Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Running or walking? Paleo or something else? The media weighs in. Heh.

DISCLAIMER: I write FOR ME. I need to remember these articles and the feelings I have about them now. I blog every day anyway, and this is the easiest way for me to record and, later, find these resources and remember how I was feeling at the time. I might, someday, feel discouraged or bored or frustrated. This post might be helpful at that point.
The New York Times blogged in May about recent studies comparing running to walking. If you're trying to pick up the pace, as I am, it might be worth your time to have a look. The gist of it is that running most definitely aids weight loss, something I've wondered about for years.

Popular literature (aka women's mags) encourages walking for weight loss. It seems logical that any effort spent in intentional activity would burn more calories than sitting on the couch reading a women's magazine. Turns out that might not even be true, as one very small study showed.

Read the article. Then go lace up your pink Mizunos.

U.S. News and World Report ranked the paleo diet 28th overall in a recent study of 29 diets (not necessarily weight-loss plans), taking issue with it on every measure.


The rundown is here. Paleo ranked dead last when compared to other plans that were specifically designed for weight loss.


So. What does that mean FOR ME?

The NYTimes article supports my decision to start running again, since weight loss most definitely IS my goal. I'm alternating walking and running intervals, which is the only way I can manage my hilly road at this point. When I moved here 16 years ago I could run for six miles, down and up the hills. Now? Not so much. But I was able to run up a couple little ones yesterday, and a third of the way up a fairly long stretch.

I threw a C25K session in the middle of yesterday's and Sunday's runs, which breaks up the monotony of six long miles. I hope the discipline of the training program will actually get me to the point where I can continuously run a 5K, without taking a walking break.

With regard to USNWP's paleo rankings, I kind of feel like I'm in that Seinfeld episode where George does everything the opposite.

The magazine ranked Weight Watchers #1, a program with which I'm very familiar, having achieved Lifetime Member status and then working for them, back in the mid '70s. Like so many WW veterans, I gained my weight back (and more!), rejoined several times but never made it back to my goal weight.

Is that the fault of the program? Not at all. I think WW continues to tweak its plan to encourage healthy food choices that fit with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines (fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy). Whether you count Points or calories, you can eat from all the suggested food groups AND you can throw in a frozen treat or packaged cookie if you want to.

The difference between the government's suggested plate and a paleo plate is illustrated below:

My paleo plate doesn't have nearly as many vegetables on it. Vegetables are difficult for me to eat. It's not that I don't like them, I do. Wearing dentures, however, limits my food choices in many ways. Food doesn't taste as good and a slimy texture (cooked greens, for instance) is gag-inducing. FOR ME.

But I'm working on it. And I'm losing weight, which is something I didn't do counting Points OR calories. I'm guilty of contempt prior to investigation. I saw people making progress with a paleo plan, but thought:

How can I live without pasta?
What?!?!? No cheese?
Too expensive, too restrictive, and what about fill-in-the-I-can't-do-it-blank?

I was most concerned with how I was going to feed my husband without cooking two different meals. He didn't ask me to. He jumped right on board, adding yogurt to his diet because he really likes it and eating an occasional hamburger bun. He orders whatever he wants when we eat at a restaurant. His enthusiasm and cooperation have made a huge difference.


So after reading these articles, I've concluded that I'm on the track that works FOR ME. I suspected that certain foods were inhibiting weight loss or triggering food cravings. My little science experiment has proven my theory.

It's also eliminated some serious hip pain and my recent physical was stellar.

Whether running results in greater weight loss or not, I LOVE to run, but couldn't manage it with 35 additional pounds. Now that those are gone, and more will be, I have a greater incentive to stick with what works FOR ME.


jen said...

Finding the track that works for you is what it's all about. The fact that Paleo does not follow USDA guidelines is irrelevant, since the premise of the diet is that those guidelines are flawed. Obviously the farm lobbies have more to do with what's recommended than nutrition.

I think intervals are the way to go with running. You can do more intensity in intervals than a distance run, and intensity = weight loss.

Diandra said...

Since everyone functions differently, I do not find it strange that you should stick with a plan that obviously works for you although it gets bad recommendations. As long as your body and your physician are okay with it... ^^

gingerzingi said...

As a veteran of many diet or WL programs that are supposed to make me lose weight but do not, I can say that here are the number of f***s I give about what the NY Times blog says:


Once again, individual experience rules. For instance I jumped on the interval bandwagon too, several years ago, because of reading that steady-state cardio discourages weight loss and intervals promote it. Despite a rigorous interval program, here are the number of pounds or amounts of fat I lost:


Not that I'm arguing with your (jen) preference for intervals: if you like them, if they work for you, then go for it! (also, totally agree with your comment about USDA guidelines).

My paleo plate doesn't look quite like the graphic above; as I've mentioned I eat very little fruit. I do eat some nuts, which I supposed could be in the category of "vegetable" (as in, animal, vegetable, or mineral?). And I see no mention of fat as part of the plate either. Well, the whole thing is flawed, even if just semantically...

Sharon said...

The USDA recommendations are all about selling more of what the big farms produce (wheat, corn, soy and meat that has been fed corn and soy) and not so much about health. And even if they are thinking about health they are using outdated science (low fat good! All saturated fats bad!) Cheers to you for finding what works for you. I get knee pain from running (even years ago as a 110 pound twentysomething) so I don't run, I walk and do intervals on the elliptical when I have access to one, but I know plenty of people who do run and thrive doing so.