Snowball Effect of Weight Loss: Ride Your Momentum!

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Losing weight can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, but does weight loss seem like a daunting task? Will you need to focus on each choice you make all day, every day?

Take heart! There is plenty of good news for anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off for good. Lark DPP can help you lose weight by making small changes that fit into your lifestyle and do not feel like sacrifices. 

Wait, there’s more! You can lose more weight with less effort with smart strategies. For example, as the Lark check-in mentioned, you can work different muscles to build more muscle and boost metabolism. Plus, you can take advantage of the snowball effect of good choices. Lark can help you build and ride weight loss momentum so you can keep the good choices going.

 

The Value of Habits


When your good choices become habits, you can lose weight without thinking much about it. You might burn a few extra calories, or consume fewer calories here and there throughout the day to build up a calorie deficit. You might find yourself...

  • Waking up and getting your shoes to go for a walk.

  • Mentally preparing the week’s menus and shopping list so you can get healthy foods at the grocery store.

  • Parking further away and remembering to set aside the few extra minutes it takes to walk extra.

  • Taking smaller portions of higher-calorie foods and larger portions of vegetables.

  • Reading labels to select lower-calorie products.

  • Packing up half your restaurant meal to take home for later.

Remember, it does not take much to build up a 250-calorie deficit to lose ½ pound per week, or to aim for a daily 500 to 1,000-calorie deficit to hit 1 to 2 lb. per week weight loss.

 

One Good Turn Deserves Another


You have a lot of chances to make good weight loss choices. You can cut back on calories, increase your physical activity, sleep more, and lower stress, for starters. While each of these approaches are effective on their own, they can work together for even greater results.

Consider this scenario. You add an early-morning walk to your day. This walk motivates you to eat better at breakfast and the rest of the day. The morning exercise can also help you clear your head and reduce stress. You might end the day with a slightly smaller dinner, inspired by those good choices all day. You can then sleep better because of a less-full stomach, less stress keeping your mind awake, and better circadian rhythm regulation because of your activity.

You are then working towards weight loss by…

  • Burning extra calories from that morning walk.

  • Eating a little less throughout the day.

  • Reducing hunger and cravings by getting more sleep.

  • Lowering your chances of stress eating.

 

Fat-Burning Fitness


You can reduce the number of calories you take in with smart food swaps. You can increase the number of calories you expend, or burn, with smart activities. To burn more, you can always exercise for longer and add extra bouts into your day - say, a walk at lunch or a few flights of stairs before leaving your office for the evening.

You can also think about the types of exercise you do to increase your fat-burning capacity. You burn more calories when the activities are higher-intensity, which makes sense when you think about higher-intensity running versus lower-intensity walking, high-impact versus low-impact aerobics, and hard versus easy cycling. 

Another strategy for burning more calories is to choose activities that use a lot of muscles. The more muscles you work, the more calories you burn during the activity. You also get the benefit of higher calorie burn the rest of the day as you build muscles, since muscles are highly active metabolically.

The activities that burn the most calories tend to be the ones that are weight-bearing, because it takes energy to hold yourself up. So, upright bikes burn more calories than recumbent, for example. Another rule of thumb is that using your legs burns a lot of calories, since the leg muscles are so big. Finally, you can burn more calories when you use a lot of muscles, such as an elliptical trainer or rowing machine where you use your arms and legs, or playing tennis or basketball where you are using your arms and legs.

 

Revving Metabolism around Your Workout


Are you getting more active, or thinking about it, as part of your plan to prevent diabetes? That is great if you are - you can lower blood sugar and burn calories by doing so. Support your efforts with proper fueling - you will feel better, have better workouts, and boost metabolism to be able to burn more calories overall.

You can fuel your workouts better by:

  • Hydrating properly all day with water.

  • Eating a small meal or snack a few hours before you work out if you find that you need it.

  • Eating a small meal or snack with some healthy carbohydrates and protein right after you finish exercising.

Your post workout snack can have about 100 to 200 calories, be based on healthy carbohydrates, and have a bit of protein. The carbs can be from fruit, whole grains, beans, or low-fat dairy products. Examples include:

  • Half a whole-grain English muffin with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

  • ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese with ¼ cup of oats.

  • 1 cup fat-free yogurt with 1 cup of strawberries.

  • 1 apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

 

Keep Aware of Habits


Take heed, though, if you are starting an exercise program for the first time or you are upping the intensity or length of time that you are working out. Some people end up eating more when they start exercising - in fact, so much more that the extra food nearly negates the calories burned from exercise! 

One reason this can happen is that exercise makes you hungrier. It can cause you, without thinking, to eat more calories than you just burned. Another reason is that you may be so proud of your exercise that you feel a license to eat anything - just like some people fall into the trap of overeating sugar-free or low-fat foods because they think they are “calorie-free” foods.

There is a lot to think about when losing weight, but there is an upside to that: there are opportunities everywhere you turn to lose a little more weight. Also on the positive side is that Lark can help you find those weight loss chances, turn good choices into habits, and keep you riding your momentum as you lose weight and improve your health.

 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health

Myths and Truths around Strength Training


Are you doing everything you can to prevent diabetes? If you have prediabetes, you can make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. That is the basis for the Diabetes Prevention Program

As you know from using Lark DPP, losing weight and increasing physical activity can dramatically lower blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance. A lot of the focus is on moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, but there is another type of activity you can do to lower insulin resistance and diabetes risk. 

Resistance or strength training can be a worthwhile component of your exercise program and diabetes prevention plan. Almost everyone can benefit from adding resistance training to their schedule, but there are a lot of myths that act as barriers. These are some myths about resistance training along with the truth about them.

 

Myth: Resistance training makes you bulky.

Truth: You can use strength training to bulk up if you want to, but getting stronger does not automatically mean getting bigger. Many or even most people who participate in resistance training do not bulk up. Instead, they tone up. 

Myth: Resistance training does not lower blood sugar.

Truth: You may hear a lot about cardio or aerobic activity to lower blood sugar, but resistance training also helps. It increases insulin sensitivity (reduces insulin resistance) and improves glycemic control. Isn’t that what you want when you have prediabetes?!

Myth: Resistance training does not have many other health benefits.

Truth: Resistance training has a ton of health benefits! It reduces abdominal, or visceral, fat, which is the type of fat linked to chronic inflammation and health concerns such as cardiovascular disease. Resistance training lowers blood pressure, which is especially important if you have prediabetes because having both high blood pressure and prediabetes greatly increases risk for both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Finally, resistance training has benefits such as increasing bone strength.

Myth: There is no reason for you to be stronger. 

Truth: You may not compete in weight-lifting competitions or have a physically demanding job or lifestyle, but a little extra strength never hurts. When you are stronger, you may find it easier to carry heavy bags of groceries into the house from your car, or you may discover that your back no longer hurts after you spend a day lifting your little son, daughter, niece, or nephew. 

Myth: Resistance training does not burn significant calories or help with weight loss.

Truth: You may think of aerobic exercise or “cardio” as the choice for burning fat and calories, but resistance training helps, too. You may not burn as many calories during the actual exercise session, but resistance training builds lean muscle mass. Since muscles burn calories all day just from their metabolism, the result of strength training is that your metabolism increases and weight loss is easier.

Myth: You need fancy equipment, a personal trainer, or celebrity status to do resistance training. 

Truth: You can use weights in the gym, but you do not need to go to a gym to do your resistance training. Aside from weight machines, dumbbells, barbells, and other traditional weights, you can do resistance training using:

  • Body weight exercises.

  • Resistance bands.

  • Objects in daily life, such as heavy packages or babies and toddlers.

Myth: You need to have a personal trainer or to be an athlete to do resistance training. 

Truth: You can do resistance training no matter who you are, as long as you have your doctor’s approval. Ask an expert for help getting started if you are not sure about what exercises to do or how to maintain proper form. A personal trainer can help, but so can a friend who is an expert. You may be entitled to free demonstrations if you are a gym member.

Myth: It is too dangerous. 

Truth: People tend to avoid weight lifting because they fear injury, but smart training can have the opposite effect. Injuries tend to come from lifting too much or having bad form, while resistance training, done right, can actually lower the risk of injuries in daily life and from your other exercises.

Myth: It takes too much time.

Truth: You can benefit from resistance training twice a week. Just incorporate exercises to hit every major muscle group and aim to go to fatigue, rest, and repeat. Your resistance training routine can take as little as 10 to 20 minutes and yield surprisingly great benefits.

 

Resistance training can give you a boost as you work to prevent diabetes, and getting started is not that hard. Consider adding in 2 sessions of resistance training per week, and you may look, feel, and be healthier.

 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health