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Want to Lose Weight and Keep It Off?  Get Physical!!!

Unfortunately, my patients who try to lose weight and keep it off, by changing their diet alone, are rarely successful.  You want to know who is successful?  Want to know who loses the weight and keeps it off?  It's the folks who "Get Physical."  

People who take on a physical hobby tend to get in shape, feel better, improve their outlook on life, lower their blood pressure, lower their risk of heart attack, think better, improve their sex life, lower their blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol and can even reverse type 2 diabetes.  They also lose weight more easily than those who try to do it with diet alone.  

Once you get "turned on" by a new physical hobby the weight tends to come off.  Whether it's running, hitting the gym, a walking program, becoming a hiker, a biker, yoga, martial arts, it doesn't matter; just find something that you can "get into" and then keep doing it.

You may even be able to eat more food and lose weight at the same time!  If the activity you adopt is strenuous enough, your body needs so many more calories that the weight comes off while your caloric intake actually increases.  I see this mainly with runners.  I find that once someone gets up to about 10 miles per week, as long as they're eating a reasonably healthy diet, they tend to move toward their ideal weight quickly.

Here's why it works:

  • More physical activity equals more calories burned.
  • Your metabolism stays higher for many hours after your workout (so you're burning even more calories).
  • Increasing fitness adds muscle to your body.
  • Muscle is much more metabolically active than fat.  In fact, if you add 5 lbs of muscle to your body and eat exactly the same way, you will lose 25lbs over the ensuing year (wow)!
  • If you add more muscle to your body, you'll burn more calories even when you're resting and sleeping (pretty cool)!
  • People who "get into it" tend to get excited about their new muscles and shape and naturally want to eat healthier foods.
  • People who are more fit naturally desire more physical activity.
  • And the cycle continues and feeds on itself.

And now that I've built you up; hopefully gotten you a little bit excited... let me tell you a secret.  This "secret" is the difference between getting started on a program and stopping 3-4 weeks later vs. getting started and doing it forever.  The secret is to: Compete.

Don't get scared.  You don't have to be the best.  In fact you can be the worst and still win; because you're really only competing against yourself.  The reality is, you're setting a goal. This is what got me out of bed yesterday morning at 6:30 and had me run 21/2 miles and then do my core exercises when I wanted to stay in bed.  I have a triathlon looming in just over 2 months.  My reservation is made, I paid the fee and as they say in Texas Holdem: "I'm All In."  I have to swim half a mile in the Long Island Sound then bike 12 miles and then run a 5K.  I must prepare for it if I'm to finish.  

This forces me to stay fit.  I don't care who comes in first, or who comes in last.  I just want to finish without stopping and hopefully do it a little quicker than I did last time.  And my commitment gives me no choice but to keep moving in the right direction.  This is what I want for you; to keep moving in the right direction.  And I want it for you so badly I can taste it.  Your life will be better, guaranteed. 

So here are the steps.
   1.     Decide which type of physical activity you want to do.
   2.     Find out if there is some kind of race that you can participate in.
   3.     If there is no race, because you've chosen an activity such as hiking, find a club that sponsors hikes and then pick and pay for a challenging hike that's a couple of months away to participate in.  
   4.     Determine the type of work out you will need to perform to finish your race or activity.
   5.     Work your plan and get excited about the fitness level that you will shortly attain.

This type of goal oriented behavior coupled with the commitment of actually signing up and paying for a race or strenuous activity puts you in a position of being "All In"and "Totally Committed." Once you're in that place, the pounds will roll off, you'll get in shape and my hope for you, is that you'll never look back.

By the way, I'll be participating in 3 Sprint Triathlons this summer/fall season (2012).  These consist of a half mile swim usually in the Long Island Sound followed by a 10 mile bike, followed by a 5K.  If anyone would like to join me, it's a great way to get and stay in shape.  
And don't worry about the weight, when you train for a triathlon.... it comes off.     



Eat right, exercise, have a positive mental attitude and supplement wisely, that's how we'll age gracefully, together.                                    

To your good health,
Dr. Neil

Dr. Neil Levin practices in East Northport, NY (631)651-2929