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.