The Battle Of The Bulge Rages On! (Thankfully, Reserve Forces Are On Their Way.)

Getting back into shape is a combination of courage, knowledge and just doing. Correspondent has all three working for her.
Getting back into shape is a combination of courage, knowledge and just doing it.

As I enter the sixth month of my personal (and public!) journey to fitness, I continue to make slow, steady progress toward my goal of being in great shape for the slopes come the first snowfall (and it IS supposed to snow in the Sierra this winter). Faithfully attending my four weekly exercise classes? Check. Doing weights three times a week? Check. Continuing to lose up to an inch in my measurements each month? Check. Drinking more water? Check. Getting more sleep? Check. Getting on the scale once a week? Check. Losing weight? Not so much. Since I started this journey, I’ve lost a total of 14 pounds, but I still have 26 pounds to go. So three pounds a month instead of two pounds a week is a bit disappointing. But the good news is that I haven’t gained anything back, and I have established a few good eating habits, such as snacking on edamame instead of salami and crackers. But I need to crank it up!

So it was quite fortuitous for me when a special issue of the highly respected University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago. The entire Special Fall Issue 2015 is devoted to body weight and all its attendant issues. It includes an overview article that looks at our nation’s battle with obesity, and sidebars on BMI (body mass index), why it’s so hard to keep the weight off that one’s lost, and a brief analysis of recent diet studies.

Watching what you eat is the key to weight loss. Ix-nay on the donuts.
Watching what you eat is the key to weight loss. Ix-nay on the donuts.

But the article that really caught my eye was “18 Keys to Healthy Weight Loss: Tried-and-true advice that can help tip the scales in your favor.” I did a quick check and found that I was adhering to nine of them, which was encouraging, but I plan to add a few more to accelerate my weight loss. Some of the pointers are well-known, such as eating a healthy diet that’s tilted toward vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and lean meats and away from sugary foods and saturated and trans fats, and being a conscious eater (eating smaller portions, eating more slowly, and keeping a food diary). But there were several less-intuitive but scientifically proven pieces of advice that I’m going to add to my arsenal of weapons to help me win my battle of the bulge. For instance, “Key #7: Go for volume (low-energy-dense foods)” recommends

Exercise is only part of the picture. Diet plays the most important role in weight loss.
Exercise is only part of the picture. Diet plays the most important role in weight loss.

eating foods with lower calories relative to their weight and volume, in other words, foods that have high water and high fiber content such as fruits and vegetables and broth-based soups rather than low-moisture, denser, high-fat foods such as crackers, cheese, cookies, etc. Case in point: a cup of grapes is the equivalent of 1/4-cup of raisins. In short, think “watery” foods! “Key #10: Limit variety at meals” points out that “you’re likely to eat less if you have less variety, since foods similar in taste and texture dull the palate (a phenomenon called sensation-specific satiety).” It offers a good suggestion for buffets and parties, just in time for the upcoming holiday season: when facing a whole array of appetizers, choose just the two or three that most appeal to you and limit yourself to one trip to the table. It will keep your appetite from accelerating.

Accompanying the article are several useful sidebars that help you calculate your daily calorie count, outline which kind of diet will work best for you (surprisingly, genetics and individual proclivities play a major part in what will actually result in the best outcome for you), offer a critical look at diet supplements, and discuss the part exercise plays in losing weight.

The editors of the newsletter had just posted this particular article on their website, so you can read it in its fascinating entirety! Just click here.

To calculate your BMI, go to to this NIH site.

Editor Note: salutes Correspondent Rose Marie Cleese for chronicling her journey back to fitness.  She continues to be an inspiration to those of us who wonder about our conditioning as we age.  Keep going, RMC.  We’re all rooting for you!


One Comment

  1. Thanks for your article. I am 62 and feel like I found the best weight loss strategy a few months ago. Its called the “Every other day diet”based on Krista Varady’s work. NIH is studying its unusually solid results. Mine are slow, but steady, with the same 40lb goal you have. In 14 weeks I have lost 18.5 lbs. More importantly, it just doesn’t feel like a diet, and I have learned similar good stuff that you mentioned. The best part seems to high fat loss (90-99%) as compared to 75%, and who wants to lose muscle? Thought I would share:)

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