Sunday, August 1, 2010

Going Online May Help Overcome Hurdles to Weight Loss

Spending time on specific websites can help people lose weight by keeping them accountable and connected, reported.

Investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research (KPCHR) designed a website to track the weight of about 350 of the 1,600 overweight or obese participants of a longer-term study.

For this Web-based phase, the study’s authors asked users to log on to a weight-loss support website and record their weight and the amount of exercise they had done once a week over a two-and-a-half-year period. Those who failed to do so received an e-mail, then an automated phone call, encouraging them to enter their information. They modeled it after Facebook to create a setting in which users could interact with each other.

The 350 participants qualified for this phase of the trial by losing 19 pounds in the first six months of the larger study. The Web-based phase looked at how much weight they were able to keep off.

The combination of keeping participants accountable and providing them with a community is what the study authors believe helped those who logged on at least once a month keep off an average of nine of the original 19 pounds they lost - those who logged on the least kept off an average of three pounds.

Although the site was designed to replicate the personalized, interactive experience of a weight-loss program, the online format gave those classified as obese an added incentive.

"The people on the Internet didn't know they were supposed to reject me," said Nancy Makin, who lost more than 500 pounds, a quarter ton, by putting down the fork and opening up her laptop. "And that fed me and I was allowed to let my spirit come out. I replaced a very poor tool for judging myself with a very fulfilling activity."

Makin weighed 703 pounds in 2003 and feared being judged by others for her weight. But when her sister bought her a computer that year and started making friends online, she no longer had to just rely on food to make her feel good.

"The key is to find contentment and value in yourself by reaching out and doing something not for you, and the weight will come off as a side effect," said Makin, who believes that community plays a larger role in weight loss for the morbidly obese, while accountability better helps those who are over weight.

Kristine Funk, the study's lead author, suggests that an online weight-loss support group should have both a weight tracking feature and a forum for users to interact with each other and experts.

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Can Surfing the Internet Help You Lose Weight?

By Belinda Luscombe
Interactive weight management websites 
help people maintain weight loss.
Blend Images / Getty Images

The Web, it sometimes seems, is a siren specter that lures us into sitting around like some species of houseplant while our trunk grows abnormally wide. Its abundant enticements keep us from doing what we know we should, like, say, making any movement whatsoever or consuming foods that do not come packaged in styrofoam.

But according to new research, the Internet can also be something else: a place for helping people keep weight off.

The new study, conducted over a two-and-a-half-year period, found that the more often people logged on to a website, the more likely they were to maintain weight loss. Of course, it wasn't just any old website, but one that investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research (KPCHR) had designed specifically to help people keep the pounds off. (See "The Year in Health 2009.")

What made the website work, the authors of the study believe, was its mixture of accountability and sociability. Users were asked log in once a week to enter their weight and the amount of exercise they'd done. If they didn't log in regularly, they got a little nudge by e-mail, then an automated phone call. Once on the site, users could chat with other participants of the study in a kind of mini-Facebook setting. (Comment on this story.)

The site was designed to mimic as much as possible what it's like to be in a weight-loss program that offers personal counseling and group meetings. It wasn't quite as effective as human-to-human interaction, but it was better than nothing at all. "While personal counseling may be the Cadillac version, it's not practical for everyone," says Kristine Funk, lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. (See a special report on the science of appetite.)

The study began with 1,600 overweight or obese participants, about 350 of whom lost enough weight — an average 19 lb. — during the first six months to stay in the trial for the Web-based maintenance phase. By the end of that two-and-a-half-year portion of the study, the users who had logged on the most regularly — at least once a month for 28 months — had kept off the most weight, an average of 9 lbs. People who used the website the least kept off only 3 lb. on average. "The consistency piece is definitely very important for keeping weight gain at bay," says Funk.

None of this is particularly surprising to Nancy Makin, who lost more than a quarter of ton after her sister bought her a computer for her birthday in 2003. Afraid to go out, because of the stares her 703 lb. frame attracted, she went online and found she could easily make friends with people who couldn't see her.

"The people on the Internet didn't know they were supposed to reject me," says Makin, who now weighs about 170 lbs. "And that fed me and I was allowed to let my spirit come out. I replaced a very poor tool for judging myself with a very fulfilling activity."

Once she found a community online, Makin says began to lose weight, not because she was less hungry, but because she had an activity besides eating that made her feel good. And because she felt better about herself. "I had 20 emails in my inbox each morning," she says.

The original KPCHR site is no longer live, but Funk notes there are plenty of others that do almost the same thing. "What you want to look for is a site that has a few key components: a recording feature to keep track of weight, a feedback mechanism and support resources from either experts or other high quality information," she advises.

Makin, whose memoir, 703, came out earlier this year, says that while accountability is important for those who are merely overweight, community may be more important for people who are morbidly obese like she was. "The key is to find contentment and value in yourself by reaching out and doing something not for you, and the weight will come off as a side effect," she says.

And if you have a website where you can talk about it, so much the better.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 4: 30 Funny Weight Loss Quotes – Diet Quotes

This was the reason why I ended up writing a post on Funny Weight Loss Quotes or Diet Quotes. It’s kind of silly but then there are days we just have to allow ourselves to be. I woke up with a sore body more specifically sore arms. I wondered why. My legs were fine but my arms were aching. To top it off, I felt so sleepy and lethargic the whole day. Good thing, I had to teach Music to the Kindergarten class. Their laughter over the vocalization exercises kept me awake enough. But when I arrived home, I popped the big question. To exercise or not to exercise…now that was a toughie. I wanted to exercise badly.  Read more

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 3 Exercise to Burn Calories

This is Day 3 of my 90 days to a slimmer waistline- a slimmer and healthier me. The question pops every now and then. Do I really need to exercise to burn calories? Exercise to burn calories…I say the words aloud. I need to befriend these words. Exercise to burn calories. I repeat. I could feel my body resist a bit.
I remember I made a commitment to exercise daily! I have to remember I made that commitment because there are moments when I hear myself think, “Gosh I’m so exhausted at work today. Can I just skip exercising?” I had to bring my aunt to the doctor and I would arrive home later than usual. Temptations. Temptations. And it’s only Day 3! Imagine that! The commitment helps. The 90 day goal helps. I push myself out of my comfort zone of wanting to rest and start exercising! I remember I need to exercise to burn calories. I laughed aloud at my silliness.  Read more

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 2 Acceptance is the Key in Helping You with Any Weight Loss Program

Why do a lot of us have difficulty with weight loss programs? I believe one of the main ingredients to a successful weight loss regimen starts with acceptance of our bodies. I confess.  I actually took a deep, long breath before I stepped on the weighing scale yesterday morning.  I had a feeling I was going to be in shock, wanting to flee and hide, I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-body mode.  By the way I forgot to tell you that when you get your weight, weigh yourself first thing in the morning when you haven’t ingested anything.  Not even water.  And remove all your clothes please.  Read more

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 1 Lifestyle Changes Begin in the 90 Day to a Slimmer Waistline Program

Excited!  That’s what I actually felt today –day 1 in my 90 day to a slimmer waistline program. In fact I was so excited I found myself up by 5 am!  With the sun barely awake, I wore my jogging pants and shirt, drank four glasses of water with lime and began my brisk walk using the treadmill.  The house was quiet as a mouse since everyone was still asleep.  I turned the television on for company.  The Lifestyle channel proved to be a good one as I watched Tough Love, and reflected about relationships as the girls tried to discover more of who they are while attempting to get to know certain male partners.  30 minutes passed by quickly.  It sure felt really good sweating.  Most of all, I felt a surge of pride and joy for myself for I recognize several essential things.  Read more

Sunday, July 25, 2010

90 Days to a Slimmer Waistline – Shrink the Stomach

I’ve had enough of people commenting on my waistline! The worst question/comment being “Are you pregnant?” Not that pregnancy is a bad thing mind you. But to a single lady, OUCH! Now you get it! Okay, okay, so I gained a bit of weight in the middle. Blame it on the paperwork and getting addicted to online stuff and not enough movement this past year. Enough is enough! It’s time to get back on track. Today I make a commitment to get off the chair and start my 90 day regimen to shrink my stomach!  Read more