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Dieting is Permanent

Sunday, March 04, 2012

I know, I know. The word "diet" is not politically correct. Not here.

We're supposed to be all about "healthy eating" and "healthy lifestyle".

But the truth is, for me: dieting is permanent. I can't sugar coat it ( . . . too many calories, right??)

No choice, no choice, no choice.

I've gotta diet. For the rest of my life.

I've gotta track my calories. Every day. Meticulously. Because at least 80% of weight loss maintenance for me is about nutrition tracking. And that means 100% compliance with my diet. Really. If I aim for 90% compliance, and permit myself to "mess up" once a day, or three times a week -- and average just 100 calories a day "mess up factor" (which is nothing, no gross self-indulgence at all, maybe an extra apple) -- I'll put on 10 pounds a year. Compounding! Ten pounds this year, ten pounds next year, ten pounds every year thereafter . . . yeah.

I've gotta track my exercise. Even though that's less important for weight loss/weight loss maintenance it's vital for cardio health, muscle maintenance. And yeah, I know that muscle maintenance boosts metabolism, but not by much. But above all, exercise is vital for sustained self-discipline. It's vital to sustain my mood of optimism and exuberance. Exercise makes me feel good. That's the main reason it's important for me.

I am not naturally thin. If you hadn't known me in 2001 when I weighed 230 pounds, you might think I'm naturally thin. People tell me that I'm "lucky" to be thin.

But: I'm not. I cannot eat "naturally" unless I want to balloon up to 230 pounds again. Ten pounds at a time. Two hundred and thirty is probably my "natural" weight. Maybe even higher.

And at 230 pounds I'm still hungry. All the time. I can be hungry at 140 or hungry at 230. I'd rather be hungry at 140, savouring my hunger, savouring my size six black levi jeans I bought off the sale rack yesterday . . . for $9!!

"Dieting is permanent. I am not naturally thin. I must be eternally vigilant and avoid the temptations I cannot resist."

That's one of my Beck cards.

Do I like it? No, I don't.

Sigh. Oh well.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHRISTINECAN 3/6/2012 8:46AM

    This was so interesting I went to your main page and read your About Me info. This sounds like it was written by ME! Except that I haven't read Beck and think that I had better. I had already come to some of the same conclusions without it, but I like a leaning stick and it sounds ideal. btw, also Canadian, long term married etc.

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STRIVER57 3/6/2012 8:03AM

    interesting blog. i think you are right, but i've only been on maintenance for 2 months. but i'm also short ... i think i really can only eat 1200-1400 calories a day. i'm trying to keep counting, keep working out, and ... have an occasional treat. and 6 grams of dark chocolate a day. we shall see. i think i need to put that book on my wishlist at amazon so i remember what it is when i'm ready for it. first i'm going to run a half marathon though ... for my 61st birthday.

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CANNIE50 3/5/2012 9:40PM

    I resisted reading this blog because of the word "diet" and because of the word "permanant". I am glad I read it. You express yourself so well, and you obviously have some hard-earned wisdom to share. I am not at maintenance so I have more questions than answers. My viewpoint comes from being a person who has overcome several other compulsions and addictions in my life. When I first quit smoking and drinking alcohol years ago, it took a lot of work to stay that way. After years of maintaining my committment to staying free of alcohol and nicotine it became no less of a committment, but much less of a struggle. I do not think food and alcohol and smoking are interchangeable but I do think they have a commonality - trying to fill a need with something that will never fill us up. I have lost about 30 lbs in the past year and I definitely don't feel like I diet because I am not that disciplined about my eating. I rarely "eat with abandon" i.e. binge. I am disciplined about exercise (and I LOVE what you said about exercise - I have always said it makes me stronger, not smaller). Anyway, I am glad I read this blog and I hope that as you maintain your newer body that it does not always require the same amount of vigilance, at least not every single day, but I sure admire your willingness to accept that it will.

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IMAGINE_IT 3/5/2012 10:35AM

    Dieting is permanent??!! emoticon emoticon YES..you absolutely right...and i agree! I have been thinking somewhere along the same lines...once i get ot my goal weight (When..ooOOh When???!! lol) i will have to keep myself in 'check' not just 40..50...or 70% No!! 100%!!
It is funny but i used to think once i am at my goal weight i can 'just stop' and at least skip workouts..and/or eat whatever i want..of course in moderation..but by now i know better that this will not be possible..unless i want ot ballon back to 210lbs!!
It kind of sucks when i think that i have to "Forever" watch everything i eat..and exercise..exercise and exercise..but i am determined to make that my regular and forever lifestyle!!
Mental toughness!!!!! emoticon

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NANCY- 3/5/2012 8:08AM

    You are an amazing woman!
Dealing with the realization of not being able to go back to old habits, and saying oh well... well that just rocks!
You have the insight to carve out new habits to achieve what you want.
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DDOORN 3/5/2012 8:05AM

    That's some potent medicine, your Beck card: "Dieting is permanent. I am not naturally thin. I must be eternally vigilant and avoid the temptations I cannot resist."

And FWIW, the common lament of Oprah's regarding those lucky people who can eat what they want and not become obese? My bet is that they are an extreme minority of people and FAR less prevalent than we may want to bemoan!

Don

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_LINDA 3/5/2012 1:27AM

    Great topic to get discussed here Ellen. There have been posts its harder to maintain then lose the weight that is for sure. And if you do want to eat 'normal' calories, then you have to be willing to hit the gym -for an hour a day every day, then you get normal calories. So, I do think exercise is very important in as far as getting to eat regular meals and not having to be stingy on every little thing. Its not much fun trying to squeeze into 1200-1600 calories every day. For mental satisfaction that just isn't going to fly. I love to exercise, so this isn't a huge problem for me.. Its the surgical lay offs that keep throwing a monkey wrench in. But as long as I can get back to my exercising and not have too much damage from the layoffs, I will be happy..
I see nothing wrong with diligent tracking. My sister is astonished I still do. Its the one thing I will not give up. I look on it as a check.


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TRYINGHARD1948 3/5/2012 12:39AM

    I enjoyed the reality and truth within your blog Ellen and the responses show what most maintainers have found - this is for life if you want to stay at the so desired and worked for goal. Feeling slim and healthy are certainly worth it.



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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/4/2012 11:59PM

    AMEN.

Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it,

It's a whole lotta hard dang work.

(But so so worth it...)

emoticon

And I feel kind of sorry for anyone who is disturbed by this news. Because unless you're willing to put in the work, you will fail at maintenance. It is much harder than losing.

This ain't no fairytale. We aren't hitting goal and then drifting off into the sunset, happily ever after. Period.

I've failed at maintenance more times than I've succeeded at it. But it's worth the work. It really is. And the sooner we realize that it's work, the sooner we're prepared to put in the time and effort.

And DBCLARINET, you are absolutely right that SP generally avoids the topic of the difficulty of maintenance. I have an email from Chris Downey where he basically says that telling people the reality of maintenance would probably discourage them.

I personally think that's the wrong approach, but he's entitled to his opinion. I might also point out that he has never been super morbidly obese. The personal problem he solved was different.

Comment edited on: 3/5/2012 12:18:48 AM

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TRAVELGRRL 3/4/2012 10:16PM

    What a great discussion, and something I would love to see discussed in the broader Spark community.

I don't believe most thin people are able to eat "anything they want" all the time, especially women. From what I observe most thin women are very careful about what they eat. My mom is that way. Seventy-seven years old and 116 pounds. Does she want to eat goeey desserts and ribs and pizza? Absolutely! But she rarely does, but she also has the discipline to take a dessert and eat a tiny piece. And leave the rest.

PennyAn has brought up some valid points but everyone has to find her own way to maintain. Some people exercise like maniacs. Some gain back 10 pounds and are happy because they need or want to eat more. Other people, like Watermellen and my mom, modify and restrict what they eat almost 100% of the time.

Watermellen, I totally appreciate how hard you've worked to get where you are, and more importantly, to STAY where you are. I am so grateful to be a fly on your wall and observe how you do it. I see how you work endlessly to motivate yourself. You are an avid Sparker and tireless cheerleader, always reading and sharing books and articles on weight loss. You never take those size sixes for granted!

You are sharing your path, the one that works for you, and I so appreciate it. I want to be just like you when I grow up!!

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BSTAKINGACTION 3/4/2012 8:03PM

    Honest, honest, HONEST blog. Its all about determining what you want and then committing to 100% compliance to do what it takes to get there.

You're doing the work, woman! Good for you!

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SALSIFY 3/4/2012 3:01PM

    I think my little aha moment regarding maintenance came when I read the research at the NWCR which said the average maintainer subsisted on 1380 calories per day. No wonder I've never managed to maintain any of my weight losses before! The good thing about Sparkpeople and blogs like yours is that I used to think that there was something wrong with me because I just couldn't maintain on a 'normal' diet. Now I realise that a permanant diet is the reality - and the most important thing to do is come to terms with this and get on with it.



Comment edited on: 3/4/2012 3:03:20 PM

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MEADSBAY 3/4/2012 12:16PM

    I don't know if it is not exactly 'politically correct' to call what we are all here trying to do as it is just more tolerable and less threatening to call it a lifestyle change.
Diet is such a loaded word for many of us.
I fell like I dieted my way up to nearly 200 lbs in the last 30 years or so (yo-yo-yo).
But you are absolutely correct that we have to continue doing it for the rest of our lives, which is why it is so important to find/ create an eating plan (DIET!) that we can live on comfortably for the rest of our lives, which I (and some of your other sparkfriends here) means a healthy nutritious satisfying plan with minimal hunger (another loaded word).
Not that hunger is an emergency- I get that-but it is not something I wish to 'savor' every single day.
Have a peaceful Sunday!
emoticon

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DBCLARINET 3/4/2012 11:45AM

    I disagree that this blog is disturbing. It's real. I face the same struggle, that I am basically always on a diet. Anyone who thinks they are on a diet to lose weight and then will come off the diet to maintain is mistaken. I tend to gain and lose the same five pounds, and quite honestly, I'm sick of it. I refuse to settle at five pounds heavier, though, because I don't feel GOOD at that weight. Will maintaining a lower weight require extra dietary diligence? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. I am not a slave to my appetite, and I refuse to ever be.

I really appreciate your dose of realism. Sometimes I feel like SP sugar-coats things too much and doesn't prepare its users for the harsh reality of maintenance. The beat part, though, is that maintenance does become habit, and that makes it easier. But it doesn't make it any less of a diet.

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PENNYAN45 3/4/2012 11:42AM

    I just had another thought...

What about using acupuncture or hypnosis to allay feelings of hunger?

I wonder if that could work.



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TBANMAN 3/4/2012 11:22AM

    I had a lightbulb moment once watching Dr. Oz on Oprah. He was talking about weight loss - a common topic for him - and Oprah's struggles. Oprah said to him "but some people can eat whatever they want and stay thin!" and he shot back at her "yes, but that's not you, is it?"

That's not you. That's not me. That's not anyone on this site.

Does it absolutely suck? Yep.

Is life fair? Not by a long shot.

Your attitude of "suck it up, buttercup," will keep you at your "un"naturally thin self where others fail.



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PENNYAN45 3/4/2012 11:01AM

    I did not like reading this blog. It is disturbing.

While I am losing weight, I have the 'finish' line of reaching my goal weight.
I tell myself that when I get there, I will begin maintenance -- whatever that may be.
I tell myself that maintenance is not going to be as hard as getting to the goal.

I tell myself that maintenance has to be more comfortable than losing the weight.

How could anyone maintain their new low weight for life feeling the way you do?

Is it possible that you should perhaps put on that extra ten pounds and maintain at that level?
Would that be easier?

How about using exercise to counteract those small 'splurges' you should be able to enjoy?

If you were walking X miles each day, would you be able to raise your calorie allowance by X?

I believe that if you-- or anyone -- is going to be successful maintaining your weight loss, you have to find some kind of equilibrium that leaves you feeling satisfied and comfortable with your food intake most days.

I sincerely hope you are able to find a way to do that.

PennyAn

PS I'm counting on all of my SP friends who are on maintenance to work out all these issues - so that when I get there later this year, I can look to all of you for good advice and guidance.





R>



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Snowdrops!

Saturday, March 03, 2012




On March 3?

Just outside my back door, in a sheltered spot, on a mild day.

Glorious!

(I added the picture . . . from the Internet: but yeah, mine do look just like this).

And I'll be having coffee in my snowdrop mug to celebrate!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 3/5/2012 9:26PM

    Brave flowers!!!!!

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/5/2012 12:45AM

    We don't get snowdrops so it is a joy to share yours, thank you.

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TRAVELGRRL 3/4/2012 9:38PM

    Well, thank you for clarifying! emoticon I learned my new thing for the day!!

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SALSIFY 3/4/2012 2:54PM

    my snowdrops are out too in the garden. I love them too.

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NANCY- 3/4/2012 10:22AM

    you have a gift for finding the beauty in life. Thanks for sharing for it brightening my day.

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_LINDA 3/3/2012 10:12PM

    How wonderful! I have never heard of a snow drop! So looking forward to hitting the trails tomorrow -today Mom actually saw a coyote on the ice cavorting around! He was a biggie!! She did a seven mile hike though, not sure how far I will feel like going -a lot of foot and back problems, hoping they will hold off so I can enjoy getting outside..
Enjoy your Sunday!

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MEADSBAY 3/3/2012 7:59PM

    Beautiful!
emoticon

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KALIGIRL 3/3/2012 5:46PM

    Here's to celebrating!

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TRAVELGRRL 3/3/2012 4:55PM

    Not sure what a snow drop is, but I can tell you are ready to savour it!!!

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It's Going to Be Glorious!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

That fatloser program is really an excellent free resource: www.fatloser.com

And today (day 11) I've picked up some new "scripts". I've got them on index cards and am adding them to my Beck stack.

Here they are:

1. Life isn't fair. Success isn't free. Don't get in my own way.

2. I have the ability to handle anything that life throws at me.

3. The universe is conspiring to help me get everything I want.

4. I can achieve anything I focus on with persistence.

Hmm. My life isn't "fair" in so far as I've (frankly) received advantages and benefits that weren't equally distributed on a global basis. Better make use of 'em. But still, success isn't free: I've gotta be 100% committed to it. And not make excuses, not permit myself to be my own worst enemy . . . by feeling sorry for myself.

Whatever goes wrong . . . and things will go wrong . . . I can handle it. Because I am tough.

Besides, if I pay attention I will see that the world IS a place of abundance and love: good things happen to me, and I can use those opportunities to move forward.

If I want to achieve my goals, gotta stay "on message". Compliance with my diet at 100% is the goal, recognizing that I am human, when I make a mistake it's "oh well" and start over. Right away. But not using that "advance forgiveness" as an excuse that I don't need to take responsibility for myself either. Because it's persistence that will get me where I want to go. As far as weight loss/maintenance goes, the scales have no choice: if I stick with the program, the scales HAVE TO COMPLY! No choice, scales!

But: clearly this is a mindset with far broader application than weight loss/maintenance.

The results? It's going to be glorious!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROSGETSSERIOUS 3/3/2012 3:58PM

    Love the index cards idea - I think I will make some and put them on my mirror and fridge door! Great blog - thanks for inspiring me!
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Comment edited on: 3/3/2012 3:58:58 PM

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IMAGINE_IT 3/3/2012 3:48PM

    Wow...what a coincidence.....A Spark friend just introduced me to Fatloser videos!! And i am on Day 11!But what was so interesting..the very first days after i started watching..i also started having horrible cravings for ALL the wrong food emoticon emoticon
I have now pulled myself together!
emoticon Ellen for 'blogging' about this..and giving other fellow Sparklers a chance to explore 'fatloser' emoticon
Most of us need all the help we can find...right??!! emoticon emoticon

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DONNACFIT 3/3/2012 10:05AM

    What a glorious blog!! You've inspired me to check out that site and make some of my own cards, too!!

I'm still savouring my senses, too!

I love coming to your page..you're such an inspiration!!

Thanks for being such a glorious Spark friend!!

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FROSTIERACES 3/3/2012 8:33AM

    Great blog! I love..."Whatever goes wrong . . . and things will go wrong . . . I can handle it. Because I am tough.

Excellent! We ARE tough!! Sometimes there is no other way than to just tough through it.
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FREELADY 3/2/2012 7:01PM

    Thank you for the Day 11 highlights!! I benefit so much from fatloser.com, but it won't play here at home. I enjoy listening at the library, but only got through Day 4 so far.

The "straight talk" is just what I need to hear!

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_LINDA 3/1/2012 6:18PM

    Sounds like you have it all planned out and have your head in the right place -great scripts- a nice find and reminder!
You are all set to rock this thing!
Take that scale!
emoticon emoticon
You go girl!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SALSIFY 3/1/2012 10:36AM

    Thanks - that's my inspirational blog read for today!

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PENNYAN45 3/1/2012 9:50AM

    Thanks for the reference to the fatloser.com website. I'll have to check it out.

And I understand completely about that "advance forgiveness." I have used it several times; it has a way of getting me in trouble.

You ARE strong - and you CAN handle anything that comes your way.

Here's to those glorious results that are on their way!!

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KALIGIRL 3/1/2012 8:40AM

    Here's to staying on message - especially one so grand!
emoticon

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/1/2012 8:39AM

    emoticon

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NANCY- 3/1/2012 8:33AM

    "use those opportunities to move forward."
Love those words.
Sometimes we have to look for opportunities or make the opportunity.
You are just the lady to make all that happen.
emoticon

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SWAZY33 3/1/2012 7:33AM

    emoticonAwesome!! emoticon
I love those scripts!
I'm hanging some of them up at my desk and in my kitchen!!


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Savouring Some Statistics?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Steve Siebold, on Day 5 of fatloser.com, says that right now 66% of people in the USA are overweight or obese. He says it's estimated that by 2020 75% will be overweight or obese: and by 2032, 90%.

Hmmmm.

I'm Canadian, not American. But I've started looking around the room wherever I am. And yeah. I'd say most of the time about two thirds of those present are overweight . . . generally speaking, verging more towards the obese end of the spectrum.

The stats seem to be bang on. At the grocery store. At the shopping mall. At a large gathering of professional types. And at a much smaller gathering. Even in the lobby at the Y: although not in the gym itself . . . where less than a third of those observed were even overweight. And apparently doing everything they could to exit that category soon.

Of the overweight/obese observed in the majority of situations, I'm betting many of them are not savouring life with all of five of their senses. But savouring mostly what's going in their mouths: focusing primarily on taste.

I'm going to keep right on savouring taste . . . but only giving taste its due. Enhancing my sense of taste by anticipating and fully experiencing hunger. And also savouring sight, smell, sound, touch. In all their no-calorie or calorie-burning variants!

I'm not savouring these statistics. But I'm committed to fully savouring life.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 3/1/2012 7:46AM

    Oops!
Moved this to to where it should be.

Comment edited on: 3/1/2012 8:35:48 AM

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TRAVELGRRL 2/29/2012 7:01PM

    I have certainly noticed a HUGE increase in the number of overweight people, everywhere, just as you have.

Unfortunately, it can be a vicious circle. The less we move, the heavier we get, the less we want to move. I went to a conference in another city with a very heavy woman I worked with. (Don't even get my started on how awful the plane ride was.) She refused to walk to the terminal (a 5-minute walk), preferring to wait 10 minutes for the shuttle bus. We took the elevator up one floor rather than take the stairs.

It was really eye-opening. I am not thin; I am 20-30 pounds from a healthy BMI, but I often wonder how much I would weigh if I had such exercise-adverse habits and attitude!


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DANASEILHAN 2/29/2012 12:22AM

    Wow.

If you were to look at my food record right now you'd be horrified at my calorie count and my food comp. I am aiming for at least 2000 calories a day and the specific macronutrient ratio that I seem to be hitting (wow, this is the first time it's been this easy) for specific reasons. And before this, for a very long time, since I gave up sugar soda especially, if I cut out the stuff that I know is unhealthy for me, I have TROUBLE getting up to 2000 calories a day. And yet I have been over 200 pounds since 2005.

Even now I have to remember to eat. When I get hungry it doesn't come out as stomach growling (well, OK, not all the time) but by me feeling slightly out of sorts and irritable. And really, this is a miracle. In my high-carb days I would experience *blood sugar drops.* I was mentally unstable. When I craved foods it wasn't the high-animal-fat stuff I'm eating now (and also not craving now), it was high-starch stuff like chips and noodles, and high-sugar soda. And the cravings would come and go, probably in tune with my insulin levels.

Given my experience, and given that I have now read Gary Taubes as well, I think you are all putting the cart before the horse.

How many of you have children? And how many of you have observed that if you force your child to eat a lot of food, it makes that child grow taller?

Stupid idea, right? You'd never do something like that.

Well, what makes you think fat people aren't eating more because their bodies are wanting to grow wider?

If you ask yourself that question, then you have to ask yourself, "What makes their bodies want to grow wider?" Gary Taubes answers that question, at least in part. I recommend you all go read him.

P.S. Eat nothing but green salads the rest of your lives and you'll die of malnutrition. Have a nice day.

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PENNYAN45 2/28/2012 11:14PM

    That is a troubling statistic, for sure. Why so many? Why now?

When I was living in London in 2008 - I did not see that many overweight people.



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LISALGB 2/28/2012 9:59PM

    The statistics are really scary - especially for our children. I work with middle school age children and I've noticed that each year there seem to be more and more in my classes that have weight issues.
It is a very sad thing.

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DBCLARINET 2/28/2012 9:15PM

    I've noticed the same thing. The other thing that my dad pointed out to me after reading an article, I think in Newsweek -- people are pairing up based on weight and slowly dividing us into "fat people" and "thin people." You rarely see a thin person married to an obese person (I don't think I ever have). Thin people or fit people seek out similar people, and obese people seek out similar people, and kids model their parents, so it's slowly becoming more pronounced, the delineation between the "thins" and the "fats."

You also said something that hit very close to home: "...although not in the gym itself ... where less than a third of those observed were even overweight. And apparently doing everything they could to exit that category soon."

I have always tended toward thinness, and somehow my college friends had this illusion that I could eat whatever I want and never gain a pound. Once, a friend made that comment during a summer orchestra camp, and a guy I only knew for maybe a week said, "Nah, she's just one of those people who is so afraid of getting fat that she'll never get fat." I never thought of it that way, but it hit so close to home that I just stood there in stunned silence. It cut to the core. It was the absolute truth.

My mom is by no means significantly overweight -- I'm not sure she's even actually overweight (maybe just a bit overfat based on body composition). But she's always a little unhappy with the way she looks because she's neither inclined toward any activity more strenuous than walking, and she grew up in a poor household where if you wanted your share of the goodies, you shoveled it in as soon as it walked in the door. Weight has been an up-and-down struggle for her, one that was impressed upon me at a very young age. I just remember thinking that would not be me, so as soon as I started putting weight on in college, I sought out ways to stop it fast in its tracks. Overall, I've been successful.

I never, ever want to be as unhappy with my own body as so many people I see around me, and that's plenty of motivation to keep moving and eating well.

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CRYSTALJEM 2/28/2012 8:35PM

    I've noticed the same thing when I look around. In our family immediate and otherwise, it is obvious that food and quantity choices are reflected in weight. The evidence is undeniable in my opinion.

I'm trying to treat hunger like what it really is, a message to fuel my car. I realized I don't go to the pumps and let my car overfill. Why would keep doingnit to my body. Savor the fuel I need and that's all. Well, at least I'm trying. If I'm going to go over board id rather do it on a really special occassion and really be able to savour the flavour then.

Your blogs have really inspired me to look at my my hunger differently. Thank you.

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SALSIFY 2/28/2012 1:02PM

    Wow - 90% by 2032 - that's quite some statistic. Well, I'm doing my best not to be one of them!

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NANCY- 2/28/2012 7:00AM

    I dislike statistics. Granted they may be an indicator... but ultimately we do have the control.

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/28/2012 3:55AM

    It is a pretty bad statistic and probably one that costs countries a huge amount in medical bills. Food and drink are such an important part of socialisation and I don't see anyone vying for the best green salad in the world. Australian statistics are very similar to the US and there have been huge educational drives, mainly aimed at mothers as the number of overweight children is increasing at a frightening rate. People are aware of the problem but savouries and sodas seem to be winning out.

Thank you for the blog, as always, very thought provoking.

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_LINDA 2/28/2012 1:23AM

    Sad, but true statistics. Interesting observation: normal weight parents, obese children. Most elderly people are normal weight, its the younger generation tipping the scales. Currently, my brother and his wife are the only obese people in my circle of relatives. Even though the children of both my sister and brother don't eat particularly healthy (pop, fried food, pizza, sweets etc.), they are not overweight -yet.
Part of what makes food savory is the sense of smell, so learning to spice up your foods makes them more attractive to eat. Lets face it -veggies are dull with no odor. No wonder people forgo them to have the high fat comfort foods. That is why learning to use spices is so important. A lot of our sensation of taste is enhanced by smell -so when you have a cold, everything tastes blah..
I definitely enjoy and am thankful I have all my senses intact to enjoy although the hearing is a little weak..


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OOLALA53 2/27/2012 11:04PM

    Since I've been cultivating hunger, I really enjoy the food I do eat much more. I don't like eating fast. I miss out if I do!

Most of my colleagues aren't very big, though I've seen most of them put on a few pounds over the last few years. But they still egg each other on to have cookies at lunch every day. And they use all the passe excuses. We'll see where it ends.

I think this trend is going to level out. And we can be part of it.

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DONNACFIT 2/27/2012 9:42PM

    Time to start savouring with all my senses (well maybe not smell when I'm in the corral)

Great blog..Thanks

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MEADSBAY 2/27/2012 8:59PM

    I've been noticing how many fatties (myself included) are in most crowd- first noticed it at airports.
Sad!
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Savouring Life through the Five Senses

Sunday, February 26, 2012

DDORN comments that it's impossible to "overdo" savouring life: and yeah, that's right! But: he got me thinking (thanks, Don).

Because it's very possible to overdo savouring food. And it seems to me that when we overdo savouring food, we impede our ability to savour all the other aspects of life that our sense perceptions make available to us.

Sight, sound, scent, touch, taste: all huge potential sources of pleasure.

Given that excess indulgence in food causes fat, however, it's amazing to consider that taste itself appears to be one of the least developed of our senses. Really. We've got just five basic elements of taste: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and the most recently identified "umami" or "meatiness" or "savouriness" itself. We don't even crave sour or bitter all that much; in our course of human evolution, many sour or bitter reactions seem to have signalled that the "food" tried was not good for us . . . potentially poisonous. To be spat out.

So if taste is so relatively simple, even crude in comparison to our other sense capacities, why do food cravings cause us so much trouble? Maybe because pleasure in eating also involves all of the other four senses.

The sight of food: that cheesy "pull" in a pizza commercial, for example. Or how often do we have this kind of experience: I've decided not to have dessert, I'm not even hungry after the first course until I see the . . . . cupcakes with their swirls of icing and the cherry on top on the buffet. And then I put one in my mouth anyhow. Plus . . . yeah, the cheesecake looks good too, why not?? We are bombarded with actual food options and visual representations of a huge huge range of foods. All the time. And it's not trays of crudites or pictures of carrots and turnips which cause us problems.

Then there's the sound of food. We can experience such a huge range of sounds. How many irresistible snacks are all about crunchiness? Potato chips, pretzels . . . Or slurpiness? Gravy on chips, hot fudge sauce on a sundae . . . . All those sounds heard intimately inside our heads. With every bite and every smack and every slurp. (Listening to other people eat? Not so pleasurable, somehow!! So maybe I'll crawl off and eat all of this stuff by myself. In secret. No one will ever know, right?)

And the scent of food: deeply linked to memory and to emotion. When you're selling a house, you're advised to have just had bread baking in the oven prior to "show time" because the smell of fresh bread means "home". Proust knew how important scent was to the enjoyment of food; his famous madeleines! We have some 368 olfactory sensors, apparently . . . many fewer than our dogs of course!. People who have lost their ability to smell generally lose a lot of their ability to taste as well. But I have not. My nose works just great. Bet yours does too. And so the smell of chocolate cookies; the smell of BBQ wings: yeah. Gotta avoid these. (Interesting, however, that no one has developed a perfume based on BBQ wings or even baking bread!! Not yet!)

And then there's the touch of food, and this one is really complex. So complex that it's almost impossible to articulate.

Most obviously there is the texture of food: smoothness, or crispness, an infinite array of textures, all picked up by the pressure sensors in your mouth and throat.

There's the temperature of food: icy cold icecream, hot comforting stew. And the other kind of temperature: namely, food's relative spiciness (cayenne) or coolness (mint).

We experience through touch the "gulp" or acceleration of food down the gullet: that glug glug glug of an extra large Coke. We continue to experience food's touch through the "kinesthetic sense" of where the food is located in your body after you've decided to eat it: the mouth, throat, stomach (that craving to be "full", even "overfull"),

And yeah . . . . down the rest of the path. Not generally contemplated while in the moment of eating, actually!! Not contemplated either: the kinesthetic experience of overeating several hours later, even tomorrow. When there will be all the internal body sensations relating, I suppose, to "balance" -- not so much the teetering on one foot kind of balance but chemical balance. Or imbalance. We know when we ate too much salt yesterday and feel totally bloated from water retention. Or too much sugar so our teeth are still aching . . . Or too much fat, so that our guts are clenching. Food hangovers.

And after weeks and months and years of excessive indulgence in food, we know all too well the gross bodily discomfort -- touch again -- of the obesity which inevitably results. Of bellies hanging over waistbands, red-ridged at the end of the day. Of too-tight collars.

With obesity triggered by excess indulgence of taste, urged on by all the other senses (sight, sound, scent, touch) we're right back to integrated sense experience again. And not in a good way.

No need to glance in the mirror to know that overweight doesn't look good. And even if you manage to avoid the mirror, there's no avoiding the condemnatory gaze all around a fat person. Yup, the snide glances of loved ones and even strangers confirm it. . . Undisciplined indulgence of taste has visually unappealing results.

Obesity is not very appealing to the ears either. Thighs chafing together: we can hear 'em, can everyone else hear 'em too? Buttons popping. Seams splitting.

Obesity is not very appealing to the nose. We apply the deodorant, whoosh on the after-bath powders, spray the perfumes: and still worry excess weight might not smell good. We fear offending others with those whiffs from those body folds . . . .

Above all, obesity is not appealing to the touch. Since our bodies don't feel good to us, we're pretty sure our bodies won't feel good if someone else wants to touch 'em either . . . and of course resign ourselves to the reality that this is increasingly unlikely to occur anyhow.

So I'm thinking that for me, the best method of savouring life is to savour hunger. Some hunger. The hunger that signals I'm really going to enjoy my next meal, and that I'm not overeating.

When I savour hunger I put food in its place. I isolate taste, giving taste its fair due. Enjoy every bite when it's time to eat. But taste will get no more than its fair due. I won't eat too much because it looks good, sounds good, smells good and feels good. I will stop when it's time to stop.

And instead, I will savour sight, sound, scent and touch in all their non-food contexts. Of which life offers infinite possibilities.

Sight. Light on snow. No calories.

Sound. Chickadees in the cedars. No calories.

Scent. The perfume of my white freesias. No calories.

Touch. Touching. Being touched. The kinesthetic pleasure of a fit body in motion.

Hey, motion. That would actually be burning calories. Right??

Life is to be savoured. And I'm going to overdo the savouring of all life's savourable moments. All of 'em. As much as possible!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 2/27/2012 2:07PM

    Savouring life? I like that.

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NANCY- 2/27/2012 11:09AM

    Love your blog.
One thing that has helped me get through former desires is to think about the fat content, that usually squashes any desire. There is something about the smell of freshly baked bread though... I'll have to work on that.
Your awareness is enlightening.

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KALIGIRL 2/27/2012 8:45AM

    Love the contexts! Here's to savoring life!

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SWAZY33 2/27/2012 8:34AM

    Our priest yesterday spoke about very similar topic. Temptations are all around and we need to make smart choices... he asked the children sitting aroung the altar to choose from pictures ei...a potato or potato chips? Of course the majority choose the chips because if the perception in the media/ads of the salty crunchy yumminess...he suggested to *pause first* and think what your body truly needs before indulging in temptations that are all around us!

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ID_VANDAL 2/27/2012 1:07AM

    Very well written. TG was absolutely right in talking about how good your blogs are! This makes a whole lot of sense - thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Vandal

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DBCLARINET 2/26/2012 5:53PM

    I loved this, once again. Your comment about the sounds of eating -- slurping, chomping, etc. -- made me cringe just thinking about it. I HATE loud eaters! And I hate commercials with eating sounds -- I flip the station or turn off whatever the offending medium is.

You mentioned that being obese doesn't feel good, so you can't imagine hugging an obese person feels good. You know, I've never minded hugging an obese person, although hugging my husband at his lighter weight feels so much better than when he was heavier. But the comment brought back a memory of hugging a female friend in high school, feeling nothing but bones under her shirt, and being completely repulsed, as if I had just hugged a cadaver.

I suppose even savouring hunger can be taken to an unhealthy extreme. But you're not promoting that at all -- you're promoting savouring life, and I like that!

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ROSEWAND 2/26/2012 5:32PM

    Sadly, modern culture and advertising have
disconnected us from the real joy that comes from
eating real foods. The intent of food companies is to
highjack the pleasure centers in our brains that are
there to encourage us to find and nourish ourselves
for survival. The end result is excess consumption of
manufactured non-foods which lead to obesity and
our modern health crisis. Real joy in eating is lost
along with good health and fitness.

I only eat foods I truly enjoy and completely savor.
I deeply, mindfully eat each meal with profound
gratitude for the pleasure and the health of these
foods. A warm bowl of steel-cut oats with plump
blueberries, a hot bowl of homemade soup, or
gorgeous juicy raspberries delight my senses,
stimulates my brain pleasure centers, and satisfies
my stomach hunger.

I have reprogramed my brain to actually crave
healthy foods. Now that I am in maintenance, I have
discovered that my old fears wrapped round eating
are mostly gone which allows me to even enjoy food
more.

And when I have finished eating, I am free to focus
on the rest of my life liberated from any obsession
with food. It is truly about finding harmony and
balance in every area of our lives. Joy is the
core of our being however we choose to express
it.

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Comment edited on: 2/26/2012 5:36:47 PM

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FREELADY 2/26/2012 5:20PM

    In connection with over-emphasis on food preventing us from savoring other things . . . I have found this to be true of myself. Through the Beck Diet Solution I was able to begin a planned approach to eating and get some control over it, with God's help. With food out of the picture for a few hours (No choice, no choice) I was amazed at how I started noticing other joys around me. It becomes a positive cycle : waking up to enjoy many other things makes me less obssessive about food, which opens me to enjoying many other things . . .

Thanks for your insights and observations!!

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TBANMAN 2/26/2012 5:19PM

    Great perspective!

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PHEBESS 2/26/2012 4:54PM

    You always give me so much to think about. It's the "stop and smell the roses" moments that make our lives special.

And now, I'm wondering if other creatures savour food, or life - thinking of the cat who sleeps in the sun, the dog who chases waves, the hawk floating on currents of air.

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