News from Shape Up America!
July 2007
Shape Up America! Newsletter


How to Stop Regaining After Weight Loss
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
Many people lose substantial amounts of weight - again and again. Surprisingly, few studies have focused on the issue of weight regain and how to prevent it. A recent study1 has made a significant contribution to addressing this need. Using data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers studied 1,300 U.S. adults aged 20 to 84 years who were once overweight or obese and who had lost at least 10% of their body weight. Of these people, 8% were still losing weight, 59% were maintaining their weight loss, and the remainder had regained their weight.

Some of the factors associated with a higher risk of weight regain were:

  • Mexican American ethnicity
  • Losing more than 20% of initial body weight
  • More recent substantial weight loss
  • More hours sitting in front of a screen (TV, computer, or video screen)
  • Sedentary lifestyle (failing to be at least moderately active 30 minutes or more each day)

In this study, eating out more frequently was associated with weight regain, but the association missed reaching statistical significance.

The strength of this study is that it focuses on an ethnically diverse nationally representative population that is typical of U.S. adults. To my knowledge, this study is the first to report a greater tendency to regain weight among Mexican Americans, a troubling finding that needs to be studied further to identify genetic and/or cultural factors that may play a role.

This study, like so many others, points to the importance of reducing screen time - whether the screen is a TV, computer or video. Plus, it reinforces the importance of a more active lifestyle which has long been identified as a key element in weight maintenance.

It is not surprising that people who lost larger amounts of weight and those who did so more recently were at higher risk for weight regain. The skills associated with keeping weight off are different from losing weight, and those skills often take more than one weight-loss attempt to learn and sustain. Weight maintenance strategies include:

  • Anticipating challenges such as a wedding celebration or party and planning a strategy to enjoy yourself while maintaining control of your eating.
  • Monitoring your weight, percentage body fat or your waistline on a regular basis, so you can take immediate action if your weight starts to increase.
  • Setting up a system to periodically reward yourself (with a non-food reward) for successful weight maintenance.
  • Using yoga or meditation to help manage stress and to stay focused on sustaining your commitment to healthy eating and a more active lifestyle.

The maintenance of weight loss is rather like a good marriage - you have to work on it every day!

Push Ups - Another Look at a Classic Exercise
This month we review a classic exercise for training the upper body — the push up. The push up tones and strengthens muscles in the chest, shoulders and triceps (the muscles located on the back of your upper arms).

Here are two basic points that are essential for an effective push up.

1) Maintain a straight line from your heels to your head. A common mistake when doing push ups is to send your rear end up into the air so your body looks more like a tent than a flat board. Make up your mind now that you are going to do fewer reps, and use correct form for each rep. For the beginner's push up, keep your body straight all the way from your head to your knees, and for the regular push up, keep it straight all the way from your head to your heels.

The beginner's push up (Figure 1) and the regular push up (Figure 2) are shown below.

2) Your chest must touch the ground. Touching your chest to the ground is important because this means that you have pushed your muscles through their full range of motion. This is essential if you want to get the greatest benefit from this exercise. Here again, think about good form rather than a large number of reps.

To begin this exercise, start with the beginner's push up (Figure 1). It is perfectly OK to do just a few reps to start. Work up VERY slowly to a complete set of 15 reps. After several weeks or months, when you are ready, you can increase your sets until you reach the goal of three sets of 15 reps. You can then progress to the regular push up (Figure 2). You should not progress to the next level until you can successfully complete the push ups using proper form.

A point of variation is hand spacing. You can start with your hands slightly greater than shoulder's width apart. Once you have worked your way up to three sets of 15 reps of the regular push up, you can then start to vary your hand spacing. The further your hands are apart, the more your chest muscles will be worked. The closer your hands are together, the more your triceps muscles will be worked.

With two body positions and three hand positions (wide, shoulder width, and closer together), you have six different variations of the push up that you can use in your workouts.

Figure 1: Beginner's push up

Figure 2: Regular push up

My Story
Frightening words by the doctor got Ernie to change his life. Now, with 120 fewer pounds to carry around, Ernie is healthier, fitter, and proud of his accomplishments-deservedly so!

When I was eight years old, I broke my leg. I went on to break it three more times. I was of average weight until I got into high school where it was 222 pounds. I am 63 years old and in the winter of 2005, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I, too, suffered from hypertension, sleep apnea, a replaced right hip and a replaced left knee.

My mother died from a massive heart attack when she was 49 years old. Well, when I was 60 years old, a drastic change came over my life. I now weighed 349 pounds and was gaining more! That is when the doctor saved my life and told me that I had about six months to live before I had a serious heart attack.

I changed my life. It has been a little over two years and I have lost about 120 pounds and have 40 more to go. I no longer take any type of diabetes medicine. Most of the time my sugar level is well under 100.

I owe my life to this doctor. I now ride my bike anywhere from 10 to 35 miles per day! And the results are startling to all the people who knew me before. I live in a small town of about 900 people and everyone knows that I am the man who rides his bike throughout the year regardless of the cold weather.

My life has changed from where I was dying to one where I am extremely proud of my accomplishment. The rewards are clothes, sitting in a restaurant booth, being able to use a urinal, not being ashamed of myself.

I did not use Weight Watcher's or any other diet program. I cut out the sweets. I did use the AA program (Alcoholics Anonymous). It was a great help. Lastly, I am going to write a book about an "obese" man whose life has changed.

If you would like to share your personal success story and be an inspiration to others who desire to lose weight, simply use our story submission system on the SUA website.

Recipe of the Month
July is National Blueberry Month. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, compounds that help protect against chronic diseases and give berries their deep blue color. Blueberries are also a good source of fiber. This refreshing cold soup is ideal on a hot summer day.
Makes 4 servings


  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen blueberries, defrosted
  • 2 cups fat-free or low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2-3/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh), or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, or to taste
  • Zest of 1 navel orange
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup diced fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches, nectarines, mango, or a mixture of any or all)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche* and 12 small mint leaves, for garnish (optional)


  1. In a blender, purée blueberries and half the buttermilk until completely smooth. Add remaining buttermilk, orange juice, honey, zest and cinnamon (if using). Process until mixture is smooth.
  2. Chill soup at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. About 30 minutes before serving, remove soup from refrigerator and let stand. Just before serving, divide fruit among 6 shallow soup bowls. Gently add soup base to each bowl.
  4. For garnish, gently spoon a dollop of crème fraîche (or a substitute, see below) in the center of each serving and surround diced fruit with 3 mint leaves. Serve immediately.
*As a substitute for crème fraîche, combine 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream with a small amount of superfine sugar, to taste.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 165 calories, 1 gram total fat, less than 1 gram saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams dietary fiber, 5 grams protein, 131 milligrams sodium.

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research,

phone: 406-686-4844

Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends or colleagues (click on Forward e-mail below). If you have not yet signed up for your own FREE monthly online subscription, or would like more information on Shape Up America!, go to Email addresses are maintained solely for newsletter use. Shape Up America! will not sell, rent, or share your address with a third party for non-newsletter purposes. Past issues are available at our newsletter archive.

Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD

Forward e-mail

This email was sent to, by

Shape Up America! | PO Box 149 | Clyde Park | MT | 59018