I Went Shopping Today

I had to get some dog food before I leave on my trip, so decided to make a day of it.  First stop Costco, for the dog food, and then ended getting a lot of extra household supply-type stuff.  Basically no food, except goat cheese and laughing cow light, the Chevy’s salsa, which I love, and those little bowls of pre-cooked brown rice.  They are just right for me.

On to Marshall’s and Ross, where I planned to look for some tops for my trip.  I have enough pants, but thought I might be a little short on tops.  I tried on 10 tops at one store and 8 tops at the other.  Only ended up with one that I really liked enough to buy. As I stood in the dressing room trying on top after top, I consciously did not allow myself to engage in ‘negative talk’ about my current weight, the size I was wearing, or the state of my body.  I was not discouraged that I didn’t find more to wear.  I am just very picky about paying retail prices for things that don’t fit that well or aren’t flattering to my particular body type.

When I got home I checked the blogs, and Lynn had posted!  She was recently featured in a segment of 60 Minutes Australia.  It was a very interesting piece, because they started out talking about a study that was done in Melbourne that ‘proves’ that your weight is genetically predetermined and so it is pretty much impossible to lose weight and MAINTAIN that weight loss.  Lynn’s part was showing that it was possible to maintain weight loss long term with “hypervigilance” both in food choices and exercise.  They also featured the doctor who is part of the NWCR study, which of course has 10,000 people who HAVE successfully lost and maintained their weight loss for a number of years.  A big part of the segment was dedicated to a plus-sized woman who won Australia’s Got Talent.  She discussed her journey of trying many different diets, trainers, etc, and finally coming to just “love herself” the way she was (they didn’t mention it, but it sounded like “Health at Every Size.”)

I guess I just want to say that I can see both sides of the equation.  I’ve been at my current weight since before I went to Africa, so that’s been about a year and a half.  Its 20 pounds (plus or minus one or two) up from my lowest weight.  Sometimes part of me feels like a failure still.  That’s when I remember all the evidence about how hard it is to maintain weight loss.  And yet, if I dwell in that camp for too long, it can kind of boomerang on me.  There’s nothing wrong with being hypervigilant about my food choices, and nothing wrong with exercising a lot.  Lori made such a funny, but true comment in response to the 60 Minutes piece.  The doctor from the Melbourne study had made the statement that to exercise that much was “obsessive-compulsive.”  Lori said, “An hour of physical activity is obsessive-compulsive? Why does no one say watching an hour of TV a day obsessive compulsive?”  LOL.  That is so true!

On the other side of things, sometimes it DOES seem weird that I think about healthy food all the time, talk about it endlessly.  Worry about what food to take with me on a trip vs. just  dealing with what I can find when I get there.

And back on THE OTHER SIDE of things, I don’t think the current weight I am maintaining is because of genetics.  I think its because I am indulging too much.  Sometimes when I take a little bowl of walnuts and raisins to bed with me, when I’m not really hungry, I think about that.  I don’t know why I can’t resist it, but I don’t really think its a genetic or hormonal thing.  I don’t even think its an emotional thing.  But since I can’t identify what it is, maybe it is a physical thing?

Ah, so you can see I have as much concrete information about weight loss maintenance for you as most of the experts do.  I’ll just tell you that the best advice I can come up with, and it has been something I have kept in the forefront of my mind for the last 7 or so years, is to look at what the successful people have done and imitate that.  So when they said that most of the people in the NWCR ate breakfast, I learned to enjoy a good breakfast.  When they said that most of the people exercise for an hour a day, I took exercise seriously.  I worked up to over an hour of exercise a day.  Now, I don’t know if I get an hour every day, but it is close.  They said that most people weigh themselves once a week.  I have gone back and forth on this.  Currently I weigh myself twice a week.  And lastly, they said that most people watched less than 10 hours of TV a week.  So I threw my TV out!  LOL, that’s not exactly true.  I don’t actually remember reading that fact before.  I did get rid of my TV for different reasons, and I think because of that I do stay a lot more active.

I also think its not bad to keep the increasing body of evidence regarding the extreme difficulty of weight loss maintenance in the back of your mind.  Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I think women are striving to get to an unrealistic weight.  By unrealistic I mean that they are not heading towards that weight with the full knowledge of what will be necessary to MAINTAIN that weight.  And in the meantime, they are very unhappy with themselves.  That’s no good, is it?  I recently saw some pictures of me as a little girl. I remembered that time so well.  I was, umm, well endowed at a pretty young age.  I remembered having to get that awful ‘old lady’ yellow swimsuit with the built in bra.  I FELT SOOOOO FAT.  What I saw in that picture was a VERY SLIM little girl.  Oh my goodness.  The mind games we play on ourselves.  Its just no good.

So wherever you are on this journey,  try to look at the truth that is known.  Work that into your life now.  Try to love yourself now.  Find clothes that are flattering for your body type right now.  Don’t wait until you are some imaginary shape or size.  And don’t wear clothes that are too tight to remind yourself of how ‘bad’ you are or how you want to be another size.  That is not loving and kind.

A Different Way to Weigh

Okay, here goes.  A disjointed (ooh, good ‘j’ word–I’ve been playing Words with Friends lately,) unprofessional review of a very interesting book.

Health at Every Size was written by Linda Bacon, who started out with a masters degree in psychotherapy, and then went back to school to get her doctorate in physiology with a focus on nutrition and weight regulation.  She struggled for years with her own weight.  “Bacon’s pain and obsession about her weight fueled her determination to understand everything about weight regulation.”

The main point she tries to make in this book is that most people are not going to lose weight.  Period.  And if they do lose weight, in all probability they will regain that weight.  She spends a lot of time going over extensive research that shows this is true. (that’s the part I skimmed.)  And she points to many studies that show that being overweight is not necessarily detrimental to your health. (also skimmed.) I think she’s trying to say that if you accept your weight and stop judging yourself for it, it is easier to move forward and make changes that are truly healthy IN SPITE OF your weight.

“Self-love may be the most revolutionary act you can engage in.  A person who is content in his or her body–fat or thin–disempowers the industries that prey on us and helps rewrite cultural mores.”

She doesn’t promote “Health at Any and All Food.”  That’s kind of what I thought the “Health at Every Size” movement was about.  Not at all.  She actually promotes eating very healthy whole foods.  And makes a statement that sounds vaguely familiar.  “Enjoy a variety of real food, primarily plants.” Similar to Michael Pollan’s famous saying, “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  Who came first?

This was probably the most outstanding and interesting passage in the book:

Then recognize that you have a choice.  You can choose your own standard of beauty, one that is realistic and respectful, or you can choose society’s hurtful standards.  Just remember:  You only have one body and despite how well you live your life, it may never change.  Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life?

 

Bring this new thinking to how you view your body.  Experts call this vision kinesthesia, which simply means how you sense and feel about your body.  Kinesthesia is a product of your imagination, much more influenced by your self-esteem than by others’ perception of you.  Only you have the power to alter it.

This might be what happened to me when I made that New Year’s Day list:

Most of all I want to live a balanced  healthful life.  WITHOUT ANGST.

I want to be

  • Active.
  • Creative.
  • Spiritual.
  • Generous.
  • Joyful.

I want to be all of these things.  I want them to be balanced in my life.  I even wrote “If being a little heavier is part of this, so be it.”

Something changed that day.  Well, lets be real.  This whole thing has been a process.  A LONG DRAWN-OUT PROCESS.  I started changing the way I think and the way I viewed myself.  I would no longer be embarrassed that I was ‘too fat’ to go to the gym, and put it off for a week or two until I ‘got the pounds off.’  I went to the gym as a proud overweight woman who wanted to continue to grow stronger.  I looked at myself in the mirror and liked what I saw.  Not compared to anyone else, either fatter or thinner.  I just was pleased with me.  Now don’t get me wrong.  That is in no way a 24 hour a day feeling.  In fact, last night I had to ask myself, so why DO you continue to weigh yourself?  Well the truth is, many times, mostly in the evening when I am sitting, I ‘feel’ very fat.  So I weigh myself to reassure myself that nothing has really changed.

And it has not.  I weigh almost exactly the same every time I get on the scale.  For the last few weeks I’ve taken a break from writing down everything I eat, and have not counted the calories either.  This does not mean that I have thrown out everything I have learned along the way.  Far from it.  Even my most recent foray into eating more protein has come into play.  I still am choosing good foods, balanced meals, basically no processed foods (except the most excellent cake at the missions weekend banquet :)) )  I am not engaging in angst over meals out, or wanting a treat now and again.  I am, however, still battling that feeling of ‘being bad’  even when I have only THOUGHT about eating something too rich.  So I’m a work in progress.  Still.  sigh.

Towards the end of the book she makes this statement:

“Failed attempts at losing weight make people feel like failures, and even those who succeed feel a never-ending pressure to retain that success that will always limit their ability to feel comfortable around food and in their bodies.”

This is what I was feeling a wee bit.  Like a ‘successful maintainer’ who was actually always failing.  I am thinking of changing the byline of my blog to something like ‘thoughts on a whole and healthy life.’  That would be more in line with what I write about anyway.  Since I really have nothing left to say about weight LOSS.

One more thought.  For some of us, who are attempting to maintain a weight lower that what our body wants, or perhaps we have mucked with our internal body mechanism by gaining and maintaining extreme amounts of weight, I do believe that if we don’t continue to ‘try’ to lose weight, or at least remain ‘vigilant’ in maintaining our weight, there is the distinct probability that we will regain weight.

This book was quite scientific, especially the first half, where she uses EXTENSIVE research to try to prove her point (that you can be overweight and healthy.)  But it was much more balanced in its approach to life and food and exercise than I expected.  I have written before that I am scared by some of the HAES advocates.  They seem so angry.  I think my life experience is much much different than many persons.  I was ‘morbidly obese’ for many years, but for the most part I was loved, and treated with respect, and had a very full and fulfilling life.  For some people that is not their experience, and thus, their anger and frustration.  Overall, this book had a lot to offer. (plus it was very cheap to download on my kindle.)  I wish so much that people would learn to be content with their bodies and just eat healthy foods and move around a bit.