At this moment I feel like I’ve arrived at the end of the line.
As a 5’0” tall, “reduced obese” sedentary 70 year old female, my weight continues to creep upward, no matter what macronutrients I eat or don’t eat; no matter how small I keep my portions; or how hard I work to keep my calories low.
This last calendar year I continued with my best efforts at recording every bite taken in a computer food journal, every single day. Sometimes I ate large amounts of food, and sometimes I ate tiny amounts of food. Sometimes I ate a “balanced diet” and sometimes I ate “low-carb; sometimes I ate “high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb”; sometimes I worked to keep my calories around 1000 calories per day; sometimes I worked to have only two 5-bite meals of whatever. My computer eating records show that my overall 365 day calorie average was about 780 calories per day. That number was the total of all my big eating days combined with my small eating days, divided by 365 days.
At this point in my life, I am elderly, and although I am in excellent health overall, I have developed a problem with my right hip which restricts my activities, and I lack the ability to do physical “exercise” except for brief periods of slow walking. However, over the past ten years I’ve run many extensive personal experiments on how various exercise affects my own bodyweight, and the results have proven to me that however much or however little I exercise has almost no effect. Apparently my metabolism adjusts down to keep me from dropping weight during periods when I engage in heavy exercise… however it does NOT adjust up to keep me from gaining weight when my food intake goes up whether with or without exercise.
During most of this past year, I’ve weighed in my mid-130s - which gives me a BMI in the “overweight” range. During the past 9 years I’ve worked and worked on maintaining my large weight-loss, and tried to drop as low as possible inside the “normal” BMI range. The middle of a “normal” BMI range is, for me, 115 pounds. I struggled to drop and stay below that number for the first couple of my maintenance years, without success, then … while continuing consistently with my ongoing struggle at a food intake averaging around 1050 calories daily … my weight began climbing. Instead of bouncing within a 5 pound range between 110 and 115, it bounced between 115 and 120. Then despite a few more years of working hard to drop back to those lower numbers, my weight climbed to bounce between 120 and 125; then over more time, while eating even fewer calories, and additional exercise, my weight climbed to bounce between 125 and 130; then between 130 and 135. This past several months, my weight has been bouncing between 135 and 140.
There appears to be no end in sight. This has been happening over a 9 year period. Since my activity cannot go up, and it is unlikely that I can tolerate consistently eating under a daily average of 780 calories, it looks like an ongoing lifetime struggle will result in - at best - a gain of a few pounds each year for the rest of my life. The good news is if I live another ten years to age 80, maybe this creeping gain will only bring me another gradual 20 pound gain, bringing me just slightly over my BMI border of obesity, allowing me to retain a total net loss of approximately 110 pounds … which would still be better than the alternatives - which are: Morbid Obesity or Death (whichever first appears).
At this point, I’ve tried just about every type of dieting, way-of-eating, lifestyle, or “non-dieting” including all types of intermittent fasting. In fact, this past month, I did a couple of weeks of 24 hour alternate day water fasts, one 36 hour water fast, and one 72 hour water fast combined with a High-Fat/Low-Carb/Moderate-Protein eating plan. Same results as with most extreme plans, about a 7 pound loss initially, with a slow regain back up to baseline. Discouraging, since I’ve consistently experienced that same result dozens of times while experimenting with many different food plans.
Some food plans actually eliminate my motivation to live. Long-term water fasting tends to make me feel ill, AND eliminating my food rewards makes me long for death. The one plan I have refused to experiment with at all is a vegan diet. Frankly, I find my death preferable to eating Vegan, which appears to start by eliminating all animal products, continue on to extremes like minus grains, salt, oil, sugar, and no cooked foods, all interspersed with long and short periods of intermittent total water fasting.
My body is now near the end point of a lifetime of dieting, and I must admit that I’ve lost hope that it will ever normalize to "intuitively" sustain a weight under morbid obesity.
Because of my own experience, and my close observation of the experiences of many others, I’ve come to believe that the longer a person’s body has spent well over the borderline of obesity, the less ability that body has to ever recover itself back to the natural weight tendencies it may have had at birth. My own body appears to be an example of this truth.
I don’t think the following article applies to me personally at this stage in my life - where, if unchecked, my body will naturally lead me only back to morbid obesity, but I believe it contains good advice for young women, or for older women who have recently become overweight or borderline obese.
Be Careful, because
your Mind is Affecting your Health and Metabolism.
By Caroline Dooner - Over the Moon Magazine
You actually can’t control your body with external factors like diets. You just can’t. It backfires. Your body is smarter than you. Which is why dieting, ultimately, after the occasional brief time of “working”, always fails. Your body is wired to slow down when you try to control how you eat. When you restrict – even in the tiniest way- your amazing, smart body freaks the fuck out, and slows down.
Even when we think about restricting and eating less, it slows down our metabolism, keeps the hormone ghrelin high and makes us stay hungry. This is called “mental restriction”. And it is just as bad for us as physical restriction. Physical restriction is actually eating less. Mental restriction is just thinking about eating less.
Mental restriction manifests as guilt, shame, “I shouldn’t eat this”, “I hope I don’t eat this whole thing”, “I’ll let myself eat this, but I really shouldn’t”, “I’m gonna have to make up for this later at the gym”, and on and on. You know the voice. All of those thoughts are so normal in our diet culture. We are taught that thinking that way is responsible. We think, “If I don’t feel shame over food, how will I ever be healthy? How will I ever like my body if I’m not controlling what I put in my body?”
So I am here to lovingly tell you that we were taught was wrong. Food shame is not responsible or healthy, and not only does it rob us of joy now, it actually messes with our bodies. My anti-diet journey came about because of a genuine, no-joke epiphany after ten years of obsessive diets and seeing my entire life through the lens of weight.
“What I am doing is NUTS.”
I had the strongest sense that my body and appetite would normalize if I just freaking ATE. I knew it. And thankfully, I did a good amount of reading then that totally backed up my internal guidance. I adopted what I like to call “the nourishing mentality”. In my mind I had this image of actually repairing and “reviving” my metabolism by eating.
So every time I ate, instead of thinking “Oh man, this is so bad for me. This is going to make me gain weight. Ugh this isn’t quite on my diet”… I thought: “Yessss. Nourishment. This’ll repair everything. This’ll help. This is exactly what I need. My body can handle lots of food, and is happy to have all of this.”
That shift makes a big, big, big difference. And you might think it shouldn’t. But if you read about leptin, ghrelin, and how our bodies actually react differently to eating based on what we THINK about what we are eating, it makes total sense. And what that means is… you can control your metabolism with your mind. But not the old way. Not the punitive, perfectionistic, fear-based control. Not the way that will only let you be happy if you lose weight. No, that way doesn’t work.
Instead, we are supporting our metabolism in the way the celebrates our bodies and trusts them to take the lead on this whole “food thing”. Our bodies actually work better when they are nourished and amply fed. Let’s finally get your mind on the same side as your body.
May 01, 2018 DietHobby: A Digital Scrapbook. 2000+ Blogs and 500+ Videos in DietHobby reflect my personal experience in weight-loss and maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all, and I address many ways-of-eating whenever they become interesting or applicable to me.
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