Monday, January 19, 2009

Weight and exercize

Now, something entirely different: weight and exercize.

People who have followed this blog for a while, know that I live with some allergies and health issues that occasionally are expressed here through recipes for low glycemic index cooking. While I don't eat low GI to lose weight, it has that wonderful effect to: I managed to lose a lot of weight and maintain my new weight when I changed diet.

This was something I did not expect. You see, I had tried it all by then: working out, eating less fat, you know, everything one should do. Working out has the effect of making me stronger, giving me more energy and generally making daily chores easier, so yeah, it is very good for me. But I didn't lose weight. I just gained muscle. So I had resigned. I'd gain a kilo or two each year, and by 60 I'd be obese. Rather depressing, so imagine my joy when I discovered that something actually worked!

Now, many years later, there is finally a piece of research that fits with my own experiences. If you read Norwegian, it's brilliantly explained at For those who don't, the essence of the research is this: If you try to cure obesity by taking in less energy than you use, the body will resist the process and either make you eat more, or shut down processes that uses energy. Starvation doesn't work in the long run, and the "less in, more out" strategy is basically a starvation strategy. What you need is to reduce the insulin in the body, as insulin stops the release of energy from fat, and leads to more storage of energy as fat. This was just what my change in diet did.

Now, I saw that once I had adjusted my way of eating to something in between low carb and low GI, I suddenly lost weight when I was physically active. The research explains this as well. Physical activity strengthens the insulin metabolism, and assists in releasing energy from fat. So, if you gain weight because your insulin metabolism is weak, working out will help you. My metabolism was screwed up already (I knew this, I have a condition that is not diabetes, but does mess with my metabolism), so just working out wasn't enough to help. For my family, who live on a normal, healthy diet and have a good metabolism, working out is enough to adjust their weight when ever it goes up. It's not that they eat less and use more. My son, the active climber, at times eats enough for the other three of us together, he is constantly hungry when he's active, and he's very, very skinny. It's just that they have a metabolism that lets them actually use what they eat. In the boy's case, this means that when he spends the day being lazy, he hardly gets hungry. Which is the way it should be.

Of course, in order to get to the point that I could lose weight, I had to work hard at learning what was good for my body. If I had known that one result would be weight loss, I think I would never have figured it out. We are so drilled in the "less calories in, more calories out" way of thinking, that it would have stopped me from finding the diet that eventually would help stabilising my entire body at a much healthier level. And even now I am not at what medicine says is a "healthy" weight for a woman my size. As for fashion? Forget it. Too many curves, and not in the right places, for fashion. But I am healthier, staying fit is easier, I have more energy as I can use it, rather than store it as fat, and I finish my meals with a very good conscience. Now I also understand a bit more about why this works, when nothing else did.

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