This week was much better than last! I pushed myself out of the funk I was in last week, and felt much more motivated. I felt really good about my eating this week, too--I tried to stick with my 8:00-12:00-4:00-8:00 schedule (I do best when I eat at particular times of the day--otherwise, I convince myself that I'm hungry all day when I'm really not).
I said last week that my goal for the week was going to be feeling at peace with food--not try to cut back or anything to get to my pre-vacation weight, but just focus on getting back into my pre-vacation routine. I didn't realize how much a vacation would mess with my normal patterns! I thought that once I got back home, I'd have no problem getting back to normal. But it took a couple of weeks to make it happen.
For my Wednesday Weigh-in, the scale is exactly the same as last week, which I am happy with:
Speaking of maintenance, I've gotten several emails from people asking my thoughts about the article that was in the NY Times about The Biggest Loser contestants.
The gist of the article is that researchers followed up with the Season 8 contestants over the last six years to see what happened after dropping a large amount of weight with a vigorous diet and exercise program (i.e. The Biggest Loser contest). The research showed that the vast majority of the contestants gained back most, if not all or more, of the weight they lost. It also showed that the reason for this may not be due to willpower or lack of motivation, but due to a biological response by the body to lower metabolism. Basically--it's not their fault.
There is a lot more to it, which you can read at the link above, but that's the gist. After reading the article, I thought it was actually kind of depressing and pessimistic. It was almost like they were saying it was hopeless to lose the weight, because your body is going to force you to gain it back by lowering your metabolism to much lower than it should be for someone of your age and size.
For someone with a large amount of weight to lose, the article makes it sound like they might as well not even bother to lose the weight. The biggest flaw in the article, in my opinion, is that the study focused on The Biggest Loser participants only--there was no comparison to people who lost the weight in a much more sustainable way (losing a recommended 1-2 pounds per week with a sensible diet and exercise plan).
The article described one man's regimen in which he created a 3,500 calorie PER DAY deficit! Here is a short quote from the article about that:
To me, that sounds absolutely miserable. If that's what it would take to be thin, I wouldn't want to be thin. (I hope that obese people reading the NY Times article don't read that and think that's what it takes to lose the weight! I'm proof that it doesn't.)
I would really like to see a study done with people who have lost the weight in a more gradual and sustainable way, because I am willing to bet that the results would be much different. I agree that maintenance is very difficult, but I think that's because of habits that are ingrained in my brain from YEARS of abusing my body with binge eating.
My metabolism is just fine--this week, I averaged 2,016 calories per day), and maintained my weight (of course, I haven't been on maintenance very long, so this could change eventually). I exercise a reasonable amount (I run about 15-20 miles per week, and get in roughly 7,000-10,000 steps per day on average). My diet is certainly not drastic--I eat whatever I want, and I just keep my portions under control.
Maintenance is different for everybody, of course, just like losing weight is--but I don't think that it's hopeless! I know that I'll always have to be careful with my choices, and probably have to count calories for the rest of my life, and I'm totally okay with that. I will probably always have to deal with emotional eating, but I feel like I am in control over whether I choose to eat for reasons other than hunger. I don't think that my body is forcing me to gain weight back.
My best advice for weight loss has always been this: Only make changes that you're willing to live with FOREVER. This idea came to me before I lost the weight, when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to audition for The Biggest Loser with her. I said no--and the reason I said no was because I knew that going on the show would mean eating tiny amounts of bland food and exercising all day long like it's my job. I honestly would rather have stayed overweight than live like that.
My friend said that it wouldn't be forever, it would just be for the duration of the show. And that's when it hit me--what would happen after the show? I would gain back all the weight, because I wasn't willing to keep that routine forever. So, I thought, "Why don't I just lose the weight the way that I'm willing to live with forever?"
And for me, that meant not exercising (at the time, I despised exercise, so I decided not to do it). I also decided not to cut out my favorite things (particularly, desserts); and instead, I would work them into my food plan. I ate what I wanted, and cut back on portions. I didn't force myself to eat things I didn't like. It was very simple! (Not to be confused with "easy"). Eventually, those changes became habits for me. And I found several months later that I actually wanted to try exercising. I got hooked on running, and you know the rest of the story.
I completely understand the appeal of just gutting it out for a few months to drop all the weight quickly, and THEN worry about maintenance--but I knew that wasn't the answer for me. And now, reading through that article, I am so glad that I made the choice that I did. I lost an average of 1.8 pounds per week, so it took me 16 months to lose 125 pounds--much longer than the contestants on The Biggest Loser--but I have now kept the majority of the weight off for six years. That's the same amount of time that the researchers have been following up with the contestants.
I'm very curious about what my tests would say if the researchers would do them on me--it would be an interesting comparison! I also would have liked to see the researchers look at some of the former contestants that DID manage to keep the weight off, and see what happened with their metabolism. Pete Thomas would be a great example. He lost 185 pounds in nine months when he was on the show back in season two. When I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago, he told me all about the changes he made in his habits, that he still holds today. He eats something like 2,500 calories a day and has maintained his weight loss for 11 years now. (Pete even wrote in his book, "My number one principle of nutrition is: Never, ever, EVER start a diet that you can't maintain for the rest of your life.")
All of this is really just to say that I thought the article was interesting, but the research was lacking a lot of info that could have been very helpful. I hope that the article doesn't discourage people from trying to lose weight with diet and exercise--maybe just the extreme way that it was done on the show. But my life is a million times better now than it was 7-8 years ago, and much of that has to do with my weight loss. I can do so many things that I never would have been able to if I hadn't lost the weight. Maintenance is a bitch, I'm not going to lie--but I'll keep working on it, and it's worth the effort!