TV Program + Blog = Thoughtful
This has made me think, which is almost never a good thing.
OK in order to write about this I need to try to sum up what I got from these sources of ideas, otherwise I’ll be here all night. Here goes:
Dieting is bad
OK no, that’s not it. Or it’s only a small part of it. Let me try again.
First the TV program. This was a Horizon program from the BBC. For those that don’t know this means it’s a fairly serious, if populist, science program. They repeated a little-know experiment which showed that some thin people almost literally can’t get fat. What I got from this show was:
- your body has a kind of built-in notion of how heavy it thinks you should be
- it (your body) tries to maintain this weight
- so if you’re “meant” to be fat you probably will be
- and you’ll struggle to lose weight and put it back on easily
- which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try but be realistic:
What may be depressing for many people who are overweight [is] to know that a large amount of weight-loss is very difficult to maintain in the long term. However we know that small amounts of weight-loss will make you healthier and actually is much easier to maintain.
Dr Carel le Roux, Imperial College London.
There was lots more than that but that’s the gist of what I got from it.
Now the blog. This is more political. I only read a few recent posts and some with intriguing titles. But what I gained from this was:
- dieting really is bad
- because it sets unrealistic expectations
- and because it rarely works, certainly not long-term
- i.e. 95% of dieters don’t keep off the weight
- of the 5% remaining the majority end up working in fitness, gyms, personal training etc
- i.e. it becomes a full time job keeping the weight off
- we should rebel against unrealistic images and expectations
- in particular BMI is a load of rubbish
- you can be healthy without being thin
- in fact it’s probably healthier than dieting
- in case I forgot to mention it dieting is bad
Now all this very interesting and some of it is new to me so it certainly made me question what I’m doing. And that made me a little sad.
Why? Because regardless of whether it’s doing me any good or not the sense of achievement, the satisfaction I’ve gained from actually sticking to something and seeing results has been great. But now there’s reason to believe that I’ll probably find it impossible to maintain and if I do it’ll be like a fulltime job and I’ll constantly feel hungry (one study showed that obese people on a “maintenance diet” still felt hungry all the time).
So am I right to worry or is this typical Shuggie paranoia?
What’s Good About What I’m Doing
Well the good news is that I am already doing some good things. The essence of HAES is eating well, taking exercise and self-acceptance. Well I certainly eat better than I did and I do lots of exercise. More than I did and more than I need simply to lose weight (see below). As for self-acceptance well yes and no. But that’s a bigger issue than just my weight, though I have got sucked into thinking how nice it would be to be “thin” again.
Reasons Not to Quit Lesamy
The first is this “natural weight” thing. How do you know what it is? In the program they said most adults gain only around 20-30lbs across their entire adult lives. At 18 I was 10 1/2 stone, a few months ago (41) I was 22 1/2. That’s a little more than 30lbs. In other words I wasn’t maintaining some natural weight I was getting bigger and that’s not good.
So maybe I do have a natural weight, and maybe it’ll still be fat by everyday standards. But if I’m doing exercise and not eating crap and generally being reasonably healthy then I’ll be ok with that. I’ll have to give up the dream of being thin but I’ve been fat my whole adult life, I think I’ll cope.
I Haven’t Stopped Yo-ing Yet
One thing all this reminded me which I pretty much have known for years is that yo-yo dieting is worse for you than not dieting at all. But I’m not yo-yoing yet. I’m still on the way down. Maybe I will be one of the 95% but maybe not. If I’d had to predict it I would have say that I would never have got this far. I would have said that I would have lost a few pounds , maybe even a stone or more, but put most of it back on again, and so on, a few times by now. So maybe, just maybe, I’m capable of keeping at least some of this off.
And you know what? If not. If I go back up then I’ll just keep up the exercise and healthy eating and call it a win.
But I honestly think I can maintain it.
Why? Because I haven’t been hungry all the time. Despite surviving on 1800 calories a day I’ve felt ok most of the time. If I had to live on this regime the rest of my life, I could. I’d rather have a few more treats every now and then, but it’s not like I’m even missing those completely. Plus that’s a diet based on losing weight. My plan to maintain it will allow me a few more calories and at least one “day off” per week.
So to conclude. I’ve had a lot to think about but that’s actually good. It’s made me really think about what I’m doing and look at my motives and confirm what’s good about it. There’s a lot in these sources I agree with, specifically,
- need to be realistic, I may always be “fat”
- remember healthy != thin and fat != unhealthy
- BMI is dubious at best
- acceptance is a good thing, self-acceptance particularly
However I don’t think that I’m actually endangering my health right now and the benefits in terms of self-esteem, accomplishment and yes, feeling fitter are real.
So I’m carrying on.
So Many Words – What About a Few Numbers?
OK so you’re bored rigid by now by my meandering thought processes (so why you reading my blog?), what about this week’s stats? Before I post them, a quick word about exercise.
End of last week I developed a large blister on my foot. Right between my big toe and the next one. It wasn’t painful but it made walking, even using the stepper, awkward. So on Tuesday I abandoned exercise for the week. I thought it would be a good experiment. Ever since I got my pedometer I’ve been aware that exercise doesn’t account for very much of my weight-loss, how much would I lose even without it? Here’s the answer:
Weekly loss: 2kg (4.4lb)
Total loss: 29.5kg (65lb or 4st 9lb)
Current weight: 114.6kg (252lb or 18st)
This is a number of milestones. I’m under 115kg, I’m 18stone even and I’ve now lost just over 20% of my original body weight.
So yes it’s mainly the diet and not the exercise that’s causing the weight-loss. Which in a weird way just re-inforces that I need to keep up the exercise because it’s that that’s doing me more good and it’s that that will keep me healthy if I do eventually yo back up.