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The Fat Trap...or NOT?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

If you haven't seen this article yet, I highly recommend you check it out: The Fat Trap, by Tara Parker-Pope. She outlines some hard truths about weight loss and maintenance which COULD be taken negatively (i.e. a "why try?" attitude) however I found the information to be SO helpful!


...along with interesting comments posted at this link:


There is a follow up interview, question & answer with folks calling in with testimonies on NPR's Talk of the Nation here:


I share WATERMELLEN's ( www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
) sense of relief and comfort in hearing the science behind the experiences of people like myself who've been obese or morbidly obese for a long time. This helps me so much to hear the cold, hard facts! I feel I am in a better position to accept that it is what it is. No amount of whining or playing games with my thinking or whatever is going to alter this. I'm really not imagining things or making them up: it really IS harder for folks like me to lose weight and more importantly to KEEP IT OFF!

There is a reason why I kick into a "food as fuel" mode when I'm SPARKIN' like I WANT to SPARK!

Besides: food is over-rated, compared to the freedom one can enjoy when one looks at eating just enough to keep your body at a healthier weight where you can enjoy your life more fully and heartily!

So rather than looking at this glass as half empty, as a "fat trap"...I find it liberating to realize that, for instance faithful food tracking, weighing in and daily exercise is not being OCD and overkill: it truly is what is necessary for those of us who have been obese or morbidly obese for a long* time.


*How long? Not sure if they've precisely nailed that down...but let THAT be a motivator for those of you who HAVEN'T been obese or morbidly obese for a long time: The quicker you NAIL this healthy and well lifestyle the less risk you run of sustaining lifelong biochemical alterations in the way your body functions.

PS...4-A-HEALTHY-BMI shared a message thread from the "At Goal and Maintaining" SparkTeam where they have been discussing this article:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Don, this is great. Thank you for putting the links together. The cold hard facts are my preference, too. As you say, "it is what it is".

    I recently had an autosomal DNA test done. It showed that a couple of my DNA markers indicate an increased risk for obesity (duh). So, I thought, "AHA!"(as I am wont to do when I see a plausible excuse). No such luck.
    I plugged in my numbers to get a calculation of roughly how many of my extra lbs are due to my DNA. It was a puny 9 lbs.
    emoticon emoticon
    The rest is my doing (or not doing).
    Cracks me up!

    Yes, I agree it's harder for folks like me. I have been a lazy so-and-so lately, telling myself "it was OCD and overkill burnout" that kept me from tracking, blogging, weighing, checking in at SP, etc. Facing facts, I think I want to cheerfully move forward.
    2197 days ago
    Wow, Don, fascinating article! Thanks so much for sharing. I hear a lot of my own story and my body's idiosyncratic tendencies here. I have to say, in some ways I am not surprised by this research -- it feels a little bit like reaping what you've sown. Like stretched skin that just does not want to ever snap exactly back.

    But I also find it encouraging to know these things are not in my head and that I am not alone in the maintenance battle!
    2200 days ago
    Thank you for sharing the links, Don! The problem with the "fat trap" is many people get settled thinking that obesity defines who they are as a whole. This is where the "why try?" mentality kicks in. But there is also such a thing as a "skinny trap" where once you have reached your GW and are exercising and eating right, your body does what it can to stay in this healthy trap, or skinny trap. Your body starts to crave fresh, clean foods and you start to feel guilty whenever you don't work out. Like you stated, there is more freedom. Continue rocking, Don! Love the background pic.
    2201 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/12/2012 11:42:57 AM
    AMEN brother!
    2203 days ago
    "Food is over-rated, compared to the freedom one can enjoy when one looks at eating just enough to keep your body at a healthier weight where you can enjoy your life more fully and heartily": this is sooo sooooo true!! The momentary pleasure of eating something just isn't worth the lengthy misery of lugging it around: "a moment on the lips, a life time on the hips"!!

    Your own weight loss story is amazing and inspiring . . . and nobody enjoys being healthy more than you do! So you KNOW the vigilance necessary to take weight off is worth it).

    Hope you have some lovely snow for skiing soon . . . like you, I really get a kick out of driving around with my skis in my car all winter!!

    (And how did I miss this great blog . . . with my thanks for your link to my "fat trap" too).
    2203 days ago
    Don I think this says it all

    "food is over-rated, compared to the freedom one can enjoy when one looks at eating just enough to keep your body at a healthier weight where you can enjoy your life more fully and heartily!"

    There is so much truth to that statement.

    Keep on keepin on my good man!

    As Ever
    2204 days ago
    Thanks for sharing that Don.
    2204 days ago
    Thanks for the links and for your take on the articles. Having read the other comments, I feel like I don't really need to read them now! LOL
    My thoughts in the new year have been turning again to the fact that this healthy living thing is for forever. Not that I didn't know that before, but I continue to KNOW it on a deeper level as I get off track, then return to the "new normal." I will be doing crunches for the rest of my life! I will be exercising daily for the rest of my life. I will be drinking my water and eating my fruit and veggies for the rest of my life, etc., etc., etc.
    2205 days ago
    Great blog, Don. You have done such a fantastic job with changing things around for yourself.
    2206 days ago
    Thank you very much for posting. I bookmarked the links for reference emoticon
    2206 days ago
    I remember reading this article before, I think it may have been posted on the Daily Spark blog, and I was disturbed by everyone who had just accepted the results/"conclusions" from the study without looking at the details about who and what was tested.

    From where I stand, I agree with what you said about being more vigilant and doing what we KNOW needs to be done, despite the negative feedback from others.

    At the same time, I think that this is more a warning against losing weight too quickly. I don't see how they've proven that it's being formerly OBESE that is causing that extra rebound weight. You can't separate the fact that they were obese from the method that they used to lose the weight, and teh actions taken once they were off the supplement foods.

    But, I'm picky about science, especially that designed to observe the human body. Biology has always been a pet subject of mine.

    Thanks for sharing the links!
    Hugs, my friend,
    2206 days ago
  • XENA1956
    Thanks so much for sharing this link. Very good and interesting article. xo Teri emoticon
    2206 days ago
  • MIQUEY73
    Thanks for sharing!!
    2206 days ago
    I have seen this article (and I've posted it all over the place). Mainly, for me, it is a tool to bring to the attention of the folks (and we all know who they are) who will say that you and I are, let's see -
    * overstating the exercise
    * understating the calories
    * too neurotic
    * not neurotic enough
    * uptight and need to just chill and have a slice of pizza or a cupcake or somethin'
    * lazy
    * lying
    * unmotivated (oh, if you only tried!)
    * morally suspect
    * deserving of our fates

    You get the picture.

    What I truly love are the ones who say, well, just eat 3500 fewer calories per week, and in a year you will have lost a pound!

    Wellll -- the problem is -- 3500 fewer calorie from which starting point? If the total for the week is 14,000, then we're talking 1500 calories per day for the change (the initial point was 2000 calories per day).

    But if the starting point is 1600 - 1800 calories per day (which I eat, and gained 8 pounds on in '11 and about 20 pounds on in '10), then the initial weekly total is 11,200 - 12,600, and the new regimen would be 7700 - 9100 per week, AKA 1100 - 1300 calories/day.

    That means I skip a meal, and I already eat pretty damned abstemiously. Somewhere in there lurks starvation mode, too. If the total calorie need is lower, when does starvation mode come up to meet it? After a daily deficit of 100 calories? 200? 500?

    Once again proving that the science of weight loss is complicated and paradoxical.

    In other news, water is wet.

    Details on the 11 o'clock report.
    2207 days ago
    Great article DOn! i really appreciated reading it. THanks for posting. :)
    2207 days ago
    I'm pleased that some of the comments on the blog make the point that jumped out at me.

    To me, the key paragraph in the article is as follows:

    "Beginning in 2009, he and his team recruited 50 obese men and women. The men weighed an average of 233 pounds; the women weighed about 200 pounds. Although some people dropped out of the study, most of the patients stuck with the extreme low-calorie diet, which consisted of special shakes called Optifast and two cups of low-starch vegetables, totaling just 500 to 550 calories a day for eight weeks. Ten weeks in, the dieters lost an average of 30 pounds. "

    Let's think about this. The study started with obese people, and for eight weeks put them on a bat-$hit crazy low calorie diet. Any result tells us nothing more than, this is what happens if you restrict obese people's calories to less than half the commonly accepted minimum for an extended period of time.

    I don't think it means that maintenance is impossible; I think it simply means that a crash diet is not a good idea. This is something that mainstream nutritionists have been saying for as long as I can remember.

    I'm getting a little tired of reading echoes of the same study starting with that bat-$hit crazy diet being expanded to say that maintaining weight loss is too large a challenge to be overcome.

    BWDIK? I've only been borderline obese by BMI standards, and I wasn't there very long even if I visited obese-land 3 times. It *could* be that seriously obese people who lose the weight really have a much harder time in maintenance than I do; but we'd need a better base of scientific studies than the one Tara Parker-Pope relies on to make that case.
    2207 days ago
  • DEBRA0818
    Thanks for posting, Don. I posted a similar NYT article in November (http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_

    What do all these articles tell us? It is a long, hard and constant road -- no breaks, no vacations, no holidays, no weekends off -- if you want to be successful and stay that way. It is hard to hear, but no harder than living it every day (which we all do).

    I have found that the LCHF (low carb high fat) diet is the only one that gets the weight off and keeps my body from starving in the process. The issue, of course, is that it's hard to give up carbs forever, but, at least for me, that seems to be the only formula that works long term.

    So, I'm back to it with high hopes for 2012!

    Thanks for the goodie and the response; we're all in it to win it!

    Cheers, Debra
    2208 days ago
    thank you so much for the comments you left on my blog. i will check out the links when i have time later today. i think i will get alot of useful information. i am the type that likes to understand why things are the way they are. so this sounds right up my alley. thank you for sharing this information with all of us. take care, debi
    2208 days ago
  • BILL60
    Don, thank you so much for sharing. Hang tough!!
    2209 days ago
    Thanks for sharing, I will definitely check it out on my lunch hour today. I do agree with you in that we aren't being obsessive about our weight, we have to be vigilant and very careful, ppl who have never been morbidly obese can not understand this. SPARK is a way of life and if we want to continue to be successful, it's the ONLY way. Wishing you the best in 2012. emoticon
    2209 days ago
  • JLITT62
    Thanks for sharing.

    The science of weight loss is constantly changing, but I think one thing is a constant - you can never really relax about it - & I've never been obese, either - but I have definitely struggled with the whole I have to eat far less & exercise far more than "normal" people.

    I still say it's a struggle worth fighting!
    2209 days ago
  • GOATS03
    Thank you so much Don..really appreciate you sharing this with us.

    Wishing you a very Healthy Happy 2012.
    2209 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    very interesting...thanks for sharing...
    blessings and hugs...........lita
    2209 days ago
    Thank you so much Don I will check them out.. Hope you are doing ok..
    2209 days ago
    thank you...
    2209 days ago
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