I have been speaking to groups of people about my story. They are taking the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series at Nutritional Weight and Wellness (weightandwellness.com). I always try to give them some practical information about how to eat and keep the food interesting. Anyone who has tried to change their nutrition knows how difficult this can be in our food culture (the pan of brownies at your work snack table may look more interesting than that hard boiled egg and celery!). I know. I feel like I am talking to myself about this all day long, because the society I live in does not value healthful eating.
So on that note, I have a great recipe site to share with you. Theroadfromfattofit.blogspot.com offers many great low carb recipes, and better yet, she takes your old high carb favorites and offers low carb versions (pizza with a meat crust!). She also takes great photos of ingredients and each step of the process. I so appreciate the work involved in this illustration. I have tried many of the recipes, and they have been delicious. The blog offers a crock pot recipes as well.
Check it out. Tell me about a favorite recipe site you have used!
I am sitting in the Charles DeGaulle airport returning from a great 10-day trip in Paris with my family. We saw so much of the city and lived like Parisians for this time. We ate like them (my son even tried escargot and frog’s legs!), and walked the city like them (we clocked in an average of 8 miles a day!).
While sitting in cafes, walking around, and riding the Metro, I had a lot of time to observe the notorious lack of overweight and obese people. Everyone seems to have heard of the French Paradox, whereby the French maintain their lean bodies while eating fat and drinking wine. (Any of you who have been reading know, I lost weight largely by embracing fat in my diet like the French.). One statistic I read has the average French person eating 1 pound of fat per day! Take that low-fat diet gurus.
So what do the French have that we don’t? A food culture that’s what. They learn how to eat very well, naturally–and good food is all around them. I noticed that the eggs in the convenience store on our street were all organic, with yolks of deep orange. I couldn’t buy a crappy egg if I tried.
They also learn from a very early age to eat protein, carbs, and fat in balance to keep themselves satisfied and lean. Meals also are lingered over and enjoyed, unlike our fast food culture.
So people like me, who gain weight easily, never really get the chance to do so. Instead of the largely processed and corn-based I ate for years, a diet that “turned – on” my fat genes, these potential fat French people are surrounded by a food culture that supports them staying lean.
All this said, I am fairly certain that I have gained weight on this trip. Despite my expectations that living and eating like the French would have the exact opposite effect. Right? Despite all the walking and good food, another dominant French tradition–the boulanger and patisserie shops on every corner (bread and pastry)–caused a tidal wave of cravings for me. Unlike those potential French fat people, my craving cycles are almost as old as I am, and eating well is still a relatively new thing for me (3 years out of my 40). I don’t know how to eat bread and pastry in moderation.
So, I return to my life and I will do what I preach; get back on the low-carb wagon and begin again. Each of these food relapses gives me a chance to rediscover what works for me in losing weight and keeping it off. It is as if I am teaching myself a foreign language. Just as I stumbled when I used my French in Paris, I am going to continue to stumble on my weight loss journey.
I would love to hear about how travel has changed your perspective on food and eating.
I just read this post from Jimmy Moore. It is really powerful and expresses a lot about what I am feeling lately. I will be back next week with a post.
When does being fat become your fault
I will be a guest on Dishing Up Nutrition this weekend, Saturday, January 14 at 8:00 a.m. (download the podcast on iTunes). We will talk about the new science of weight loss, and how it is more than eating off of smaller plates. We will talk about how overly simplistic advice, like “eat off of smaller plates,” ultimately sabotages people’s weight loss efforts. This is because people are not taught to manage the overwhelming cravings that cause them to “eat the kitchen” and gain weight.
To give you a taste of what we will discuss, I have listed a couple of the crappy bits of weight loss advice received over my 25 years of dieting (and my commentary):
- Take a bubble bath when you feel hungry. (why not eat)
- Don’t eat after 6:30 pm. (a healthy, fat-ladened bed time snack will balance your blood sugar and help you sleep; sleep is key to weight loss)
- Take a bite, then put your fork down; take a sip of water, and then cut your next bite; take another bite and repeat (lesson: what you are eating is so unsatisfying that you must follow this torturous procedure to eat it, only to give you the illusion that you are satiated)
All of this advice contributes to fat people’s already heightened state of anxiety around food and eating. Most importantly, it is necessary because the food most diet plans recommend you eat is so unsatisfying, and unable to deliver the feeling of being satiated, that they have to tell you something to curb the out-of-control cravings that result from what and how they are telling you to eat.
So, listen to the show and call in if you can!
I just read The Fat Trap, an article about how hard it is for people who have been obese and lost weight to keep weight off because of significant hormonal and metabolic changes. To summarize, the article says these people are in a biologically altered state after they lose weight; a state that causes them to put the weight back on much more rapidly than someone who has never been heavy. The article is well done and worth the read. And while I agree that there is much more to weight loss and keeping it off than “eat less, move more,” I think the researchers are wrong here. Most importantly, I think fat people will read this piece and give up hope that they will never be able to lose the weight and keep it off.
It is in the beginning of the article, where the author describes how the experiment was conducted, that I knew what the outcomes for these obese people would be without having to read another word. Here is an excerpt that lays out how the experiment was conducted:
“Beginning in 2009, he and his team recruited 50 obese men and women. The men weighed an average of 233 pounds; the women weighed about 200 pounds. Although some people dropped out of the study, most of the patients stuck with the extreme low-calorie diet, which consisted of special shakes called Optifast and two cups of low-starch vegetables, totaling just 500 to 550 calories a day for eight weeks. Ten weeks in, the dieters lost an average of 30 pounds.
At that point, the 34 patients who remained stopped dieting and began working to maintain the new lower weight. Nutritionists counseled them in person and by phone, promoting regular exercise and urging them to eat more vegetables and less fat. But despite the effort, they slowly began to put on weight. After a year, the patients already had regained an average of 11 of the pounds they struggled so hard to lose. They also reported feeling far more hungry and preoccupied with food than before they lost the weight.” (The Fat Trap from the New York Times)
Of course these obese people started gaining weight back immediately–they were STARVING. On top of that, they were not educated about how to manage their cravings and how healthy fats are the key to maintaining blood sugar. Instead, this cutting-edge research that attempts to go deeper than the clap trap peddled as solid nutrition advice and obesity research (basically the law of thermodynamics applied to a biochemical process a la “eat less, move more”). They completely miss the boat by using the old, tired low-fat, starvation diet approach with obese people who need to be nourished with ample protein, carbs and FAT to lose weight, not to be starved.
While I think it is great that these obesity researchers are attempting to go deeper and explain the complexities of obesity (and that it is not just a matter of will power), I am so disheartened that they are using nutrition advice that has so clearly failed the obese. We need to get the fresh ideas around the new science of weight loss (read Darlene Kvist’s article about this new approach) to these researchers so that they don’t add to the hopelessness so many obese people already feel about their weight.
I would love to hear what you think of the article! Leave a comment.
Hello dear readers! It has been awhile. I have to say I have been avoiding you. Please don’t take it personally though. It’s not because I don’t value every one of you. I do, and I love that my posts help many of you. My absence in the blogosphere as been because of my old friend, shame.
Starting back in late September, I started on a relapse with my weight loss. It started innocently enough with a drink here and a cookie there. Nothing I couldn’t control, right? I started to participate vigorously in after work happy hours, not to mention the taco bar lunch complete with another old friend, queso dip (and not the “healthy” version, but the nasty Velveeta and Hormel chili variety).
Gradually, my rabid cravings for carbs came back. It happened so slowly that I didn’t even realize it. I stopped my regular weigh ins–a sure sign that I knew in my heart something was not right. I stopped my monthly yoga membership. And eventually, I even stopped walking daily. And guess what? Ten pounds came back on in less than a month. And, voila, the shame came with it.
I was pretty devastated. All I could think was, “Here I go again! What is wrong with me that I can’t keep this weight off!” My mind searched for every possible explanation–the water at work could be killing my gut flora! Maybe I am going through early menopause! Maybe I am just not meant to be thin! Every explanation ran through my mind except for the one that made the most sense: I started introducing excess sugar and carbs into my diet, and my unstoppable cravings caused me to eat foods that I must avoid to lose and/or maintain my weight.
I didn’t want to face it. Instead, I wanted an easy answer. I wanted to believe that now that I had lost 90 pounds and was happy with my appearance and health, I could slack off where planning and food were concerned. I could ease up on this routine that had gotten me so far in my weight loss journey. So much for that.
Before things got too far out of control, and before more weight could come back on, I leaned on my support system. Her name is Anna, and she is my nutritionist. An hour spent with her brought me encouragement and support. I was reminded of those foods to avoid and those that would kick start my metabolism. I was also reminded that I need ongoing support to contend with a condition I will have all of my life.
I have lost three of those 10 pounds since my appointment with Anna two weeks ago. Most importantly I realized that I can do this for the long haul. Maybe I just needed a little break from wellness, and fitting into my jeans, to remind myself of just how awesome life can be when I am on track, eating protein, carbs, and fat IN BALANCE.
By “they” I mean the diet “experts” you always hear saying, “Keeping IT off is the hard part.” I always thought, “Easy for you to say! You are thin. I
am in the middle of trying to lose this weight. That’s the hard part.” How wrong I was.
When I was losing the weight, I had very tangible goals in mind:
- Fit into regular sizes, not plus sizes
- Lose at a slow and steady rate
- Fit into some great jeans
- Be able to do hot yoga three times a week
Without the forward momentum and the goals, I’ve lost my way a bit. I have let things slide. I’ve slacked off on my physical activity, namely not keeping up with yoga. I’ve also gotten really slack about my diet. The times when I go off my food plan have started to blur together, rather than being isolated incidents.
The result: A slow, but steady, weight gain and loss of muscle tone. I am getting soft again. What a colossal bummer. And I have to admit the diet experts are right on this one.
So, what now? Well, I am taking heart that I know eating protein, carbs and fat in balance is my way back to maintaining my 90 pound weight loss and feeling better in my clothes. I am also planning on going back to my nutritionist (weightandwellness.com) for guidance. I also have thought that doing a cleanse with Metagenics Ultra Clear may help get me back on track. I also know I need to start doing yoga consistently for tone and well-being.
The main thing though will be to slowly get back to my program, rather than trying to be heroic and do everything perfectly right away. The all or nothing thinking that caused me to fail at weight loss so many times before is at the root of this latest setback. So, being accepting of failures will be key to getting back on track.
I would love to hear your comments as always!