I will live life after this diet…

Today, my cousin posted this article on Facebook: #FitFam: 11 Reasons Why The Fitness Culture On Social Media Needs To Be Stopped.”  I was curious about the article, because my cousin is a fitness nut.  He posts about what he eats, what he’s doing at the gym, what other people are doing wrong at the gym, etc. Why in the world would he be posting an article that made fun of himself?

This article is not the only one that makes fun of Facebook posts.  There is an assortment of articles that bash what people put on Facebook.  Almost all of them are satire, and some are downright mean.  And these people are supposed to be our “friends”?  After I was annoyed, though, I got thinking:  What if I made a list of things that dieters did on Facebook, but instead of putting a mean slant on it, what if I put an uplifting slant on it?

#1.  We know you’ve gained a little weight, but you don’t have to erase your entire existence.

I see this a lot.  Someone starts to gain weight, and all of the sudden, they disappear on Facebook.  Their profile picture turns into a cat.  Or, a photo of a field.  Or, photos from when they were 20 years old (even though now they are 43). I, myself, was guilty of this.  I would go to post photos of myself on Facebook, realize how much weight I gained, and from then on only post photos of myself hiding behind other people. Or planters. Or cars.

Truthfully, your friends don’t think you are as fat as you think you are.  Plus, your family loves you and wants to have photos of you that they can cherish.  I realized this when I read this post by My Friend Theresa photography.  They don’t look at you as a fat person, but as a person they love.

#2.  If you’ve been dieting for more than two years, and you are the same size, don’t continually post about your diet.

You are more than the latest diet you are following.  We want to hear about what your other interests and passions are.  What are your non-food related goals?  You may find that the more you pursue your non-diet interests, the less you think about food.  The less you think about food, the more weight loss success you might find.  You are more than a dress size.

#3.  You do not have to be at your goal weight to experience life.

I, too, have been guilty of saying, “When I lose weight I’m going to…”  It is easy to put life on hold when you are overweight.  There are some things that are no fun when you are overweight.  Traveling in an airplane is one of them.  Running marathons may have to wait, too.  There are a lot of non-physical things that we put off, too.  I spent about 10 years of my life putting off things that weren’t connected to my weight.  Write a book?  I want to focus on losing weight first.  Play my flute?  I need that hour a day to go workout at the gym.  It’s no wonder weight loss is so hard.  We sacrifice fun and our passions to accomplish it.  Then we eat our stress because we have no healthy outlets.

Go ahead.  Spend time pursuing your passions.  Just find a way to do it without supporting negative eating habits.  I find that I am in a much better disposition to do healthy things when I feel good.  I have even tried to spend an extra half hour a week painting my toe nails so I feel better about myself, which makes me want to feel better.

 

What other diet posts have you seen that you would like to address?  I don’t think that we should be closet dieters, but I also don’t believe that dieting should replace life.  Live life–even if you do wear a plus size!

Half Day Eating Plan

acf6ccf2b4b68396753b017aa90e8b11I am on the half day eating plan.  The first half of the day, I follow my eating plan.  After my kids get home and the stress begins, I am no longer on the plan.  I eat what is convenient.

This started when I began working about 70 hours a week a couple of weeks ago. When I’m not working, I am taking care of my four kids.  I don’t have time to breathe, let alone plan a meal.

The good thing is that my new eating plan has kept me from gaining weight.  Of course, I am not losing weight, either.  I am staying even.  However, since I have left the eating plan, I feel worse and my skin doesn’t look as great.

Every day I wake up with a new resolve.  This is the day that I am going to stick by my plan all day.  But once the kids get home and the fighting commences and I have to make dinner and I have to help with homework, that goes out the window.

I am going to take a new approach tomorrow.  Tomorrow I am going to start dinner in the morning, when I am still calm and level-headed.  I also plan to get a full 9 hours of sleep tonight.  Let’s see if we can get back on track!

 

Weak moments

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Today I went totally off my eating plan.

I was stressed.  Really stressed.  I have all of these deadlines that I have to make.  My kids were little like rabid monsters.  I was running late to an appointment.  I just wanted to break down and cry.  Then, I had to run to the grocery store.

The lesson that I learned at the grocery store was: when you are on a restricted eating plan, and your entire day has been a disaster, and you want to cry, don’t go grocery shopping.  Just don’t do it.

My nerves were so shot, that I picked up a package of blueberries, and threw them in the cart.  The package opened and blueberries went everywhere.   I picked most of them up and told a store worker about the rest on the floor.  The gentleman working at the store was gracious.  He went in the back, got a broom, cleaned up the blueberries, and went back to put the broom away.

I continued my shopping trip, when the same blueberry container tipped over in the cart and went everywhere AGAIN.   Blueberries spread everywhere just as the store worker that helped me walked back from putting his broom away.  I spent the next few minutes apologizing profusely.  He just sighed and went back to get his broom.

It was after the blueberry incident that I walked past the cracker/cookie aisle.  I was in a health food store (my son is allergic to many things), and our favorite brand of overpriced cookies that he can eat were on sale.  Back to Nature sandwich cookies.  They are better than Oreos.  And they were buy one get one free.  Normally I could walk by, but it was that kind of day.  I thought to myself, Screw it!  I bought four boxes.

Let me just insert here that I made it through Girl Scout cookie season with boxes of cookies in my garage, and I never ate a single one.  Tonight, however, I made up for it.  When I got home, I put 3 boxes in the freezer, but I opened that fourth box the second I walked in the door.  My husband and daughter were happy to join me.  We ate all but two cookies.  I think I had 7 or 8.

I was in denial about the whole experience, but about two hours later, I saw the above meme on Pinterest.  Even Pinterest is giving me a hard time about my moment of shame.

So, I have decided that I am going to have to find another way to unwind.  Stress destroys my resolve.  I need a new outlet for stress.  My friend suggested running.  Hahaha.  My body still jiggles too much to run, which reminds me of one of my favorite memes:

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I think I’ll keep searching for a better outlet for stress.

More to life than a number

I am a big advocate of learning to eat what your body needs and letting go of willpower.  I just came across an awesome TED talk today about how dieting and willpower doesn’t help you lose weight.  Instead, we need to listen to our bodies.  (Yes, I know I post a lot from TED–I love TED.)

This talk by Sandra Aamodt shows how those who obsess about willpower and dieting are worse off than those who learn to listen to their bodies.  She also shows that obese people with healthy habits have similar mortality rates to thin people with healthy habits.  The habits she talks about are:

  1. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
  2. Exercising 3 times a week
  3. Not smoking
  4. Drinking in Moderation

I do 1, 3, and 4.  I walk to work 2 times a week.  I guess I should figure out how to work in another day of exercise.

I think that beyond the science of dieting, the most significant thing she said was that many people diet, and when they fail, they blame it on themselves.  They think that it is come kind of deficiency of character that led them to be overweight, but they keep trying over and over again.  As Aamodt says in the talk, “If diets worked, we’d all be thin already.”  I’ve been done with dieting for a long time.  I have been done with focusing on something that wasn’t working. There is so much more to life that a number on a scale.

The hardest thing about being overweight is that is the first thing people notice when they meet me.  They think that there is a story behind my size.  The media has encouraged this by showing a crying obese person on every daytime or reality show.  This idea that there is some story behind every overweight person has entered even the medical arena.  The last time I went to the doctor, she weighed me, and she was convinced that there had to be something wrong with me. She kept asking me if I binged– if I sat and ate junk all day. She was looking for a confession that wasn’t there.  I almost felt like making up a good story to make her feel better.

That is what society wants from overweight people–a confession.  They want overweight people to show that a deficiency of character is what brought us to our weight.  I watch how the Biggest Loser makes their contestants sit and eat sloppy food so the viewers can ogle.  I would never go on that show.  I am not going to make what I see is a false confession for ratings.  I am not going to let the audience feel better at the expense of my own pride.

Speaking of pride, I was annoyed at my doctor’s insistence that I must be an obsessive eater.  She had a bunch of blood tests ordered.  When she had them processed, she called back and was shocked that there wasn’t anything medically wrong with me (yet–she said).  I think it is because I have always done what I was supposed to do, but I still couldn’t control my weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I could still lose weight for other reasons.  My feet get tired after walking on concrete all day. (I teach at a college campus.)  I could use more energy.  Still, I am thankful that I am doing okay internally.  But, my weight is not because I was abused as a child or have huge self-worth issues.

My weight is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of disconnection with my body.  I am trying to connect, but not let it rule me and my life. I am more than just a number on a scale.

Sabotage

Sorry for the silence.  I have been both sick and super busy at work.  I haven’t been able to stay awake after my kids go to bed.

This week was a rough week.  I was under the weather, and my husband had to cook.  One night my family ate pizza.  I ate it, too.  They had ice cream with fudge sauce.  I ate a small amount, but I ate some.  I was too tired to make my own food.  I should have had easy to grab food, but I didn’t at that time.  I was grateful when I stayed steady at 298.  I am still under 300.

I look at each week as a learning experience.  I now know that if I am super tired or busy or sick, then I am tempted just because I don’t want to have to cook anything.  I need to always have easy to grab items laying around the house.

So, I just had to get something off my chest.  It was hard enough to find an eating plan that works for me.  What is up with all of the unsolicited advice that seems to come with it?  And why does everyone seem to be so invested in how I eat?

I was eating eggs the other day, and my aunt was all nosy about it.  She wanted to know why I was just eating eggs.  Now, there have been plenty of times that I just ate eggs when I WASN’T on a special eating plan. Once I said that I was following a low carb diet, she started ranting on about how I shouldn’t do that.  Blah blah blah.

I was a vegetarian for a year.  I had a headache for the entire year, but I was convinced that being a vegetarian was the only way to eat.  I lost about 30 pounds that year.  (I will share that story at a later time.)  The entire time, my mom complained that I was losing too much weight.  I went from 185 to 155 at 5’4″.  I wasn’t even in the healthy range for my size, but my mom acted like I was one step away from anorexia the whole time.  The funny thing was, she wasn’t worried about the headaches; she was worried about me being too thin.

The other day, I was eating with a friend.  Of course, she notices that I am eating an omelette and not eating my hash browns.  She is on a crunchy, clean eating kick.  She started going on about how carbs are not my problem.  When I am under 200 pounds, I will worry about how to eat more carbs and put them in my diet.  Right now, I am trying to get down to a reasonable weight.

What is it about watching your weight that makes people want to worry about what other people are eating?  The same people seem to not worry when we are at a fun function together eating junk food that is bad for us, but if I try to do something to help myself, then they are all over me.

I think that this is why so many people have a hard time losing weight: sabotage.  Our friends and family don’t mean to sabotage us, but they are used to the free-loving, non-constrained version of ourselves.  Sometimes, I think that they use their overweight friends as a safety blanket.  Well, I might be overweight, but Liz is still bigger than I am.  I know how it works.  I used to be the same way.

So, I decided that I am going to plow forward,  I am going to listen to my friends and family, pretend to acknowledge them, and then do what I know is best for my own health.

 

Willpower not necessary.

“What if some of our fundamental ideas about obesity are just wrong?” – Dr. Peter Attia

I have spent a lot of time over the past few years researching nutrition.  I am significantly overweight, but unlike the sensational media would have you think, I don’t get up in the middle of the night and binge.  I don’t have a stash of chips hidden away for me to eat in one ugly sitting.  I absolutely love vegetables and salsa, and I abhor processed foods.  Yet, despite my dedication to following the recommendations of the FDA, I was not able to control my weight until this past year.

My big revelation came when I discovered nutritional typing.  The articles I read said that each of us process foods in different ways.  I was especially drawn to the protein type.  All of the foods on the list were the foods I craved while on a diet.  As I was eating my 100% whole wheat bread, I was craving butter.  As I ate chicken breast, I was craving chicken thighs.  I was such an extreme protein type that I craved vegetables, but have no taste for fruit.  Then I realized that all of the food that the “diet” companies told me that I should eat were not on the list.  I was overweight because I would eat what I was told, but my body’s essential needs were not being met, so I was in a constant state of hunger.

I think that a high number of overweight people experience the same feelings, but we are told that our weight is simply due to a lack of self-control.  I have watched many thin people (my husband included) eat a bunch of junk food all day and not gain weight.  My parents were very conscious eaters, yet quite overweight–my dad had a rule that he had to have a salad AND a vegetable at every dinner.  I knew that this issue was much more complex than it seemed.  We do not need more willpower.  We need to eat the food that satisfies our body’s needs.

About a year ago, I cut pasta and most breads out of my diet.  (The funny thing was, it was easy to do.  I always would take my hot dog out of the bun, because the bun didn’t do much for me.  I never liked spaghetti–I just ate it because it was cheap and easy.)  As a result of just these changes, I stopped gaining weight for the FIRST TIME in my life.  I wasn’t losing weight, because I was still ingesting sugar and flour, but I had figured out how to stop gaining weight without trying.

I have told a lot of people about my new discovery, but no one wants to believe a fat person when it comes to nutrition.  Then, I ran across an interesting TED talk today about the misconceptions that surround obesity. Dr. Peter Attia shares his journey from being a judgmental thin person, to an overweight, insulin-resistant patient, back to a thin, more open-minded doctor.  The most interesting thing was that he gained 40 pounds while following the FDA pyramid and exercising three hours a day.

The most significant part of the talk for me is when he realizes that he was following the guidelines that we all have been taught, and he was still sick.  He asks the questions:

“How did this happen to me when I was supposedly doing everything right?”

“If the conventional wisdom about nutrition had failed me, was it possible it was failing someone else?”

These are the same questions that prompted my own personal research into nutrition.  Now, seeing that someone else who was trying to follow the rules has the same questions, I felt almost vindicated.  I also was relieved that I had a “skinny person” that could lend credibility to my argument that the FDA food pyramid is not for everyone.  He even talks about eliminating a lot of the food that I have cut out of my diet.

So, if so much that we know about nutrition could be wrong, where do we go from here?  I still think that the answer lies in finding out what kind of food your body operates best on.  What do you crave when you are limiting your calories?  That can be the first step into changing your lifestyle.  If you are eating the foods that your body really needs, then you should be able to find a balance with food.  That’s what I am betting on.  Willpower is not even necessary.

Fat vs. Muscle

Today my friend posted a link to a blog about building muscle on Facebook.  I perused the blog post for a little bit.  (It was a little ranty for my taste.)  As I scrolled down the screen, I saw a comparison of fat vs. muscle.  Here is a similar picture from a Shaklee consultant:

fat-vs-muscle

Wow. The point of the blog was to show how it is important to build more muscle to look more lean.  As I took in the image, all I could think of was I have 31 extra of those 5 lb. fat models attached to my body.  I looked down at my legs, and I saw a few 5 pound fat blobs on each leg.  I looked at my left arm, and there was one there, too.  Holy cow, no wonder I’m exhausted at the end of the day!

I have to admit, I am a little bit of a nerd.  Scientific comparisons of fat work much better on me than the societal pressure to look “sexier.”  When I realized that I lost 9 pounds, I wanted to go to the store and carry around 10 pounds of sugar to really wrap my head around the progress I had made.  When you have lost 9 pounds out of 167, it feels like you have taken such a miniscule step.  But then, as I walk around carrying 10 pounds for a few minutes, I really start to appreciate even the baby steps.

I think that it is often too easy to get overwhelmed by the length of our weight loss journey.  There have been many times that I have wanted to give up.  I am trying to really appreciate and visualize what each step is doing for me.  Now, I know that I lost almost 2 of the fat blobs in the photo.  I have lost almost 2 bags of flour.  I think that celebrating the little wins is what is keeping me going.

What do you do to celebrate the small wins?

More than a number

A friend of mine sent me this cartoon from ToothpasteForDinner.com:

toothpastefordinner

I struggled to maintain my weight for a long time.  For a while, I thought that there was something wrong with me.  I was ashamed of my size (even when I weighed 155).  I was not far from my goal weight, but I just knew that I was the biggest person in the room.

I remember spending hours looking for clothes that would make me look skinnier.  I would wear dark colors almost exclusively, because I read that dark clothes had a slimming effect.  Any stripes had to be vertical, because almost every overweight woman knows that horizontal lines make you look wider.

I associated my inability to maintain my weight with some kind of personal deficiency on my part.  It wasn’t until I was around 240 pounds that I decided that I was done with obsessing over my weight.  I was tired of being worried that others would think I was fat.  I finally realized that no matter how well designed my clothes were, no one was going to mistake my frame for that of Cindy Crawford.  I allowed myself to be free from the chains that worrying about my size put on me.  I accepted myself for what I was.

I realized that weight was just a small part of who I am.  I have so much more to offer the world.  I have spent countless hours talking to women that had nothing better to talk about than the most recent fad diet.  I often wonder if they have other interests than being compulsive dieters.

I like to read about the civil rights area.  I like to read biographies about people that make a difference in society. I like reading about linguistics.  I like to talk about music. I like to write.  There is so much more to life than dieting fads.  When I gave myself permission to be something other than fat, I gave myself permission to be more.

I think that I rejected dieting for so long, because I was afraid that weight loss would become part of my identity.  Now I am Liz the writer, Liz the teacher, Liz the flutist, Liz the mom, Liz the business owner.  I don’t want people coming up to me asking me about the details of how I lost weight.  I don’t want weight loss to shadow every other thing about me that is so much more than a number on the scale.

Now, as I spend time writing about my weight, I wonder why I am spending so much time writing about being fat.

I am doing so because someone needs to talk about the issues that surround being overweight.  It is such a taboo subject.  We act like extra weight doesn’t exist.  I think that it is important that someone speak candidly about this subject.  That person might as well be me.

I think that by sharing my story, it gives others permission to share their story.  It gives other people permission to be more than fat.

So, go out into the world and be more than fat.  That’s what I am going to do.  Each person has so much more to offer the world than a number on a scale.

By the way, I weighed myself, and I am down 9 pounds. Now, I am not going to obsess over weight loss.  Instead, I am going to prepare to play my flute tomorrow.  Because I am more than a number.

It’s not about willpower

Willpower.  It is what every fat person wishes they had more of.  I want to challenge the idea that losing weight takes more willpower.

I used to believe that every person should eat a certain kind of food to be healthy.  When I believed that, I gained weight at a constant pace.  What if being thin wasn’t something that we had to constantly work on.  Why is it that obesity is an increasing epidemic?  Why is it an epidemic and not something that humans have struggled with for centuries.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand that there were obese people hundreds of years ago. I think of Henry VII.  I look at his relationship to women.  If his relationship to food was similar to his relationship with women, then that would explain a lot about his weight.  For the most part, however, obesity was not a big concern of the average person.  Now, however, obesity is a huge issue.

My husband’s doctor was talking to him about weight.  He is Asian, and for years he never had a problem controlling his weight.  He ate a typical Asian diet that was high in rice and fish.  Then, he moved the the United States.  He immediately gained weight.

The African American community has an epidemic of obesity.  This has been blamed on many factors.  I am African American, and I can attest to the fact that many in my family have struggled with their weights.  They are very conscious of what they eat, but few seem to be able to keep weight off.  These are professional people that know what the FDA recommends.

There is also a big issue with alcoholism in the Native American community.  I have quite a bit of Native American blood in me, as well.  My father doesn’t drink alcohol, because he knows that he has the genetics that would lean towards alcoholism.

These three different stories do not seem to be directly connected, but they are.  All of these three groups have had diet related problems in the United States.  I personally have spent a lot of time thinking about this.  Our ancestors are all from different areas of the planet.  They ate very different foods.  Why would we think that there could possibly be one correct way for everyone to eat?  The FDA pyramid groups us all into one category.  To me, it would make more sense if our bodies would process food differently based on our ancestry.

My husband’s doctor said he never struggled with weight until he started eating an American diet.  It consisted of food that his body could not process.

Many African Americans have been eating the American diet and have struggled with weight related illnesses. I think that is because many African Americans are the protein nutritional type, which is almost the opposite of the FDA pyramid.  Many stereotypical foods (I hate stereotypes, but they come from somewhere), like fried chicken, would be the type of food that a protein type would crave.

Native Americans were not exposed to grains until they were brought here by European settlers.  There is a intolerance for these foods that have led to epidemics of alcoholism in the community.  That is most likely because Native Americans’ bodies are not designed to process grains.

To use myself as an example, I went on a Weight Watchers diet.  I was on a restricted caloric intake, so I lost weight.  At the time, Weight Watchers was following the FDA food pyramid.  I remember having intense cravings for steak fat and pork ribs.  I was hungry all of the time.  That is because I believe that my body cannot process whole grain pastas and potatoes.  All of those were foods that were “low fat” and “low calorie” and encouraged on the plan.  I am a protein nutritional type.  These are the foods that my body can’t process.  In fact, the foods that I craved were high in protein and fat.  I was learning to eat the foods that my body didn’t need and reject the foods that it did.

My point is that perhaps the issue for many overweight people is not that they were born lacking some magical willpower trait.  Maybe their bodies are trying to tell them something.  We think that the experts know it all, but a recent article from the New York Times entitled “Why Nutrition Is So Confusing” shows that experts have no idea what the heck they are doing.  The author Gary Taubes states, “Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.”  And we are trying to follow what these people say?

I encourage you to start listening to your body.  Give up sugar, and write down what you crave.  You might actually find that your body is telling you what you should be eating.  Perhaps, if you have a problem with weight, it is not that you have an issue with willpower.  Instead, you might just not be listening to what your body is trying to tell you.  Your body may just be trying to compensate for receiving the wrong types of foods.

I am following the same process.  We can keep each other posted on our progress.

youcantexercize

 

Let them eat cheesecake!

There is nothing that I like more than cheesecake.  There will be cheesecake in heaven–there just has to be.  I have committed to not eating sugar, so I know that cheesecake is off limits. (I know that there are sugar free cheesecakes, but I don’t like sugar substitutes, so why waste the calories?)  My favorite cheesecake is the Chocolate Tuxedo Cream cheesecake at the Cheesecake factory.  This will be my birthday cake.

Luckily, I do not like any frozen cheesecake from the grocery store, so I haven’t had much of an issue staying away from it.  Then, I got on the train on Friday.

I was feeling pretty good.  I was just recovering from my sugar withdrawal.  I had lost my night cravings for sugar.  I felt like I was moving forward.  Then, a guy sat on the seat across from me with a Cheesecake Factory bag filled with slices of cheesecake.

All of my negative feelings came back.  I have mentioned before that dieting is so hard because I had to give up so much to start our family business and have four kids.  I have to be conscious about how I operate in so many other areas of my life, I just want to have a little freedom in one.  Food was the one thing that I didn’t want to have to control.  I finally accepted that I was going to have to give up my freedom with food when I decided that I wanted my weight to get out of the way of my goals.  To do this, I had to work through negative thoughts as I eliminated sugar from my diet.  Once the cravings were gone, it wasn’t so hard to avoid sugar.  Then, I cut back on almost all carbohydrates.  That was actually easier than I thought, too.  I am still able to eat all of the foods I craved on previous diets.  I didn’t dream about food anymore.  I thought I was on the path to success–until I saw that slice of cheesecake.

In retrospect, I know that I cannot let a slice of cheesecake derail my progress.  I am better than that.  I have accomplished so much in my life.  I have been a fierce competitor in other areas.  Now, I need to battle my own insecurities with weight.

When I weighed myself the next morning, I had more fuel to keep me going.  I lost 6 pounds in a week.  I would trade that success for a slice of cheesecake any day.

Man in the Arena excerpt

From Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena from an unknown source on Pinterest