Sunday, February 26, 2012

Maintaining Optimal Weight

The principle to maintain body weight is simple - match your food intake to your physical activity. To practice this principle in real life is not easy to many people.

In US, according to a USA Today report, 1/3 of the population is obese! Though the number might be an exaggeration, I do see more obese people around than 10 to 20 years ago. The root cause is those people eat too much with not enough or little physical activities. The other extreme of the proof of the principle is what happened in some African countries where there is famine, Somali for example. All I see on TV was people there - adults and children alike - were skinny because they had little to eat! Enough of the negative examples.

My Approach

Exercise regularly: jogging twice a week two miles each time on weekends; walking twice daily on weekdays - during morning break and after lunch. Have early dinner ( 3- 4 hours before bed time) and no food after dinner. I wrote about this a year ago in the post "Staying Fit and Young". It really works. My weight is typically +/- 5 lbs of my healthy weight of my college time.

Talking with friends and family about my approach, I realized that it was necessary to add a bit details to the approach.

My Methods


Many people who finally decided to exercise usually set a very high standard for themselves - like excise 30 minutes a day, run 1 mile a day and do 30 sit-ups everyday ....To most people this is not sustainable, and thus they usually give up the exercise in a week or two, even a day or two, and end up with no exercise at all.

I have a two-tier exercise routine - walk 15 minutes twice a day, around 10am and after lunch during weekdays at work; jogging 2 miles twice a week on weekends. When I am too busy at work, I will skip 10am exercise, and shorten the after lunch walk time. When I don't feel well or there are many household matters to take care of during the weekend, I would cut the two mile jogging to 1 mile or even half mile.The key is flexible on the amount of exercise but keep the routine going - to make it a habit.

Last Saturday we had a few things going on in the household - Nicholas's recovery from a prolonged fever, and Justin's Science Fair, my routine was disrupted. So I exercised a little bit during our library trip - I left Nicholas in the library to look for his books and I walked around the pound behind the library for 15 minutes or so.

Controlled eating time

This practice involves no dieting at all except time control: Have early dinner ( 3- 4 hours before bed time) and no food after dinner.

I was +5 lb over my optimal weight about 4 years ago. I practiced the eating time control rigorously. On top of the time control, I had been really busy, and within a year, I was at -2lb. My doctor noticed the weight change during my annual physical, but he also noticed that all my blood indices were at optimum. However  my weight continued to drop due to the fact that I was used to the practice and I had been really busy at work. I was at -5 lb to my optimum weight and looked skinny in 2009/2010!! I was at -7lb for a day after our 2009 ski trip adventure.

I decided to reverse my eating control from no food after dinner to have some snacks after dinner every day since 2011. On top of that I  was also determined to have a minimum of 8 hour sleep a night. After a year of feeding after dinner and ~ 7 hour minimum sleep time, I reached +3.5 lb at mid February from -5lb a year ago .

Mindful of the momentum of weight gaining, I decided to restart the practice of "no snack after dinner" again. Once I had the habit of having snack at late hours, it was hard to get rid of it. For a few days, I just felt hungry around 10pm and went on to have some snacks. I knew I was not hungry, the feel of hunger was due to the eating habit. My solution was to drink some water when I felt hungry after dinner. Within a couple of days,  the urge to eat at night was gone. Now I am back to my controlled eating - "have early dinner (on or before 7pm) and no snack after dinner."

Exercise regularly, early dinner and no food after dinner are all it takes to maintain one's optimum weight.

No need of lap band surgery, no need of dieting, and no need of medicine for weight loss.


1) I monitor my weight weekly at work where I use a regularly-calibrated scale at nurse station. My ideal range of weight is +2lb/-1 lb of optimal weight.

2) On special occasions, I do eat really late and eat a lot - like Thanksgiving night, New Year's Eve. What I do next day or two is all veggie for food, more exercise than usual

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