Thursday, July 06, 2006

Committed to change

Yesterday's post elicited some interesting comments. Greta's thoughts echo mine: Does depression precede obesity, or is it a result? She also brought up the idea that overweight people most likely don't exercise as frequently as those of normal weight, and perhaps aren't releasing endorphins, those "feel-good" brain chemicals. I think what I need to learn is that when I'm feeling down, food is not – and never has been – good medicine!

I'm so glad the holiday is over. The leftovers are gone, either tossed or eaten, and I didn't do as well as I'd hoped or planned. I suddenly – from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning – have four additional pounds to deal with. I know it's not four pounds of fat, but it's not fun to see a number on the scale that I thought I'd left far behind.

While I did plan healthful menus for the weekend, I also had snack-type foods in the house that I rarely buy. Those kinds of crunchy, salty treats are very tempting for me, as are cold cuts, which we had for lunch one day. I don't "do" salt very well. And it seemed like every time I turned around someone was eating something. Each occasion – going for a drive, playing soccer in the front yard, a little fishing in the pond – ended with sandwiches, snacks and sweets.

What I did do well was exercise. I got up early each day our guests were here and did my 6.6-mile loop. It was a good way to start the day, releasing the inevitable anxiety and tension I feel when we have company. I guess I flip into people-pleasing mode when I'm the hostess.

Diet-Blog has an inspiring post here
, a great essay about being committed to changing one's life, part of which says [italics are mine]:
The modern attitude to life is all about minimal input and yet expecting maximum gratification. This mindset is apparent in our relationships with others and in our relationship with ourselves. We expect an easy road - but life wouldn't be so difficult if we didn't expect it to be so easy.
I must say, in retrospect, that I put minimal effort into taking care of my food needs over the weekend, while going to great lengths to make sure there was something for everyone else. I didn't expect to be so ... um ... challenged by all the fun food at my fingertips.

I also realize now that no matter what they say, my daily caloric requirements must remain at or below 1200 no matter how much I exercise. I know I gave myself permission to exceed that limit over the weekend. In the back of my mind, I could hear the "experts" suggesting that you need to eat more if you're exercising vigorously. The difference, probably, is that I didn't exercise a great deal more than I usually do – maybe an extra 30 minutes a day. Not enough to burn off an additional 200 to 400 calories per day.

Ah, well. I had hoped to write some kind of inspiring, philosophical message today, which is the first day I've had to really sit down and think hard about what I want to say since the holiday. I'm halfway through my year of losing, and halfway to my goal. Well, not quite halfway today. But close. Maybe this little setback is a good lesson for me.

I'm not a normal eater. I never have been, and I never will be. I will always have to be vigilant, and it's never going to be easy for me to maintain a loss. But the benefits of all that work are far greater than the fleeting pleasure of overindulging in foods that just don't work for me.

As Beverly Sills so wisely said,
there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.


loretta123 said...

I’m not sure about the depression and obesity thing. Seems a bit like the ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’ theory. Does it really matter now that we have both????

I’m convinced it’s a chemical balance thing and those chemicals can be gotten naturally (wise food choices and vigorous spiritual and physical exercise) and/or chemically (anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds). Figuring out how to get and maintain that balance is the challenge for me. I’ll let the thin folks spend their time doing the chicken and egg thing.

Going off track for vacations and company is part of life, I think, so I try not to beat myself up for participating in life. But when my “normal” life resumes, I have to remind myself the party’s over and more life work lies ahead. You’ll get there.

Milinda said...

Speaking as someone who has been dealing with depression for, ahem, decades, I know that while I always carried an extra 5 lbs, my real weight gain did not happen until I went on prozac. I gained about 40 lbs in a very, very short period of time. And it has just gotten worse over the years.

Which adds another dimension to the chicken or egg argument. My weight gain then made me more depressed. Then again, we now know that I am just nuts.

LME said...

I'm with you on the calories thing. The only way the scale budges, even when I'm exercising, is if I keep calories under 1200. Eating more may work for some people's bodies, but not for this one.

Woohoo on sticking to your exercise, by the way.

Greta said...

You might find those extra pounds come off quite rapidly because salt in food causes water weight gain which reverses rapidly when going back to a natural foods eating plan. I once took a supposedly "low-fat" vegetarian Thai cooking class which I thought might be useful for introducing interesting foods into my diet. The foods were NOT low fat and were loaded with salt. I gained 5 pounds overnight after eating just one meal in the class. Luckily I lost the weight just as quickly because it was water retention not fat. Theoretically it takes eating over 3,000 extra calories to gain a pound of fat. I seem to gain weight more easily than that, but that's what's always quoted.

I agree with Loretta that company and vacations are part of life and the only really important thing is getting right back on track after a detour. I have had a couple of vacations after which it took me several MONTHS to get back on track because once I got the taste of "real food" in my mouth I could not buckle down and eat veggies, beans, and greens. The key to lifetime weight loss maintenance is NOT avoiding eating special foods for holidays, vacations, and parties, but learning to get RIGHT BACK ON TRACK immediately afterwards. I know you can do it.

Greta said...

Jonathan's blog today (Wednesday July 5th entry) is very relevant to what you have written, especially some of the comments by readers:

I was particularly interested in what "jadelaz" wrote because it meshes with what has happened to me at times. It seems to me that there is a grey zone surrounding eating off plan. It can go very smoothly when one is able to eat one thing or for several days off plan without upsetting the apple cart and one seamlessly returns to the "diet". Then there are the times that the demons are unleashed and we end up going "nuts" for a while before being able to get ourselves back on plan.

Vickie said...

Debbi –
I don’t know if this will help you or not –
Feel free to take what is helpful and leave the rest.

Several times now I have had to go down to 1200 calories in order to loose. I think I saw that this is what you are currently doing also.

I discovered that I needed to look at the mix of those 1200 calories and was able to UP them to 14-1600 by working on the ratio of carbs to protein to fat. I can eat at the higher calories level if my ratio is 40-40-20. There is an excellent illustration of this concept in the middle of Eating Thin for Life.

I built at little excel sheet that totaled calories and then totaled grams for each of the 3 categories, and then figured my percentages at the bottom. This was helpful – because I could plug in my planned day in advance and play to get the ratios right.

I know you walk – are you also doing weight resistance training (in the morning) at least 3 times a week with a day in between sessions? Do you have the speed of your walking up high enough that it is getting your cardio up? Are you adding arm movements every 5-10 minutes to keep heart up?

Besides mucking stalls, garden work, etc are you getting enough variety in your exercise?
– My Personal Trainer firmly believes that you have to change your exercise program at least every 3 mos to get benefits. Your body adapts to what it is used to and you don’t reap as many benefits if you stay the same. I have found this to be true. I still walk, because, I love it – but have to add other stuff and keep rotating it.

These are all things that have helped me fine tune.

dg said...

wow... that may just be some of the best italics i've ever seen :) brilliant post!