Weight Loss

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Okay, actually, I do remember one thing I was going to blog about.

In the past several months, one of the things that I have been learning about is control: specifically, the illusion of having control. Just like any other codependent, I have survived by trying to exert control in areas that I truly have no control. Mostly this is about other people's behavior; we (I) think that we can control other people's behavior, but we can't. We have no control over what other people do. In fact, there is very little in life that we really have control over. It's a rather revolutionary idea, because at least in the US, a lot of our culture revolves around creating your own destiny, which implies that you have much more control over what happens in life than you really do have. Learning to let go of this idea and accept that we can't control others, or the future, or very much at all other than our own actions, is a big part of becoming more satisfied with life.

Yesterday it dawned on me that there is another area of life that I do not have control over: my own body! Now, hear me out, because I know that most weight loss gurus, of the diet/exercise variety and WLS both, tout the idea that we do have control here. But the only thing we have control over is our own behavior: what we eat, how much we eat, how and when we exercise. What our bodies do with what we give them is NOT in our control.

Think about it: studies have proven over and over that after a major weight loss, formerly obese people's metabolic rates plummet. This is why diets don't work: our bodies try to conserve by dropping our metabolic requirements dramatically, so if you start eating more food you will easily regain, even if it isn't much. There are lots of calculators available online to determine your metabolic rate based on height and weight and gender, but none of them account for your body type or any factors that mitigate your own metabolism. How could they? There are so many. It is false to believe that all women who are 5'5" and 150 pounds have the same caloric requirements; a woman who has always naturally been that size can consume more calories without gaining than a woman who got to that size after a 2 year major weight loss. We all know this instinctively, but yet are told otherwise.

My point is that we tend to believe that if we eat what we have figured out is the right amount of food and exercise the right amount, we can force our bodies to lose a particular amount of weight. In reality, we do not have control over what our bodies do with the energy we put in and use. We have a good idea of the effect we can have by doing certain things, but we do not have that control. That's why it takes trial and error to actually lose weight. Yes, we have control over what we DO. NO, we do NOT have control over what happens after that. Usually it works out the way we think it should, but we don't have that control, we only think we do. Our bodies are ingenious in altering cellular energy requirements to maximize its ability to store fuel for future use, especially among those of us more prone to obesity, and especially among those of us who have recently lost a large amount of excess weight.

This realization helped me to gain a little perspective on my recent regain. It's not a moral failing--I knew this intellectually, but not emotionally. After all this time, my body has dropped my metabolism even more, and my habits have slipped so that the combination of the two made a regain pretty easy. It makes the road back seem a little easier. I can change my behavior, and my body should respond. But I can't actually cause my body to lose the weight. Maybe this distinction seems entirely semantic, but I think it's a big difference. If I worry less about the things I can't control, I can focus more on the things I can--my behavior.

1 comment:

sparkly_jules said...

Brilliant. I wish I had been armed with paragraphs 2 and 3 as I visited family this summer who thought it was their duty to tell me just HOW FAT I am. Like I hadn't noticed. Hmph.

Thanks, G.