanks for sharing! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1296 days ago
    Thank you for sharing the article. While I rely heavily on support from our maintenance team, I feel the need for more of these scientific studies and scholarly articles. Must be the scientist in me.
    1296 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Fitness is important in maintaining weight loss. Thanks for sharing that article.
    1296 days ago
    Thanks. Interesting study. When you read maintenance is all about exercise.
    1296 days ago
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