Posts Tagged ‘Maintenance’

“Experts”: Phooey

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on March 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Well, my colonoscopy has been postponed.  Yeesh.  And it wasn’t me; I didn’t chicken out.  The nurse called and the doctor is taking a day off on Friday.  I got all wound up, and now I’ll wind down until April 18th – prep day, followed by the no-big-deal procedure on the 19th.  Thank you for all your well wishes.  When it FINALLY happens, I’ll let you know how it goes with more subtlety and decorum (but less humor) than Dave Barry.  Thank you, alert reader, Mulberry for the link.

I am especially pleased to learn that many maintainer friends did not experience a weight shake-up from their colonoscopies.  Had I not heard from you, I wouldn’t have taken it for granted.  I don’t trust the words of doctors and other “experts.”  With regard to weight management and weight rebound, simply, they’re out of their depth.  What’s more aggravating, they don’t acknowledge how out-of-their-depth they are.

Regular reader, Ali, just recently ran into an “expert” (chiropractor) who dismissed her dietary choices (which were working pretty well for her) in a conversation that lasted less than ten minutes.  With the pseudo-scientific authority granted by the likes of journalist and weight-loss opportunist Gary Taubes, she stated simply, “you must go low carb.”  Well, Gee, lady.: thanks but no thanks.  Low carb works for some people, and I’m happy for them, but if it worked for everyone we’d all be trim.  Anyone over the age of 20 in this country saw the rise and crash of the New Atkins Revolution (which nearly killed our grain markets and bankrupted our grain farmers at the beginning of this century). Had the Revolution worked for everyone, I’d have jumped on board too.  Instead, most of us witnessed sad stories of radical weight loss and rebound among earnest, disciplined people.  The few who succeeded then must now work at least as hard as I do to maintain their losses in a carbolific society (who pushes them to portion control, while pushing Ali and me to drop our bananas).

One sure sign that you’ve found a person who knows something is that they are secure enough to acknowledge that they don’t know everything.  That’s why Arya and Yoni have charmed me.  And I especially love this post from Barbara Berkeley, The Perfect Diet:  Does it Exist?   The one word answer is “nope.”  People who have earned their bona fides do not pretend to have the one and only answer.  Read the rest of this entry »


What is Maintenance? And Why I Like my “Job” Metaphor

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 31, 2011 at 11:24 am

What is maintenance?  It seems a simple, seemingly obvious, question.  Ali asked it in the last post’s comment section.   At first I was taken aback, because I thought I’d already answered it with my clever Job Description.  But I hadn’t.  Ali wanted to know whether maintenance is seeing the same number on the scale day after day after day.  Hmmmm.

For people at their highest natural weight, I think it can be.  I know when I was at my biggest, my body used its remarkable, dare I say miraculous, systems to maintain a weight, and often it was the same number day after day after day.  Most variances I could chalk up to something tangible, and many I could plot on a calendar:  the final days of my menstrual cycle would add two pounds to me, which would depart reliably on day two of my period, a day at the amusement park with salty popcorn and other water-retaining treats could add a pound or two for a day or two, then I was back at my number.   I didn’t need to concern myself over what a pound here or there meant, because my body would take care of it.  If a day hiking meant the scale showed me a pound down, I would hope it was truly a lost pound, but it never was.  It was back the next day, as faithful and reliable as the pounds that played on the other side of my equation.  I was in caloric balance.

Now that I maintain a weight that is lower than my highest natural weight, maintenance is not so easy to define.  We operate from slippery assumptions.  I can call myself a maintainer (and the NWCR accepts my proclamation) because today’s scale says I’m 57 pounds lighter than my all-time high.  However, I have been as much as 68 pounds below my all-time high.  So, am I really a maintainer, or am I a sloooooow yo-yo weight cycler?  I don’t know.  Is it important to know?  I don’t know that either.  Obsessing doesn’t seem practical.  But still, in the safety of this blog, let’s obsess a little.  Size acceptance advocate friends, proceed with caution, or don’t even click through.  (If it doesn’t make you mad, it will bore you, at best.)  Maintainer friends, let’s enter our dark territories. Read the rest of this entry »

Why We Are at War and What to do About It

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 26, 2011 at 11:14 am

I am still plodding through Taubes’s Why We Get Fat.  It’s slow going, because his language remains alienating.  He insults me with his word choice and tenor, and by asking me to throw out my narrow assumptions and replace them with his narrow assumptions.

First, his language.  He repeatedly refers to “the overweight and obese.”  Hasn’t he been in this field long enough to know how dehumanizing it is to define people this way:  to say you don’t have adiposity, you are your adiposity.  In this book, he’s writing for the lay audience, not the medical and scientific community whose brains are presumably immune to the influence of such short hand.  Because of this broad audience, it would simply be polite (I won’t marginalize it with the phrase “politically correct”) to talk about people, not conditions or characteristics who happen to walk, breathe, think, eat and poop.

His language is tinged with an anger that smacks of a martyr complex.  Apparently, his ideas are not venerated to his satisfaction, so, he believes, everyone who disagrees with him either lacks imagination, is ignorant and not very well read, is biased to believe that fat people are gluttonous and slothful (and he may have a point there, but not enough to justify his intense outrage), or is stuck in a post-World War II mentality that will not permit the equal consideration of ideas from scientists of German origin.  Huh?  Get real. Read the rest of this entry »

Unsolicited Review, Parts I and III

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

My Mother advised me, when I was a child, that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, to say nothing at all.   But then she allowed that if I had constructive criticism to offer, I could do so if I began by saying something positive.  So, I will start by thanking Gary Taubes for the contributions he’s made to my life over the years. 

First I’d like to thank him for allaying my fears of dietary fat.  The world of women’s magazines had (in my yo-yo days) hijacked my brain and persuaded me to feed myself a completely unsatisfying diet.  I believe it was you, Mr. Taubes, who gave me back avocadoes and stir fry and salad dressing that has flavor.  You gave me permission to banish SnackwellsTM from my pantry forever.  How can I ever thank you enough?!       Read the rest of this entry »

There is no “Normal”

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 17, 2011 at 7:16 am

Often people talk about wanting to develop a “normal” or “healthy” relationship with food.  This is often the goal of HAES practitioners, intuitive eaters, or some variation on that theme.  The idea that there is such a thing as a “normal” or “healthy relationship with food” has become a favorite myth.  And it will remain mythical as long as there is a month called “January.”  We are in the throes of an annual festival of soon-to-fail New Year’s resolutions, all documented in our women’s magazines.

At the grocery check-out, I picked up a Family Circle (at $2.79, it was the cheapest).  Here’s the on-line version.   Let’s have some fun with content analysis:  try to figure out the messages we’re supposed to get that will help us develop a “normal” or “healthy” relationship with food.  In total, there are 192 pages in the print version.   Maybe we can pretend that a Martian is on his first visit to this planet.  Assuming he wants to experience what we think is “normal” or “healthy,” what shall he choose to eat based on the messages he sees? 

In addition to food messages, I identified body image messages, since that speaks to the other side of our “relationship” with food.   Food and body image messages comprised 60 percent of the magazine’s content.  Some pages clearly had a single message, while other pages were significantly dedicated to a message, so I counted them toward my totals as well.  I created four categories, and in each category I separated ads from articles.  Here are my findings: 

  1.  Pages predominantly about food with messages that are neutral or unconcerned about health (emphasize pleasure), Ads = 18, Articles = 15, Total = 33.
  2. Pages about food that promote health benefits (but not necessarily weight loss), Ads = 26, Articles = 7, Total = 33.   Read the rest of this entry »

Queen for a Day

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

In the discussion of my last post, Viajera asked me what I would do if I were queen of the National Weight Control Registry.  Ah, what an irresistible question!

I think for those of us who have committed to living in a state of weight-loss maintenance for as long as we are able and have submitted our names to the registry, the NWCR comes to represent many things.  It is our annual call-to-account.  Its presence hangs with us, not like a cloud, an itch, a funny smell or any kind of bad thing, but like the periodic recollection of a smart but nosy sister who lives in a distant city, and with whom we only touch base once a year.  She is guaranteed to ask about our weight – sometimes she grills us at length – and she’ll judge us, gently, if we’ve regained, so we anticipate our meetings with her with mixed feelings – angst, indignation, smugness, humility.   

I can’t say I’ve ever turned down a specific piece of my mother-in-law’s pie because of the NWCR.  I’ve never “prepared” for the arrival of the form by dieting or ramping up my exercise.  I pretty much continue with life as usual, but I have a sense of her always, and I’m sure she affects me.  This is pathetic to admit, but I probably think about the NWCR as much as I think about my own breathing sisters, who each live more than 100 miles away in different cities.  And I gotta give the NWCR credit, she may have all kinds of opinions about my weight, but she hasn’t lifted an eyebrow with regard to my housekeeping (or told me I should hold a garage sale).

In addition to being the nosy sister in Rhode Island, for those of us on her rolls, the NWCR is an affirmation (once all the cheering for our weight loss has long gone silent).  

Perhaps I’m being overly bold and should speak only for myself.  For me, she is affirmation.  I know many (most?) other Read the rest of this entry »

Intuitive Eating: Part II, and Over the Top

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Trigger alert, my size acceptance friends. I’m about to get into some of my techniques. I want to compare notes with my maintainer friends. I’ll also welcome your thoughts too, but you may not wish to read further, and I’m cool with that.

It was four days ago. I casually took my empty wine glass with me to the bathroom. I suppose I could have troubled my mother-in-law for a measuring cup (or just gone to the cupboards and found one myself), and she wouldn’t have thought me odd. She knows I work at weight-loss maintenance. I have bemoaned it to her before. She’s heard the “it’s-not-a-lifestyle-it’s-a-job” shpiel.

But I knew I didn’t really need a measuring cup, and I am self-conscious about drawing attention to my weight-loss maintenance unless someone else brings it up. Actually, even if someone brings it up. (It starts a whole it’s-really-more-complicated-than-women’s-magazines-make-it-out-to-be monolog, that I find embarrassing for its self-centeredness. And it’s nearly impossible to not sound braggadocios.) So rather than be caught using a measuring cup by some other family member, I used my other method.

I closed the bathroom door, filled the glass with water to the point that my father-in-law had filled it with wine. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and then . . . Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Seven ounces. Here’s something I know about myself: one hearty-but-even gulp in a series equals an ounce. (Had the final gulp been a partial, I would have rounded down, but it was, indeed a full gulp.) Multiply that by 23 calories. My glass of wine had been 161. Round to nearest ten: 160. Reset the day’s total: I’m at 1660. Use the john, and rejoin the party.

Is that body wisdom or just body knowledge? Since I hide in the bathroom, is it a sign of disorder? I think it’s just being polite. When people see you pull out a measuring cup at a party, it can be interpreted as a judgment of their consumption. Or it looks like an invitation: “ask me about my weight-loss management.” I know that. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s All Endocrine

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

. . . and semantics.

I stand with my hand on the refrigerator door.  I’ve stood here hundreds of times.  Motionless except for my breathing.  Hoping for the phone to ring and pull me away, or for the invisible, magnetic pull of the refrigerator door to magically reverse and push me away. 

An impulse has pulled me down the staircase and deposited me here.  I know if I open the door, I’ll find the brick of Jarlsberg, the jar of toasted pecans, the sliced turkey and/or stuffed olives.  There are also bagged baby greens and baby carrots in there, “conveniently prepared” produce, which I won’t even see — unless I decided to dip the carrots in hummus or peanut butter.  There are also organic apples.  Which I likely won’t acknowledge.  I know that. 

A year ago this time, I might also have considered the leftover pesto tortellini I’d fed to my husband and son the night before, but I avoid grain-based carbs now.  I haven’t lost the capacity to reason and control myself, but I’m having an “eat” impulse, and it’s pulled me to this place again.  And I stand and breathe, thinking nonthoughts and fragments.   I didn’t arrive here because of hunger in the gnawing sense.  But whatever took me here is real, if illogical. I know it well.  Over the past seven years, we have become familiar friends.  I know too that even if I override the “eat” impulse in this moment, I’ll probably wander back here in a half hour.

If you were to look at my larger life, you could find unresolved emotional conflicts, unexpressed angers, jealousy, general anxiety, all kinds of emotional untidiness.  Popular magazines regularly admonish us that if we are eating in the absence of hunger, we’re eating in a misdirected attempt to quell or numb emotions.  I think this is poppycock.  I refuse to blame my emotions for this regular meditation that happens in front of the refrigerator door and sometimes ends with me walking away, other times with a quick snack (Barbara Berkeley calls them “Grab and Go”) and other times begins a 600-calorie “binge,” which only takes Read the rest of this entry »


In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm

The hardest question I have to answer, and it gets asked a lot, is “Why do you do this?” 

Good question.  Why do I maintain a radical amount of weight loss?  It’s hard.  It’s lonely.  I haven’t confused “health” and “weight loss,” so that doesn’t motivate me.  Why, indeed?

The easiest answer (at least the one that falls out of my mouth most often) is, “Because I can.”  That is incomplete and prideful, of course.  And it redirects to a question that is easier to answer, “Why CAN you do this?”  So many people want to do this, and yet they can’t.

I don’t know the answer to that question either.  It’s all speculation.  Perhaps, I can do this because I enjoy blessings: 

  • I have the financial resources to buy mostly unprocessed, organic foods, and the time and flexibility to prepare them.
  • I have the time and flexibility to exercise as much as I need to and when I want to. 
  • Certain physical attributes probably help.  As a fat person, I was “cello” shaped, evenly fatted.  My waist was ten inches smaller than my bust and 14 inches smaller than my rump at my biggest (not including pregnancy).  Maintenance is probably easier for me than someone who starts with an “apple” shape, or another shape that tenaciously holds fat in a designated place.   
  • Personal history may help.  For example, I’ve only had three legitimate yoyo weight-cycling episodes prior to this last run at loss, and by that I mean losses and rebounds of more than 10% of my highest weight at the time.  I understand many people rack up dozens of yoyo attempts representing hundreds of pounds. 
  • For all the grief I express about endocrine, I may get some help from it.  I’ve never, for example, been a big fan of fatty meats.  Just not my thing.

This does not explain it entirely.  Other people who have these blessings or others have been unable to maintain losses. Read the rest of this entry »

This, That and T’other

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 4, 2010 at 6:52 am

Today I am short on time, but not on links, so I thought I might just throw them out and let you have at ‘em.

This article on not-so-healthy health bloggers appears to be Marie Claire’s mea culpa for the Maura Kelly fiasco that not only failed to ban fat people from Public Displays of Affection, but inspired several counter revolutionary (both live and virtual)  smooch-a-thons.  I had never visited the “healthy living” blog sites that Marie Claire informs me are known by fans as the “Big Six.”  (Hint:  If you ever go on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? game show, don’t make me your cultural literacy phone-a-friend.)  I have visited those sites now.  The food pictures qualify as pornographic, but the copy.  Whoa.  Is that what whippersnappers are reading these days?  Oh, boy.  Real Housewives of the Internet . . . on a diet.  ZZZZzzzzz. 

I prefer to read science and legit personal blogs, ones that lack the dazzling sheen of corporate sponsorship.  These “Big Six” all have the flavor of the self-appointed “in” crowd from high school all-growed-up.   I didn’t get deep enough into an article to get any diet advice, but if Marie Claire is correct about it, then it’s as wrong as the advice that I might have gotten in the locker room from one of the pretty girls at Rock Bridge High.

This second citation places a bet from some unlikely late comers to the Roulette Table .  They didn’t make it in time for our spin, but maybe they can win in the next round.  Our house pets and lab animals put a chip on black.  There may be other explanations than environmental chemicals for why these animals are getting fatter, but it certainly isn’t their decreased outdoor play, their love for video games, or their reliance on the Applebee’s Carside-to-Go window.  Maybe I need to rethink my seering hatred for Bovine Growth Hormone, however.  I doubt they are fed steak and milk products.  Ah, well, there are other perfectly good reasons to distrust Monsanto.  Round-up anyone?