Life is Hard and Then You Die

by Anne Bennett on January 5, 2012

Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times health writer

Last Sunday an article written by the health columnist for the New York Times appeared as a cover story for the Sunday magazine.

Written across the front of the magazine in bold, ominous black letters set atop a schematic of a bulging belly were the dire words: “Do You Have to be Superhuman to Lose Weight?”

The answer, in brief: yes.

Author Tara Parker-Pope, by her own admission 60 pounds overweight and as frustrated as the rest of us dieters, referred to recent studies that show that when we lose weight, our bodies fight against us to try to regain the lost pounds.

How does this happen? Apparently, obese dieters who have lost weight and then try to maintain it face an uphill battle that includes an increased appetite and a preoccupation with food. The dieters’ bodies become biologically altered; hormones that signal hunger register about 20 percent higher, while hormones that suppress hunger remain lower than normal. In fact, a myriad of hormones that are associated with hunger and metabolism all become significantly changed from pre-dieting levels.

Thus, after dieting, we cannot eat the same amount of food as a non-dieting person weighing the same weight. For instance, in order for a 150-pound woman who has lost 50 pounds to maintain that weight, she must eat less–between 50 to 300 calories per day–and exercise more than a 150-pound woman who has maintained that weight naturally.

This reminds me of my senior year of high school. We were allowed to leave campus on Fridays for lunch and our usual haunt was a nearby Taco Bell. Jane Larson, a thin, good-looking athlete, regularly wolfed down the five-tacos-for-a-dollar special while I sat on the bench next to her and grimly ate the diet lunch my mother had packed for me.

In retrospect, I’m glad that iPhones didn’t exist back then: I would have hated to have had a photo of my chubby self, crumpled brown paper bag in hand, next to the beautiful, skinny, taco-eating Jane Larson.

OK, I won’t end on a negative note. You can lose weight and keep it off, but in order to do so, you will have to be vigilant about what you eat and how much you move. Every single day. No exceptions.

Don’t hate me. I’m only the messenger.





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Linda January 10, 2012 at 8:26 am


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