Health watch: Weighing in on weight loss |

Health watch: Weighing in on weight loss

Special to the Daily Press

Special to the Daily Press

Excess weight becomes increasingly difficult to lose with each passing decade. This is, at least in part, because of a slowing metabolism. Exercise, particularly strength training, can help reverse that trend.

Other causes for weight gain in middle-aged women, according to women’s health expert Dr. Susan Lark, are mood swings that affect food cravings, changes in the signals that regulate appetite and food allergies or other conditions that lead to the accumulation of body fluids or “false fats.”

Holiday weight gain usually sticks

Subjects in a controlled study gained only about a pound during the six-week holiday period, although they thought they gained four times that much. The bad news was that for most subjects, the pound was still present at the end of a year.

Only about 15 percent of the 195 subjects tried to lose weight during the holidays, but their weight change did not differ significantly from that of subjects who made no effort to diet.

Self-monitoring does the trick

Overweight people using self-monitoring methods such as food diaries were more successful than other subjects in fending off holiday weight gain, according to a study.

Try short bouts of exercise

If you have a hard time finding time for a full workout, you might want to try fitting in four or five mini-sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each. These exercises could include stair climbing, running in place or using a stationary bike and should be done at a higher than usual intensity level.

Diabetics: Watch for falling glucose

Diabetics – particularly those practicing tight control of blood glucose – need to be alert to the risk of a hypoglycemic episode, or low blood sugar.

The preferred treatment for most patients, tight blood sugar control triples the risk of a hypoglycemic attack, which can cause poor coordination, confusion or loss of consciousness.

Good safety tips are:

• Check your blood glucose regularly. If it’s 70 or lower, eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates, such as 15 small jelly beans, and re-test in 15 minutes.

• Re-test your glucose level every one to two hours on extended trips or any time you feel signs of low blood sugar.

• Keep fast-acting carbohydrates such as jelly beans or glucose tablets in the car.

• Plan trips so you can maintain a normal eating schedule.

• Never fool yourself into thinking you are less affected than others by low glucose levels.

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