I think the biggest harm the television shows like "The Biggest Loser" bring about is to create false expectations with regard to weight loss. Certainly, I tip my hat to anyone who can lose one hundred or more pounds of body fat. More so, if they are able to keep it off. However, the reality of the matter is that if we use the criteria of success as a 10% loss of body weight, kept off for at least one year, 95% of those who try will fail.
Personally, I am all too aware of the challenges of trying to become lean after fifty. Hormonal changes mean that our bodies are less apt to react quickly to changes in diet and exercise regimes. Nevertheless, we can achieve encouraging results, but we need to be realistic when setting our goals.
Presently, I am about 16 months into the journey of trying to become lean and fit. Like many, I experienced rapid weight loss as result of reducing calories and exercising more. In 2014, I lost 30 lbs. Unfortunately, I lost 20 lbs of muscle and only 10 lbs of fat. I now regret having chosen this method because I will never be able to regain all of the muscle lost, which is important since the amount of muscle mass one carries is one of, if not, the best indicator of increased longevity and reduced morbidity.
Moreover, as could be predicted, I hit the plateau of weight loss. Additional exercise, in my case cycling to work each day, did not bring any additional benefits. Most probably, my metabolic rate slowed down and the only thing that increased was my level of frustration.
This year, however, I have changed my method. Walking remains my primary activity and I have set my sights on walking the equivalent of the distance across Canada, but now I am focused on calorie shifting instead of calorie reduction. I have abandoned the calorie in, calorie out approach. Instead, I am now eating more fat, more protein, and less carbs. As well, my carb intake is mostly complex carbs, high in fiber.
So far, so good.
After four months of this new approach, I have lost seven pounds of fat and gained one pound of muscle. For some, this might seem to be a meager result, but as far as I am concerned this is a great result because, unlike last year, I am now becoming leaner without losing muscle mass.
Now that the good weather is upon us, I am interested to see how I will do. I always have the expectation that becoming more active will bring about better results, and I am always disappointed to learn that my expectations have not been met.
Will this summer be any different? I don't know. What I am hoping for is that this trend of losing body fat without muscle loss will continue. At least this summer, I will be able to enjoy a big fat cheeseburger without any qualms, as long as I skip the beer and the potato salad.
Have a great summer. Move more and eat better.