Exercise is a bad way to lose weight!

Exercise is a bad way to lose weightThis may sound controversial but it is true. Exercise is a bad way to lose weight. It is a great way to condition your heart and body, to strengthen your bones and improve your brain and potentially lengthen your life, but it is not a good way to lose weight. Why? And, if so, why do so many weight loss ads, systems, tv shows, video workouts, etc. seem to say that it is a great, easy and quick way to lose weight.

But I see on TV that exercise does help me lose weight?

Are they all just lying? Not really. The secret to most of these weight loss schemes is, as you would guess, in the small print. Every one of these ads I have seen or read or heard always sneak in the additional information that you also need to follow the recommended nutrition/diet/food list that comes with the system in order to see results. What they don’t tell you is that you don’t actually need the exercise part to see weight loss results, you just need to eat right.

According to the British Guardian back in April: “Being dangerously overweight is all down to bad diet rather than a lack of exercise, according to a trio of doctors who have reopened the debate about whether food, sedentary lifestyles or both are responsible for the obesity epidemic. In an article for a leading health journal, the authors – who include British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, an outspoken critic of the food industry – accuse food and drink firms such as Coca-Cola of having wrongly emphasized how physical activity and sport can help prevent people becoming very overweight. The truth, they say, is that while physical activity is useful in reducing the risk of developing heart disease, dementia and other conditions, it “does not promote weight loss”.

Six-pack Abs are made in the kitchen

If it isn’t the gym that drives weight loss than what is it. The answer is simply what you put in your mouth. But it isn’t as we have always heard a “calorie is a calorie”. Weight loss and gain are controlled by hormones like insulin and these hormones are controlled not as much by the number of calories you eat but more by the type of calories you eat. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates, especially highly processed carbs and sugar, your body will constantly be secreting insulin to move this sugar out of the bloodstream. If you aren’t using the energy, the insulin quickly stores it as fat. Also, while Insulin is out running around doing its job, it literally closes the door on using your own fat for energy and thus you are stuck hungry and looking for that next sugar rush instead of burning fat. And, if you run this cycle over and over again for too long your body becomes less sensitive to insulin and thus needs more and more to get rid of the sugar. And, then what? Diabetes.

So what do you do? Well everyone is a little different so you first need to explore sensitivities to things like gluten and dairy, but in general eat fewer processed foods and less added sugar. Check the labels as food companies tend to hide a lot of sugar in everything from Salad Dressing, to Ketchup and Steak Sauce. Better yet if there is a label look at don’t eat it.

What have you found that works for weight loss?

For more great information on this subject, read Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich, a personal trainer and podcaster. And, Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes, a science journalist.

Stop. Rethink Your Drink. Go On Green

Drinks stoplightThis poster was near the checkout at Shaw’s on Ring Road in Boston. It is great that the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission are trying to get people to eat healthier but they didn’t quite get this one right.

Definitely agree with avoiding the Red light drinks of Soda, Energy and Sport Drinks and Fruit Drinks but what about the Yellow and Green.

Let’s look at Yellow. Diet Soda. Should people drink Diet Soda occasionally? The Mayo Clinic website says that a reasonable amount of diet soda a day – like 2 cans – is okay.  However, the Washington Post in March of this year quotes a study that says diet soda can make you fat as you grow older. Uh Oh. So what do you do? When in doubt, you probably should avoid it and not have it occasionally.

What about 100% Juice? Is that okay occasionally? Well, Dr. Robert Lustig, from the University of California San Francisco and a reknowned expert on obesity and more specifically childhood obesity,  says that fruit juice is just a glass full of sugar and is essentially poison and may be worse for you than soda. This one seems clear. Fruit juice needs to be up with the Red Lights.  Eating fruit however is not a problem as all of the fiber you get in the fruit reduces the impact of all of the sugar.

So finally to the Green Light drinks of water and Skim or 1% Milk?  Can’t argue with water but what about that Milk. It turns out that when you take the fat out of milk you leave behind more and more concentrations of sugar. So Skim Milk is also approaching just another glass of sugar like the fruit juice above.  Dr. Frank Lipman over at the Voice of Sustainable Wellness says to avoid Skim Milk completely for this reason and more.

Thanks to the Boston Public Health Commission for taking a shot here but perhaps an update to more accurately reflect the research and realities around these beverages.



Is your extra weigh killing you?

imageShocking news being reported in USA Today about a new study that says that the extra weight you are carrying around just could be making you sick.
“About one in five (18%) of deaths among white and African-American people in the USA, ages 40 to 85, are associated with people being overweight or obese, the latest research suggests.”
“Yet several national health experts think that may be an overestimate because of the methodology used for the analysis. Calculations from scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that about 5% of deaths a year in the U.S. are because of obesity.”
“A third of Americans (36%) are obese, which is roughly 35 pounds over a healthy weight. Obesity puts people at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Pinpointing obesity-related deaths is an evolving science as researchers use different statistical models to come up with estimates.”
“‘Obesity has much worse health consequences than people realize,'” says the study’s lead author Ryan Masters, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.”
How do you feel about extra weight? Killing you? Unsightly? No issue? Is it our responsibility to stay healthy and reduce the burden on the nation’s healthcare system or is it the country’s responsibility to help us deal with our health problems or both?

Lost Carb Weekend and Water Weight

imageLast weekend after not exercising much and pigging out on carbs I ended up gaining almost 5 lbs. I then got back to low carb, worked out regularly and had a great weekend of exercise and eating right and pretty much lost it all and more.  Sure a lot of that is water weight due to the reduced glycogen in my system (the storage of glycogen requires a lot of water) but it still has to be some fat loss as well.  And, what about water weight?  Water weight contributes to me feeling bloated and my pants not fitting so what the heck, reducing water weight should count for something. If I can reduce the amount of inflammation and carbs in my system to the point where it doesn’t need to stock pile water, isn’t that a good thing? Any way, I am now about 4 lbs from my intermediate goal and still feeling good.

How do you feel about water weight? 

What is BoomerangFit?

How to get back to when you once were strong


Why did I start a blog and why did I call it BoomerangFit?

In March of 2013 I turned 50 years old. I felt like crap. I was overweight. And, I just wasn’t very happy with myself. So, was hitting 50 the beginning of the end or could I try to get back to the fitness and health that I had enjoyed before in my twenties or even thirties? Could I get to peak fitness in my 50s and continue to push myself in mind and body or should I acquiesce to what most people see as the inevitable?

Wikipedia (I know it isn’t always right but close enough for this) says that the post World II baby boom in the United States lasted from approximately 1946 to 1964. I was born in 1963, so I guess I qualify even if only barely. This means that I represent the end of the boom, the last of the so-called Baby Boomers to enter the 5th decade of life while the first boomers are nearing 70. So has the huge population bubble worked its way through the world like a giant bump in the belly of a snake that is now nearing the end of the track or is it possible for us to still have an impact and reach new heights and goals. I have decided that it is possible to continue to succeed and continue to drive towards new accomplishments. Later, when I decided to start a blog because so many people were asking me what I was doing to lose weight, get fit, etc. it occurred to me that Baby Boomers could, like a boomerang, return to the health and fitness they had enjoyed earlier in life so what better name for the blog than BoomerangFit or Boomerangfit.com.

To start this journey, I read a lot of books and tried many diet and fitness fads, advice, etc without much success. Many of the blogs, podcasts and books that I consumed were focused on younger people, more athletic people, women only, etc. None of them really spoke to me. Finally, I came across a book by Rich Roll called Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself. Rich was a great high school and college swimmer who came on tough times with addiction and depression. Rich then hit bottom and worked his way back up to a new life through diet, lifestyle and triathlon. Rich also goes on to become a Vegan. Finding Ultra is a great inspirational read and reading it was the beginning of getting back to when I was strong. Actually, I listened to the audio book that was read by Rich himself. Coming off the high of the book, I started experimenting with becoming a Vegan and started training less in the gym and doing more cycling and running. Unfortunately, the Vegan diet wasn’t working for me. I lost some weight but didn’t feel that great. So I moved on. Also if your note listening to audio books or podcasts when you have down time like driving or exercising, you should try it.

Desperate for more information on how to improve my life, I started to listen to Rich Roll’s podcast as well. Rich has a great podcast that I recommend and it is called appropriately the Rich Roll Podcast. One day, Rich interviewed his neighbor and fellow ultra-sports enthusiast, Vinnie Tortorich. Vinnie is a personal trainer to the stars and quite a character in his own right. He has conquered cancer and has followed a somewhat different path to a new life than Rich. Vinnie’s mantra is No Sugar No Grains or NSNG. For a long list of reasons, he chose to cut out added sugar and grains from his diet and found that he easily lost weight while still maintaining his energy. I tried this approach and also easily lost 20 lbs (I still have more to go) and continue with this approach today. To me, Vinnie’s approach is very reasonable as it focuses on some key points i.e. sugar is bad and grains turn into sugar but then from there it can be very customizable by each individual. Although his this new nutrition approach seemed to work, however, the long distance ultra-athlete lifestyle wasn’t for me. I didn’t really have the time or the correct body type to excel in this area.

Vinnie also has a podcast that spends a lot of time talking about this lifestyle approach. Take note that Vinnie and his podcast co-host Anna Vocino also engage in a lot of explicit and raucous humor mixed in with the nutrition and exercise advice. Additionally, Vinnie has just published his own book with Dean Lorey called Fitness Confidential that is a great overview of this approach as well as some inspirational stories from his life.

It turns out, believe it or not, that all people are different. Some people react to sugar, wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy, corn in many different ways. Some people are allergic to these types of substances, others react with digestive problems or energy loss and others have no issues. So, why not customize how you eat and by extension how you live based on who you are and not based on what some guru, author, neighbor or in-law have done. The problem is that it can cost a lot of money to generate somewhat questionable results with fancy tests on what you can and cannot tolerate. Also, this journey is about more than just what you eat, it is also about how you think and feel, how you exercise and maybe, most importantly, how you sleep. And, throw in on top of it all that the 50+ year old body is just different, you have quite the challenge to get back what you had. Luckily there is another cheaper and easier way to get started and that is the path that I have chosen. Please stay tuned to this space for more information on how you too can Get Back To When You Once Were Strong.

What has your experience been with fitness, health and energy as you have entered your 50s and beyond? Have you found ways to avoid the symptoms of what is commonly thought of as aging?