Monday, December 26, 2011
It's that time of year when everyone gets ready to start a fresh new year by setting themselves up for failure: "I'm not going to eat sweets" or "I'm going to work out for two hours every single day" or "I'm never going to eat more than 1200 calories in a day."
If you are like most New Year's resolvers, you will violate your resolution within a week - quite possibly on New Year's Day itself. And then a little voice in the back of your head will be saying, "You were a loser from the very beginning of 2012." And at the end of 2012, when people are looking back and asking if anyone kept their resolutions, that little voice will be saying, "No, you were a loser!"
And we wonder why we don't feel good about ourselves.
Two years ago I decided I was done with subtractive resolutions, the kind of things that are all about sacrifice. Instead, I decided that I would make New Year's Goals, positive, definitive actions that, when accomplished, I could point at and say, "yup, I did that!" My first goal was to learn to juggle, and by the end of the year, I had learned to juggle three balls. I was ecstatic. Last year I resolved to learn to bake sourdough bread, and we have lovely bread all the time now.
Making a goal of something you want to learn is so much more positive than a resolution of self-prohibition that you have to police all year. It's happy-making!
My goal this year is to participate in Ohio's Pedal to the Point bike ride to benefit MS research ( main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?p
g=entry&fr_id=16221 ). There is definitely a huge fitness component in getting ready for that ride, but it has a definitive goal, and as we are friends with people who are heavily invoved, a big fun component as well.
What's your goal for the coming year?
Friday, December 23, 2011
I love Spark People, but there are times when reading the message boards and blog posts makes me intensely sad. Because I see people completely ignoring the message of Spark People and continuing to make the terrible mistakes the the multi-billion-dollar diet industry thrives upon. I see 200-pound people talking about their 1200-calorie eating regime, I see people exercising at a high intensity for 3 or 4 hours a day, every day. I watch people crowing over this week's triumph, and know that they are setting themselves up for next year's disaster.
But I feel like I can't just go around to everyone's journal and play Cassandra, continually predicting future sorrow and woe. For one thing, like Cassandra's, my words would be very unwelcome and mostly ignored, anyway.
So I'll get this off my chest here and now: nothing you are doing to lose weight and get into shape will be successful unless it's sustainable for the rest of your life.
If we look at the research and statistics, it's clear that weightloss is a health improvement with terrible long-term results. Between 75% and 95% of the people who lose weight using any method regain it - and often even more, ending up heavier than when they started. Furthermore, the weight they lose is generally at least 1/3 lean muscle mass, while the weight they gain back is almost completely fat. So when they get back to their original weight, they are actually in much worse shape than if they'd never lost the weight in the first place.
The sad thing is that I'm probably not telling anyone reading this anything that they don't already know. And yet here we all are, striving to be the ones who beat those odds.
That's not a bad thing, in and of itself. Working hard to improve ourselves is generally a good thing to do. But doing it in a way that sabotages our own efforts is foolish and crazy.
Dramatically undereating damages our metabolisms and actually slows weightloss. It also means that when we go back to eating normally we will gain weight much faster. Our bodies use about 10 calories per pound just for normal, baseline functioning. So that 200-pound person has a maintenance level of 2000 calories. If she works out enough to burn 300 additional calories a day, her maintenance level is 2300 calories. Therefore, to lose at a safe, 1 pound a week rate, she should be at a 500 calorie deficit, and so eating 1800 calories a day. Minimum. If she eats only 1200 calories a day, her body will perceive itself as starving, she will stop losing weight, and her energy level will bottom out. Then when her body demands food again and she find herself eating uncontrollably, those extra calories will pack on extra pounds because her metabolism is trained to use them much too efficiently. Self-sacrifice = failure, time and time again.
Likewise, it's great to train hard, but if that training is so hard that we eventually suffer injury or are otherwise unable to continue with that level of training, our bodies will deteriorate at an appalling rate. Again, self sacrifice = failure.
So how do we actually succeed at this game? By doing now what we will be able to sustain and accepting that our level of sustainability might not lead us to our "perfect" weight, but can get us to our ideal weight, the weight at which we can live a healthy and sustainable life. That's probably a higher weight than your dream. It's probably a size 10-12, rather than a size 4-6.
Yes, some women will find this notion appalling. But ask yourself: would you rather have years of pictures to look back on where you're a size that can be bought in any department store, or a handful of pictures from those few months when you were spectacularly skinny to dwell over for all the years you're a size 20 or larger?
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Stuck at the airport for many hours, still two more before we depart, assuming the plane doesn't end up even later. Doing Spark on my iPhone, which is a slow and clunky process. But hey, it's not like I'm going anywhere!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I've been on Spark for 3 months now. What have I accomplished?
-20 pounds lost
-Increased flexibility and stamina
-10,000 Spark Points earned, as of posting this blog entry
-Increased awareness of my health
-I've had fun!
I've managed to inherit a Spark Team, become a Spark Community Member, and found a tremendous amount of inspiration and support here.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I worked out extra-hard yesterday, and wow am I feeling it today. It's time for me to go do my workout, and my body is not extracting itself from this couch with any alacrity.
But hey, if we only work out on the days when it's easy, pretty soon there aren't any days when it's easy. So I am on my way, because I feel more positive every single day that I start with my workout.
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