It’s the beginning of a New Year, and we all know that means tons of New Year’s resolutions, which typically revolve around losing weight, starting an exercise program, and/or trying to eliminate unhealthy habits. Too many people give up on healthy eating and exercise during December and give themselves the freedom to gain a few pounds during the holidays. Many think: “Oh I will just lose the weight in January.” While you may be the type of person that knows you will be successful at losing the weight come January, you are also probably like the majority of people that end up gaining back that weight by the following December (since you know for a fact you can lose it- you must have lost, regained, and lost before, right?). If you think a few pound weight fluctuation isn’t a big deal, think again! A new study out of Wake Forest found that post-menopausal women who lose weight and gain some (even just a mere 5 lbs!) of it back increase their risk for heart disease and diabetes.
In the study, 80 obese women lost 25 pounds on average over 5 months, which significantly improved their cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes risk factors. A year later, 2/3 of the women had regained at least 4 lbs, with most of them regaining over 17 pounds. The researchers found that for women who regained just some weight returned to their baseline level of risk factors for CVD, and specifically, diabetes risk factors got worse- and they didn’t even regain ALL the weight they initially lost! Daniel Beavers, one of the researchers for the study stated:
Women who regained 4.4 pounds or more in the year following the weight-loss intervention had several worsened cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors [. . .] What was striking about the women who regained weight was that although they did not return to their full baseline weight on average -- women only regained about 70 percent of lost weight -- several chronic disease risk factors were right back at baseline values and in some cases, particularly for the diabetic risk factors, slightly worse than baseline values [. . .] Meanwhile, women who maintained their weight loss a year later managed to preserve most of the benefits.
So, the message is clear: if you are going to lose weight, you better be 100% motivated to stick with that lifestyle forever. You need to change your eating and exercise habits to keep the weight off for good, or you may end up just hurting yourself in the end (by getting diabetes or having a heart attack!). There are even studies showing that when people lose and regain, more of that weight gained back is fat as compared to the baseline level.This is yet more proof why diets don’t work!
My recommendation: Vow never to give yourself permission to gain weight or to go on “a diet” again. You must be committed to following a healthy lifestyle and keeping the weight off for good. Try to maintain your weight during holidays and vacations, and do not lose weight if you are not 100% devoted to keeping it off. If you think rationally, it just doesn’t make sense that it would be okay to overindulge and be sedentary for a period of time, then soon after to go on a strict diet and exercise regime. Extremes are never healthy, so practice “everything in moderation” and ask yourself whether you are really motivated to change your lifestyle FOR GOOD!
Daniel Beavers, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of biostatistics, Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., spokesman, American Heart Association, and professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator, Center for Cancer Care, Griffin Hospital, Derby, Conn.; Dec. 13, 2012,Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, online
Reinberg, Stephen. "Yo-Yo Dieting Can Hurt the Heart, Study Finds." Yo-Yo Dieting Can Hurt the Heart, Study Finds. HealthDay, 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2012.