Link Love Feed

That New York Times story on the Biggest Loser contestants and weight regain: Hoo boy.

I think half my Facebook friends shared the link to the New York Times article on the season 8 Biggest Loser contestants and their weight.

Did you read it yet? If not, here's the upshot: We're all screwed.

OK, perhaps that was a bit of an overstatement, but the biggest takeaway is that after weight loss -- be it 10 pounds or 150 pounds, your body fights like hell to get back to your previous weight, lowering your metabolism and sending your leptin levels plunging. You are left a starving sloth.

And just to be clear, it's not the show's fault (so step off, Loser haters!)-- it happens to pretty much everyone who cuts food consumption and increases activity. 

Dr. Kevin Hall, an obesity researcher, followed the contestants for six years after the confetti rained down and found sobering news:

“It is frightening and amazing,” said Dr. Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. “I am just blown away.”

It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.

Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends. So they were not surprised to see that “The Biggest Loser” contestants had slow metabolisms when the show ended.

What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on. It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight.

Here's the leptin part (#sadface):

Slower metabolisms were not the only reason the contestants regained weight, though. They constantly battled hunger, cravings and binges. The investigators found at least one reason: plummeting levels of leptin. The contestants started out with normal levels of leptin. By the season’s finale, they had almost no leptin at all, which would have made them ravenous all the time. As their weight returned, their leptin levels drifted up again, but only to about half of what they had been when the season began, the researchers found, thus helping to explain their urges to eat.

Like I say when I read any of these articles, I'm not discouraged, I'm intrigued. There's no getting around science and facts, so I start Googling.

And, oh, what a load of crap is there on the Internet!

Always check your sources before you click on anything. And when you do find something reputable, make sure they're referencing real studies (footnotes FTW!). 

This morning I Googled "what increases leptin resistance" because that's the key. It's not the amount of leptin that you can increase (without increasing your body fat, and who wants that?) but your sensitivity to the leptin that you still have.

After scrolling past a bunch of unsubstantiated garbage (something to sell me, eh?) I came across this article, 23 Foods That Increase Leptin Sensitivity, on a site called Before I even read the article, I checked its "about us" page, which reads:

Anything we write and publish on is based on proper scientific research. All articles are written by either medical doctors or by premeds and medical students.


In the Medlicker article is a good, layman's-level description of leptin and what it does in the body, which you should read if you have no idea about the hormone. (HERE'S another credible article on leptin from Authority Nutrition.) But the real fun comes with the 23 foods, which include oats, lean protein, green tea, almonds, eggs, beans, lowfat yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables. Funny, it didn't mention diet ice cream and Snackwells. (KIDDING.)

What are the main components of these foods? Pectin, fiber (soluble and insoluble), omega-3's, zinc, calcium and protein. 

Personally, oats, almonds and Greek yogurt are a few of my "happy foods" in that they keep me full for a long time.

So what is my takeaway from the New York Times article? 

Your body tries like the dickens to put back the weight that you lose. I know -- in the past month I actually won a DietBet, which I almost never do, and the loss of those 11 pounds have left me with an almost constant gnawing in my stomach. SHUT. UP. STOMACH. So now that both my cataract surgeries are done and I can go back to the gym, my goal is to focus on strength training, because another reason why metabolism slows is the loss of muscle as you age. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so my goal is to really pump things up. 

Which can make women more hungry.

Oh, FML.

So yesterday, I blended up this thing in the bathroom (I know that sounds gross, but my kitchen is being remodeled and my blender is in the bathroom):

Doctor oz green smoothie drink

It's the Doctor Oz Veggie Flush, which was featured this week on his show. I like what he's doing this month. All this month, he's introducing studied, proven tips that you pick and choose, layering the ones you want on top of each other for weight loss that just might work. So far I've been incorporating a 12-hour fast and this Veggie Flush.

The 12-hour fast wasn't started for weight loss though -- my hiatal hernia was acting up something fierce last week and I figured the less I had in my stomach the better. So from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (or 9 'til 9, 7 'til 7 -- you get the drift) I don't consume anything. The easy thing about this is for 7 to 8 hours of this fast I'm asleep, and since I've been taking Synthroid since the 1980s, I can't eat an hour after I take it in the morning so that's 1 more hour not to eat.  If I busy myself at the computer, it's pretty easy to get to 12 hours.

And the gaping maw at the top of my stomach has calmed down.

The Veggie Flush is a cucumber, two stalks of celery, 2 cups of spinach, a pear and the juice of a lemon, thinned out with a little water (I used a little coconut water). You don't juice it, you process it in the blender, so you're keeping all the fiber from the produce. I used an English cucumber so I didn't peel it -- more fiber! I let it process awhile in my NutriNinja and was impressed that all those celery strings disappeared. 

How does it taste? I liked it a lot. It tastes like a Suja Mighty Greens but thicker. I drank a third of it yesterday and had a third today, and it was even thicker today than it was yesterday. The pear lends just enough sweetness to temper the green flavor. 

The plan with it is to drink it throughout the day whenever you get the urge to eat and it's not meal or snack time. And while I'm tracking my food in My Fitness Pal, I'm not tracking the Veggie Flush because ...

Track celery calories

So, yeah, once again we come to the conclusion that losing weight is hard, keeping it off is harder, and Ben and Jerry's tastes better than celery. 

Lick ... lick ... BOOM.

Dirty spoon

I used to joke that if I was ever a weight-loss success story on the "Today" show, instead of wheeling out wagons full of doughnuts or cheeseburgers, Joy Bauer would place a single teaspoon on the table as the reason why I once struggled with losing weight for decades.

A single cream cheese-and-jelly smeared teaspoon.

This week I am trying with all my spoon-licking might to make food and toss the implements in the dishwasher.

("What's the big deal? Isn't that what normal people do?" you may say. You are not me -- you have no idea how much Vidalia onion relish I ate straight out of the jar.)

This brings me to one of my favorite blog posts ever. Like ever-ever-ever. It's over at The Healthy Hausfrau, and it's titled "A Bite Here and There: What's the Big Deal?"

I'm sure I've mentioned it before (oh, wait, I have) but I referred back to it this week as I work to break my spoon addiction.

She tallies up those little calories throughout the day, which, in her list come to a staggering 770 calories of invisible food.


When my teenager was a toddler, he'd often leave food on his plate, as toddlers are wont to do. And I would eat it, as moms are wont to do.

(Come to think of it, he still leaves food on his plate because his hunger mechanism is not totally screwed up like some people I inhabit.)

But over time, he learned not to push the plate toward me -- probably because I have embraced the mantra and repeated to him, "I AM NOT A GARBAGE DISPOSAL."

I've gotten much, much better at this (see my 2010 post "The road to hell is paved with barbecue sauce") but I still slip up.

But today, I tossed that jam and cream cheese smeared spoon straight into the utensil basket.

Link love: Hank is a winner

My Fitbloggin' pal Hank Hanna writes at the blog The Business of Losing Weight, and today he has a great post about his victory:

My kids will never know me as unhealthy dad.

I started this weight loss journey for many, many reasons. And the benefits to my health, attitude and life have been innumerable. But they ALL fail in comparison to the benefit that my kids are getting from this. They are getting a healthy father who is demonstrating a healthy lifestyle to them. And that is how kids learn. By watching what we do as parents.

You can read the rest of the post HERE.


Link love: A bad diet can cause brain damage

Forbes eating page
Great article on today about how a high-fat, high-simple carb diet can damage your brain and screw up the signals in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates metabolism.

But all is not lost, cronut burger fans. Melanie Haiken writes:

Switching to a healthy diet can heal the hypothalamic damage that’s playing havic with your hunger and satiety cues.

She also points to a study by the University of Liverpool that showed that omega-3 fatty acids can mitigate some of the negative effects of the sat fats and simple carbs.

Anyway, go read the article. If you're a nutrition geek, it's fascinating.

A must-read on weight-loss momentum

Appetite for health logoJust read an article on the Appetite for Health website and giant lightbulbs crackled and exploded over my head.

No, I don't have a problem with my home's electrical wiring (except in my kitchen where I can't run the microwave and the toaster oven without popping a circuit, but that's another story) -- those were the "A-HA!" lightbulbs going off when I read the article "Don't Let Weight Loss Derail Your Diet."

Let that headline sink in -- does it sound funny to you? Then you may have never experienced the phenomenon of taking your eyes off the prize. I do it all the damn time. Lose 3 pounds one week, get all jazzed, forget to write some stuff down, blow off a workout and -- BOOM! -- that 3 pounds comes roaring back.

This particular passage in the guest post, written by Mark Izhak, RD, a registered dietitian and personal trainer in New York City, resonated with me:

After you lose 5 or 10 pounds, you can celebrate your success. But if you don’t immediately recommit to your ultimate goal (either keeping that weight off or losing more) your success is going to be short-lived.


THE REAL SKINNY Cover ArtBy the way, the Appetite for Health founders -- registered dietitians Julie Upton and Katherine Brooking -- have a new book that came out a couple weeks ago called "The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health's 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions" (Tarcher/Penguin, $14.95). The book has loads of tips on grocery shopping, dining out, home enviroments, meal planning, working out, and a bunch of recipes that they've curated for dishes like Baja-Style Fish Tacos, Muffin-Tin Turkey Meatloafs, Shrimp Feta and Couscous, and Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.

Food for thought: MizFit flashes forward to 2012

More linky love this morning from another fave blogger, Carla Birnberg of She asks the provocative question:

January1 If today were 12.31.11 & you were reflecting back on the year, what's the BIGGEST healthy-living accomplishment you would have achieved in the previous 365 days?

Write it. Print it. OWN IT. LIVE IT. ATTRACT IT.

Just thinking about this makes me giddy with anticipation, because I know that this is the year I'm getting it done. So here it is, Miz:

Reflecting back on 2011, my biggest accomplishment, something I've been struggling with since AGE 10, is finally complete: I am at my happy weight. I am now at the weight that I was in high school, back when I thought I was fat (little did I know!)

I know that I'll have to work hard every day to keep it under control, because the minute I take my eye off the ball things go haywire. But I'm not the only one in that boat. I've lost weight before but never sealed the deal. But now I'm surrounded by a family of healthy-living bloggers who share tips, support and friendship. We'll keep each other healthy, happy and at peace with ourselves.

Inspiration from someone who has been there and DONE that

Lynn_lefse copy Since I've deemed 2011 The Year of Getting it Done, I thought you'd want to hear from someone who has gotten it done.

My pal, Lynn Haraldson, resolved six years ago to lose weight, and she did, getting rid of 170 pounds the old-fashioned way -- diet and exercise.

Yesterday, on New Year's Day, she wrote a post titled What is Your Destiny? In it, she wrote:

When I started this journey, belief was the only thing I had going. I believed I could do it. I believed I was worth it.  That belief became my thoughts, which I journaled into words and spoke aloud. I told my family and my doctor, “I’m going to lose weight!”

Please read the rest of her post at Lynn's Weigh. It's a potent dose of inspiration from someone who Got it Done and keeps it off. I don't want to steal her thunder (or her pageviews) but I'll quote her one more time:

Losing weight takes courage, yes, but changing your life to make weight loss permanent? Yeah…that takes a lot more than courage. It takes love. And I am, finally, in love…with all of me.

Some bloggy love to the reborn The Skinny


Our old logo (and yeah, I repurposed my tag line).

Back in 2006, I thought it'd be a good idea to start a weight-loss blog at the newspaper where I worked as a features copy editor. I enlisted the aid of my pod-mate Laura and we got to work writing sample posts, mission statements, titles and taglines and designing logos.

For some reason I'll never understand, we ran into resistance from a senior editor who said we were making light of a serious subject -- weight loss. She wanted more gravitas in our blog posts.

To which I thumbed my nose and made raspberry noises.

She stalled and stalled, we pushed and pushed, and finally, in September 2007, we were able to give birth to our blog, which we called The Skinny. Here's a little of wnat we originally wrote:

From Laura: "...Let’s share our experiences and adapt what we learn here to our ongoing efforts to get fit and eat right. Failures too, because they count as lessons learned ... and sometimes they are inadvertantly hilarious."

From me: "I can make sure my dog eats exactly 2 cups of puppy food a day. I can tell my son to eat apple slices instead of doughnuts. Both my puppy and my son are exactly the weight they should be. So what about me? Why do I weigh as much as a Miami Dolphins linebacker? When you hit your 40s, losing weight can be one of the hardest things you'll ever do, but as my doctor said to me recently "it can be done." And why not do it in front of everyone?"

The blog became an immediate hit, and with less than a year's worth of content we won second place in the 2008 Florida Society of Newspaper Editors Awards for Best Blog/Online Commentary.

Then in July 2008 I got laid off and Laura took a buyout a few months after that, and The Skinny stood frozen in cyberspace. The Sun Sentinel kept it floating in the ether because even without us writing it was one of the most popular blogs at the paper.

After an attempt to restart The Skinny with a writer who frankly turned it into a fail blog, it is now back with three very good writers, who I hope will carry the torch that Laura and I first ignited.

You should check them out.




How many calories does a redesign burn?

I was reading an especially poignant post over at the blog See Sara Shrink. She wrote:

... I haven’t lost weight in awhile.  But it’s not like I haven’t been trying.  I wake up every day with the best of intentions, but by lunch I’m fighting the same battles I’ve been fighting for years.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

OK, who can relate?

(Raises hand.)

Scale I've been holding steady since the end of the year, when I burned off a few holiday pounds. But I'm tired of holding steady and need to see the scale move again. 

I have to keep reminding myself that I did work on bettering my health in 2009. I got my cholesterol down from borderline icky to perfectly normal and dropped my triglycerides 100 points into the completely normal category. And I did it all with diet and exercise.

So that was 2009. Now it's three weeks into 2010 and I need to make more changes, primarily in calorie intake. I have already mentioned that I have to drop down to 1,200 for a couple of reasons. One, I have a slow metabolism (I had it tested). And two, that will help give me leeway for the "invisible calories" from supplements like fish oil, dark chocolate calcium and other good-for-me things that aren't really food. I really hate counting the calories of stuff that isn't food.

Step one is this redesign. When I first redid the logo I had in it a photo of my sister and me from 1991. That's not realistic, now, is it? So I freshened up the site and added current photos of us.

It's cleaner, lighter and brighter and I'm hoping that'll rub off on us. And you, if that's what you need.

Produce of the Week: Bok choy

bok choy This week's veggie is a guest post from my pal Lynn Haraldson Bering, who blogs at -- among other places -- Lynn's Weigh: The Journey Continues. This time last year I sent Lynn an e-mail after reading of her 168-pound weight loss in People magazine and we became friends. Cool thing, this Internet. She recently wrote about the wonders of bok choy. You can read the entire post HERE but here's an excerpt:

Eight ounces of bok choy has just 30 calories, only a trace of fat, 5 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, nearly 4 grams of protein, 240 mg of calcium (that’s nearly 25 percent of daily recommended calcium intake for women 18-50) and 570 mg of potassium (strive to get 4,700 mg a day).

I’m going to add bok choy like I would spinach to vegetable soup and eat it as is in a salad, too. The key around my neck of the woods is finding bok choy that doesn’t look like it just got off a 2-year boat trip from China.