Gaining the upper hand on weight loss
Dieting myths debunked to prevent pounds from piling on
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Warm weather has arrived, and many people are sweating it out. The seasonal ritual of trying to shake off blubber hidden by winter garb has begun.
Peeling off pounds has become somewhat of a tradition for many folks in spring. They're able to drop the weight, only to see it reappear. Neither lazy nor undisciplined, they have misconceptions about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Such misunderstandings kept Rochelle Pearl, 65, of New Orleans from losing weight for years.
"We have so much temptation around us, especially in New Orleans," Pearl said. "Everything is eating here." In fact, Men's Fitness magazine gave New Orleans the honor of being one of the fattest cities in the United States.
Most people equate losing weight with suffering, said Pearl's nutritionist, Molly Kimball of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.
"What they think they actually should be doing is way too strict, way too hard, and it will be impossible to stick with," Kimball said.
Pearl said she never had a weight problem as a teen-ager. As an adult, she found herself overweight without the knowledge and skills to find her way back to her former self.
After several attempts to lose weight, Pearl finally was able to trim more than 50 pounds from her frame with Kimball's help.
Pearl said that she doesn't feel deprived.
"I don't even look at it as a diet. It's a way of life," said Pearl, who used to take in 1,000 calories a day -- in soft drinks.
"I resisted at first, but when I started listening, I started losing weight," she said.
For dieters such as Pearl, weight-loss myths abound. Kimball lists the following misconceptions that can hinder weight loss:
'I'm taking time for myself'
Pearl admits exercise is part of the solution. She "never really took the time," she said, convincing herself that her age excluded her from the needs-to-exercise group.
"I always made excuses -- I had to do this; I had to do that -- but now I'm taking time for myself."
Exercise is a great way to keep the pounds from coming back, said Dr. Chip Lavie, co-director for cardiac rehabilitation at Ochsner.
People regain weight because they "don't ever continue to follow a diet forever," Lavie said, "and without exercise, the same thing that caused them to become overweight in the first place then is re-established."
Lavie admits it takes a lot of exercise to lose weight. But a little can go a long way. "What about the person who walks two miles five days a week? That person, when you add it up over a year, is losing 10 pounds of fat," he said.
This gradual pattern mirrors the way weight is usually gained, Lavie said, since most people gain a few pounds each year only to wake up one day and realize they've gone one pound over the line.
Lavie has a few pointers for those wanting to make exercise a healthy habit:
Lavie and Kimball agree a healthy diet and exercise program have a symbiotic relationship needed for a long life.
Americans are heavier than ever, but more people such as Pearl are getting the message on how to lose it -- for good.
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