Realities of not keeping the weight off or Why am I weight cycling
Sunday, July 28, 2013
I am an over 50 (actually over 60) woman who has been weight cycling up and down for 15 years. Before that my weight was steady and I could actually eat one hamburger without gaining 5 pounds. This time I really wanted to commit to losing the 30 pounds (for the fourth time) for the last time. So I realistically looked at what has been causing me to gain weight and I have come up with a Constant Diet approach to eating. But it is mainly a listing of the foods I can’t ever eat again. That information gives me guidelines in making choices but it doesn’t help me to actually make those choices. So I went looking at some recent articles on the WHY of the weight cycling and WHY I can’t eat a hamburger or two whenever I want.
Let me state that I do not have any medical problems or need to take any medications and these two factors have a serious impact on weight gain. Also, I am able to exercise and physical problems also impact weight gain. My 30 pound loss has been over a 2 year period and I am within 5 pounds of meeting my goal yet again.
FIRST: "If you decrease your body mass by 10 percent, you would expect your metabolic rate to decrease by 10 percent, but it actually slows down more than that, by about 11 to 15 percent."
This was very depressing to read. It means that as I lose weight I need to eat less and the act of losing weight means that I have to eat even less. A half of a cup of spaghetti is just not satisfying, but in order to keep the weight off I will really need to watch portions. Not only portions but how much I eat each day. For breakfast I like to have 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter on two pieces of bread when it should be half of a Tablespoon on one piece of bread. Cannot eat as much as I want for breakfast every day and keep my weight under control without reducing calories somewhere else during the day. Bummer!
SECOND: “A study at Brown University found that dieters who ate in response to emotions such as stress or loneliness—as opposed to external events, like overdoing it at happy hour—were more likely to regain weight.”
I know this and it really hit home the other night. I couldn’t sleep because of a minor family issue that had come up and I found myself eating crackers and cream cheese at 3 AM. I knew it was because I was upset and worried but I really had a hard time stopping. I have the luxury of being retired and took time the next day to do some stress reduction activities which helped me. When I was working there was very little time and issues came up on a daily basis, no wonder I gained weight. I am lucky and have a reasonably happy family but I can see how emotional stresses can add to the eating problem. Depression is also very detrimental to portion control. Sometimes it sneaks up and I find myself heading for the refrigerator not because I am hungry but because eating makes me feel good.
THIRD: MENOPAUSE IS A BIG ISSUE “Women reach menopause at a range of ages, but most are in midlife and are often less physically active than when they were younger. Along with aging comes a natural slowing of metabolism. At the same time, hormonal changes can trigger hunger, depression, and poor sleep.”
“When women go through menopause, they lose estrogen, causing their shapes to change -- usually a loss of hip and thigh weight. And they start to gain more in the middle. Estrogen favors fat deposition in the lower body, and when you lose this hormone, fat is more likely to be deposited in the midsection (much like men). "
This spare tire is a constant battle and even when my weight is where I want it to be my middle is just rounded. So no matter how much I lose my SHAPE has changed and being thin isn’t enough. This is something I have come to accept, not like but accept. If I eat too much and don’t exercise, the little round part pouches out even more and I can’t button my pants. There is no cure and it doesn’t ever go away. Although the hot flashes do stop and the extremely cranky episodes diminish. A bag of chips and a bowl of dip was a cure for cranky and my family would encourage me in their own self-defense.
FOURTH: “As we age, we gradually lose muscle mass, which in turn means our metabolic rate, and therefore the speed at which we burn calories, also slows down. “
Again this is just another way of saying your body doesn’t need as many calories. You can exercise all you want but in the end your muscle mass is receding and you need to watch your calorie intake. Back to eating just the half of a cup of spaghetti. Just not fair now that I have the time to cook I have had to give up butter.
FIFTH: “Whatever your particular goal may be, when you reach it, your brain thinks the job is done. Therefore, having finally shed the weight, you may feel drawn towards going back to your old eating habits – and put it all back on again. It pays to plan beyond the moment you hit that magic number on the scales.”
This was really made me realize that it is a Constant Diet from now on. You can use all the words you want in place of the work DIET but it still means that I cannot have a hamburger anytime I want or as often as I want. The problem times are when I go out to dinner or there is a celebration with special foods or a holiday like Thanksgiving. I did make it through two holiday seasons in a row a few years back without gaining any weight but it really took a lot of effort. I joined a gym in September and worked out 5 days a week through January. I ate before I went to any party, I had all of the holiday meals at my house, I had very little alcohol and the biggest commitment was not eating any desserts. This was just too much to keep up.
After all the reading it comes down to one major fact: I cannot eat as much as I want of whatever I want because my body doesn’t need the calories. So my planning in the next stage of this weight-loss-for-the-last-time journey is to adapt to the realities of staying at my chosen weight.
I do have to admit that at my current weight, I have less depressed moments, I have more energy, I feel reasonably ok in my bathing suit and I like shopping for clothes more. Also my food bills and restaurant charges have gone down. But I still drink some wine, eat avocados and dance whenever I can.