Thursday, October 22, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 8: Hapless Helplessness

In part 1, I described how lots of (perpetually) overweight people approach (perpetual) dieting. We've been going down the list and finding the mistakes (read all previous entries in reverse order). Now we're up to this:
Hapless Helplessness
In spite of relative low daily calorie counts, and the feeling of hardly eating anything (with much of the day spent fasting), the weight never budges. Cholesterol, and perhaps blood sugar and pressure, remain high. There must be a hormonal or metabolic problem; I diet and diet, yet the weight never comes off. There must be something uniquely screwy about my system that keeps me from losing weight. Since my effort isn't rewarded, I eventually come to make less and less effort.
First of all, your daily calorie count isn't so low. Track it for a week and see! Your exceptions - your special occasions, errant binges, and drabs of crappy food gulped down because you're busy, in a hurry, and desperate to put something in your stomach - add up. Also, huge portions of lo-cal foods (eaten because you've literally been starving) are not very lo-cal.

As for the fasting, previous installments have helped explain why food deprivation is self-defeating. Your body is not seeking virtuous abstention. It's seeking a pattern of regular, balanced, healthful meals. Gorging creates problems. Fasting creates problems. The solution is to eat a consistent and healthful diet!

Just about everything I've written so far has a basis in science, but here's something I've discovered for myself: the more you engage in this massively unhealthful war against the body, the more afflictions of obesity will befall you
even if you're not so overweight. Over the past twenty years, I've rarely been more than 12% overweight, and obesity starts over 20%. Yet I've had high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, fallen arches, sleep apnea - the full basket of conditions comprising Metabolic syndrome - normally the fate of obese people. My suspicion is that the more you battle your body with the sort of self-defeating patterns we've been looking at, the more your body falls prey to the ills of the obese - even if you're just mildly overweight. Obesity may be the result, rather than the cause.

Hunger is a core part of our biology. Toying with it is not smart. There are unintended consequences. Best to
use that hunger...to eat (again) regular, balanced, healthful meals. When in doubt, do the sane, natural thing! I did just that. I started feeding my body healthfully. I lost 40 pounds and all my symptoms went away (except the fallen arches....more on that later).

There is nothing uniquely screwy about your system. Nor is there anything unique about how you've been screwing with your system. Vast numbers of people do the same, and they're all fat. Stop "dieting", and feed yourself a healthy, balanced, consistent diet. Don't worry about the weight; if you eat right and exercise, it will take care of itself...very, very slowly! But you'll keep it off, because the regimen will feel too good to change.

To sum up: it's not a matter of eating as little as you can. It's a matter of eating as cleanly as you can, and with careful fat/protein/carb balance, and in moderate portions at frequent, regular intervals. You couldn't eat 3000 "clean" calories per day if you tried, so calorie counting is unnecessary (once you get your diet stabilized). You'll soon start to feel hungry at mealtimes, even in the morning. You will crave the right things as your body comes to expect them. And your metabolic fire will stoke, improving your digestion, health, and energy levels. Add consistent, non-punishing exercise, and you'll kiss your fat goodbye.

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