Exercise is essential to keeping weight off

It is a question that plagues all who struggle with weight: Why do some of us manage to keep off lost pounds, while others regain them?

Now, a study of 14 participants from the “Biggest Loser” television show provides an answer: physical activity — and much more of it than public health guidelines suggest.

On average, those who managed to maintain a significant weight loss had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.

The researchers conducting the new study did not distinguish between purposeful exercise, like going to the gym and working out, and exercise done over the course of the day, like walking to work or taking the stairs.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by comparison, call for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise for healthy adults.

Although the study is very small and must be replicated, Dr. Hall said, it is the first to assess obese people years after they lost weight with state-of-the-art methods to measure the calories they had consumed and the amount of exercise they had done.

The researchers did their measurements when the contestants were chosen, and again at six weeks, 30 weeks and six years after the contest began.

After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight

Contestants lost hundreds of pounds, but gained them back. A study of their struggles helps explain why so many people fail to keep off the weight they lose.

“The findings here are important,” said Rena Wing, a psychiatry professor at Brown University and a founder of the National Weight Control Registry, which includes more than 10,000 people.

The food eaten “is the key determinant of initial weight loss. And physical activity is the key to maintenance,” she said.

The study also helps explain why that might be. One consequence of weight loss among the Biggest Loser participants was a greatly slowed metabolism.

The subjects were burning an average of 500 fewer calories a day than would be expected, Dr. Hall and his colleagues found. In essence, their bodies were fighting against weight loss.

Those who kept the weight off “are countering the drop in metabolism with physical activity,” Dr. Hall said.

During the initial weight loss, the equation was different. Then, the difference between how much weight “Biggest Loser” contestants lost could be explained by the number of calories they cut from their diets. The amount of exercise did not distinguish those who lost more from those who lost less.

The contestants competed for six months to see who could lose the most weight. Participants followed a grueling diet and an exhausting exercise program.

Contestants’ average weight at the start of the show was 329 pounds. At the end, it was 200 pounds, a 129-pound loss. But six years after the study ended, their average weight rebounded to 290 pounds, just 38 pounds less than when they started.

That average, though, hid wide variations.

To learn more, Dr. Hall and his colleagues divided the group of 14 into two. There were the “regainers,” the seven participants who ended up after six years weighing five pounds more on average than they had at the start.

Erinn Egbert was a candidate for Season 8 of the “Biggest Loser” television show, but ultimately did not make the cast. She decided the lose the weight on her own and dropped about 120 pounds.CreditLuke Sharrett for The New York Times

And there were the “maintainers,” the seven who maintained an average weight loss of 81 pounds.

To measure the number of calories the contestants burned, the researchers asked the subjects to drink “doubly labeled water,” in which hydrogen and oxygen atoms are at least partially replaced by stable isotopes, which have a different atomic mass.

The oxygen isotopes appear in carbon dioxide exhaled by subjects, which allowed the researchers to estimate the average amount exhaled each day. The more calories burned, the more carbon dioxide exhaled.

 Some “Biggest Loser” contestants — including the first author, Dr. Jennifer Kerns, now an obesity specialist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington — said the conclusions of the new study confirmed their own experiences.

Dr. Kerns, a contestant in Season 3 of the show, says she has managed to keep off 100 pounds only by tracking everything she eats and by exercising on an elliptical cross-trainer for 35 to 40 minutes a day. In addition, her job requires her to walk around the hospital seeing patients.

She has learned that she cannot relax this regimen if she wants to maintain her weight. “My natural tendency is to regain,” she said.

Erinn Egbert was a candidate for Season 8 of the “Biggest Loser” but ultimately did not make the cut. So she went home “to figure it out on my own.”

She hired two trainers and followed a diet and exercise program while she finished her senior year at Ohio State University. She weighed 237 pounds when the show began and lost about 120 pounds.

She has maintained a weight that is just eight pounds more. She does it with rigid portion control and regular, intense exercise — 45 minutes to an hour a day, Monday through Saturday, doing the Beachbody programs, a challenging combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercise.

Ms. Egbert, who is 30 and lives in Lexington, Ky., says she learned the importance of working consistently to stay thin, even with a slowed metabolism.

Danny Cahill won the “Biggest Loser” competition in Season 8. He lost 239 pounds and exercised two and a half hours a day for four years. Then injuries piled up, and he was unable to keep to an exhausting regimen. CreditIlana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

“You have got to keep at it every single day,” she said.

It’s a difficult task for virtually anyone, Dr. Kerns said: “The amount of time and dedication it takes to manage one’s food intake and prioritize exercise every day can be an untenable burden for many people.”

“It’s totally unfair to judge those who can’t do it,” she added.

Dr. Hall agreed. “The idea that people who regain lost weight are necessarily slothful and gluttonous is an unfortunate stigmatization that is not based in fact,” he said.

Danny Cahill, who is 47 and lives in Tulsa, Okla., is among those who found it increasingly difficult to keep up the sort of regimen he needed to avoid gaining weight.

He won the “Biggest Loser” competition in Season 8. He weighed 430 pounds when the show began, and lost 239 of them.

For the four years after the show, he exercised more than two and half hours a day and gained back just 40 pounds.

Then the injuries began, forcing him to cut back his workouts to one and half hours a day. His weight crept up to 235 pounds.

The next year, “my body just started breaking down,” he said. “I had a foot injury, a wrist injury. I couldn’t keep it up.” And he was exhausted.

His weight went up to 300 pounds. For the last two years, his weight has remained stable at about 340 to 350 pounds, “but only because I am eating as very little as I can,” he said.

“That’s the disheartening part,” Mr. Cahill said. Losing the pounds is one thing. Keeping them off?

“I am still struggling with it,” he said.

Dispelling some myths: Women in CrossFit

 
This post was originally published on Crossfit Salvation’s website by Coach Kevin Hughes (check out his bio here).

There has been recent discussion about the athletic look of the CrossFit women. So today, I decided to give you Coach K’s perspective on training and the woman in CrossFit. Please realize this is Raw and Unfiltered today. I am speaking from the heart. I give kudos to all forms of fitness, however it is the fallacies and the myths I am addressing today and talking about specifically why CrossFit Women are amazing. This go

es for women of all ages, backgrounds and body types!

First, there are some common challenges with the way media portrays “fitness“

As you saw on our main page, there are a plethora of so-called “Fitness” magazines out there that tout they have the definition of fitness, the pictures of fitness and the body that “every woman wants”. this frustrates me as a coach because of all the feedback I get when women come to me to train. the most common thing we hear as coaches is: I don’t want to lift a lot of weight because I don’t want to get big”. Well thanks to mainstream media we have all lost touch with what is real and what is “gym myth”. We have lost the eye for what is truly appealing to most.

 Our society has been blessed with air-brushing and photo shoots of skinny women who tout they are “In Shape”. And yet never have I seen a CrossFit woman airbrushed her photos of a workout to make her look better.1 I have yet to find a CrossFit Woman who doesn’t take pride in just being who they are and letting the rest work itself out. I also have yet to find a woman in CrossFit who isn’t willing to try the workout of the day and push even just a little bit past their comfort zone.

I sometimes wish the media would get their shit together and realize we are promoting anorexia, and self-esteem issues. I used to worry my daughter would succumb to all the bullshit out there until she wrote a book at 10 years old called “The Best Gym Ever” about a CrossFit affiliate in California called CrossFit FTF. I worry about the images we see and how non-motivating it can become for those who need fitness the most, not those who are halfway in s

hape, but for those who are grossly out of shape. We need to touch these people and NOT give them even deeper rooted psychological issues. We need to realize that the average person is beautiful and the gifted are those on magazine covers and even then, they are airbrushed to a degree. We need to realize genetic potential is a human trait that is different for every man, woman and child and we need to figure out how to reach that in each one of us.

OK. Enough with that…

Women are you SURE you are ready for this?

Let’s see what “Shape” Magazine shows as a Lower Bod

y, Butt Hips and Thighs workout: Shape Magazine Video

OK. Now let’s look at a Women in CrossFit Video. You t

ell me who is more fit! And then you tell me if these CrossFit women are “BIG”.

Here are some words to think about coming from 

Read more Dispelling some myths: Women in CrossFit

Get off the couch

Does spending years running marathons or cycling for long distances potentially strain someone’s heart?

Two major new studies of athletes and their coronary arteries suggest that the answer may be a qualified yes. Both studies find that endurance athletes, especially men, who spend years training and competing show a surprisingly high incidence of plaques in their arteries, which can be a hallmark of cardiovascular disease.

But the studies also find that these plaques seem to differ somewhat in their makeup from the kinds of plaques found in less active people’s hearts and so may not be a cause for much concern.

Probably at least since Pheidippides ran the purported first marathon thousands of years ago in Greece and then promptly collapsed and died, people have wondered whether strenuous exercise is dangerous for the heart.

There have been indications, both anecdotal and scientific, that it might be. One study from 2011 of long-time, elite, male endurance athletes found that a disproportionate number had scarring within their heart muscles.

Other studies since have indicated that marathon runners, particularly men, seem to have a greater risk of developing plaques inside their coronary arteries than people who exercise less or not at all. Such plaques are worrisome, since if they break free from the artery walls, they can block blood flow, causing a heart attack.

But most of these past studies have been small, often involving fewer than a dozen participants.

So for the new studies, which were published simultaneously last week in Circulation, scientists set out to examine far more hearts than in earlier experiments. For one of the studies, researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands and elsewhere recruited 284 men who had exercised throughout their adult lives. For the other, cardiologists from St. George’s University in London and other institutions gathered almost 300 men and women, about half of whom were masters runners and cyclists with long histories of training and competing, while the other volunteers were mostly sedentary. None had any history of heart disease.

The volunteers in both studies completed extensive questionnaires about their lifelong exercise histories, detailing the time, if any, that they had spent training for and competing in endurance sports since adolescence.

The researchers in each of the studies then scanned their volunteers’ hearts, using a variety of techniques. While most earlier studies of athletes’ hearts had relied primarily on basic CT scans of the heart and blood vessels that reveal how much plaque exists in someone’s arteries, the new studies also deployed additional techniques that pinpoint the composition of those plaques.

And the makeup of plaque tissue matters. Cardiologists know that if plaques are dense and heavily calcified, they tend also to be stable and unlikely to break free from artery walls. If, on the other hand, the plaques are fatty and somewhat loose, they can more easily rupture from the wall and initiate a heart attack. 

In both studies, a long history of heavy exercise was linked to having arterial plaques. In the Dutch study, the men who had exercised — mostly by running — for more than about four hours per week throughout their adult lives were far more likely to have plaques in their arteries than the men who had run for less than about an hour per week during that time. The correlation was strongest among the men who had run the most intensely, according to their training and race times.

Similarly, in the British study, while a majority of the participants had clear arteries, those masters athletes whose scans did show plaques tended to have far more of them than the sedentary volunteers did.

But in both studies, the more active someone was, the more likely that his (and in rare instances, her) plaques were calcified and dense. Less-active people had fattier, more-problematic plaques.

Together, these studies suggest that “there may be an association between high volumes of exercise and coronary calcification,” says Dr. Benjamin Levine, a professor of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas. He was a co-author of an editorial in Circulation last week that accompanied the studies.

“But if you dig into the morphology of the plaques,” he continues, “they appear to be more benign” than in people who exercise less.

Of course, these studies cannot tell us whether people’s exercise habits directly cause plaques of any kind to develop in their hearts, only that the two are related. They also cannot explain why exercise might contribute to plaques, or whether, over time, the athletes with plaques are at any greater risk than other people of experiencing a heart attack.

Dr. Levine and his colleagues have just begun a long-term study, he says, that will follow masters athletes for years, tracking changes within their arteries and medical outcomes.

But for now, he says, the available data, including these new studies, suggest that prolonged, intense endurance exercise may alter your arteries, but does not seem likely to harm them.

If, however, you are concerned about your cardiac health, obviously consult a doctor, he says, and do not hesitate to err on the side of caution. “If you want to run a marathon, fine, run a marathon,” he says. “But if your goal from exercise is simply to be healthy, a half-hour of jogging will do.”

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Why Running May Be Good for Your Back

People who regularly run or walk briskly appear to have healthier discs in their spines than people who do not exercise, according to one of the first studies to closely examine links between movement and disc health.

The findings refute a widely held belief that activities like running might overtax the spine and indicate that, instead, they make it sturdier.

The human spine is a complicated mechanism, composed of vertebral bones cushioned between intervertebral discs. These discs, shaped like tiny whoopee cushions, contain a viscous fluid that compresses and absorbs pressure during movement, keeping the back in good working form.

With age, disease or injury, spinal discs can degenerate and bulge, resulting in back pain, which can be debilitating.

There were tantalizing hints in animal studies, however, that this idea could be out of date. When scientists in Sweden scanned the spines of mice before and after they ran for several weeks on treadmills, the researchers noticed significant increases in the size of their spinal discs, indicating that those structures had been responding and adapting to the demands of running.

But mice, of course, run on four legs and are in all other respects not people, and it remained unclear whether running and similar activities would be good or not for the human spine.

So for the new study, which was published in April in Scientific Reports, researchers at Deakin University in Australia and other institutions decided to examine the backs of people who run and others who do not.

Eventually they recruited 79 adult men and women, two-thirds of whom said that they were runners. Some of these told the researchers that they covered more than 30 miles (about 50 kilometers) a week in training. The researchers designated these as the “long-distance” group. The others said that they ran between 12 and 25 miles a week. All had been training for at least five years.

The final group rarely exercised at all.

To ensure that people’s reported activity levels were accurate, the researchers asked their volunteers to wear accelerometers for a week.

Then they scanned everyone’s spines, using a sophisticated type of M.R.I. that precisely measures the size and liquidity of each disc.

And they found differences. In general, the runners’ discs were larger and contained more fluid than the discs of the men and women who did not exercise.

Since both greater size and increased levels of internal fluid indicate better disc health, the runners harbored fundamentally healthier spines than the people who were sedentary, says Daniel Belavy, the study leader and a professor of exercise at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University.

Interestingly, mileage barely mattered. The discs of the people who ran less than 30 miles per week were almost identical to those in the long-distance group, suggesting that, compared to moderate mileage, heavy training does not augment disc health but also

Read more Why Running May Be Good for Your Back

Running miles to lose weight? You’re wasting your time

Running miles to lose weight? You’re wasting your time

From USA Today

There are lots of benefits to treadmills, but new research shows that runners are likely to get more out of their workouts if they take it outside. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

In the United States, a nation fatter than any other, running remains the most popular workout activity. That’s according to a Fitbit analysis of fitness tracker user data.

And if tied-up treadmills across the country are any indication, much of that running is long distance.

Here’s the cruel catch, though: Running miles at a time doesn’t shed fat as efficiently as other forms of exercise. In some ways it doesn’t help much at all.

As fitness author Lou Schuler explains in his book, The New Rules of Lifting For Women, relying on long-distance running to lose weight poses a key problem. The human body, ever-resourceful, eventually adapts to the repetitive nature of running. And that added efficiency means the body burns fewer calories for the same amount of work.

“If your goal is to be leaner, then greater endurance isn’t really to your benefit,” Schuler concludes.

Dr. William Roberts, a University of Minnesota physician and former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, likes running. He’s blogged for Runner’s World and served as medical director for the Twin Cities Marathon in St. Paul.

That means adding strength training to any pure running routine, Roberts said, the latter of which neglects upper body muscles. Losing weight requires about 40 to 60 minutes of activity most days of the week, he said, and at least half that time should be spent bulking up.

“If you can build strength and build muscle mass, you’re going to burn more calories,” Roberts said. “Even if you’re idling.”

That’s because strength training causes tiny tears in the muscles. Those require calories as they repair, meaning your body keeps working long after you leave the gym. That’s less so with steady, moderate jogging.

Fitness coach Adam Bornstein put it this way in Shape: “With cardio, you can slog away for 30 minutes at a lower intensity and burn 200 calories — or you can just eat 200 fewer calories per day. It’s the same thing.”

If you love running, fear not: Sprinting may work as well. A study from the University of Western Ontario asked one group of people to run at a slow, steady pace for 30 to 60 minutes, three times per week. Another group ran 30-second sprints, between four and six of them, three times each week — a way less time-intensive routine.

The sprinters shed more than twice the body fat of the joggers after six weeks, while gaining some muscle mass. Those who jogged gained none

What are you going to do

More than 10 percent of the world’s population is now obese, a marked rise over the last 30 years that is leading to widespread health problems and millions of premature deaths, according to a new study, the most comprehensive research done on the subject.

Published Monday in The New England Journal of Medicine, the study showed that the problem had swept the globe, including regions that have historically had food shortages, like Africa.

The study, compiled

Read more What are you going to do