I read this post a few days back and it got me thinking about weight loss, maintenance, and all that it takes to really do this, and how most of what we hear is total bullshit.  At least most of what is advertised is total bullshit, the “common knowledge” of it seems to be partial bullshit.  Pills, gimmicks, strange diets don’t work, and what does work, permanent changes to lifestyle, both in regards to food and exercise, is barely mentioned.   Anyway, this is the post:


Basically, she is doing a critique of the National Weight Control Registry, as a person who has lost and maintained that loss.  The part that most caught my eye is about calories consumed:

n terms of calories, members are reporting an average of 1385 calories per day, plus or minus 500. That’s awfully low and Hill assumes it reflects underreporting of the true calories consumed. What makes that interesting is that this inaccuracy then casts doubt on other reported measures, such as fat consumption.

That seems low to me, too.  I’m not a calorie counter, but occasionally I eat a packaged meal.  I like these Amy’s Broccoli Pot Pies, at 430 calories.  That’s a small meal, and if it’s all I eat, I’ll be hungry in 3 hours.  I seem to need about 6o0 calories to really keep going until the next meal, unless I’m going to bed.  I’m quite sure it’s a rare day that I eat under 2000.  And granted, I exercise a lot, but I still lose weight at that level.  I feel really bad when I hear about how I should be eating 1200 calories a day, because I know that will not work, and I’d be starving.  So, either I’m a freak of nature who eats way too much STILL, or the underreporting is so rampant to make the results questionable.

Personally I think the underreporting is rampant, yet most standard diet advice consists of this.  It’s inescapable.  The way to lose weight is not eat 1200 calories a day and go for a 20 minute walk.  It’s not enough food, it’s not enough exercise.  It seems possible to me that weight loss would be possible at that calorie level, but how do you maintain that the rest of your life?  It’s so strict.  And walking doesn’t do it for me.  I currently go to the gym 4-5 days/week, for an hour class or two each time.  I don’t eat low-fat or low-carb.  I eat moderate everything.  I think my diet is so produce heavy that as long as I’m not extreme in whatever else I eat, I won’t regain.  I really get pissed when people think that all it takes to lose weight is “put down the bag of chips and take a walk”.

I think people spend so much money and time and effort on scams and even legitimate but unrealistic diets and “lifestyle changes” that we get burnt out, give up.  We’re so desperate to believe, to really know what works, and there’s no easy answer, and many of the answers out there are dangerous and wrong, ineffective, or just silly.

Anyway, I need to heat up some leftover pizza for breakfast, head to kickboxing.


9 Responses to “Skepticism”

  1. March 2, 2009 at 5:45 am

    Yup yup yup.

    At this point if I see a study where participants self-report their intake (which is most diet studies) I just take it as fact that their reporting is far below what they’re actually eating. It’s one of the reasons that studying methods of weight loss is so damn hard. Unless someone can commit to months in a controlled setting, then there is literally no way of knowing how much they’re eating especially considering most people have no idea how much they’re actually eating.

  2. March 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I agree, I doubt those people really know how much they’re eating. And everyone tends to forget that “little” things like condiments and liquid calories add up A LOT.

    It’s all about the lifestyle changes and everything in moderation! And eating real food.

  3. 3 Che
    March 2, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    5 Facts You MUST Understand if You Are Ever Going to Lose Your Belly Fat and Get Six Pack Abs

  4. March 2, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    YES YES YES. You nailed it. It’s all about balance, and the thing is, since we’re so unbalanced to begin with, it’s sooo hard to figure out what the RIGHT balance is. We’re also impatient. At the other end of the extreme, I know people who want to lose weight but don’t want to change their eating habits. They think if they exercise like crazy they can eat whatever they want. I WISH. Instead, they don’t lose weight and often injur themselves as a result. As you say – not sustainable. Echoing what sagan said – it’s all about lifestyle change, moderation and REAL FOOD.

  5. March 3, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Packed meals can get your body more calories than needed..still you must be concentrating on your metabolism activity as most of the over person should do…one great thing is that you must loose weight and it can be only done if metabolism activity is more…this helps to burn your calories and if you cannot count of your calories then you must do exercises to an extent that you feal that you do not have anything in your stomach..


    • March 3, 2009 at 11:19 am

      Um, okay. I don’t agree with most of this comment, but it seemed harmless enough. Personally I don’t care for the feeling of nothing in my stomach, not sure why that would be a benefit, but do agree that upping one’s metabolism through EXERCISE (not acai berries nor cherries nor blueberries nor….) can only help.

  6. 7 Lyn
    March 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Yeah, I think I would shrivel up and die eating under 1400 calories a day… I really hope I can lose all the weight and then maintain by eating 1600 or so (if I keep exercising). But we’ll see. When we get there, right??

  7. March 6, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Nope, definitely not a freak of nature! Although I wish that I could eat 2000 cal. a day and still lose. BUT, that is the beauty (actually curse) of this weight loss journey. Everyone is totally unique and different and what works for some, does not work for others. That is why sometimes I get so mad at these doctors and such telling us the ‘exact’ way to do things!

  8. March 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Count me as someone else who wouldn’t be happy at 1200 calories. I figure I’ll keep cutting back my calories/points as far as I’m comfortable. At that point, whatever my weight loss levels out at will be my goal weight!

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