Monthly Archives: July 2013

Review: Refuse to Regain by Dr. Barbara Berkeley

This is my review I posted on Amazon:

I have maintained my goal weight for 7 months (-55 lbs from my high weight) and was curious about this book. Previously I’ve studied National Weight Control Registry articles. An important finding of the NWCR is that there is not a single diet strategy that characterizes successful maintainers. So I find the focus Dr. Berkeley places on her primarian eating system puzzling.

I came around to understanding that as a weight loss physician she deals with patients who have undergone medical interventions to lose weight. She relates that she’s never seen someone maintain counting calories when we later learn she has furthermore never met anyone who lost their weight counting calories. I don’t count calories per se but I do track my food and find it elegant and effective.

If you’ve had weight loss surgery, medically supervised fasting or extreme exercise to lose weight this program is not a bad way to learn healthier diet. I think it’s unfortunate she has five rules on eating and one on exercise, but half the rules cover life skills like planning, support and attitude which I think is a big improvement over other lifestyle change books I’ve read.

I found her emphasis on being tough offputting. It is a problem focused attitude rather than possibility focused. Her “get mad” litany was particularly acrid. But I benefitted from the review of physiology and this is one of the first places I’ve read about glycogen, which has a big role in “water weight”.

I think entering my food into a website (of which there are several free ones) twice a day is much easier than banishing all sugars and starches from the home and workplace (fat free treats and alcohol excepted in Berkeley’s “primarian” plan.) And we learn toward the end she doesn’t believe in forcing others to eat as she does. I’m not saying her plan is unsound, it just doesn’t look sustainable. In the end, it takes internal motivation. Maybe this is the tiger mom path to self esteem.

Like it’s 1999

I never until this week watched the Biggest Loser, and it’s helped me clarify some important points having to do with maintenance.  The most astonishing thing is realizing that with my total numbers would give me a transformation total well over 55 (Ryan’s winning score).  I mean, I don’t know how they calculate the bodyfat number, but anyway I slice it, I killed that thing.  If I had 72 pounds of fat at 212 (using a conservative 34% estimate) and I go with 47.5 pounds of fat currently, that’s 24.5 pounds of fat lost.  That’s either 34% loss off my starting fat mass or 48% of my weight lost.  It’s not clear to me which they go by, but let’s say it’s the smaller number added to 25.9% weight reduction. 

Of course there are several factors relative to how I lost my weight that are relevant.  I lost my weight very slowly, at a 500 calorie/day deficit.  I ate more more carbs and didn’t restrict fat below 30%, allowing me to spare protein both in my body and diet.  I had weekly and eventually biweekly maintenance (not binge) days that supposedly head off metabolic shrinkage. 

I also used strength training more than cardio for much of my weight loss.  I have moved more to cardio in the last six months, and this is giving me pause.  I go by my fitbit and I feel so much better if that says 2000 calories burned by the end of the day.  Fitbit knows my age, height and weight but they don’t know my muscle mass.  Well, I guess I’ll stick with 10,000 steps a day and see where I am in 3 months.  I hadn’t been willing to do 10k a day, but since weaning the baby I am a bit anxious.  I don’t want to cut my intake, but too much cardio and my muscle building could in theory suffer. 

Maybe it’s time to start measuring my muscles. 

But anyway, going over this data really highlights what I feel are some critical areas for the mechanics of maintenance.  Strength training.  Balanced macros (I count fiber here).  Gentle calorie gradient.  Dietary consistency.