Overreactions: The Price of being a Maintainer?

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on March 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

I’m saying this up front:  This is triggering.  I’m asking that my Size Acceptance friends don’t try to intervene or convert me.  Just acknowledge or don’t read.  Please.

In less than two weeks I go in for my first colonoscopy.  Yuck.  I’m feeling horribly anxious, but not because of the procedure.  It’s the prep.  And not the awful laxative.  That would be okay, by itself. 

I fear the fasting.   Not the discomfort, but how I will respond and rebound afterwards.

For the day before the procedure, I can have clear, golden or brown liquids and I can suck on hard candy, but nothing red or purple.  Selections include water, jello and popsicles (orange and lemon-lime flavored), apple juice, tea and coffee (sweetened, okay, but no milk).   That’s mostly carbs.  Except that I can also drink clear broth.

I will be hungry.  Anxious.  I know that I’ll be drugged for the procedure, but when I’m out of the fog, I’ll eat, and I don’t trust that my body will respond as I’ve been promised by all the people who have undergone this procedure before me – “Oh, it’s no big deal.  You lose a bunch of weight from the fast and the laxative, but it’s only temporary.  Once you’re eating again, you just jump right back to where you were.”

Oh, yeah?

Many people laugh about how they tried to hold on to their losses, but just couldn’t.  Ha ha.  They write it off as personal weakness.  We who are maintainers or who have given up on the weight-loss pursuit all together know it’s not weakness.  The body puts up an enormous fight to regain homeostasis at a particular weight.  And for those of us maintaining big losses, the body seems to look for opportunities to reclaim a pound or two, or five.  A yo-yo jolt like this may be just the ticket.

When I awake from the fog, I’m sure I’ll respond to the hunger, but will I then be hounded by those dreaded “eat now” impulses?  If so, for how long?  A couple of days?  A week?  Until I give my body back a pound?  Two?  How many?  I am edgy beyond what is “normal” for this procedure, and it’s because I’m a maintainer, I want to remain one, and I don’t take maintenance for granted.

This is not the first time I’ve gone nutty.  But here’s the question:  is nutty, perhaps, appropriate, even if based in some disordered values? 

My maintainer friend, Marilyn, goes in for regular “tune ups” at Duke University – weeklong review sessions with support group meetings, and the like.   She says she’s noticed that among the people who have shown any long-term success at maintenance on that program, the most likely precursor to major weight regain is surgery.   I get that.  I got that intuitively before she even brought it up.  After surgery, you have to go through a recovery and rehabilitation period, and they don’t want you restarting exercise too soon, and they want you to eat easily digestible foods, which are also easily assimilated – simple carbs.

I went nutty when I was hospitalized after emergency gut surgery to repair a hernia and remove two feet of intestine that had gotten entangled by it.  Every day they weighed me.  In five days I gained 19 pounds.  I was in the hospital for seven days, but they didn’t weigh me the final two.  They knew I was gaining, and that it made me a cranky patient. 

“What’s in those bags?!  I want to know how many calories are in those bags!”  I’d say, pointing to my IV.

“No calories.  Those are just fluids.  You’ll lose ‘em in no time once you’re home.”

“I don’t believe you.  There’s a whole line of dietetics devoted to coming up with the recipes for those bags, to provide just the right nutrients to maintain people, and they do too have calories!  I want you to research my bags, and tell me the truth!”

They evaded the question and just stopped weighing me.  My husband, for check out, brought me a pair of zipper-front shorts, which I could barely squeeze over my hips.  The blouse he brought covered the wide-V of the unzipped fly.  I didn’t weigh myself at home for two weeks, because I knew I’d go nuts at the number.   

Actually, the doctors and nurses turned out to be right about losing the weight.  I did return to my old number after about three weeks at home, but I suspect it’s because I was exercising more than what they recommended, and I was back on the job counting and balancing.

I go nutty in other, more common situations too.

A restaurant.  The server brings me my plate.  It has fries.  This has happened several times.  Maybe it’s because “fruit” and “fries” both begin with “fr” and servers use unclear abbreviations.   

“Oops, I’m sorry, I asked for fruit, not fries.  Could you take this back please and bring it with fruit?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sweetie, I’ll just bring you a side of fruit.”

“No, I’d really like you to take these away.”

“Oh, it’s okay, we won’t charge you extra.”

“That’s not the point, I don’t want the fries.”

“You don’t have to eat them.”

“TAKE THEM AWAY!!!  Please.”

Now, depending upon how short my fuse is, I may say something pre-emptive. 

“I’m sorry, I ordered fruit and this has fries.  I need you to take the fries away and bring me fruit, and I’m serious about that, don’t just bring me an extra side of fruit.  Okay?”

I’m sure my dining companions wish they had a brown paper bag with eyeholes.   (Perhaps I should carry one in my purse.)  I recall once, with a very persistent waiter, evoking the dreaded “I’ve lost a bunch of weight, see, and you need to understand these fries are not some big bonus.  They’re a distraction.  I didn’t order them.  I don’t want them.  Take them away!”  That got the biggest waiter eye-roll I’d ever seen, and one from my husband too – that day’s companion – so I haven’t said that again.

So, I face my colonoscopy with dread.  Is it undue dread?  Will I, as promised, just jump back to the weight I was, or will my body outsmart the know-it-alls and reclaim a pound or more?  (Yes, I know in the grand scheme of the universe that’s a trifling stupid question, but in the micro-world of a maintainer it can be the beginning of a depressing slide.)  Have any maintainers gone through this?  Is there a secret to it?  Do I still have some maintainers reading this blog or have we chased you away?

  1. I had my first colonoscopy last summer, at the tender age of 35. (Some bloodwork has revealed low cell counts, and my doctor wanted to rule out internal bleeding). Like you, I dreaded the fasting. It made me cranky. It didn’t make me lose weight; if anything, all of the extra liquid I was taking in (to fill up my empty stomach, and then the gallon o’ goo they make you drink to clean you out) bloated me up. Also, I skipped my usual workouts because it didn’t seem smart to exercise without good fuel.

    To add insult to injury, the gallon o’ goo didn’t do its job. I had to fast a second day and return to try the procedure again.

    For the first few days after I was able to return to normal eating habits, my appetite was actually a bit depressed. Then, it returned with a vengeance. There was a tub of homemade caramel popcorn snack mix involved.

    Within a week or so, I was back to equilibrium. Net change on the scale: 0 pounds. Relief at returning to normal eating and activity: Tremendous. Only lingering effect: Can’t face Jell-O to this day.

    Given that I haven’t been maintaining as long as you have, I hope that you—a seasoned “pro” at the “job”—can find some comfort in the fact that I bounced back from mine with relative ease. I’m sure you will have the sense to keep the caramel popcorn snack mix safely away.

    My deepest hope for you, though, is that your colonoscopy is entirely benign. Good luck!

  2. Two thoughts. One, you might want to consider going moderate to low carb in the week leading up to procedure. If you do that, then you can almost treat the day before the procedure as an intermittent fast day — and mostly because of the increase in ketones due to the reduced carbs, your hunger is not likely to be anywhere near what it would be after fasting on a higher carb diet.

    Two, I hope you can find a way to relax about this somehow! Stressing out too much probably won’t help your cortisol levels, which certainly won’t help with weight maintenance.

    Sending good thoughts your way!!

  3. Good luck with the procedure.

    I have had to have that discussion with wait staff too…

    “Please bring me a box so I can cut this in half and put the rest in the box.”

    “oh, I’ll be happy to box whatever is left when you are done”

    “no, thank you, I’d like to box it myself now”

    “But I can box it FOR you, you can just leave what you want boxed there on the plate”

    (in my mind) – BRING ME THE DAMN BOX!

    (out of my mouth) “No, really, if it’s all here, it’s all getting eaten. Please bring me the box now.”

    (small voice) “oh, ok” (wanders off to appease the crazy person.)

    • It is so good that you are as apesh*t as I am, NoCelery. We are not alone.

    • With respect, you all are not apesh*t. I think they’re trained to encourage us (for the N. American value of “us”) to eat it all and sell us more because then we’ll eat more out of guilt/”might as well I’ve blown it” syndrome, and then they can sell us more.
      But I am cynical like that.

      Good luck with your procedure, Deb.

  4. Hi Debra–not enough time right now, but I had my colonoscopy last fall (I’m the person who did not go to the doctor for 40 years and still don’t go often enough) and it was such a good experience that I said I could be the poster child for it!

    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog, and I will definitely write more later.

  5. Debra, good luck with that surgery. I always get anxious when I have to get a medical procedure done too. For different reasons. Or maybe not entirely – maybe you’re channeling anxiety over loss of control into the weight stuff a bit.

    Anyway, I’m tempted to start saying things like “Man, that is a crappy operation to have to get,” and “surgery is always such a shitty experience,” but obviously I’m much too mature for that kind of thing.

  6. Not a maintainer, but I’ve had my first colonoscopy within the last year. My favorite fasting food was egg drop soup, run through a kitchen strainer to get rid of the solids. Fatty, yes, but lots of umami to keep me satisfied. My other tip is to get small popsicles–mine were actual Popsicle branded, and were about 3 inches long. They were perfect for the “long prep” I had because they replenished fluid and killed the taste and mouth-feel of the prep drink.

    I can understand why you’re wigging out. I hope the procedure goes well.

  7. Just wanted to say, Hi, and I get it. You’ve got some great advice. I just want to underscore the advice to do your favourite thing to de-stress, ok? Hang in there.

  8. What if the whole set point theory is wrong? Completely unfounded.

    After all, it simply describes a phenomenon from a cultural scientific point of view, which frames the individual as an isolated biological organism that cannot influence its own neurophysiological functions. Thus, we are at the mercy of *the endocrine system*, etc.

    But what can we learn from neuroanthropology, cultural neuroscience and interactional emotional embodiment?

    Are you familiar with phantom limb therapy? (Using mirrors.)

    What if the brain is reacting as if the lost weight is still there on a maintainer’s body? (Like a phantom limb, not like a genetic or epigenetic set point, and not like an inevitable thermostat mechanism created by natural selection.)

    Then, the brain would direct consumption, metabolism, etc, to behave exactly as if the body had never become smaller. (Just like it directs physiological communication systems when there is a phantom limb.)

    Thus, the reasons that SEEM to support the set point theory may not be valid in any way, shape or form, even though the description of the phenomenon SEEMS to reflect the theory’s validity.

    Hmmm. This could suggest that our cultural values, beliefs, and interpersonal relationships shape even our brain functions in particular ways.

    Indeed. Thanks to dudes like Vilayanur S. Ramachandran we now now that our neurological brain functions are plastic, still able to be changed under certain specific conditions…

    So. If the body image map (phantom body size, resembling a stuck or persistent memory), located in the right superior parietal lobe can be changed (repaired) to match the actual, current body size or a size better suited to one’s activity level (etc.) then the brain will properly direct the body to maintain one’s current size, or even a smaller size given the right conditions.

    The whole fighting to maintain conundrum in that case becomes completely unnecessary and a rather primitive self mutilating ritual that was never needed in the first place. Tragic.


    We are bogged down in cultural thinking that lacks creativity, lacks play, and lacks the courage to risk looking beyond our B.S. culturally based (cemented), socially constructed, reified political/economic supporting theories. Not for me. I have no interest in following any line of thinking that brings us to a dead end, again and again.

    I am constructing a different paradigm.

    Hope the above provides you with a distraction from the colonoscopic provoked angst. 🙂

  9. Hi Deborah,
    I’m a 40-lb loss maintainer who’s also in recovery from binge eating disorder. My dad died of colon cancer and I’ve had a couple of these procedures. They Haven’t been triggering for me at all. I think the drugs for the procedure help alleviate anxiety; they probably stay in your system, to some extent for the next 24 hours.

    I hope that everything goes ok and that you don’t have any issues with your return to eating solids. Trust yourself.

    • Thanks Marianne. And welcome to the blog, by the way. Whether or not those drugs do have anxiety reliever in them, I can “believe” they do. Maybe that’s a simple enough paradigm that I can handle it, make it happen.

      I’m sorry about your dad, by the way. I lost mine to renal failure, but it was welcomed. He lived into his 80s, with Alzheimer’s and other complications.

  10. I had a colonoscopy 5 years ago. what I mostly remember about the prep was feeling very light-headed and draggy. After several hours of having trouble thinking I tried adding a teaspoon of sugar to my tea instead of Equal. Suddenly I felt MUCH better.

    When I wanted something savory I drank chicken broth with lots of garlic powder added.

    I’m also glad I took my laptop into the bathroom for the laxative part of the at-home prep. I focused on reading comics and blogs and it helped me feel sane.

  11. Wow, guys. You’re great. So many of you have done it.

    I will skip my workouts and follow protocol closely and pray the goo does its job. Ack! I will also strain some egg drop soup, and add garlic to broth. And buy a Vanity Fair or New Yorker for the bathroom.

    And I WILL RELAX. Somehow.

    Don’t know that I’ll go after any paradigms, but what the hey.

    Thank you. You have been very helpful. And I’ll share you comments, DeeLeigh with my 13-year-old. All humor has its audience. He’ll think you’re a really special adult.

  12. (raises hand) I just had one of those suckers two weeks ago yesterday!

    I don’t know what they’re giving you for prep, but to me, that was the worst part of the whole deal. Yeah, the clear liquid fast kind of sucks, but I had MoviPrep, and that stuff is just so gross — and I had to drink so much of it — that I didn’t WANT to eat anything much.

    I thought I’d be ravenously hungry when the whole thing was over, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. I had some Glutino crackers and chicken soup (which I made in advance) waiting for me, because I wanted to ease back into eating for an entirely different reason (whole reason I had the colonoscopy was because of my gut wankery, and they found zilch).

    And FWIW, my weight two weeks before the colonoscopy and a week and a half after it (at two separate doctor visits) was exactly the same. But then, I didn’t try to calorie (or carb) restrict during the liquid fast either.

  13. Debra, I’m back! I don’t know the name of my prep stuff, but it was a gallon jug, and I added lemon crystal light to it. It was very lemony and fizzy and I actually liked it! I had a couple of flavors of jello available, and a couple of kinds of tea. I don’t like broth. My fast was actually almost 48 hours! Oh, and I did cheat and have coffee with a little cream both mornings.

    I had planned to have a treat of frozen yogurt when the procedure was done. I had half a quesadilla before the froyo, I think. I don’t remember any fall out as in wanting to eat more or eat now at all. Just went back to life as usual. Pretty much the same way I feel about these 24 hour fasts I’ve been doing. The day after each one has been a work day, which is usually when I am inclined to stress eat. If anything, I have felt calmer and more in control on these days.

    I also considered it a ‘quiet’ day (the day of the prep.) Think I had some reading, maybe a movie, probably a little hand quilting. But nothing big. I imagine most clinics are like this–they do so many of the same thing over and over, they are quite good at it. It was just such a slick operation–I felt very calm during the whole before and of course I was completely out for the during. If you want more info, just drop me an email.

    • Thanks, Debby. A quiet day is in order. If it weren’t going to end with a doctor and a rude medical instrument, I’d plan on making it a spiritual retreat, but I’m not going to count on that. If I just make it through with a little calm and poise, that will be enough.

  14. Debra, if I may, I’d like to address Rnegade and her paradigms for a moment. One of the oddest things about being at my current weight is how foreign it seems to me. I am simply not used to seeing myself at this size when I catch a glimpse of myself. (In my mind’s eye, I am smaller than I look in the mirror.) Would that mean my prognosis for maintenance may be better than otherwise, perhaps? I am speaking totally theoretically–just trying to follow the thinking logically. However, if I’m hijacking the thread, we can shift a few paradigms another time. Thanks for the crack of light that seemed to peak through there for a moment RNegade.

    • Whether it is my powerful mind or biology, I believe in setpoint. Sigh. When I was losing my way upwards, I would always lose down to a particular number, then back up to a new high, then down to the first number. I’m not explaining well. Say, I started at 132 (my first “diet,” can you believe it), lost to 116, then gained to 140. The next time I “lost,” I stopped at 132, then gained to 154. The next time I “lost” I stopped at 140, then gained to 163. Etc. I kept screaching to a halt at old familiar numbers. Places my body recognized. Was I doing a Ouija-board thing with my own mind/body? I don’t think so, but I have no proof. I just believe in setpoint. Sigh.

  15. I’ve had two colonoscopies and worked with my body to make the prep easier. During the day before the prep day, I ate a fiber-free diet: proteins and yogurt only. The evening before the prep, I splurged on a milkshake, which due to a slightly lactose intolerant system, emptied me out a few hours later. I found the prep fluid slightly nauseating, so didn’t feel hungry at all, and most of the jello and juice I had on hand were not used. Due to my earlier efforts, I could tell that my “innards” were cleaned out fairly quickly. I didn’t notice any cravings afterward, either.

    I’m glad you are not letting your concerns keep you from getting this potentially lifesaving procedure.

    • Wow, Karen, your protein plan sounds similar to what Beth is advising, but you only had to do it for a day. That sounds doable. I am a fruit addict, must admit. A single day? I can go there.

  16. I had a colonoscopy five years ago. The prep was no fun, but I’ve had much worse in my life. The colonoscopy itself was no big deal. Then…I ruptured a disc. I have a VERY, VERY delicate spine and I think all that rooting around in my lower back area set an already shaky disc off and the rest was hell-story. Of course, that probably only happens to one person in a gazillion. But it was me. Now, I have a fecal occult blood test every year. It’s not as good, but the thought of going through the disc thing again (that part of my back has never been the same since) is enough to make me want to end it all now. I’m not sure that the pain would subside if I had another colonoscopy.

    Ah, but that’s me and this is you.

    I have to say, Debra, that I was really taken aback by how freaked out you are. Please believe me, this is not a criticism. It’s just that your blog is usually so scientific and so removed from discussions of personal issues. And then suddenly, BANG, there’s Debra, all naked and shivering.

    I’m sure the colonoscopy will go just fine and that whatever your weight does afterwards will be a simple blip in time. I know that that’s hard to believe but that’s what I think will happen. Please keep us updated. In the spirit of scientific inquiry, of course!

    Really, I wish you all the best!

    • Ack! NewMe. What an ordeal. Fortunately, I do have “good architecture,” as you would say (wish I could clone it and share it with you). And don’t anticipate the really bad stuff.

      And with regard to the “naked and shivering”: well, I’ve told you I wouldn’t turn down the moniker “disordered” if it were hung on me (walking out a bathroom with my wine glass, etc.). Freak out happens. Woo hoo!

  17. This former maintainer raises her hand (I’ve been hanging around, just haven’t had much to add lately). I used to absolutely panic whenever my then-boyfriend would cook for me, or – gods forbid! – we went out for a meal. But, but, but – I can’t control the ingredients used, or precisely measure out the quantities; it was terrifying to be so out of control! Then I broke my leg and was in a cast for 6ish weeks, iirc. Meaning that I couldn’t stand long enough to cook for myself for a while (though you bet I was back in that kitchen far sooner than the docs wanted me up on my feet). Plus I couldn’t do any serious exercise for weeks/months. I was a runner back then, did a lot of hiking, and had plans to climb a mountain that summer – all of which were out the window. I fell into a deep depression, and I did gain a good 10 pounds, which took me some long hours at the gym to work back off.

    Re: set point theory, my personal experience leads me to accept it as valid, with two important exceptions. First, every fall/winter I gain weight (5-10lbs) regardless of my diet/exercise regimen, which I see as a natural “fatten up for the winter” response (never mind that winters in NOLA are very mild; my body obviously hasn’t figured that out yet – it even went through the same gain the winter I spent in Costa Rica. It’s obviously set to some sort of circadian rhythm rather than a temperature response). Second, whenever I start restricting calories and/or increase exercise, my body immediately adds a few pounds before settling in to a new, higher set point, which I see as my metabolism’s response to my long history of weight cycling and former long-term maintenance.

    • I don’t think the research is done yet on set point. What may complicate things too — who’s to say it doesn’t vary from person to person? One person’s “thermostat” may work better/worse than another’s. My thermostat may have a lot of “integrity” and over-riding it may be nearly impossible, but someone else may be able to break hers. More power to her.

      I suspect the maleability of a person’s set point is in some way tied to their endocrine response to exercise. To my knowledge, no research has tied exercise to weight loss itself, but very few people maintain losses without it.

  18. Oh, and how could I forget (silly me) – best of luck with your procedure, I hope it goes smoothly!

  19. Hi Debra,

    I haven’t had time to read the comments and someone may have already mentioned this. I totally get what you are saying but the stuff I had to drink (that really salty stuff) for the prep was so disgusting that the idea of drinking clear liquids (or even eating anything ever again) seemed like a joke to me at the time. After it was over, it was a RELIEF to get back to my normal way of eating, I didn’t do any compensatory eating.

  20. Ah, Debra, Debra, hugs and cheers to you. I have to get one of those myself and it scares me s#!+less. (I can hear the jokes right now on that choice of word.). In my case, it has to do with a lung disease I have, and it can be a bit dicey anesthetizing me completely.
    The humorist Dave Barry wrote an article on getting a colonoscopy. See . Very amusing, and should reassure you some.
    Oh, and Meowser? I don’t know why they bothered with MoviPrep for you. From what you’ve written, it sounds like they could just have given you a couple of Metformin, and you’d be cleaned out like the Augean stables after Hercules got through with them.

    • LOL! Or I could have just eaten a bunch of gluten, same thing!

    • I LOVE DAVE BARRY. Just printed that off to share with my 13-year-old. He’ll love the Movi-prep imagery. I too appreciciate it. I’m not big on “surprises.” Today, I plan to go buy a seat belt for my toilet (and a Vanity Fair or New Yorker to read).

  21. @Mulberry: “…Hercules…” Oh lord. My cheeks are still hurting from grinning over your brillant comparison. Thanks for the perfect image on this topic.

    @Debra: Didn’t mean to derail, friend. It’s just that I see the Set Point Theory is at the heart of your (very valid) fear, and in my own fuzzy way I was hoping to distract you, to send you on a mental scavenger hunt (like moms often did way back when, to clear out the house of ragamuffins long enough to get the birthday candles mounted and frazzled party nerves calmed)…

    In truth I am working with a shaman on constructing rituals to transform neural pathways and brain structures (related to endocrine functions, etc.) I really do have evidence (research and theory) from fields of cultural neuroscience and neuroanthropology and neurophysics which makes the standard paradigm (from which Set Point arises) appear as a 19th century mechanistic model that provides a highly descriptive story but little actual help (unless consolation is what one seeks.)

    • Hmmm. If you have links, share the research. I’d be interested.

      • LOL. If only it were that easy. Once again I see that I wasn’t clear, and the might bode poorly because I am formulating the theory of the internalized body image map in relation to body size, and I am designing the research to test the theory. So, sorry, it is rewarding and thrilling work but not something to which I can link. I do suggest Guba’s “The Paradigm Dialog” as an introduction to working across multiple paradigms. It’s a fun read. A bit of an oldie, now perhaps, but a guaranteed goodie.

  22. I had a colonoscopy at 15. I was (wow, TMI, sorry) bleeding internally, um, out-the-bum, as it were, was hospitalized, and had a whole battery of tests. I don’t think they really wanted to do a colonoscopy on me, it seemed like a last resort. Especially since, in those days, all you got was a little laughing gas. (And, since my procedure was at Bethesda Naval Hospital, a lot of talk about being “tough like a Marine.”)

    I had been on a liquid fast for several days prior to the procedure, where chicken bullion is your big entree, and I was hungry as hell. I remember in particular seeing a TV commercial for Cracklin’ Oat Bran, my favorite cereal at the time, and almost bursting into tears.

    BUT, the electolyte prep gook (I mixed it with Crystal Light, too, Debby, and still had to hold my nose) took care of that, and I had no appetite for days following.

    But that’s just me; whenever anything intrudes on my digestive system my body circles the wagons and says “Nothing else is getting in here for a minute!” In fact, when I was allowed to eat solid food again my mother brought me a favorite dish which I took one bite of and promptly threw up.

    The bottom line is, I don’t think it’s going to affect your maintenance. My colonoscopy experience was as a teenager, but I had a horrible stomach virus two months ago, and was surprised that it produced no change in my weight, either during (when I expected to lose after fasting for three days) or after (when I was eating everything in sight.)

    I think of maintenance like a detente: you and your body have come to an, albeit uneasy, truce. Neither side has everything they could wish for, but neither really wants to go back to war. A relatively minor procedure won’t change that.

  23. ha! Glad somebody already posted the Dave Barry link; I can’t think about colonoscopy w/out fondly remembering his article.

    but viajera, sounds like our metabolisms are cut from the same cloth; year by year I have cycled up-up-up to my current weight which I have maintained by not-so-diligent (or rather inconsistent) effort for the past 18 mos. Hey, at least it’s better than continuing to gain! I may not reach “onederland”, but there are arguments to be made for being fat & fit…

  24. Debra,
    I wish I could say something that would help you. I just *KNOW* that you can do anything you want and have committed to. You have committed to maintenance. You have all the tools you need in your toolkit.
    And there are maintainers reading and thinking and hoping and pondering and cheering for you.
    Today is a horrible, horrible day for me and I’d love for you all to help me.
    I. Just. Want. To. Cry.
    I’m tired and feel like I’m in freefall. After nearly 14 months of careful crafting of my diet and over 60 pounds, a complementary health practitioner, in a 10 minute consultation (I wasn’t there to talk to her about my diet) told me it was all wrong. All wrong. If you change this to that, “that weight will just come off”.
    And now I can’t stop eating raisins and muesli and dried pineapple. “Oh, they’re OK. It’s hardly chocolate”, is the standard response when I mention to anybody around me that I feel this way.
    Sadly, these are not non-triggering treats for me (as Barbara Berkeley would say).
    And I don’t know what to do.
    But you do. So I’m going to channel my inner-Debra…

    • Ali, just checking email before bed and ran across your dilemma. Ack. Sorry too that WordPress dumped you in the moderation box. I don’t know what that was about.

      Ten minutes, and someone who has no clue how you put together your strategy steps in and disses everything. Yeesh. This is the only area related to health in which that would happen.

      You know yourself. You know yourself. Repeat it as often as you must. And the rules of this game are not standard — surely NOT whatever that complementary health practitioner has bought into. Can you give me some more details?

  25. Debra,
    Thanks so much. I even felt better just being able to say I have a problem out loud.
    I have been struggling for about 4 weeks with low energy levels. My usual chiropractor was helping me A LOT. We were working through options. I respond best to gentle chiropractic treatment. In fact, I respond excellently to very gentle chiropractic treatment. I saw a naturopath and got some great jungle juice to assist with my adrenal system. She also gave me some recommendations for tweaking my diet after a very thorough hour long analysis.
    Then disaster struck and my chiro went on maternity leave.
    The replacement chiro who saw me asked about what I ate. I do consume a lot of fruit (but hardly any bread, pasta, rice etc). She told me that this was my problem and I should limit myself to 2 pieces per day.
    When I asked her what I should replace my usual snacks and usual breakfast (fruit, very small amount of muesli and yoghurt) with, she told me “eat last night’s lamb chop”. “First meal of the day, must be protein,” she said. “You must go low carb.”
    That’s it. That’s my diet advice. My carefully constructed diet – blown to pieces.
    And unlike so many around me, I can’t just ignore that kind of thing. I don’t have the confidence in myself. In these areas I’m quite impressionable.
    I’m also happy to give her some credence. Maybe this is part of the problem. I know some others here have found real advantages in low carb.
    It just was done in a way that left me feeling very unsupported.
    I’ll start doing some more research (more work for me – the part-time job analogy rears its ugly head again) and seeing if I can perhaps replace some of my fruit with other kinds of snacks. It’s just that in terms of “bang for your calorie-buck”, fruit really does the trick for me.
    Yet here I sit – still with low energy levels (and therefore compromised capacity to exercise), 2 kilos (about 4 pounds) heavier due to emotion driven dried pineapple/raisin/muesli consumption, hungry and feeling like there’s nothing I can eat that’s right and a pile of research to do. Changes will have to be incremental. As I’ve now learned, rushed changes result in catastrophe.
    Sage advice (actually, any advice) welcome.

  26. Wow, Ali. This is the heart of our problem. So many know-it-alls and yet so little knowledge is actually working for us. Three percent of us find something we can do to attain some semblance of the social ideal. The rest are made to feel like crud. Even those who are “succeeding,” if we’re alert, know that it’s tenuous. We feel like crud too, because it’s not the zippy promised land of Jillian Michaels’ lore.

    I still have two persistent pounds hanging on after reading the Gary Taubes book. Low carb, clearly, isn’t my panacea. Somehow those “good calories” (which I wasn’t counting) got into my fat cells. I’m happy for those people who make low carb work. Sadly, I always watch with trepidation as someone enters low-carb, because I think it takes so much more support and social chutzpah to maintain (in our carbolific society) than calorie balancing. I’m grateful that I can calorie balance, but I acknowledge too that I probably have some genetic and metabolic gifts that make it possible.

    We simply must acknowledge that people are all different (and it’s not just some silly thing, like our blood types — quack, quack, quack) and that “healthy weight” is not a BMI of 18.5-25 for all people (actually, for most people, but that’s another topic). Your low-carb promoting substitute chiro is well intentioned, but out of her depth. She doesn’t know she’s out of her depth because a powerful media machine keeps droning on with “easy” answers, one after the other (Gary Taubes wrapping his in just enough science to sound authoritative).

    For me, at bottom, if low carb worked consistently for everyone, we’d all be trim now. The early 21st century was a low-carb social experiment, and had it worked then we ALL would have jumped on board. The New Atkins Revolution was so popular that it rocked the grains markets and had investors and grain farmers scrambling to figure out what to do. I watched several people close to me go on Atkins, lose weight, and then gain it back. One who I would hold up as the paragon of discipline did a yoyo cycle of roughly 100 pounds. I cringe at what that may have done to his heart (physically) and his spirit. He doesn’t talk about it. I think it’s because we’re all shamed into silence.

    Sadly, it’s not just your dumb chiro, Ali; we all are out of our depth. And those of us who have a leg up are those who dive deep into our own resources in pursuit of a PhD in personal body management. And we also get lucky.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a fruit freak. As Beth (the Weight Maven) has pointed out to me, Robert Lustig’s on my side (maybe yours too) in the research fray. Carbs in pretty apple-shaped, grape-shaped and orange-shaped packages aren’t so damned bad. And I don’t eschew bananas either. Recent research has indicated they have special satiety properties, and I believe that. My experience bears it out. I’m full on a banana longer than I am on most other foods, calorie for calorie. For six years of my maintenance, I also was a whole grain person — as in as many as eleven servings per day (1993 food pyramid — though I didn’t buy the nonsense that half could be refined; that struck me as foolish food lobby influence). I’ve radically cut my grains now, and have seen wonderful improvement in my joint and foot pain, which makes it possible to exercise more productively. I don’t think that everyone needs to cut the grains as I did.

    If I were to offer advice, while you research (start with Beth’s site — she commented above, so just click her name), relax and go back to what worked for you food-wise, and get lost in your exercise. Find some sanity there. Spring is here; it’s a good time for that. I don’t know whether your four pounds will come off (or my two). I know it’s damned harder than anyone cares to acknowledge to get them off once they’ve returned. I also know that goin’ nuts is not a great idea either.

  27. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Thank you.

    I feel so much better. Having catharted and having heard some sanity.

    This morning she moved on to telling me that I am going to drop dead from a heart attack before the end of my 30s because running is my chosen exercise.

    I have made a decision that whatever the benefits of chiro treatment, my mental sanity is worth more.

    I am going to take my money, fruit, running shoes and heart somewhere else until my normal chiro returns.

    Thank you also for your post. I’m really looking forward to hearing what others have to say on the topic.

    Sadly, it’s not Spring here in Australia – but Autumn is probably the next-best thing and a mighty fine time of year to be frollicking outdoors.


    • Well, well. She surely is the confident one. Dissing on running? Grrr. I love running. Bazillions of people do (and they don’t drop dead by the end of their 30s). Wish I’d been smarter about how I did it and protected my joints and foot better. Thought: while you wait for your regular chiro, perhaps consider redirecting the money toward a sports medicine doc. Unless you’re confident you’re stride is beautiful and you run on a padded track, this could be a good idea. Protect yourself. I didn’t believe the people who were telling me the cement sidewalks would kill me and that my foot landing was bad. I also didn’t regularly change my insoles to correct my supination and . . . Well, learn from this fool. Don’t be me.

  28. Hi Debra, I want to reassure you as much as possible about the colonoscopy. (I’m 26 and I’ve had at least 4. I try not to remember.)

    You will probably feel back to “normal” whatever that is for you after about 4 days. Those interim days, if at all possible, should be non-stressful and focused on taking care of yourself. As you know, fasting really screws with your equilibrium, even if weight isn’t normally a problem.

    Also, please don’t think of a day and a half of fasting as losing weight. You just emptied out your guts and dehydrated yourself, that’s why it usually bounces back to the same when you start eating and drinking .

    I hope that you can account for all this in your planning and preparation. Best of luck and I hope the results of the test are good.

    • Thanks, Vera. You needn’t worry about me thinking of the fasting part as weight loss. Quite the opposite. I fear it will trigger a starve-binge-and-gain cycle, but I seem to be hearing from other maintainers that that doesn’t happen, which makes me happy.

      My thoughts with you. So many colonoscopies at such a young age! You are tending your health closely, and probably for good reason. I pray you are rewarded. Good karma.

  29. Debra, I have just found your blog and it is thrilling. Finally someone who gets it. I have been maintaining a 100 lb (or so) weight loss for just over three years and I have found myself having these same experiences. My husband gets really annoyed when we are in a restuarant and I go through the drill: exacting details about how each item is prepared, no butter, no bread, can I have a side of broccoli instead of the fries? Last week there was a “breakfast” at my workplace to thank the support staff and I literally could not go near it for fear of all the bagels, donuts, muffins, you name it. Several co-workers gave me that crossed-eye “she’s nuts” look when I said I was avoiding the room. I get crazed over every situation that disrupts the diet & exercise routine I have crafted over the last 3 years because I know that each disruption is potentially a 2 or 3 pound gain. Sometimes I think this is all too hard and why do I do it, but it is worth it to me. Thanks for your blog.

    • Welcome, Sandy. I find it also true that weight-loss maintenance is more likely to get the “cross-eyed ‘she’s nuts'” look than other pecadilloes. When I explain to people that the reason I eat the middle of my sandwich but not the bread is to improve my joint function (which it does — radically limiting grains has helped reduce pain in my joints), I don’t get the look. But I know, if I explained that it was for weight-loss maintenance (which it could be, another bona fide technique) then not only would I get the look, I’d hear something like, “Oh, come on, two slices of bread aren’t going to kill you.” Uh, no, but they will affect my weight. Really. And you will be the first to tsk, tsk me when I regain.

      Everyone feels like an expert on weight-loss maintenance, it seems. But truly, only those of us in the throes of it know.

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