Friday, April 02, 2010
There was an interesting article in the April 1 Toronto Globe and Mail which I'm pretty sure wasn't an April Fools joke: "Most Canadian dieters can't keep pounds off, poll finds".
If you want the link, here it is:
In a nutshell, a recent Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation poll found that only 17% of those who were overweight and took weight off were able to keep at least five pounds off for five years. For those who were obese, only 8% who lost weight were able to keep five pounds off for five years. And I'm guessing that the US stats are probably comparable.
Why weren't even these modest successes sustainable, according to the Canadian research? What you'd expect: fad diets; too-rapid weight loss; lack of professional advice. But the number one reason why the weight crept back on is lack of support after the initial "diet" plan. To sustain weight loss, people have to stick with the nutrition plan for the long term. And without support most people can't do that.
Over the past 30 years, obesity has doubled in the 40-69 age group and tripled in the 20 to 39 age group. It's a serious health problem: we all know that. And people are spending lots of money to try and lose weight -- 42% of dieters spent more than $500 a year on their efforts to lose weight. The younger the dieter, the more he or she spends.
The article doesn't say so, but I'm cynical enough to believe that commercial weight loss programmes have a vested interest in sustaining -- not weight loss -- but weight recidivism. If their customers pack it all back on, those customers are more likely to come back to the commercial weight loss programme and spend their hefty weight loss dollars all over again. For commercial weight loss programmes, the profit motive may conflict with supporting maintenance.
So: what about SparkPeople?
Are we beating these odds? I'll bet we are. I'll bet that among those who've been on SP for more than 5 years and started in the overweight category, more than 17% have kept more than 5 pounds off. I'll bet more than 8% of those who were obese when they started have kept more than 5 pounds off. Way more. SP is all about healthy lifestyle, slow weight loss, tons of professional advice and above all SUPPORT. And SP is all about free: we certainly know that SP services aren't costing anyone anything. So there's no incentive for SP to withdraw support during the crucial maintenance phase. On the contrary.
I'm not a five year member -- I only started SP in May 2009. But I have maintained weight loss (with just a lilttle blip) for over five years. And yup, I was obese. That initial 80 pound weight loss was accomplished between June 2001 and February 2002. Seven years later, in February 2009, I'd found 20 of those pounds again. That was my blip. And maybe I had some pretty compelling health problem distractions . . . which would be an explanation but absolutely no excuse justifying my temporary loss of focus! Actually, risk of recurrence increases with weight -- all the more reason to keep weight under control .
And I knew that. Which is why after joining SP in May 2009 I'd taken the 20 "blip" pounds off again by July 2009, and I've kept them off since then. With the help of SP nutrition and exercise trackers, expert information and an amazingly supportive community I've sustained my maintenance range of 150-155 for 8 months.
When I huddle on my At Goal and Maintaining team, I regularly signal "MAINtaining!". That's my shorthand for "maintaining is my MAIN goal". And it is. Because maintaining for me is more important than ever. And because maintaining for me will always be harder than losing.
First of all, it's pretty clear that SP is offering everything that the Canadian researchers identify as essential to weight loss maintenance. Which means that SP has to be beating those kinda dismal 17% and 8% 5 pound/5 year stats, doncha suppose? But by how much? How're we doing, stats wise? How many of us have lost weight and kept it off? How much weight? And for how long??
And second: can the SP site be tweaked to focus even more on maintaining weight loss? I do notice that some members vanish swiftly or drift away a little more slowly once they've accomplished their weight loss. Which is fine if that works for them, of course. But for those "losers" who leave, we can only wonder how successful they are in keeping the weight off without the support of the SP community. What are the stats on "at goal" members dropping out? Regaining? Coming back? And what suggestions can SP members offer SP coaches and site administrators to make the maintenance phase just as cohesive and supportive as the weight loss phase?
We're participating in an amazing experiment, which seems to be completely in accord with the cutting-edge sustainable weight-loss research. When you're losing weight, it's hard work but it's also dramatic and immensely rewarding as the compliments flow in and you can fit into smaller and smaller sizes of new clothes and you feel healthier and healthier. Maintaining can be much less exciting, much less glamorous, attract much less attention -- especially if better appearance rather than improved health was the main goal (vanity is a powerful motivator!!). And it can be a bit dismaying to realize that weight loss doesn't solve all our other problems! That's when weight can creep back on. That's why figuring out how to sustain weight loss has to matter more than the initial weight loss for each one of us. And for our families, our friends, and our communities -- virtual and real!
MAINtaining is my main thing -- and as over time SP builds a community with more and more maintainers in it, I'm guessing that SP will focus more and more on support of weight loss maintenance.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
My microwave omelette maker is a wonderful invention. Today I whisked two large Omega + eggs with a tablespoon of water, salt and freshly ground pepper, sprayed the omelette maker, poured the mixture equally into both sides and microwaved on full power for 1 minute. Next, I stirred in the liquid edges, thinly sliced two fresh mushrooms on top (one for each side) and added a scant handful of fresh arugula. Back into the microwave for another minute, and then I closed the omelette maker to let it rest while I chopped three red and three yellow cherry tomates for garnish.
Breakfast "dessert" was a few fresh blackberries, three large fresh sliced strawberries and a half cup of fresh raspberries with a dollop of non fat sugar free vanilla yogout.
Visually quite marvellous. Both hunger and soul satisfying. And (let's get technical) total price just 253 calories. For which I bought 19 gm protein and all kinds of vitamins/minerals zinging around my system for sure.
Speaking of zinging there were also three cups (yes, three!!!) of black coffee. Freshly ground Columbian beans made in a French press. Served in my special snowdrops mug, in honour of the snowdrops outside my door. As I've told STLRZGRRL, coffee is my only remaining sin.(And I just wish it were true).
All of this savoured with a good read of the Toronto Globe and Mail.
OK, not entirely dolce far niente. Because this was while I fed Charlie and tidied the kitchen and did the laundry and started a fresh pot of soba edamame soup simmering on the stove.(Yup, multi-tasking r us).
It's sunny, it's Saturday, and yesterday I saw my first robin. The rotw (rest of the weekend) stretches ahead. Time hasn't picked up speed just yet. Simple simple pleasures.
What's not to like??
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Right up against the warm red bricks of my house, on the south side: snowdrops!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I've just read a remarkable blog by DEBRA_T called Inside the Mind of the Fat Self. Here's the link.
Please take a look -- it deserves to be voted "most popular" just because it's so clear and unblinking about all of the insidious and toxic "right now" excuses which are characteristic of the "Fat Self".
I know these excuses intimately. I battle them every day, and always will. I read them with that flash of self-recognition that signals "This is good stuff, this is true stuff".
So DEBRA-T's blog made me think. What goes on instead inside the mind of the Thin Self?
Maybe some of these thoughts:
I'm guessing that you're becoming a Thin Self when you require yourself to postpone food-based gratifications most of the time.
That would be because the Thin Self defines gratification more precisely as something other than unlimited french fries right now because everyone else is having them and besides I've had a really bad day and besides I've been so good and besides I don't want everyone else to think that I care about being fat which they might think if I didn't have them too and besides I can't enjoy myself unless I do and I deserve to enjoy myself right now because it's hard to enjoy myself because I'm so fat unless of course I'm eating so I'll have them right now.
Breathlessly scarfing them back so fast I scarcely taste them before I think about what I'm doing.
What does the Thin Self get out of this willingness to postpone instant caloric gratification?
When I achieve it, I recognize the thrill of NOT feeling bloated, out of control, despairing.
For example, waking up without experiencing self-loathing first thing.
And falling asleep without experiencing self-loathing last thing.
Although I'm pretty sure that the Thin Self cannot be noble and exalted at all times. Not likely. Because in my limited experience, a significant percentage of the Thin Self's rewards are relatively trivial --
For example, being able to buy pretty clothes. Silly shoes. Looking good. Hearing compliments.
All superficial, sure. And probably not enough to sustain the Thin Self when the new wardrobe becomes taken for granted. Or when the compliments, stop as the compliments will when people around you come to take it for granted that you're not fat. Have forgotten you ever were fat. Maybe never even knew you when you were fat.
Which is why there has to be some other much more important stuff that the Thin Self experiences. The stuff which is key to maintaining weight loss, which means the stuff that is key to maintaining postponement of instant gratification.
Because the Thin Self does not live merely Inside the Mind. The Thin Self is a Mind. But also a Body. And a Spirit.
The Thin Self is a Body which delights in the uniquely personal sensation of moving within your own skin. The delicious pleasure of toned muscles. Strength. Resilience. Balance. Endurance.
The Thin Self knows the spiritual benefits of doing everything possible to stay healthy. Because that is how we experience self caring. Which is the foundation of the ability to care for any other person or community or cause -- the bedrock of caring about anything else at all.
The Thin Self feels happy. Which is not beer ad euporia. Not a temporary instant fix kind of self-indulgence. Not complacency and self-righteousness. Because this is tough. A constant battle never won: a constant battle worthy of being constantly fought.
There are evitable disasters and irritations. These are, let's face it, an inevitable part of everyone's lives. But the Thin Self has the strength to weather those, to wait them out. To weight them out, according them the attention that they really merit, without the false comfort of eating to excess to get through them.
And so some of the time -- increasingly more of the time -- eventually most of the time?? the Thin Self experiences contentment. Conscious contentment.
An integration of body and spirit and mind.
An awareness of the intense potential for pleasure that surrounds each of us all of the time. Which is there for the noticing, there for the taking, there for the experiencing.
Just for being fully alive.
I aspire to being a Thin Self!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It's official: one year post dx, all tests normal and I'm healthy!
Big sigh of relief. (Didn't entirely realize how much worry I've been ignoring, more or less successfully!)
And big thanks to all SP friends who have been so kind and so supportive.
One year ago I had received the bad news, was scared, waiting for surgery, wondering what would happen next, and stress eating to the point of adding 20 pounds in a matter of about eight weeks. Once I'd recovered from the surgery, I signed up for SparkPeople in May, started tracking my food diligently and rebuilding my fitness with cardio and weights.
Here I am: the twenty pity party pounds peeled off again (since July), completely recovered from radiation therapy (including fatigure) and in week 6 of 9 in the podrunner intervals training, steadily working my way back to a 5 k steady run.
There are pink and yellow tulips on the kitchen table. Despite fresh snow in the back yard the days getting longer and spring is around the corner.
Life is good, I'm feeling good, and did I mention how grateful?
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