Topic 10 - We're Different!
First of all, please accept my apologies for getting behind in our Rethinking Thin book discussion. I was traveling last week and everything has just gotten away from me. We’ve pretty much discussed everything written in the book but I’d like to finish by focusing on some areas not discussed in the book and your overall assessment of the book’s message.
Many posters have pointed out that a glaring deficiency of Rethinking Thin is its failure to discuss successful weight loss and maintenance, perhaps because it doesn’t dovetail with the book’s message that long-term weight loss is pretty much impossible. So it’s up to us to discuss the ramifications of the physical and psychological changes caused by weight loss and their implications for maintenance.
In an early discussion, Heather/Wyllenn correctly pointed out that one of my favorite weight loss statements is: we’re different! When I say that, I mean that those of us who have lost a significant amount of weight are very different -- biologically and psychologically -- from “normal weight” persons who have never been overweight. As Dr. Rudolph Leibel said to me when I had the opportunity to discuss weight loss with him: “You may look like a normal person on the outside, but on the inside you’re very different.”
The book agrees that physically we’re different:
In addition to the long-term physical changes caused by weight loss, the book also points out some psychological consequences of weight loss called “semi-starvation neurosis”, when people obsess about food and become anxious and depressed. (p 115).
These physical and psychological changes associated with weight loss led one group of researchers to conclude that:
So are we semi-starved? Are we neurotic? Is normal weight actually abnormal for some of us?
The book dismisses those who have maintained a substantial weight loss as making semi-starvation their life’s work:
And … how can we sustain the motivation?
Do you agree that we're different? If so, what does this mean for weight loss maintenance?
I think to some level...yeah. I mean, I look at my thin friend who always has yummies in the house and it is clear weight does not permeate her waking existance the way it does mine. In fact the only thought to it she does give is that her way of eating is making her dh fat.
But then there is this statement:
That resisting Krispy Kremes may indeed become less difficult with time. That for many of us we ate krispy kremes out of sugar addiction, habit or self loathing and now that we are no longer addicted, have broken the habit and dont routinely hate ourselves, they dont hold that much power.
And/or that we have learned it is possible to eat ONE Krispy Kreme now and then and balance it with other things and be ok. That it doesnt have to be full out deprivation.
And most likely....The choice isnt always krispy kreme or celery, maybe in the long run the choice is fresh berries with just a dollop of creme - and thats not so bad now is it?
That the key to success is EXACTLY what is missing from this book....getting rid of the all or nothing mentality.
Because bottom line. Weight/food/exercise has ALWAYS ruled my every waking moment. I did not spend any less time thinking about it when I was fat than I do now. The difference is now my thoughts are accompanied by action and my thoughts are a whole lot more productive and positive.
Maybe...maybe she is right, maybe I would be better off just learning to love myself fat. But I tell you if the choices are learn to love being fat or work on thin the rest of my life, the latter seems the EASIER choice. Change my body or change my brain?
Meg, great questions as usual!!
First, I do believe we are different in many respects, though here I have less science to back me up.
I do think there are lots and lots of "never fat" women out there who watch what they eat and are sure to get lots of exercise, just as I do now. There are also lots and lots of "never fat" women who stay thin without really thinking about it or focusing on it. I have yet to hear of a "format fat" woman who can get away with that. That is the difference. I think it IS possible to keep the weight off, but only through monitoring food, exercise, etc. That's a big way in which these differences under our skin manifest themselves.
What does that mean for maintenance? I do think that my body is going to be faster to gain weight than many “never fat” people. I think I will have to work harder than they will.
For me personally, one implication is that I am not necessarily planning to get to a “normal” BMI. I do hope to further reduce my body fat % and maybe lose some more weight in the process. I am trying to set more fitness goals and find exercises I enjoy. But I am not setting any lower weight goals (at least for now). I figure I have enough on my plate and enough difficulties staying right here. And I’ve made some amazing accomplishments. I’ve lost 40% of my starting weight, and am already healthier and fitter than I ever have been in my life. I’m thrilled with all the things I can do and the things I am willing to try. I feel I have gotten my life back.
I figure I could set lower weight goals, but that idea just stresses me out, and makes me rebel. I am just not willing to put in that additional effort on top of everything else I’m doing. And I’m okay with all of this. And maybe someday I will set lower goals. Just not now.
Please note, I’m only talking about me and not anyone else’s decisions or choices.
Wonderful discussions Meg, I really appreciate your effort!
Personally, I do not feel it is a punishment or deprivation never to have a Krispy Kreme donut again (I haven't had one since the day I started). If not eating donuts and counting calories every day is the price I pay for my size 6 pants, I consider it a VERY fair price. What Ennay said is definitely true for me, so I don't eat donuts, I eat a lot of really yummy stuff. It's not like "no donuts or ANYTHING pleasurable for the rest of my life" there is still a lot of pleasure in food.
I will be food journaling, menu planning, weighing myself weekly, saying "no" to my never foods (fast food, soda, creamy sauce, fried foods, packaged baked goods) and estimating calories for the rest of my life. If I don't, I will regain the weight I lost. All the other weight loss attempts, I eventually "quit" dieting and I always gained all the weight back and more. This was the first time I said "there is no end." This is the first time I've kept the weight off - 2 years, 5 months :)
Is it self control? Good habits? Ridding my body of junk cleared out my crazy sugar cravings? Celebrating my own good health? I still have no idea why this time "clicked" and every other time didn't.
First of all ... please don't apologise Meg. You've put a tremendous amount of thought and work into this book discussion and a bunch of us appreciate that beyond words.
I think what makes the 5 different from the 95 is the something that clicks. The same way many of us tried and tried and tried to lose weight but were only successful after something clicked.
I can empathize with the fellow who said “How do you get the reasons why you want to lose weight to be important enough to maintain that self control forever?” But I think he might be short-sighted and discounting the effect of practice practice practice. Just as having a doughnut for coffee break becomes a habit so does taking a walk after supper.
Different? Yes. However, I'm going to play the 'bloom where you're planted' card. It don't matter one hill o'beans if I can eat less calories than my skinny friend. If I am to remain thin, I must do what works for me. Fair? Nope but then who said life was fair? It ain't.
Life's work? I have no intention of becoming a personal trainer. I'm a clod, that would be funny!
I could become very wordy and angry with another discussion on the difference between dedication and obsession.
I know a gal who does needle-point in plastic. She must make dozens of horrible, chintzy looking things each year. Hour upon hour, day after day ... worrying lest she not finish enough for Christmas or Easter ... stewing because she made a mistake and has to rip out and do over.
She too must eat and move.
We all have to eat and move!
So what if my hobby is that eating and moving? I'll end up slim, fit and healthy. Why is that obsession and hers is dedication to her craft?
Well this maintenance stuff is all brand new to me. But I have come to realize quite early on in my journey, thanks to 3FC, that maintenance will be no different to me then losing. Perhaps if I'm lucky I'll get to eat a couple of hundred extra calories a day. Maybe.
So that means the same exericse routine, the same planning, the same foods, the same calorie counting, portion control, the same resisting tempation, the same getting on the scale every single day and yes - the same obsessing over my weight. I find that obsession to be an added bonus though. Or what is we like to say - that dedication. I am prepared to do this forever and ever. Wish me luck. ;)
I DO think I can resist that donut for the rest of my life. I am so happy with the way things are going, that's the way I feel - 99.9% of the time, that is. And hopefully, hopefully - that'll be good enough.
I hear people say all the time, "But how can you live like that? How can you deprive yourself for so long? " The real question should be "How did I USED to live like I was living?" What I USED to do was depriving myself - of a happy and healthy life.
Meg, I do have a question though. You mentioned that a simple blood test would reveal you are a reduced obese person. Would you mind explaining just exactly those tests would show. I'm curious.
What Dr. Leibel explained to me is that a blood test would reveal a leptin deficiency resulting from my weight loss. He said that anyone who has lost more than 10% of their body weight has - as far as they can tell - permanently reduced leptin levels. This causes the metabolic slowdown of 15 - 25% that was discussed in the book, the feeling of always being cold, and other physical symptoms. Perhaps a blood test would show other biochemical changes too, if they've figured out how to measure some of the other hormones that are changed by weight loss.
And Robin and Glory, I totally agree with your points about donuts. Where is it written that not eating donuts is somehow "deprivation"? And eating healthy, delicious food is some kind of punishment? I don't get it when people say - oh, you have to have treats (meaning junk) once in a while, else you'll feel deprived. Uh, no. I love the food I eat, I love how it makes me feel, and I love how it makes me look. :D No deprivation here, baby! :carrot:
My last donut was in October, 2004. And I do mean my LAST donut, forever.
I still eat donuts. Occasionally. I had four! in the past three months or so. I also have ice cream and cakes and all sorts. But I am going to use some old WW lingo here---- All in moderation. Not deprivation of the yummy things in life and not out and out gluttony either.
As for neurotic, ect--- my therapist certainly thinks I have a problem. But, I have tonnes of "food issues" not related to weight loss or dieting. So, in that I am different.
I have to keep a certain level of vigilance. I hope for it to eventually become complete second nature and that I won't count calories everyday. But, even after 3 years of losing I still have to keep on top of things. :)
I’m with Robin and Glory on this one, too. That constant ‘all or nothing’ thinking is nerves-grating at best--isn’t there, oh, I dunno, quite a wide range or alternatives between a Krispy Kreme donut and fricking celeri? Why must it always have to be celeri anyway? And if our happiness n life must depend on whether we have that donut or not, well, sorry, but then our lives must be pretty dull and empty to start with. Evidently, with that kind of mindset, one cannot go very far.
I agree that we are different, if only in the way we here seem to be tackling the problem. And I know from first-hand experience, just like you all know it too, that I’ll never be able to eat like a never-fat person. My body is and was too different from the start, otherwise I would never have been overweight as a child. There’s a nother difference, too: people who maintain their weight loss, from what I can see here, are also different in their minds. They’ve acknowledged the fact, understood what to do to keep the weight at bay, and accepted that doing it is the only way to indeed keep it at bay. As I wrote in another post, what struck me in the book were the attitudes of the people taking part in the study. They are understandable, of course, since those were men and women who had already tried and failed several times. But not once has they struck me as having actually hope in themselves. It was always hope in the program, hope that they’d be on Atkins and not on LEARN, hope in the study... not in their own ability to ‘just do it’, if I may say so. And this contrasts a lot with the atitude of a Meg or of a Glory or of a Wyllenn here.
So, yeah, we are different.
But in a way, it’s alright.
I have to pay attention everyday of my life--so what? Maybe I can just stop wallowing on the pain of not having that donut, and focus instead on the fact that, hey, my body is actually forcing me to eat healthy foods and in not a huge quantity, at least I won’t be loading myself with junk. (Being thin doesn’t mean you’re in pretty good health if you eat at fast-food joints every day, eh?) I also have to focus on my studies every day, and will have to strive for other studies every day until my last day of work, since I want to teach and am thus bound ethically (in my book, I know, I'm a prefectionist ;)) to always keep sharp and acute to give the best I can to my students--whether they want it or not. :D Is that obsession? I don’t know, but if it’s acceptable and praiseworthy to do that for a job, why couldn’t I pay attention to food and weight as well? I tend to consider this as I consider many other things in life: we don’t HAVE to do it, nobody’s forcing us, but if we don’t do it, then we’ll have to face the consequences. And looking old and frumpy in clothes the cut of which doesn’t suit a fat body anyway, feeling easily out of breath and unable to even run to catch my bus, or having to take meds later on because I’ve shot down my health with eating too much crap, the way I did before, isn’t something I’m looking forward to... So I guess I’ll just have that one cookie once a fortnight, it’ll do well enough for me. We’ve lived for ages on fruits and berries, I don’t see why these shoud suddenly become awful foods that will make us unhappy and deprived!
And for me, it's actually NOT a belief I had when I started. I tried without believing I could go all the way. I just knew I had to try again. Somewhere along the line (and after discovering 3fc) I realized, just possibly, that I could do it!
I was the same way, Heather. When I started again for the last time, I truly didn't believe that I could do it. I had failed so many times that, in my heart, I was convinced I'd fail again. But the years of failure were just killing my spirit, so I knew I had to try again. We're really only failed when we stop trying and I never, ever stop trying.
Once I figured out what to do and the weight started coming off, nothing in the world could have stopped me. I wanted it so badly that you could have offered me a million dollars to eat a cookie and I would have turned you down without a second's hesitation. :D
I guess that was the point at which I believed that I could do it. And I wasn't going to let anyone or anything take my dream away from me. But like you, it took a while to get there.
I'm going to chime in although I haven't read the book. I just picked up on this quote above:
“How do you get the reasons why you want to lose weight to be important enough to maintain that self control forever?”
For me, weight alone could never be that important. I don't give a stuff about being 148, or any other weight. For me the focus has to be on the things that I can do, and the things I want to do that complement my weight loss.
As many of you know, I'm a runner. I eat well, and I train hard because I want to run further and faster. Obviously that doesn't harm my weight maintenance. But I don't do it to maintain. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether I ever did it to lose in the first place, I was always more focussed on things that I wanted to do rather than how I wanted to look when I did them. If I could run a really fast marathon but the pay off was gaining 20lb, I'd be getting some bigger clothes out of storage.
For me, although I do have to pay attention to what I eat and the exercise I do, it doesn't seem to be such a mental slog as some people go through. I think the key for me has been finding a lifestyle that ties in with the things I need to do, rather than constantly feeling like I'm fighting a battle against my metabolism.
I've also started seeing myself as a naturally thin person who went off the rails for a while and got fat, rather than the other way round. Whether that's a lie which would be shown up by medical tests, I don't know, but it makes it easier for me to accept my current lifestyle without thinking that it's anything abnormal. I just think that this is how I should have been living all along.
SusanB, my MIL makes that stuff on plastic canvas.:lol:.
There is dedication, obsession, and passion. I think some of you maintainers have a passion for your new life. And I think that is what is needed to be sucessful. How to maintain that passion forever is problematic. What I see happening is that the sucessful among us stay involved with others who struggle. Witness Meg and her personal training career and moderating here at 3fc. It is really nice for us that she helps us, but she is also helping herself. She gets daily reminders of what will happen if she lets her guard down.
Other folks may say that some of us are obsessed, but my personal opinion is that they are jealous. To paraphrase the book, we aren't any crazier, as a group, than the rest of the world, so why should our weight loss/maintenance be "obsessive" while doing plastic canvas needlework is dedication?
Thanks, Meg, for structuring a great discussion.
Thanks, also, to Heather for all of the really interesting "blathers". Keep on blathering!
Thanks to Glory for the interesting weight loss story and continuing passion.
Thanks to SusanB for the no-nonsense approach and the way you take responsibility for what you do.
This place is a real inspiration.
I do think I'm different according to how I eat to maintain my wt. loss. I know there are people that eat more than I do and stay slim. I'm willing to accept this, as I too learned that "life isn't Fair".
My health is my number 1 priority as it should be. I don't care if people think I'm obsessive about my weight and exercise. They haven't lived in my sick body. They don't know what it's like to take literally hands full of pills each day. So, yes, it is totally worth it to me to keep my wt. in a healthy range even if it means forgoing Donuts. Personally, I'd rather have a big slice of watermelon than a donut anyway. I can't even remember when is the last time I had a donut. I'm certain it's been more than 2 yrs. and I can live without them.
I can honestly say that I enjoy going for long walks in the countryside. Of course the treadmill does get boring at times, but I do it anyway. Not because I necessarily want to, but because I need to. Sometimes if I don't feel like "just walking", I'll use my Hula Hoop or Jump Rope or Elliptical to change things up a bit. The important thing to me is that I get some physical movement instead of just laying around doing nothing.
I, for one, will never give into her theory that its better to just accept being fat and live with it. I was dying with it before, not living with it.
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