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That New York Times story on the Biggest Loser contestants and weight regain: Hoo boy.

I think half my Facebook friends shared the link to the New York Times article on the season 8 Biggest Loser contestants and their weight.

Did you read it yet? If not, here's the upshot: We're all screwed.

OK, perhaps that was a bit of an overstatement, but the biggest takeaway is that after weight loss -- be it 10 pounds or 150 pounds, your body fights like hell to get back to your previous weight, lowering your metabolism and sending your leptin levels plunging. You are left a starving sloth.

And just to be clear, it's not the show's fault (so step off, Loser haters!)-- it happens to pretty much everyone who cuts food consumption and increases activity. 

Dr. Kevin Hall, an obesity researcher, followed the contestants for six years after the confetti rained down and found sobering news:

“It is frightening and amazing,” said Dr. Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. “I am just blown away.”

It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.

Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends. So they were not surprised to see that “The Biggest Loser” contestants had slow metabolisms when the show ended.

What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on. It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight.

Here's the leptin part (#sadface):

Slower metabolisms were not the only reason the contestants regained weight, though. They constantly battled hunger, cravings and binges. The investigators found at least one reason: plummeting levels of leptin. The contestants started out with normal levels of leptin. By the season’s finale, they had almost no leptin at all, which would have made them ravenous all the time. As their weight returned, their leptin levels drifted up again, but only to about half of what they had been when the season began, the researchers found, thus helping to explain their urges to eat.

Like I say when I read any of these articles, I'm not discouraged, I'm intrigued. There's no getting around science and facts, so I start Googling.

And, oh, what a load of crap is there on the Internet!

Always check your sources before you click on anything. And when you do find something reputable, make sure they're referencing real studies (footnotes FTW!). 

This morning I Googled "what increases leptin resistance" because that's the key. It's not the amount of leptin that you can increase (without increasing your body fat, and who wants that?) but your sensitivity to the leptin that you still have.

After scrolling past a bunch of unsubstantiated garbage (something to sell me, eh?) I came across this article, 23 Foods That Increase Leptin Sensitivity, on a site called Before I even read the article, I checked its "about us" page, which reads:

Anything we write and publish on is based on proper scientific research. All articles are written by either medical doctors or by premeds and medical students.


In the Medlicker article is a good, layman's-level description of leptin and what it does in the body, which you should read if you have no idea about the hormone. (HERE'S another credible article on leptin from Authority Nutrition.) But the real fun comes with the 23 foods, which include oats, lean protein, green tea, almonds, eggs, beans, lowfat yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables. Funny, it didn't mention diet ice cream and Snackwells. (KIDDING.)

What are the main components of these foods? Pectin, fiber (soluble and insoluble), omega-3's, zinc, calcium and protein. 

Personally, oats, almonds and Greek yogurt are a few of my "happy foods" in that they keep me full for a long time.

So what is my takeaway from the New York Times article? 

Your body tries like the dickens to put back the weight that you lose. I know -- in the past month I actually won a DietBet, which I almost never do, and the loss of those 11 pounds have left me with an almost constant gnawing in my stomach. SHUT. UP. STOMACH. So now that both my cataract surgeries are done and I can go back to the gym, my goal is to focus on strength training, because another reason why metabolism slows is the loss of muscle as you age. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so my goal is to really pump things up. 

Which can make women more hungry.

Oh, FML.

So yesterday, I blended up this thing in the bathroom (I know that sounds gross, but my kitchen is being remodeled and my blender is in the bathroom):

Doctor oz green smoothie drink

It's the Doctor Oz Veggie Flush, which was featured this week on his show. I like what he's doing this month. All this month, he's introducing studied, proven tips that you pick and choose, layering the ones you want on top of each other for weight loss that just might work. So far I've been incorporating a 12-hour fast and this Veggie Flush.

The 12-hour fast wasn't started for weight loss though -- my hiatal hernia was acting up something fierce last week and I figured the less I had in my stomach the better. So from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (or 9 'til 9, 7 'til 7 -- you get the drift) I don't consume anything. The easy thing about this is for 7 to 8 hours of this fast I'm asleep, and since I've been taking Synthroid since the 1980s, I can't eat an hour after I take it in the morning so that's 1 more hour not to eat.  If I busy myself at the computer, it's pretty easy to get to 12 hours.

And the gaping maw at the top of my stomach has calmed down.

The Veggie Flush is a cucumber, two stalks of celery, 2 cups of spinach, a pear and the juice of a lemon, thinned out with a little water (I used a little coconut water). You don't juice it, you process it in the blender, so you're keeping all the fiber from the produce. I used an English cucumber so I didn't peel it -- more fiber! I let it process awhile in my NutriNinja and was impressed that all those celery strings disappeared. 

How does it taste? I liked it a lot. It tastes like a Suja Mighty Greens but thicker. I drank a third of it yesterday and had a third today, and it was even thicker today than it was yesterday. The pear lends just enough sweetness to temper the green flavor. 

The plan with it is to drink it throughout the day whenever you get the urge to eat and it's not meal or snack time. And while I'm tracking my food in My Fitness Pal, I'm not tracking the Veggie Flush because ...

Track celery calories

So, yeah, once again we come to the conclusion that losing weight is hard, keeping it off is harder, and Ben and Jerry's tastes better than celery. 

Carrots and celery

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I like to make "OK, this is IT!" statements on the one thing that's going to fix everything.

Like I'm about to do now.

But honestly, this took like 3 minutes of prep work and saved my bacon last night. Here it is:

Carrots and celery

A Tupperware container of carrot and celery sticks. How old school. (I suppose a Mason jar of kale would have been trendier.)

Last night was the season 16 premiere of "The Biggest Loser" and I was writing my weekly recap (which I am now doing for Fit Bottomed Girls -- yay!). 

As I write the recap, I have been known to nibble through the process, which is not good. Knowing my habits, well before the show began, I grabbed the bags of carrots and celery, cleaned and cut everything and plopped it into a large container. I then gave myself permission to eat those things with abandon (because, really, now ham can you go on carrots and celery?).

And I gave myself some parameters. No salt, no dip, no hummus, not even salsa (I'm trying again to cut down on sodium because I hate waking up with a salt hangover). Just the lovely organic vegetables. (Yes, I splurge on organic vegetables because I feel they taste better.)

So I had my pile of veg and a bottle of water flavored with a packet of True Lemon lemonade (sugar free and made with stevia). 

I made it through "The Biggest Loser" (and a glimpse at that horrific Marlins game) without resorting to pantry grazing and I felt great this morning. OK, sleepy but great. I felt like I was going to tank my meeting with my trainer but honestly, 10 minutes on the rowing machine actually gave me energy to power through the 30 minutes with her. I even powered through two 30-second planks at the end of the workout.

Carrots and celery -- it's my new nighttime jam.

Brought to you by the letter P: Progress, Paleo, packet pickup, Planet Fitness

Welcome to my Friday Brain Dump! Here we go:

Progress: After having a hissy fit yesterday in the shower because the scale hasn't been moving, I slapped myself upside the head and reminded myself that I've been hitting the gym hard and that I am losing fat and gaining muscle, which is okee-dokie with me. The scale will move, sooner than later. I'm working on having two decent snacks in the afternoon and evening and GETTING TO BED EARLIER (oh, why is that such a problem for me!). I feel great, I can physically feel things getting firmer (my knees? yeah, my knees), so I know I'm making progress, healthwise.

Paleo: Today was my last day of a 5-day special deal from DeliverLean, a meal delivery service based in South Florida. I've had the opportunity to try probably every meal delivery service out there and DeliverLean is by far the best. The prices aren't crazy, the portions are decent, the food is really fresh and they offer a variety of eating plans.

A year ago, I wrote a sponsored post about them and stayed on their mailing list, so when I got a "5 days for $99" email, I couldn't pass it up. I chose the Paleo plan and it was really eye opening. 

(I hereby apologize to any and all Paleo eaters who I've mocked in the past. I love eating this way.)

I felt great, the meals were filling even though they averaged around 300 calories each, my stomach didn't make weird noises like it often does and my eczema cleared up. 

I had been cutting back on grains since I did Dr. Mark Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox, so this plan was not a huge change. I plan on finally using the almond and coconut flours in my pantry and replicating the awesome blueberry-almond pancakes and Chunky Monkey muffins that I had in a couple of DeliverLean meals. But don't get me wrong -- I know that those are foods that I'll have sparingly.

Biggest loser runwalk race shirt 2014
Is that a cute race shirt, or what?

Packet pickup: I hustled on down (oh, if only it were that quick!) to Miami this afternoon to pick up my race swag for tomorrow's Biggest Loser Run/Walk 5K in Miami tomorrow morning, which is also my birthday. What a great way to celebrate year 52! The Biggest Loser Run/Walk is one of my favorite races, in that it's extremely inclusive. People of all shapes and speeds take part, either walking or running, and get loads of support along the way and at the finish line. The Miami race, which is at Sun Life Stadium (where the Dolphins play), is one of the first races in the series, which includes 5Ks, half marathons and off-road challenges at Spartan races. (There's a Spartan Race coming up next month in Miami but I am far too clumsy and mud-phobic to take part. But if that's your thing, then knock yourselves out!)

Planet Fitness: The inclusiveness of the Biggest Loser Run/Walk series also is why I love going to Planet Fitness. (Have I told you I'm the mayor of my Planet Fitness on Foursquare? Well, I am. I've never been the mayor of anything, let alone a GYM.) I've been going three times a week, pushing myself hard on the strength-training equipment, something I haven't done in awhile. It feels good to push myself and to see and feel the results (Did I mention my knees? Oh, I did?).

Gotta go. I need to get up at the buttcrack of dawn tomorrow for my birthday race!

Disclosure: I was given a race entry to the Biggest Loser Run/Walk. All opinions are my own.

Run (or walk) with your Biggest Loser faves: A giveaway!

As some of you may know, I'm a "Biggest Loser" fangirl. I've been watching the show since season 1 and have been writing about it since 2007.

I'm also a fan of 5Ks -- they're a totally achievable fitness goal for beginners, especially if you're an avid walker or want to step up your game to running.

When you combine those two things plus a giveaway, I get all giddy and all "I love this! It's totally in line with what I write about!"

BLrunwalkWould you like to take part in a half marathon or 5K with past contestants of the show? I'm giving away two registrations to The Biggest Loser RunWalk in Panama City Beach on Dec. 30 -- only a few weeks away.

Who will be there? Season 5 mother and son duo, Jackie Evans in the 5K and Dan Evans in the half marathon along with Season 8 winner Danny Cahill.

Aside from free entry into the race, you'll get a Biggest Loser RunWalk tech T-shirt, finisher's medal, goodie bag, water and sports drinks along the course and at the finish line, free downloadable photos and a post-race festival and concert.

And if you hang around town after the race, Panama City Beach will hold its Beach Ball Drop where an 800-pound beach ball will be dropped in celebration of the New Year.

Here are the official deets: and The Biggest Loser RunWalk are giving away (1) 5K admission and (1) half marathon admission to The Biggest Loser RunWalk in Panama City Beach on Dec. 30, 2012.

You have five chances to win. Perform one action below, then leave a comment below telling us which you chose. Each action equals an entry. Enter up to five times.

1. SIGN UP for the Biggest Loser RunWalk email newsletter

2. LIKE The Biggest Loser RunWalk AND Shrinking Sisters on Facebook.

3. FOLLOW @BiggestLoserRW and @its_gail on Twitter.

4. LINK to in the sidebar of your website/blog.

5. TWEET about this giveaway with a link to the race information: and giveaway page:

Terms: The Biggest Loser RunWalk Half Marathon/5K giveaway ends at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. You must be 18 years of age and a resident of the United States of America to enter. The winner will be notified by email and listed here. If you are the winner, you’ll have 72 hours to contact us and claim your prize. The giveaway is for admission into the race only. Travel expenses are not included.

Click here for more information about The Biggest Loser RunWalk Half Marathon/5K in Panama City Beach, FL.

Disclosure: I was provided (2) free coupon codes from The Biggest Loser RunWalk to give away to (2) entrants, plus admission to a Biggest Loser RunWalk near me. No other compensation was given.

Tunes for Tuesday, Love Me First, by Trailer Choir

This one isn't a workout  song, per se -- it's more of a motivational boost to the psyche. Y'all probably know I'm a big fan of "The Biggest Loser" and have been recapping the show nearly since the start. On season 11, Vinny Hickerson, aka "Big Vinny," was one of the contestants, and he lost over 180 pounds on the show and more once the season was over. He's maintaining that loss (you can check him out on his Facebook fan page), and this past weekend he got married.

His bandmate in Trailer Choir wrote this song while Vinny was on the Biggest Loser Ranch, and it's a great reminder that we need to put ourselves first before we can take care of anyone else.

Tunes for Tuesday: Lessons in Love, by Kaskade, feat. Neon Trees

Choosing this song today because it's one of Jillian Michaels' current workout faves, and Jillian announced this morning that she's returning to The Biggest Loser for season 14. Cool, huh? Season 14 will tackle childhood obesity with a special teen segment. You can read more about it at my Examiner page HERE.

My BlogHer highlight: Bob Harper's workout

Me and bob

I'm at BlogHer in San Diego this weekend, and while there are oodles of seminars, lunches and parties, the one thing that I absolutely could not miss was this morning's workout with Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper (I know, right?).

The folks at Quaker, who sponsored the workout and the breakfast, had told me Friday that it was going to be just some "yoga and stretching." Uh, no. It was one of Bob's signature workouts, heavy on the lower-body work. My legs were screaming. And while I can slack off and curse at the TV while doing one of Bob's DVDs, it's a whole other can of whup-ass when he's there, live. (But I did tell him that this was the part of the workout where I start swearing at him at home.)

After the workout, he told his people that he needed to get a photo with me. I strategically wore my Jillian Michaels "Finish It!" shirt because I know the two are pals.

Worked out fabulously, as you can see in the photo above. Much thanks to One Mom Media for uploading the photo.


Want a couple of bits of music off Bob's playlist? He's a big fan of the songs Down With the Trumpets, by Rizzle Kicks and Heaven by Emeli Sande.