Monday, January 02, 2012
DDOORN sent me a link to an amazing article in a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine setting out current research into weight loss "recividism" . . . a topic dear to the hearts of many of us.
Well, I'm choosing to characterize it as "amazing" rather than overwhelming. And "dear" to our hearts rather than devastating!!
But you'll have to make up your own mind!! Here's the link:
The article also has a slide show illustrating the weight loss history of a couple who track everything they eat and exercise vigorously pretty much every day. And despite all of that, have not been able to keep their weight loss at the level they would prefer. Although they are maintaining at very substantially less than their prior obese weight levels.
So: what's the take away?
Yes, it's true. It may be hard to lose weight. But it really IS harder to maintain weight loss. So hard that most people don't do it.
And yeah: those of us who have lost substantial amounts of weight really do struggle with how very difficult it is to keep it off. We're not just imagining it. We're not just making excuses for ourselves. That's because there really is a measurable biological tendency -- both metabolic and hormonal -- to put it all back on again. The measurable biological tendency is the reason the article is called "The Fat Trap".
Even a year after weight loss, we produce measurably more ghrelin -- the hormone that makes you feel hungry -- and measurably less leptin-- the hormone that suppresses appetite -- than an "average" person who has never been obese.
It really is as if our bodies are trying desperately to return to their previous weight. Our post-dieting bodies morph into a biologically-altered state. And that tendency to regain weight is sustained for quite a long period of time . . . years, maybe six years or even longer.
Moreover, this new research indicates that those of us who have been obese will regain weight eating fewer calories than those who have never been obese. The change isn't just hormonal, it's metabolic too. That's why never-obese people may be able to eat 300 ++ more calories a day than formerly-obese people can eat, without gaining weight. In addition, a formerly-obese person probably burns fewer calories per minute of any given exercise than a person who has never been obese. DOUBLE WHAMMY!!
So my somewhat cranky perception that I'm hungrier than other people, that I have less will-power than other people, that I simply can't eat as much as other people eat AND that I have to exercise more than other people have to exercise so maintain the same "average weight: there's now some scientific support for all of those perceptions.
Which means it really does take eternal vigilance to maintain weight loss. I've gotta be prepared to treat hunger as something less than an emergency. I've gotta be prepared to re-arrange my environment to avoid temptation. I've gotta eat less than the 1800 calories a day an "average" woman of my height and weight could eat, and I've gotta move more.
It's not going to stop any time soon.
And perhaps means that the best strategy would be never to have permitted myself to have become obese in the first place.
Well, that train has left the station. I was obese. Haven't been obese for almost a decade, but I still want to eat too much. And not move enough. Every day.
Is all of this too discouraging? Should I give up right now?
No. That's my hormonal and metabolic reality. I'm stuck with it. I can't change it, perhaps. But I can manage it.
I used to smoke, too. No cigarettes for more than 30 years -- not one -- but I still feel like smoking most days. However, I know that smoking is a craving I can manage. Because I have managed it.
I can also manage the desire to eat more than I am able to eat without gaining weight. Even if that means eating less than "normal" weight people can eat. I can tolerate some hunger. Because: I would rather be hungry than fat.
There it is.
Don't like it particularly.
But: oh well.
And thank you DDORN -- Don -- for sharing this article with me!! It's comforting, anyhow, to know that I'm not crazy. This weight maintenance thing really does demand the kind of OCD energy and attention I have been devoting to it.
But given the alternative . . . uncomfortably excess weight, all the health consequences that go with excess weight: no question. For me it is worth it.
Sunday, January 01, 2012
OK, had to change my weight tracker this morning to 142. Up from 140. And not the middle 3 which is what I aim for.
Hmmmm. I've been trying to get back to middle 3 for a couple of months. Without success. Have weighed myself every day. Have seen a swing between 140 and 143.5. Have seen exasperating flutters below to that middle number 3, but the scales have never been "resting" at middle 3 since about late October.
Despite the fact that I have been tracking. Diligently. And have been only very rarely over my calorie range. Even through the holiday season.
On the other hand, I have not been getting to the gym as often as I should -- particularly since the golf course closed for the season. But I have been at the gym at least a couple times a week.
However, I know that exercise (although important for mood, toning, cardio fitness) has little to do with weight loss maintenance for me. Counting calories, balancing fat/protein/carbs: that's what does it. I can never exercise enough to eat remotely close to whatever I want. I have to tolerate hunger, which is not an emergency: and I have. I must eat sitting down every time: and I need to renew my commitment to that basic principle! (Although yes, I've tracked what I've eaten standing up!)
Now the long term and more recent history.
Waaaay back in June 2001 I had weighed a whopping 230. Heaviest ever. Size 18-20. And I had taken off 80 pounds, down to 150, by February 2002. Mostly kept it off. But I had also permitted a gradual increase of those 20 (pity party) pounds or so by 2009: about 10 pounds very quickly, feeling sad and scared after breast cancer diagnosis early in 2009.
My goal weight, set by SP in 2009 when I signed up, was 155. In May 2009 I weighed about 173. And I achieved SP goal weight within a couple months of joining SP. So grateful to SP. Got back into my size 10s. And some 8s. Then I fluctuated up and down 10 pounds or so.
June 2001: 230.
February 2002: 150
May 2009: 173.
August 2009: 155
January 2011: 163
August 2011: 138
January 2012: 142
So: a year ago, I weighed 20 pounds more than right now. That was the point at which SLENDERERLLA introduced me to the Judith S. Beck cognitive psychology approach in her great book, "The Diet Solution", and I learned to "think like a thin person". Saw middle 3. Stayed there for quite a number of months over the summer. And moved comfortably into quite a number of size 6s!
So here's the question, adopting Judith S. Beck's distinction between lowest achievable weight and lowest sustainable weight.
Was 138 my lowest achievable weight? And is 140-142 my lowest sustainable weight?
My waist measurement is still under 28", hips under 38", neck under 13": size 6s all still fitting.
But: I do not want to put on any more weight. I do not want to adopt an attitude of complacency which will see me fluctuate up 10 or 20 pounds again.
And: I would like to see a middle number 3 again.
There is it. I do not want to fluctuate more than 2-3 pounds. It's not healthy for me with my history of estrogen-positive breast cancer.
I'll continue to aim for the middle 3. And continue to explore whether it's just achievable (temporarily), or perhaps sustainable.
When I'm working out, I'm not eating! So for that reason alone, it could not hurt to step up the exercise. My gym is open today. Apparently the cross country ski trails are open too (although it's pretty icy and crusty out there).
Eternal vigilance. I'm doing OK with weight loss maintenance. I can live with 140-143. But I want to do just a little better.
Above all, I want to stabilize my weight without fluctuation other than normal water retention/salt/biological swings. Two or three pounds.
That's the goal. And I'm making turkey soup broth from the bones I'd stored in the freezer!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
My second pot of narcissus has been much more successful: the first bloom opened Christmas day, and now I have clusters of them. Love the scent, love the shape, love the whiteness against sparkling white snow outside the kitchen window.
And: my pink amaryllis was also in bloom when I got home from work today. It's got four flowers on the main stem (two open, two to come) and another large bud on a secondary stem about to surge up too. The second amaryllis (an orange one) is just beginning to grow . . .
We are running out of food much more quickly with both children at home. When I went to the grocery store after work yesterday, the boxes containing narcissus bulbs/earth/pot had been just marked down to just $1 a box!
So you can bet I snaffled up two more kits right away!! I'll get them planted up this coming weekend.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Don't really know: but yeah, much too much!!
Cinnamon bun and fresh fruit salad for breakfast. Quite a few appetizers. Mostly shrimp, raw veggies with humus/salsa . . . but also a couple of cheesie pastries. And two Virgin Caesars.
And then: a small serving of each of everything I'd put on the table. Turkey, stuffing, smashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, corn, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, a small croissant with butter and . . . I simply clocked in somebody's 2011 Thanksgiving Dinner on the nutrition tracker as a kind of proxy -- such a wild number that it's gotta be more than I actually ate -- - and that person had very kindly included fat and protein and calories and carbs. Thank you!!
It was a great day -- family, friends, music, laughter, some lovely gifts: and too much food. My brother-in-law brought home made-lemon blueberry cheesecake and I even had a sliver of that! -- with a tiny sliver of cherry pie!!.
And now I'm taking all of it to the gym.
I very very rarely eat those kind of foods. Today I'm reminded of why I don't: my digestive system is simply not geared up to accommodate them! Not just the calories, but in particular that amount of fat. And that length of time sitting, although believe me, I also did a lot of zooming around the kitchen wrassling everything onto the table. Even my patented "pre fab" approach (frozen pre-stuffed turkey, canned cranberry sauce with add-ins, canned turkey gravy with thyme and sage etc. etc. ) does not eliminate all of the labour!
Suffice it to say, I had more than an elegant satiety. I know that I'll feel much much better when I've burned a little of it on the elliptical cross trainer. And done a lower body ST workout!
Bring it on!!
Friday, December 23, 2011
. . . . . and it must have been difficult. Worrying.
Money worries? Certainly: the taxes were due, after all. Not easy.
Riding a donkey to Bethlehem at 8.9 months pregnant? Not easy.
No room in the inn, having to labour and deliver in a stable? Not easy.
And then accepting that she was the mother of the Messiah? Couldn't have been easy at all.
But: (and meaning no disrespect, absolutely none) Mary only had to do it once. Once only.
Moreover, she had lots of help.
The greetings department was expertly managed by a heavenly host of angels. Better than Christmas cards or emails: no trips to the post office, no stamps, no inbox overloads from photo blogs.
The shepherds visiting handled all the travel arrangements themselves. No pickups at the airport or the bus station.
Gift shopping? Thank to the magi, all wrapped up and delivered. No Visa bills after the event.
House cleaning? Not a big concern, under the circumstances. Maybe a little extra hay spread around.
Baking? The baby Jesus wasn't yet interested in gingerbread houses. No shortbread required for refreshments after the church pageant.
Decorating? One big star seems to have done the trick.
Music? A little lowing from the cattle . . . that apparently sufficed.
But since that first Christmas, all over the world women make Christmas happen over and over again, year after year, for their families. Maybe you're helping your mother and your sisters. Or it's your first time alone, Your fifth. Perhaps you've done it thirty times. Will do it fifty times, or more. In your lifetime. With help from your daughter as you get older.
Because in most families, it still is women who do most of the work. Who make Christmas happen. For everyone. Their own families, their relatives, and anyone who needs a place to go that special day so as not to be alone.
Okay, we're not pregnant every year. But most of us have been pregnant (or with young children) quite a few Christmases And young, middle aged, or getting on in years we still handle the visitors, the cleaning, the gift shopping, the wrapping, the grocery shopping, the baking, the meal planning, the decorations, the entertainment, the . . . yeah. All of that.
And did I mention, we also get ourselves all dooded up a bit too? Hair. Makeup. A pretty seasonal outfit. That's also suitable for leaning into a hot oven and lifting out a fully stuffed turkey??
Mary did it once. Once only, And by all accounts she kept it simple.
As I sit down in my house (decorated) with a fridge full of groceries and a small mound of gifts (wrapped) I think of Mary.
And what she did, once. Simply. Magnificently. Joyously.
What all of us have done over the past month. And what all of us will do, over the next 48 hours.
Mary Christmas? We are!! And Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas!!
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