Hi-Yo, Lipo! Away!

I just can’t get the image out of my head. Tiny thighs, gigantic paunch. Or maybe flat abs, zoot suit shoulders. What horrible nightmare led to this? Oh, nothing much. Just a study on the long term results of liposuction. Our bodies, apparently, really like their fat, don’t want to lose it, would write love songs and send flowers if they could.

So when we mess around mechanically with what our bodies see as their dear, dear fat cells, the body gets ornery about this. Wouldn’t you, if your friends tried to take your sweetie out every night for margaritas when she should be home with you? Oh, right, that’s not exactly mechanical. Well, what if a giant crane plucked your first born out of the nest and carried him away to Katmandu. Another bad example if your first born just moved back in at 29 with no job; you might think Katmandu is the Kat’s pajamas.

But our bodies are more faithful than we are. Take away the fat from your thighs by having it Hoovered out and you may think you’re done with it but noooo. . .

Your body has other ideas. It can’t just redeposit fat in the thighs because you took the actual cells out, not just the fat in them. So instead, fat starts being deposited in other areas where there are still plenty of cells. And scientists found that where the body prefers to put the new fat is “up” from wherever it was removed. So, you get those skinny thighs and–next stop on the fat track is the stomach. Take it from the stomach and presumably, it moves to the chest or higher.

Keep going and you’re going to end up looking like Sherman from Rocky and Bullwinkle: scrawny little body with a gigantic head. Start practicing saying “Gosh, Mr. Peabody.”

Most disturbing: The majority of people who gained fat upward after thigh lipo? Said it was worth it and would do it again.

“Gosh, Mr. Peabody!”

The Easily Distracted Blogger

Yes, I have been pretty quiet on the updates to my search for the best app for tracking food and exercise. Part of it comes from the pure frustration I keep running into with these apps. I almost hit my limit when I searched for “cottage cheese” on SparkPeople and it gave me a Steak ‘n’ Shake burger meal before it gave me regular old cottage cheese–I still haven’t figured that one out.

Part is, of course, my horrendously short attention span. Since I have some clients that do Weight Watcher’s, either the “go-to-meeting” or online kind, I thought I’d briefly take a look to see what it was about. Well, now I’m deep into my exploration of the pros and cons of that–new obsessions always trump old ones for me.

The worst part about this is that Weight Watcher’s online community has brought out my competitive side. Not that I’m trying to beat anyone at weight loss. Seven pounds off and I’ll be good to go; I almost feel like a spy in the camp. But I joined one of the online groups–planning to just eavesdrop, maybe throw in an occasional comment so I wouldn’t be so obviously a fly on their wall–and discovered that WW posts who the most active participants of a group are.

You can see where this is going. I didn’t think I was adding more than my two cents, but apparently, I was adding more like a Benjamin. One day I popped up on the “most active” list. Now, I have to see myself there or I think, “OMG, just like high school; I’m not one of the cool kids.” I’ve never been most active at anything, so being on the “wall of fame” is just too tempting.

I swear, I’m going to break the habit. Stop checking the group wall when I should be working out or planning workouts for clients. Not weigh in (ooh, pun intended?) on everyone’s day. Read a damn book, anything.

Right after I see whether anyone answered my last post.

App For Fat Update: Why Bother?

Before we get to the next stage of how the app “contestants” are doing–I find I have some pretty strict or maybe quirky standards for what works and what doesn’t–maybe I should talk about why you should even think about tracking your food intake.

Reasons not to are pretty obvious:

  • It takes a lot of time to search for foods, enter them, figure out serving size, add time of day, etc. etc. And who has time these days?
  • Tracking every morsel going into your mouth can be pretty intimidating. Even if no one else is going to see it, you walk around blushing and mortified after your third Twinkie.
  • It’s boring. First day, maybe fun, but after that, really, really, really boring.

But there are real benefits to tracking and the research is convincing:

  • Tracking your food intake makes much more tangible how you really eat. Maybe you know that you ate three brats at Brat Fest (oh, aren’t we supposed to boycott that this year?) but when it’s in print or at least in font, you can see it right there in front of you. Brian Wansink, one of the key researchers on behavioral eating, has shown that when two groups are given platters of chicken wings, a food that leaves evidence behind, the group whose bony carcasses are left on the table eat fewer total wings than the group whose remains are briskly removed. Food diaries help give you that visual.
  • And that visualization makes eating more naturally “mindful.” You might easily forget the mound of croutons on the salad once they’re gone and, thus, order that salad the same way again, even if you know how fatty coutons can be. But if you’ve tracked it, you will really stop and think about the effect on the total nutrition, calorie, point, or whatever those croutons have, internalize that knowledge and find it easier to remember to skip them next time.
  • People who are trying to lose weight lose more when they track their food. In 2008, Kaiser Permanente followed 1685 adults, men and women, for 20 weeks. They encouraged them to follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and requested but didn’t demand that food diaries be kept. At the end of the 20 weeks, all participants had lost weight. But those who didn’t keep a food diary lost an average of 9 lbs. The participants who tracked their food? On average, they lost twice as much–18 lbs. And government studies of people who lost weight and kept it off (there’s an ongoing tracking database for this–more about that in another post) indicate that one of the factors the “maintainers” gave for their success was continued food tracking.

Boring, yes. Productive, afraid so. In theory, the apps should make it easier to do but do they? That’s what I’m finding out, so more next time on how the contenders are doing.

Exercise du Jour–or Door–or Wall

Wall Squat w/ Bicep Curl   What a great day to just hang out against a wall.  Well, we can’t make it quite that easy. But this Squat with Bicep Curl is a dandy for hitting lots of muscles at once. And it’s not hard to learn.  Although getting the ball behind your back if you’re by yourself can be quite a trick. Ah, that’s why you should have a personal trainer!

OK, So stand with a stability ball wedged between your back and the wall. Grab a couple of dumbbells. No, wait, grab the dumbbells first–see how tricky this is getting. Once you’re wedged up there with the dumbbells in the “up” position of a bicep curl, you can start the actual exercise. Slowly go into a squat, pressing your back against the ball, feet a little in front of you to keep pressure off the knees. As you squat, lower the dumbbells, again slowly, using that eccentric power to control them.

Now, stand back up, curling the weights as you stand. Remember that as with any bicep curl, you keep your elbows tucked to your sides.  With your back leaning against the ball, you won’t have to worry about the “hip hinge” and knee position as you would a regular squat but if you do feel it in your knees, just move your feet forward a little more.

And, man, doesn’t it look like she has incredibly long legs! Not a picture of me, I’m afraid!

(And no, there really isn’t a video with this. But I’m going to do one. Promise. But you’ve all heard that one before.)

Women’s Health Week Studio Open House

Monday May 9 from noon to 5, drop by the studio at 2564 Branch St. Suite B10 and play with the equipment, learn a new exercise, scope out the muscle charts (“what the heck is that called?”) or just say “hi.” No sales pitch, I promise, but a deal: sessions bought that day get a $5 discount. And yes, guys are welcome, too. Because every week should be Women’s and Men’s Health Week.

An App For Fat: Day 1

Step one at the four apps I’ve picked to check out is to see how much help they’ll give me in setting goals. If I don’t have a clue how many calories I should be downing or how much fat is too much (or too little), then what do I learn from listing my foods (ok, the four pints of Ben & Jerry’s might be obvious)? And how consistent are the numbers from app to app. So I went in to set up my personal information on each one. I chose to say I wanted to “maintain” weight (smirk) to avoid getting “diet” numbers.

Calorie Counter, which is allied with FatSecret and is one of the more popular apps on the iPhone and iPad, didn’t give me any recommendations. I was able to put in my height, weight, and age but I had to come up with goals on my own. It’s possible that syncing with the web site,  http://www.fatsecret.com, would have done more for me but I’m trying to stick strictly to the app versions.

I went to SparkPeople next. I’ve been to their web site before and found it massively confusing, with ads galore, and lots of flashing widgets and links. The app is much more cleanly laid out, although I could do without the inspirational “quote of the day.”  After putting in my stats, it recommended a broad calorie range for me, 1500-1850, calories. Rather mysteriously, it made comments about what kind of exercise was scheduled for the day, telling me that “No cardio is scheduled for today.” Too bad I hadn’t seen that before I did cardio, huh! And on the daily food page, it did give recommended–again in broad strokes–ranges for carbs, fat, and protein but didn’t explain that those numbers were for grams of each, not calories, which could be confusing: darn hard to eat only 33 calories of fat, no matter how “good” I’m being.

Next stop was Calorie 1.  I had to reset this once because it didn’t save my info from the first time I put it in.  When I did get the right stats in, I got a very specific calorie recommendation, 1687, but it took me some time to find the goals for other nutrients and somewhat strangely, I thought, it gave numbers for fat but not for carbohydrates or protein although there was room to enter that myself.

Livestrong and Calorie 1 must be using the same calorie formula (and I suspect Calorie 1 might have been an earlier version of Livestrong–too many similarities of style) because I was again, at Livestrong, given a very specific number: 1686. Somebody’s rounding down and somebody up, no doubt. And while this number is lower than what I get when I figure my own based on the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, both sites figure the difference between calories and net calories in their math, subtracting calories expended in exercise (but not in “activities of daily living”). I find this a bit dangerous, since computing calories burned is a tricky science. Nowhere does the Livestrong app mention fat, carbs, and protein but maybe once I start entering foods, that will pop up.

Not much to conclude from this, except that on first look, Calorie Smart doesn’t seem to give as much guidance as the other three, SparkPeople stays comfily vague, and Calorie 1 and Livestrong are perhaps too paternalistically prescriptive. Round one: no clear winner but I’m dumping Calorie 1 as being too much like Livestrong.