Weighing In On Women’s Magazines

Much as I vow not to get sucked in because I know better, I inevitably fall for the women’s magazine covers that say “Drop 2 Dress Sizes by Summer!” in a May issue.  And, when you read the article it tells you how make small (but easily doable!) changes in your life that shave off 100 calories per day. 

A salesperson at Talbot’s once told me that in general, dress sizes equate to an additional 10 pounds as you go up in sizes.  Hmmm, so if you saw my previous blogs about calories and the rate of weight loss, you know that 100 calories per day will equate to slightly less than 1 pound in a month.  Ah! They didn’t say which summer.

I love women’s magazines, including those that talk about and show fashion, how to age gracefully, and especially those stories about empowered women following their passion.

But generally when it comes to health and nutrition, the women’s magazines, including the health-related ones targeted to women, border on total deception.  Gorgeous celebrities dropping pounds and getting their pre-pregnancy weight back in two months (“I love Greek yogurt and walking!”), false headlines and little useful information rack up to disappointment nearly every time. 

My favorite go-to magazine for exercise is Men’s Health.  No I’m not paid to endorse them but I gladly would be (are you listening?).  The information is much more straight-forward and the exercises are well illustrated.  References are given in articles and are much more in-depth.  And, let’s face it, exercise is exercise and what varies is your ability to pick up and correctly use a particular weight with good form.  So for example, if they are illustrating a bench press of 150 pounds, figure out what you can push – which may be just the bar at 45 pounds.

But honestly, what else do I love? The men!  Page after page of gorgeous fit men demonstrating their best moves with a different one featured every month. What’s not to like?  When Men’s Health arrives at home, my husband announces that my pornographic magazine has arrived.  Unlike the women’s magazines, I am not comparing myself to the model and finding myself lacking.  And I get insight into what men are thinking.  So yes ladies, pick up a men’s fitness magazine – you’ll love the articles ;>).

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Why Are Those Last 10lbs So Hard to Lose?

Most dieters start out with great enthusiasm and enjoy rapid weight loss in the early months of their diet.  Unfortunately, as time wears on, weight loss seems to inevitably slow down, until those last ten pounds seem almost impossible to get off.  Why is that? 

Even is one remains patient with a plateau, and doesn’t fall into the trap of regaining the weight, it can be extremely frustrating and discouraging.  Those skinny jeans you once wore  taunt you every time you open the dresser drawer.  I once plateaued at 140 pounds for 4 months – not once did the scale even budge to 139!  Yes, unfortunately, my weight has yo-yoed through the years (but no more!).

The truth is, we lose weight on the calorie deficit we are experiencing.  There is of course, a lot more science to this, but follow along.  For a quick determination of what the ideal daily calorie consumption should be for a particular weight without exercise, multiply that weight by 10.  I have seen sources vary the number from 10 to 13 calories, but 10 makes the math easier.  So in my case, my ideal weight was 125 pounds so that told me I should be consuming 1250 calories per day.

In fact, I was close to 200 pounds, which would translate into 2000 calories per day.  Interesting how that is the base number on nutrition labels and we have an obesity problem – but I diverge. 

If I start eating at my ideal weight of 1250 calories per day while weighing 200 pounds, that creates a calorie deficit of 750 calories per day.  A pound equates to 3500 calories.  If we divide 3500 by 750 it tells us that it will take about 5 days to lose a pound.  Woo-hoo we’re doing great and the pounds are melting away!  Without even adding exercise, a year later, we are close to our goal at 135 pounds. 

But now look at what happens.  The difference between the amount of calories to maintain 135 pounds is 1350 and our ideal is 1250.  We now have a calorie deficit of only 100 calories per day and if we do the math, it will take 35 days to lose one pound – or almost a year for those last 10 pounds!  And for many of us, a salty restaurant meal or our hormonal cycle, and our weight can easily vary from 1-5 pounds.  We can’t even discern a weight change against this background noise.

So what to do?  My advice: ignore the scale and stay the course.  If you want to be healthy – lean, strong, and flexible – you are creating lifelong habits.  There is no maintenance phase; what you do to lose weight is what you have to keep doing.  I believe in indulging in great food all the time every day that is much tastier and healthier for me and the planet than what I ate at 200 pounds.  And as far as exercise, a friend at the gym one day said, “As hard as it is to get to the gym some days, you never feel bad when you leave.”

Next up: how exercise can accelerate weight loss and how to use my weight loss calculator to see the impacts of calories and exercise on weight loss.

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