I am guessing that 40% of the people who clicked this link did so because they are in the habit of, or enjoy reading this blog. I am guessing that another 40% clicked the link because they are interested in what I have to say about my weight. And finally I assume that 20% of the people who clicked this link did so because they automatically hate me for weighing 142 pounds and bitching about it. Then again, I am just guessing.
I am 5' 7" and I weigh 142 pounds. That is 42 pounds less than I weighed the day I gave birth to Thing 1. It is 33 pounds less than I weighed the day I gave birth to Thing 2. It is 3 pounds less than what I weighed the day I got married and 13 pounds less than I weighed a month after my mother died when I realized that I needed to stop eating to cope with my loss. It is also 7 pounds more than I weighed when I graduated from college. It is 17 pounds more than my mother always told me that she weighed. It is 21 pounds greater than the weight of my closest colleagues, which I know thanks to a work weight loss challenge. And most importantly it is 9 pounds more than I weighed at this time last year.
Why am I so preoccupied with weight, clothing size and numbers in general? I assume many of those reading are silently struggling too. How much are these emotions a part of my inability to scale the wall this time around?
In all practicality, I want to lose the 9 pounds I have gained since last year because my clothes are tight and I don't want to buy new ones. And because I felt really good about myself last summer and this year I see the difference. I didn't exercise for 10 months and it shows. The changes I have made to my diet in the last year have been good ones, but I admit, I have eaten more fat and food in general than my body probably needs. This summer has been about me playing with the amount of protein and fat in my diet. And I have discovered that I need a nice mix of animal products, meat, cheese and butter but I feel best when I am eating mostly veggies and some fruits and those fats and animal products are a support. (FYI, I am talking VOLUME here, it is likely that since vegetables are so light in calories that animal products are still supplying me with the greatest percentage of my calories. But that is a different post for a different day). I am certain I am addicted to grains, and I have steering away from them overall. I am going completely by how I feel, not what the literature says.
In order to lose the weight I have started running with a friend in the morning three days a week. I am excited to also add some simple weight exercises to support the running. While running alone is hard on the body and can lead to injury if you overdo it, getting out in the fresh air makes me happy as does running with a friend. The running makes me feel fit enough that some simple floor exercises do not seem overwhelming. I am lazy on my own, but having a friend keeps me working hard.
I have also cut back on my daily food intake by 10-15%. That's probably not enough for quick weight loss, but it's enough for me right now. Most experts believe that a reduction in calories of 300-500 calories per day is optimal for weight loss. Anymore and your body is shocked into starvation mode. In this case, more is really less. Progress has been slow, BUT the only structured diets I have ever done have been in the first year postpartum when your body is in prime fat burning mode. Losing weight now, when Thing 2 is almost 2 years old is completely different. It is slower for sure.
Eating less makes me feel lighter and sharper. Sometimes I believe that our misguided attempts to eat the same VOLUME of food while on a diet is missing the point. Just loading up on less nutrient dense foods doesn't help to shrink the stomach or address one's hunger cues, even if you lose weight from consuming less calories. Though right now I would love to switch to low fat dairy product and 'light' dressing just to shed these pounds quickly. But that isn't what's best for my health. I need really to cut back my portion sizes. Overeating is taxing on my digestive system for sure. More food just means more...you know. And I have to assume that mere workload is the reason that I get irregular when I overeat.
Calorie restriction is a good thing when we talk about restriction within reason. The American ideal of going to extremes doesn't much help here. I mentioned that in a recent article. Incidentally, just after I began drafting this essay, Dr. Mercola published a very interesting article all about hunger, dieting and calorie restriction. Thanks for being so timely Dr. Mercola!! Too bad I can't find it to link back to. Oh well, you are going to have to trust me. However even though I am touting the benefits of calorie restriction, don't misread me. This is hard and I am hungry. And the muffins are definitely talking to me.
But I originally promised you an article that was about my struggle with the struggle, not just about losing weight in and of itself. I have known for many months that I needed to cut back, even though I was eating pretty clean. But a great debate brewed in my head. I said many things trying to sort this out. "If I am eating the right foods and I weigh 142 pounds, maybe I am just meant to be 142 pounds?" "142 pounds is still well within a healthy weight zone for a woman my height, shouldn't I just accept my weight and move on?" "But if I was meant to weigh 142 pounds, then how come I easily maintained a weight of 133 for a couple of years? What am I doing differently today?" "Why do I want to weigh 133 pounds?" "Why do I always strive for perfection? Is this drive serving me?" "If I have to give up the foods that I love or foods that are good for me, like coconut oil, is it worth being 133 pounds?" "Do I have to give up anything to lose these pounds or do I just have to eat less?" "If I have to obsessively write down the food that I eat, is it worth it to be 133 pounds?" "Was I healthy at 133 pounds?"
I don't have answers for any of those questions. And I think each of us have different answers leading to find a different ideal weight. I keep coming back to the idea that I felt better when I eat less, not when I eat differently, just less. I own the same oversized dinner plates that most Americans do. I know my sense of portion is skewed. And although it is a drag to measure and write down everything I eat, I know me and that is what I need to do to lose weight. I simply can't justify not putting forth the effort. I know that if I can readjust my portions I don't have to give up everything I love.
But do you know what has made this time around so hard? I have had a really hard time saying no. Take last weekend for example. After a whole week of smaller portions and drinking less wine I let loose Friday night with some girlfriends and ordered barbeque Saturday night with a dear family. By Sunday I ate everything in sight. I couldn't say no to beer, potato chips or additional slices of pizza. All the self control that I had just a year ago has vanished.
To date I have lost one pound. But I am exercising and I definitely feel better. But I have made little to no progress on eating less. I am highly discouraged.
So how is that for a post? I have many questions and no answers. Where I used to feel like weight loss was a simple recipe of eating the right foods and eating less while exercising, now I am experiencing it as a complex web of emotional and health related issues. Maybe Weight Watchers worked for me because it kept me accountable? Maybe WW was like my running partner, who would be sad if I just stopped going downstairs at 5:15am. I don't know. In the mean time I am working toward the goal, and staying focused and picking myself up when I fall off the wagon. Maybe next week I will squeeze off one more pound. Anything would be good. I am in need of some progress to keep me going.
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