Vail Daily column: The reality of weight loss |

Vail Daily column: The reality of weight loss

Mary HornLiving With VitalityVail, CO Colorado

It is the time of year when almost half of the population makes a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. And, although we have the best intentions, we often revert to our unhealthy lifestyles by Feb. 15. Why is weight loss so difficult?Eat less and exercise more has been “The Golden Rule” of weight loss for as long as I have been working in exercise and nutrition. My own clients often struggle with limiting calories, exercising more and maintaining or even gaining weight. It is true that if you consistently eat more calories than your metabolism can burn, the extra will be stored as fat and you will gain weight. However, our bodies do not use calories the same. Our metabolisms burn at different rates, and some of us have a genetic predisposition to burning some nutrients more efficiently. Recent research shows that individual difference in the body’s neurological, hormonal, and metabolic regulatory systems actually determine weight loss.A successful weight loss program establishes healthy goals and incorporates them into a lifestyle. Your first step is to determine your body composition and fat deposition. Understanding the impact of the quality of your weight is far more important than determining the quantity of your weight. Your goal should be realistic for your body type. You should focus on attaining a healthy percentage of lean muscle and losing body fat. The number on your scale is inconsequential; success is measured by improving your body’s lean muscle to fat ratio.Where you carry your fat is also important. The fat around your waist does more than hold up your pants. It is inflammatory and can increase insulin resistance. Chronic inflammation invites multiple heath challenges: visceral fat leads to inflammation; inflammation leads to more visceral fat, which promotes more inflammation. Sounds like an impossible situation. However, eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, and other healthy practices will lead to reduced visceral fat. Energy expenditure is the other important part of weight loss. There are three components: basal metabolic rate; thermic effect of food; and the energy cost of physical activity. Our metabolic rate supports respiration, circulation, maintaining body temperature, synthesis of new cells and tissues, secretion of hormones and nervous system activity. It equals approximately 60 to 75 percent of our daily caloric expenditure and is determined by the amount of our lean body mass. A small amount of energy is needed to digest, absorb, transport, metabolize and store the nutrients we eat. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food and is equal to about 5 to 10 percent of the energy content of your meal. What you eat and when you eat it impacts the number of calories you will expend as a result of processing the food you eat. Following a regular pattern of eating and balancing you meals with carbohydrate, protein and fat will maximize the thermic effect of eating. Finally, the cost of your physical activity is highly variable. It can represent anywhere from 15 to 35 percent of your total daily energy output. Make the best of your workout time by determining the appropriate mode, intensity and duration of your exercise sessions to create optimal results. There are even specific exercise routines that are better at reducing visceral body fat. During this time of renewal, commit to lifestyle changes that will positively impact your present and future health. The Vitality Center is offering holiday wellness programs on visceral fat, weight loss and inflammation on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Call the Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa for information at 970-477-3251. Mary Horn is a nutritionist and exercise physiologist at the Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge. E-mail comments about this column to

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