You Can Do Hard Things
- POSTED ON: Aug 31, 2012

I recently ran across this inspiring post:

"The Best Advice:

I've had some success-- I suppose I can admit as much at this point, although it feels weird. So now I get a lot of people who PM asking for advice, or saying they look up to me, and flattering though that is, it's silly, because I pretty much just follow the rules (okay, the ones that make sense) and it all comes out in the wash. So I usually don't have much to add when people ask how you get where I have gotten, there's no great mystery: the reason I have been successful in some ways that others have failed I usually pass off as luck.

But that's not entirely true. I just realized it. There actually *is* one more piece, and because I love ya, I am going to share it with you now. Sounds trifling, but it contains volumes.

Here it is: YOU CAN do hard things.

I know, you're saying, "What's your point?"

Sometimes, when faced with a challenge-- especially if you're a recovering addict as so many of us are, when you approach something difficult, your inner voice says, "Holy crap-- I can't DO that"...and you do an about-face-- you reach for the drug (or food) of choice. To feel uncomfortable..and not to comfort yourself, is a hard thing --

but you can do hard things.

When it's late and you're tired, and you know you are supposed to walk, you said you would, and it's looking like it might rain-- it's hard as hell to lace those sneakers up and get out there---

but you can do hard things.

Protein shakes can taste yucky. It's hard to remember all those calcium supplements. It's hard to get 64 oz of water in. It's hard to plan meals, buy expensive and healthy choices, stay out of the cake in the lounge at work--

but you can do hard things.

You don't have to self-medicate. You don't have to eat those chips. You don't have to duck and avoid every unpleasant, difficult challenge in your path. Sometimes, the best bet is to admit their existance..."Yes, hard things, I see you trying to get in my way, but you know what? I CAN DO HARD THINGS!"

Sometimes this means having to survive a host of feelings you never felt before because you never let yourself feel them before-- stress, confusion, anger, rage. You can't numb them out or sand off their edges-- you have to stand right in your space and let them have a go at you-- and grit your teeth, and say to yourself, "Go ahead, get in my way. I'll get through this. I can do hard things."

And you will find that you will survive them. And as you survive them, you will face new ones, standing a little taller, because in time you will eventually understand and rely on the fact that you can do hard things. And eventually the "pass me some Ben and Jerry's--my boss is a jackass" response gives way to something new-- something that sounds more like this:

"Go ahead, Boss, bring it on. I'll have that on your desk by five."
"No thanks, Nancy, it's gorgeous but I really can't have an eclair right now."
"I guess I could just park back there and walk."
"It's only 8 ounces and I don't have to love the stuff, I'll just drink it quickly."
"If I spend ten minutes planning now, I won't be faced with tough choices later."

This message was posted back in 2009 by a member of one of the forums that I visit frequently.

In The Future
- POSTED ON: Aug 29, 2012

 “I have noticed is that it is very easy to deny ourselves things  IN THE FUTURE
- we can all promise to have no treats - next week or tomorrow.
But change happens RIGHT NOW.
There is no magic clean slate that happens when … you start Day 1 of a new Diet…
The truth is that it is all one life and that each action you take right now
will affect the next set of results you receive.“

This is a Wise quote from a regular member of a forum which I frequently visit. 

Binge Avoidance + Adaptive Thermogenesis
- POSTED ON: Aug 24, 2012

It's hard not to binge on delicious food. For more about that experience, go to the bottom of the page, and Watch an entertaining video at the end of this article.

However, that is NOT the ONLY reason why weight-loss is hard.  I've been reading about "Adaptive Thermogenesis" .  Physical systems (like machines) stay the same.  Biological systems (like humans) adapt.

Weight-loss and maintenance have less to do with motivation and will-power than most people think. In fact it has far more to do with how your body adjusts to, and is capable of, resisting a calorie deficit. Putting less fuel in the tank of one's car will always cause the car to drive a shorter distance.  However, the human body adapts to less fuel ....meaning eating fewer calories.... by becoming more ‘efficient’ and running the same distance on less fuel than before. That is the big difference between simple physics and biology

For a better understanding of the issue of energy-in/energy-out, read my Summaries of what Gary Taubes has to say about it. 
WWGF - Chapter 6 Thermodynamics for Dummies, Part 1
and Chapter 7 Thermodynamics for Dummies, Part 2.

Here is a great article by Dr. Arya Sharma M.D. on this issue:

The Role of Adaptive Thermogenesis in Resistance to Weight Loss

No intentional weight loser continues to lose weight till she disappears.

Sooner or later every diet, every medication, or every type of bariatric surgery will result in a weight loss ‘plateau’ (better referred to as a ‘floor’) - a weight, beyond which losing even more weight (and keeping it off) becomes an almost ’super-human’ feat.

However, there is considerable variation in how much weight people can lose and keep off. Although the average sustainable weight loss with ‘eat-less-move-more’ (ELMM) approaches is about 3-5% of initial weight, some folks manage to lose considerably more, while others struggle to even simply stop gaining weight.

This has less to do with motivation or will-power than most people think.
In fact, it has far more to do with how your body adjusts to and is capable of resisting a calorie deficit.

While putting less fuel in the tank of your car will consistently decrease the distance that you can drive, our bodies adapt to less fuel (i.e. eating fewer calories) by becoming more ‘efficient’ and running the same distance on less fuel than before. That is the big difference between simple physics and biology.

Biological systems adapt - physical systems (like your car) stay the same.

In the case of humans (and animals) we call the adaptation of energy needs and expenditure ‘adaptive thermogenesis’. Exactly how adaptive thermogenesis is regulated and how differences therein can largely determine both weight loss and weight regain, is the topic of a paper by Angelo Tremblay and colleagues from the Universities of Laval and Ottawa, published in the International Journal of Obesity.

As the authors point out,

“The decrease in energy expenditure that occurs during weight loss is a process that attenuates over time the impact of a restrictive diet on energy balance up to a point beyond which no further weight loss seems to be possible. For some health professionals, such a diminished energy expenditure is the normal consequence of a progressive decrease in the motivation to exercise over the course of a weight-reducing program.”

Many studies have now documented the process of ‘adaptive thermogenesis’, whereby weight loss is associated with a ‘greater-than-predicted’ decrease in energy expenditure. This occurs both through a reduction in metabolic rate as well as through an often remarkable increase in ‘fuel efficiency’ related to physical activity, whereby individuals, who have lost weight burn far fewer calories for the same amount of physical activity than before losing their weight (far more than can be explained simply by considering that they are also moving less weight around).

As the authors discuss, not only do people, who demonstrate the greatest decrease in adaptive thermogenesis in response to weight loss tend to lose less weight (for the same level of caloric restriction) but they also tend to have a greater increase in hunger and appetite.

Also, it does not appear that these ‘adaptive’ responses to weight loss diminish over time, which means that the resistance to further weight loss and the propensity to weight regain persist till the weight is eventually regained (i.e. they once again ‘fail’).

Together, these factors can easily explain why losing weight and keeping it off is far more difficult for some folks than for others - irrespective of motivation or will power.This basic biological fact is not only important to ‘dieters’ (even if it seems demotivating) - but perhaps even more important for all health professionals to be aware of.

Simply ‘blaming’ people who find it harder to lose weight or keep it off for their lack of will power or motivation, is neither fair nor helpful. You can only fight your biology so far before life is no longer fun - this is when you need to realize that you are now living below your ‘Best Weight’.

Edmonton, Alberta

Tremblay A, Royer MM, Chaput JP, & Doucet E (2012). Adaptive thermogenesis can make a difference in the ability of obese individuals to lose body weight. International journal of obesity (2005) PMID: 22846776

Dr Arya Sharma, M.D. 
Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes

Realities of Weight-Loss Maintenance
- POSTED ON: Aug 23, 2012

Here at DietHobby, I share my own experiences and opinions as I work to maintain a very large weight-loss. I am now in the 7th year of maintaining at normal weight after spending much of my lifetime in morbid obesity.  Those who are interested can see more details in the ABOUT ME section under RESOURCES.  Recently I posted detailed records of my average food intake together with a summary of my weights during those periods. See Records: My Past 8 years

One of the things I've personally discovered from my own experience is that weight maintenance is very difficult, and it takes an enormous amount of ongoing, consistent effort.   When I first reached my goal weight, I had some vague idea from things I'd read, that the first 5 years of maintenance were the most difficult, and if and when I could achieve that point, it would become much easier. 

In my own case, I have discovered this not to be true.  Even though the first couple of maintenance years were difficult, the subsequent years became MORE difficult.  Maintenance did not become easier after 5 years, and I can honestly say that here in my 7th year, maintenance is more difficult than it has ever been. 

My detailed records confirm my subjective experience that .... not only do I need to eat fewer calories than the BMR or RMR charts indicate to maintain the same weight, ..... but, when I raise my daily average calorie intake ... even slightly for a brief time, or for a lengthy time period... I gain weight.  However, for the time period of the past 3 to 5 years, I've discovered that decreasing that average calorie intake to the same extent, does not cause a corresponding weight-loss

As an example.... if we use conventional wisdom, and assume that an excess or deficit of 3500 calories = a 1 lb fat detailed daily food-intake and weight records indicate that during the past 3 to 5 years,  if I eat an excess of 3500 calories I will definitely gain 1 lb fat, however, when I eat a deficit of 3500 calories I will NOT lose 1 fat lb.  In actuality, the 3500 calorie calculation appears to no longer be applicable to my body.  Water weight aside, and referring to fat weight only, it appears that it takes far less excess calories for me to gain 1 fat lb, and that it takes a far greater calorie deficit for me to lose 1 fat lb.  During the past 5 years, I've run many personal experiments testing this particular issue (even using different micronutrients), and each time, my results have confirmed this to be true for my own individual body.

Not only is this a frustrating condition, it is one that almost no medical professional addresses.   Probably, this is reasonable, because there is no actual scientific research on formerly obese people who have lost large amounts of weight, and have maintained it for long time periods.  I personally, am a member of the National Weight Loss Registry, and I have discovered how little data exists about this matter.

There's not much information available on this issue, so I was pleased to discover the following article by Dr. Arya Sharma, M.D.

Why Diet and Exercise is Not a Treatment for Obesity

If going on a diet or starting an exercise program resulted in persistent weight loss, we would not have an obesity epidemic.

Unfortunately, as anyone who has tried this knows, maintaining a significant degree of weight loss requires daily dedication, motivation and a limitless supply of will power - nothing short of developing a compulsive obsession.

As readers will recall, the biology of the post-weight loss state is nothing like the biology of someone who has never lost weight. There are countless ways in which the psychoneurobiology, energy physiology and metabolism in anyone who has lost weight are remarkably different from someone ‘naturally’ of that weight.

Simply stated, someone who was 150 lbs and has lost 20 lbs cannot hope to maintain that weight loss by simply eating the same amount of food or doing the same amount of exercise as someone who is ‘naturally’ a 130 lbs.

The 150 lbs person who has lost 20 lbs, to maintain their new 130 lbs, has to actually now live like someone who is ‘naturally’ a 110 lbs; just eating like someone who is 130 lbs but has never lost weight, will simply result in rapid weight regain.

This is why just cutting out a few ‘extra’ calories or walking a few ‘extra’ steps is not an effective or sustainable strategy for maintaining weight loss - for any clinically meaningful weight loss (when indicated) - we are looking at cutting hundreds of calories from the diet and adding hours of serious exercise per week - forever!

A comprehensive and fascinating overview of the fundamental changes that occur with weight loss to ultimately make sustaining this new weight an ongoing challenge, is discussed by Paul Maclean and colleagues from the University of Denver Colorado, in a paper just published in the American Journal of Physiology.

The authors provide a detailed synthesis of data from a wide range of weight loss studies that include studies in clinically overweight and obese adults, in diet-induced, polygenic animal models of obesity, and with dietary (non-surgical) interventions involving an energy restricted low fat diet.

The consistent finding from all such studies is that all individuals or animals in a post-weight-loss state face considerable ‘homeostatic pressure’ that aims to drive their weight back to initial levels.

The paper extensively discusses how changes in biological signals of fat stores (e.g. leptin) elicit profound metabolic and behavioral adaptations.

The key findings of increased hunger and appetite, reduced satiety and substantially increased ‘fuel efficiency’ have very real underlying biological drivers - drivers powerful enough to ultimately wear down even the most persistent dieter.

As the authors point out - persistent dieting is so difficult because it requires maintaining a remarkably large
energy gap’:

Because both sides of the energy balance equation are affected after weight loss, the biological pressure to gain weight is a consequence of both increased appetite and suppressed energy expenditure.

During weight maintenance after weight loss, this energy gap reflects the magnitude of the daily burden that thwarts cognitive efforts to maintain the reduced weight.

Regardless of which side of the energy balance equation is most affected, the energy gap imparts a substantial pressure to eat in excess of the energy requirements.

The magnitude of the energy gap is greatest at the nadir weight after weight loss. Likewise, this energy gap does not dissipate with time in weight maintenance. Rather, studies in DIO (diet induced obesity) models indicate that the magnitude of the energy gap gradually increases the longer they maintain their reduced weight with an energy restricted diet .

The implications from these observations are that the biological pressures may strengthen with time and the amount of lost weight, gradually increasing their perceived influence.”

The paper also extensively discusses some of the lesser known metabolic adaptations to weight loss including profound changes in gut biology that enhance caloric extraction from food as well as alterations in liver function, skeletal muscle and fat tissue that promote weight regain.

While all of this may seem hopeless to readers, the authors actually end on the rather positive note that:

“… only by acknowledging that these homeostatic pressures emerge, we can proactively develop and implement regain prevention strategies to counter their influence. To ensure success, the regain prevention strategies will likely need to be just as comprehensive, persistent, and redundant, as the biological adaptations they are attempting to counter.”

Obviously, it is also important to note, that no ‘weight-loss strategy” actually addresses the many complex reasons why people may gain weight in the first place.

Whoever said that treating obesity was simply a matter of ‘eating less and moving more’ (ELMM) probably also believes that they can live forever by simply breathing less.

Burlington, Ontario
Maclean PS, Bergouignan A, Cornier MA, & Jackman MR (2011). Biology’s Response to Dieting: the Impetus for Weight Regain. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology PMID: 21677272

Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes
Dr Arya Sharma, M.D.  -

 I, personally, have proven that it is possible to achieve a large weight-loss and to maintain the majority of that loss for at least  7 years.  However,  it is true that ... for me... this has required  "daily dedication, motivation and a limitless supply of will power - nothing short of developing a compulsive obsession".  I've also found it true that in order to achieve the maintenance of normal weight, my "regain prevention strategies" have had to be very "comprehensive, persistent, and redundant".

I have found weight-loss to be difficult, and maintenance of that weight-loss to be even more difficult.  Nevertheless, for me personally, I find this to be worthwhile, and I intend to continue on with my maintenance efforts.  And, I'm going to do my best to make my continued and consistent efforts as enjoyable as possible.

Twisted & Inappropriate but Funny
- POSTED ON: Aug 22, 2012



Sometimes, here on DietHobby,  
I choose to share videos that I find personally amusing.

Here's an "infomercial"  that is twisted, horrifically offensive, totally inappropriate,
............. and yet hilarious.

It made me laugh, and maybe that's good enough for today.
If you aren't easily offended, and want a chuckle,
click to expand this article and watch the video "Naptime"  just below.

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