Diet or Exercise?

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: I keep hearing that exercise is better than dieting. What do you recommend?

Answer: When you speak of dieting, I would imagine you are referring to fad diets that often result in temporary, but not permanent weight loss. I have heard people joke of having lost 500 pounds (over a period of many attempts at dieting), but gained it all back again. I believe in dieting, but not fad diets. I believe in eating a balanced meal, but not more than necessary to maintain your weight. If you are overweight, you will need to eat less to break the “set point” your body has established in its attempt to maintain your weight. And exercise will help.

However, exercise is not the only answer to weight loss. For example if you weigh 150 pounds and eat a Baby Ruth candy bar, which contains 288.5 calories, you will have to walk at a normal pace for more than one hour to burn off that candy bar. Don’t let that discourage you from walking or exercising, the more you move the more you burn.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, “weight management still comes down to the calories you take in versus those you burn off. Fad diets may promise you that avoiding carbs or eating a mountain of grapefruit is the secret to weight loss, but it’s really all about calories.” There is a direct positive correlation between eating and weight.

Since you asked what I recommend, I will make some suggestions.

•Consider eating everything you would normally eat, but in smaller portions.

•Don’t hang around at the table if there is food on the table, or remove the food as soon as the meal is over, or dish up away from the table and don’t go back for seconds.

•Consider eating your larger meal at noon and reduce intake in the evening.

•If you eat an evening meal, eat it early—no later than 6:00. With crockpots and other automatic devices, it’s realistic to have meals prepared when you arrive home from work.

•Weigh every day. This allows you to see your progress if you are losing weight, or to adjust your eating if you are maintaining your weight.

•If you are needing to lose weight, start today. Today is as good as any day. If you want to lose one pound per week, you will need to eat 500 calories less than what is necessary to maintain your weight. That’s not 500 calories less than you are currently eating; it’s 500 calories less than you need to maintain a normal weight. If you are currently gaining every week, you will need reduce your intake by more than 500 calories.

It’s also been found that people who are thin are people who move a lot. So exercise does not have to be a program of so many minutes on the treadmill every day, or doing so many push-ups; it can be as simple as getting your own coffee, walking to the copier yourself to pick up those copies, or taking every opportunity possible to move.

Another consideration is to walk your hallway at work during breaks, or walk up down stairs if your building has stairs.

Years ago, I read a book by the late J. T. Pugh, entitled For Preachers Only. As the title indicates, it was a book for ministers, and in it he encouraged ministers to never take an elevator if there is a stairway. Both my wife and I have tried to practice that. A year ago, we were at a conference in St. Louis and were staying on the twentieth floor. We used the elevator to get our luggage to the room, but once it was in the room, we found the stairs and used them instead of the elevator. Also, when walking, walk briskly whenever possible. So the not-so-secret solution is to reduce your calories and look for ways to move.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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