Monday, 5 July 2010

Extremes Are Just Wrong!

Continuation of yesterday's rant against fatties being 'conned' (may be?)  into feeling they must become super-athletic. Surely, that notion has to be damaging, yet it's so prevalent. One of my concerns now is that couch potatoes are being drip-fed the idea that they must become runners. I see so many huge people lumbering along on pavements, red-faced and obviously distressed. Part of me thinks - well done. Another part of me thinks that bloke is going to keel over any minute. There is no joy or look of determination or satisfaction on his face...this is a penance, a punishment for being fat. OK, so he may learn to love running..or he may give up, because going from being a sedentary being to one who runs is just too great a leap. However...the very fat would-be runners are everywhere. Take a look. They are. I am wondering - why? Surely you have to be reasonably fit to RUN?

I am also wondering if running is the magic bullet of weight-loss that I have been searching for. I don't seem to be able to lose weight. I can, but my weight-loss doesn't match my efforts at all. OK, so I am a post-menopausal, middle aged woman who takes seven different prescribed medications every day, for various chronic complaints. Some have weight-gain as a side effect. I am concerned that I can maintain my weight, but not lose it.

Perhaps I am just peculiar. I know that despite my efforts, which have been genuine, I am finding it hard to lose weight. I am not  finding 1) cutting back and  2) cutting out food-wise and 3) ensuring I move more particularly hard, but I am having little success in seeing the scales show much change either way. OK, so I have lost 13lbs, but I have lost count of the months it's taken me to do that! Months! Yes, when I have had bad weeks I hold my hands up. I don't expect to see change, but when I have successfully exercised and eaten well there is also little change. Strangely, when I have had the odd bad day, the scales show no gain. It's as though my body just wants to maintain the weight I am! It's wierd. Even weeks of twice a day exercise - walking at a brisk rate and a session on the exercise bike, plus all the other things I do which involve movement in the course of a day, the scales just don't budge! OK, I know losing a pound here and a pound there, doing it (really!) slowly is GOOD, but it's also very frustrating. It's also tempting to think "Why am I doing this! It's too hard!"

I have told myself my lifestyle is so much better and losing weight is a bonus. I know slow weight gain is recommended that if it comes off slowly and steadily good habits are formed so it won't all come back quickly either. (Not sure about that theory, but it has been promoted.)

I have thought about WHY the weight is resisting saying goodbye to my body.

It could be that I am kidding myself and my portion control is way out...but with hand on heart I can say it's not.

It could be that I need to cut back on calories even further, but thanks to a blog elsewhere I was able to get a fairly scientific theory for the number of calories I should allow myself. I should be going for 1600 daily which would give me a 2lb per week weight loss. I am however not counting calories. I did initially, so I got an idea about how much food I could eat in a day. I am able to check the calories in certain foods...loads of online calorie counters to if I feel the need to, I'll check. I am however against diets per se and the counting of calories. I want to eat healthily and move more, and see weight drop off.

I don't binge eat. I do however comfort eat, but for the most part I haven't done that since I got serious.
If I am tempted beyond endurance (and that hasn't happened too much since I started this campaign) I'll taste the food which is tempting me.  A taste suffices..and has done ever since the doughnut episode, written about several weeks ago. It's hardly happening at all now...I am successfully weaning myself off so many foods -  which I believe is the way forward and a more sensible approach than total abstinance.

I don't imagine that for the remainder of my life I will eschew every single food that I enjoyed before. That's an unrealistic expectation, therefore I am learning how to exclude those foods for the most part, and becoming aware that when I want them they can be damaging, so sense is needed. They'll never be labeled 'bad' though.

I lost weight once by denying myself every single thing that I enjoyed and it really fucked up my head and yes...slowly I started indulging again without giving much thought to what I was doing. Doing that just screws us up. It's stupid. I don't want to go to that place again, therefore, "all things in moderation, some things rarely," has to be the way forward. For me. I can hear some people tutting and immediately saying "THIS is why you are not losing weight very successfully."

I'd disagree. My lifestyle today is quite different from the one I had in March of this year. Very different. I am aware of my food intake, it's planned, as is my very conscious effort to move. I am eating less, eating better, and moving more. I have the odd day off from that - the "I must exercise" part. Given I wasn't exercising at all before, I am wondering if my body has gone into shock ;-) (I jest...) I am reasonably fit. I don't huff and puff when I walk and I can climb stairs without getting out of breath...several flights of stairs...not a tower block's worth. I can walk for long distances without having to stop...always have been able to.

So what am I not doing? Given I have no truck with the diet-nazi approach and faddy diets, and the going- for-the-burn approach in exercise, I think my way forward makes sense.

I am asking myself - do I have to starve myself? (Conventional wisdom says no.) Do I have to become a running super-athlete like the huge people transformed on The Biggest Loser? I'd say no - no way.

Such extremes are used for entertainment purposes. Many fat people undertaking such arduous tasks with so much blubber on their frames would pass out or have a heart-attack. Entrants are medically checked before they take part and are monitored and supervised every step of the way. Many overweight people would not be up to going straight into those physical endurance tests. That isn't realistic. It's fascinating, and I am pleased that people change, but it's a TV programme devoted to extremes. I don't think we are expected to follow that example! To each their own, but isn't it true that you can't run before you can walk?

I am not in this so I can become an athlete or to run marathons or to punish myself. I am resisting running. I may want to run later on, who knows, but really - I'll settle for middle aged, slim and fit.

Huh. If only.....that seems beyond my reach too :(

I believe that the Good Lord gave us a finite number of heartbeats and I'm damned if I'm going to use up mine running up and down a street. ~ Neil Armstrong on jogging, in an interview with Walter Cronkite

Anyway, sorry for the moan. How do you feel about 'pushing' yourself to that extent? Am I just being contrary or do I have a point? I feel almost guilt-tripped into becoming someone who signs up for running challenges. Great if you enjoy it - if not, be a spectator and do your own thing, exercise-wise. The point is - we have to move and we have to sweat, but there's sweating and sweating - right? ;-)

Now get off that chair and move. Go on.


  1. I not only "won't" push myself like that. I physically "can't". And I don't think it is necessary to lose weight. I think an overall increase in moderate activity will do it. Walking burns more calories per hour than sitting even if it doesn't get your heart rate into the desired target range.

    That said, I hate to say it, but you probably need to start actually counting calories. Having a rough idea is a start, but often it's not enough. It takes so little extra food - an ounce of chicken here - 50-60 calories, a quarter ounce of cheese there - 25 calories, a quarter cup of low-fat milk - 30 more calories - and those slim calorie reduction margins become even slimmer. I say this because after a year of doing this, I can still be staggered by the fact that something like 200 grams (about 7 oz.) of grapes is such a small amount relative to what I imagine it to be.

    I am not sure about your current weight, but once you get to around 200 lbs. (or less), the margin between loss and maintenance, particularly in or after your 40's, is very small. You may be cutting out as little as 200-300 calories a day and thinking it's closer to 500. This would account for a very slow loss rate.

    I'm not the type of person who tries to troubleshoot other people's weight loss efforts, because I'm not some calorie or food nazi. I just try to add in things that are better behaviors and take out things which aren't as I continue on. I can tell you that my exercise has been a slow ramp upward through time - I continually add in a little more, but I'm nowhere near the fanatics who work out on machines everyday. I walk 30-90 minutes most days (probably 6 out of 7), lift light hand weights (which you can do in front of the T.V. or computer), and have recently added in a few small exercises for specific muscles that can be done from a seated position (sucking in my abdominal muscles and holding them for 5 seconds about 15 times and lifting my legs up and down 6 times each for my thigh muscles). I'll continue to add reps to all of these things through time, but I will freeze them at a certain number if I experience pain. I also try to do my housework differently - more standing and walking around and actually getting up and taking more trips to do tasks I used to consolidate.

    At any rate, you may want to also start to scrutinize the balance of what you eat in terms of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In particular, consider reducing some carbs slowly. Some people have trouble with them. I don't, but I've heard that they can slow down weight loss for those who are sensitive to them.

  2. Grump, that seems so unfair. I really like your approach to weight loss, and in fact it inspires me. I like "all things in moderation" - it makes sense. I don't understand why you aren't losing weight because you're doing everything right.

    Do hang in there. Maybe going over to the dark side for a spell could shed some light (is that a bit oxymoronic?). Sorry I haven't got anything more helpful to say. Just don't stop doing the good stuff you're already doing.

  3. I'm so sorry to say this, but yes, you might want to consider keeping track of everything you eat. You would have to do that if you joined WW anyway. But with Weight Watchers you get the extra fun of converting to Points. I'd don't really understand why they just don't teach people how to count calories.. but then maybe Points is an easier concept for people.

    I've been "working" on loosing weight since april of 2008. As of today I've lost over 70 lbs... I'm not sure how much my high weight was as I was too afraid of the scale lol. But my recorded starting weight was 228... I'm thinking I was close to 240, possibly 250. It wasn't until this year that I got serious and started actually trying, so 38 lbs of that is just from this year. As of this morning im 158.6 lbs. I never in a million years thought I'd be back in the 150's.

    I don't have a blog or anything, but here's some stuff I put up on my facebook page after I had a number of people ask me what I was doing..

    Maybe there's something in there you can use. I will say that I probably have a huge advantage as I'm not menopausal yet - I'm going to be 42 in a couple months. I'm so happy this, whatever it is, is changing within me before menopause, I've heard how hard it is to loose weight after. I think I may have squeeked in under the deadline.

    Hang in there. You will find what will work best for your body, it just takes time. Once I started writing down what I was eating it made all the difference. Things like gummy vitamins- they seem innocent, and its a vitamin fer-cryin-out-loud. Well they are 10 calories each and mostly sugar... and I was probably eating 6-10 a day. OH, I think THE biggest thing for me has been trying to eliminate refined sugar and white flour from my diet. Doesn't sound like this is a problem for you, but was a huge problem for me...and apparently millions of others as well. Hi, my name is Lisa and I'm a Carboholic :o)

  4. I'm trying to be moderate in introducing changes to my life but I've been sitting at ten pounds down for a good while. I'm adding a tiny bit of weights, twenty minutes three times a week and I'm being active outside, walking or biking where I get my heart rate up a bit. Nothing extreme so I'll be following with interest if my approach will a) bring dividends over the route you're taking (and that I was taking) and b) will I be able to sustain it.

    I have to say the will to exercise in this record heat is weak at best.

  5. Grump: For me, I found the answer was in the number of calories I was consuming daily. Prior to this new "life plan", I went to the gym faithfully three times per week for over four years. My legs and arms got stronger and I felt better, but I didn't lose a pound.

    It wasn't until I started looking at the groceries that I began to lose weight. And, I stopped going to the gym. Hmmmm.

    As I've said before, I loathe the gym and because of my feet issues, can't do many other types of exercise (walking, jogging--bleck!, etc.)

    I think it's in what you eat. Having said that, I do count calories, but I also eat almost everything I want, again staying under my daily limit. Yesterday we had a 4th of July party and I had baked beans, dessert and a juicy barbecued hamburger.

    This morning the scale reflected that I had thrown away over two pounds last week.

    I think slow and steady wins the race and retraining ourselves to move more and eat less (in whatever fashion floats your boat) is what works best.

    And to Glenn, what record heat? It's raining and grey and cold here in Washington State.


  6. If you are managing to maintain while on medications that list weight gain as a side effect then you are doing FANTASTIC. We are a lot alike. I'm 45, I still have 20 lbs to lose, I've made a lot of changes in the last 15 months and sometimes I wonder if I will ever shift another pound. I also ask myself sometimes if I actually care that much, you know? I'm strong, I look so much better than I did a year ago, and I feel great. I'm not obese anymore, just overweight and I'm not sure that I care enough to work harder than I am to get to that magical land of normal. I'm wearing sized of clothes that I haven't seen in 10 years.

    If you feel good and you can do anything you want then there comes a point where you must ask if there is a significant advantage to going further. My doctor is happy with me as I am...


  7. Lisa - thanks. I read the piece on Facebook and it makes a lot of sense!

    Just wanted to say thank you to all who replied. It really does help to read your comments.

    I am going through a bit of a defeatist period..and it won't last, but it's like Barb says, even though I have quite a lot of weight to lose I am asking myself if I actually care that much. Sometimes I have the "I can't be bothered with this - I am OK as I am" days. Now, if I didn't have a significant amount to lose I could justify that, but sadly the 'morbidly obese' label HAS to frighten me.
    I have to go away and whip myself into a frenzy of "get up and do something - anything - just move!" right now.

    I am having a bleugh "I just don't care" day. I am sure we all get them and it will pass. I think I had better start counting calories, even though I am loathe to do it. Gotta keep on keeping on. Reading your replies just now has helped. There are some wonderful,sensible and motivating people out there in blog world.

    Thank you.