DebraSY

Posts Tagged ‘Weight Regain’

Debra’s Gone Defunct (not entirely — I’m not dead)

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on October 3, 2011 at 10:10 am

Welcome, newcomers and old friends, to Debra’s Just Maintaining!  For roughly a year, starting September 29, 2010, this blog set about exploring the cultural mythology and science surrounding weight-loss maintenance, especially after “radical” loss (more than 10% of highest body weight).  As blog owner, I found myself moderating a discussion involving mostly weight-loss maintainers and size acceptance proponents, two seemingly disparate groups who ended up having more in common than any of us might have expected.   It turns out we are all betrayed by the myth that radical weight loss is some hard-won victory, to be followed (of course!) by maintenance, a less challenging, zippy “lifestyle” composed of tips and tricks.  It’s much more complicated than that. 

This blog is not a “big” blog, but big enough, and certainly has much heart.  Over the year it received just over 60,000 “views” of its various posts.  Many were repeat visits from people I came to regard as friends, dear friends.  We shared a sort of cathartic grief process as we stripped apart the mythology, and discussed from a lay vantage point some of the science surrounding weight-loss maintenance.   In addition to the maintainers and size acceptance advocates, we also entertained a scientist visitor from time to time, and a couple of trolls.

The blog is now mostly defunct because I have gone on to other time-consuming pursuits, and I also need time to be a good Mom, and to continue my weight-loss maintenance, an endeavor that I regard as a third- to half-time unpaid job.  To be competent at these things, something had to give. 

Since the blog is mostly defunct, it’s likely that you arrived here because someone sent you here or you conducted a search for “Weight-Loss Maintenance” or some topic discussed here.  A lot of people find this blog with searches to the effect: “Is obesity killing our children?”  If that is you, you are looking for this post.  Other people are apparently interested in a maintainer’s take on intuitive eating.  That would be here and here.  And a lot of people want to know what I think about journalist and anti-carb pundit Gary Taubes.  Those posts are here and here

If someone sent you here, it may be because you just lost a lot of weight and said something silly like, “If I can do it anyone can!”  Then that person wants you to start with the post subtitled Skiing as Useful Metaphor.

Other reasons someone may have sent you here: 

  •  You said something insensitive or rude about fat people being “in denial.”
  • You said something insensitive or dismissive of someone who works hard to maintain a particular weight – along the lines of “but certainly the rewards outweigh any effort you expend.” 
  • You said something definitively naïve, such as, “science has proven people are fat because of modern breakfast cereals.”  
  • You announced that you are embarking on a weight-loss process/diet (what number?), and a friend wants you to have a realistic idea of what lies ahead, more so than what some women’s magazine or morning news show may be touting today as a “breakthrough.”
  • You are struggling with weight-loss maintenance.  Perhaps your weight is sliding.  You need affirmation from a kindred spirit who knows how challenging this is, and doesn’t sugar coat it or pop off with “inspirational” platitudes. Read the rest of this entry »
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Thin Privilege

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on August 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

Last week was vacation.  Breckenridge, Colorado.  Note in the picture below, I am the one you cannot see because my head is down, on the far side of the raft, and I’m paddling with the intensity of a windmill in a tornado, thinking “Oh, Sh*t!  Oh, Sh*t!  Those rocks are so hard and my head (under this cheap-assed plastic salad bowl) is so soft!”  My kid is the one smiling so hard he had to loosen the chin strap on his helmet.

Rafting Brown's Canyon 2011

Rafting Brown's Canyon in the Arkansas River, Colorado. Photo by Performance Tours Rafting.

I didn’t give many details in my “away” post about being gone or why, because one doesn’t want to hand a map and game plan to robbers and such who troll the internet looking for people to reveal when and how long their houses will be empty.  I suppose I could have said something about hoping my house sitter’s Rottweiler would behave himself around my terrier, but that would have been an obvious ruse.

At any rate, I’m back, and the house is intact, unrobbed, and the terrier is home from the Hound-Dog Hilton.  And I have a blatant experience of thin privilege to share.  And that prompts me to talk more on the topic.

Eight years living in Maintenanceville, thin privilege is different.  I think it would be good for my size acceptance friends, in particular, to know how so.  Anyone who has ever lost and regained weight (as most people in the size acceptance community have) has had a taste of the “early” form of thin privilege and I think this is sad, because the first few months of thin privilege is tinged with the worst kind cruelty, hubris, embarrassment and awkwardness.   Eight years out, it’s still awkward and wrong, but it isn’t so cruel. Read the rest of this entry »

Katarina Borer: My First Impressions of her Recent Work

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on June 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm

It’s taking time, but I am working my way through a study, an article and a commentary surrounding some recent work by Dr. Katarina Borer and colleagues on endocrine, appetite and exercise.  

I believe I mentioned that Dr. Borer contacted me in response to my Open Letter to Weight Management Scientists.  I may have also mentioned that she said my postings were, ahem, interesting and remarkably well informed for a person who is not actively engaged in research. I am digging deep to find my inner objective scientist who would not be moved by such flattery.

I am working my way through these pieces simultaneously because they are based on the same trials, but they present two sets of conclusions.  The first set may be found in the study itself, entitled Appetite Responds to Changes in Meal Content, Whereas Ghrelin, Leptin and Insulin Track Changes in Energy Availability and was published in July 2009 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  To give credit where due, her co-scientists are Elizabeth Wuorinen, Kimberly Ku and Charles Burant, not that those names are meaningful to me.  Actually, very few of the names in this line of research are meaningful to me . . . yet. 

The way I read a study or article is to turn first to the footnotes to get an idea of the bricks that form the foundation for the work or thought at hand.  I screen through the lens of my own evaluation system to determine what biases are present.  Mostly, in the past, I have read studies that are solely obesity focused, and, whether they admit to it or not, most scientists in this area come with one or more biases.  Some feel that obesity is a medical and social ill that must be reversed or cured, and their research is colored by that view – it may prevent them from seeing certain options.  Some of these scientists have accepted support from commercial interests – diet companies, foundations associated with pharmaceutical companies, and the like, and that makes their work horribly suspect.  Others who publish in this realm are testing the “Health at Every Size” paradigm, or, more accurately, are Hell bent on proving the efficacy of that model, and that limits their view.  In any event, I often can see a study or article’s self-imposed limitations in its footnotes.  Certain names pop up together over and over, and they indicate a point of view.

I don’t have a grasp of such biases and limitations in the world of endocrine and exercise.  In this world, obesity and weight loss are sometimes the focus, but often just confounding factors. With the exception of Cummings et. al., who produced a Ghrelin study that I happened upon by accident, I recognized no one.  I am, therefore, trusting that these are all sterling people, and none is a “scientist for sale.”  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to Weight-Management Scientists

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on June 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Dear Scientist Friends:

Consider this a personal invitation to test a theory, especially if your area of expertise is endocrine and/or you have a personal interest in exercise physiology and weight management.  (Er, and if you’re just one of my regular blog readers, please eaves drop on this letter.)

For several years, I have been synthesizing scientific information and personal experience as a radical weight-loss maintainer, and I would appreciate an experiment designed to better test the relationship between exercise and endocrine, especially those dicey signals that I believe cause most people to regain lost weight – the imbalance of leptin and ghrelin, PYY3-36 and aghouti related protein.  If you know of an experiment that has already explored this relationship, then please provide me a link.  (Disclaimer, as a lay person, my knowledge is embarrassingly limited.  I have not yet read Katarina Borer’s book on Exercise Endocrinology, or any other scholarly text, so maybe I’m naive, but if we do know all that we could know on this topic, it sure hasn’t made it into the mainstream marketplace of ideas.) 

It has occurred to me that there are different kinds of “hunger.”  Those of us who maintain radical weight losses have pretty much mastered how to quell insulin-triggered hunger and vacuous (empty stomach) hunger using macronutrient management.  In short, we use carbs (such as bananas or dark chocolate) to quell immediate, sharp (vacuous) hunger, and we use proteins and fats to keep sneaky insulin-triggered hunger at bay.  But this is not the full story.  If it were, more than 3% of people would be successful at maintaining radical weight loss for five years, the depressing figure that empirical research suggests.

According to the National Weight Control Registry (which could also be called the 3% Club), where I am listed as a participant, 90% of us exercise on average one hour per day.  This finding is one of the most dramatic commonalities among us, more so than eating breakfast (78%), regular weighing (75%) or limiting our TV viewing (62%).  In fact, the only two characteristics that are more common than the hour of exercise are that we have restricted our food (98%) and increased our exercise from our fat days (94%).  (It should hardly come as a surprise that one hour daily represents an increase for most people!) 

Learned people debate the value of exercise compared to food restriction in losing or maintaining weight, assuming that  exercise is a function of energy balance – calories expended v. calories consumed.  Energy balance, however, is not a simple equation, and I think exercise serves an additional, more important, function beyond expending energy.  I think we need to know more about its effect on endocrine.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Plate

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am

It’s the topic of the day (or recent bygone days) at many blogs and websites:  The new US dietary guidelines replacing the old Pyramid, aka “My Plate.”

Knowing full well that I’m howling in the wind, I just blasted off the following missive to the “Contact Us” email address.

Warning to my size acceptance friends, restriction talk, could be triggering.  I also apologize for using the “O” word.  Had to consider my audience, and “fat” wouldn’t fly with them.

No Salutation.  Email address is Support@cnpp.usda.gov

Thank you for your hard work to date.  Here are suggestions for the new plate, which is better than the pyramid, but still inaccurate.  I hope you will integrate them into a new improved plate in the future:

1.  Refined grains have no place on the plate, they should be off the placemat in a distant place (that may look like an ice cream stand or some such) called “now and then treats.” 

2.  Replace the “grains” category with “nutritious starches.” Corn, legumes and baked potatoes are better switched out with the whole grains, not with the green leafies, etc.

3. Change the Dairy glass to “Dairy or Alternative” and link to your alternative section.

I’m not an RD, but I am an eight-year radical weight-loss maintainer (27% of my body’s highest established weight), which is probably more rare.  I think most RDs would agree with my adjustments to your plate. The milling and baking industry and dairy farmers might have a bone to pick, but you serve the broader citizenry, yes?

Regarding your weight-loss advice:  it is outdated and based in the cultural mythology that weight loss is routinely permanent.  Empirical science does not support this.  You would do more to promote health if you shared that weight maintenance is noble, challenging and rare enough in itself.  Most adults over 30 gain 1 to 2 pounds per year.  Preventing that would be helpful.  People should live joyfully most of the time, eat healthfully most of the time (following the revised plate I’m suggesting), exercise most days, then treasure the body that happens, regardless of its BMI category.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Experts”: Phooey

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on March 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Well, my colonoscopy has been postponed.  Yeesh.  And it wasn’t me; I didn’t chicken out.  The nurse called and the doctor is taking a day off on Friday.  I got all wound up, and now I’ll wind down until April 18th – prep day, followed by the no-big-deal procedure on the 19th.  Thank you for all your well wishes.  When it FINALLY happens, I’ll let you know how it goes with more subtlety and decorum (but less humor) than Dave Barry.  Thank you, alert reader, Mulberry for the link.

I am especially pleased to learn that many maintainer friends did not experience a weight shake-up from their colonoscopies.  Had I not heard from you, I wouldn’t have taken it for granted.  I don’t trust the words of doctors and other “experts.”  With regard to weight management and weight rebound, simply, they’re out of their depth.  What’s more aggravating, they don’t acknowledge how out-of-their-depth they are.

Regular reader, Ali, just recently ran into an “expert” (chiropractor) who dismissed her dietary choices (which were working pretty well for her) in a conversation that lasted less than ten minutes.  With the pseudo-scientific authority granted by the likes of journalist and weight-loss opportunist Gary Taubes, she stated simply, “you must go low carb.”  Well, Gee, lady.: thanks but no thanks.  Low carb works for some people, and I’m happy for them, but if it worked for everyone we’d all be trim.  Anyone over the age of 20 in this country saw the rise and crash of the New Atkins Revolution (which nearly killed our grain markets and bankrupted our grain farmers at the beginning of this century). Had the Revolution worked for everyone, I’d have jumped on board too.  Instead, most of us witnessed sad stories of radical weight loss and rebound among earnest, disciplined people.  The few who succeeded then must now work at least as hard as I do to maintain their losses in a carbolific society (who pushes them to portion control, while pushing Ali and me to drop our bananas).

One sure sign that you’ve found a person who knows something is that they are secure enough to acknowledge that they don’t know everything.  That’s why Arya and Yoni have charmed me.  And I especially love this post from Barbara Berkeley, The Perfect Diet:  Does it Exist?   The one word answer is “nope.”  People who have earned their bona fides do not pretend to have the one and only answer.  Read the rest of this entry »

Overreactions: The Price of being a Maintainer?

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on March 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

I’m saying this up front:  This is triggering.  I’m asking that my Size Acceptance friends don’t try to intervene or convert me.  Just acknowledge or don’t read.  Please.

In less than two weeks I go in for my first colonoscopy.  Yuck.  I’m feeling horribly anxious, but not because of the procedure.  It’s the prep.  And not the awful laxative.  That would be okay, by itself. 

I fear the fasting.   Not the discomfort, but how I will respond and rebound afterwards.

For the day before the procedure, I can have clear, golden or brown liquids and I can suck on hard candy, but nothing red or purple.  Selections include water, jello and popsicles (orange and lemon-lime flavored), apple juice, tea and coffee (sweetened, okay, but no milk).   That’s mostly carbs.  Except that I can also drink clear broth.

I will be hungry.  Anxious.  I know that I’ll be drugged for the procedure, but when I’m out of the fog, I’ll eat, and I don’t trust that my body will respond as I’ve been promised by all the people who have undergone this procedure before me – “Oh, it’s no big deal.  You lose a bunch of weight from the fast and the laxative, but it’s only temporary.  Once you’re eating again, you just jump right back to where you were.”

Oh, yeah?

Many people laugh about how they tried to hold on to their losses, but just couldn’t.  Ha ha.  They write it off as personal weakness.  We who are maintainers or who have given up on the weight-loss pursuit all together know it’s not weakness.  The body puts up an enormous fight to regain homeostasis at a particular weight.  And for those of us maintaining big losses, the body seems to look for opportunities to reclaim a pound or two, or five.  A yo-yo jolt like this may be just the ticket.

When I awake from the fog, I’m sure I’ll respond to the hunger, but will I then be hounded by those dreaded “eat now” impulses?  If so, for how long?  A couple of days?  A week?  Until I give my body back a pound?  Two?  How many?  I am edgy beyond what is “normal” for this procedure, and it’s because I’m a maintainer, I want to remain one, and I don’t take maintenance for granted. Read the rest of this entry »

Why We Are at War and What to do About It

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 26, 2011 at 11:14 am

I am still plodding through Taubes’s Why We Get Fat.  It’s slow going, because his language remains alienating.  He insults me with his word choice and tenor, and by asking me to throw out my narrow assumptions and replace them with his narrow assumptions.

First, his language.  He repeatedly refers to “the overweight and obese.”  Hasn’t he been in this field long enough to know how dehumanizing it is to define people this way:  to say you don’t have adiposity, you are your adiposity.  In this book, he’s writing for the lay audience, not the medical and scientific community whose brains are presumably immune to the influence of such short hand.  Because of this broad audience, it would simply be polite (I won’t marginalize it with the phrase “politically correct”) to talk about people, not conditions or characteristics who happen to walk, breathe, think, eat and poop.

His language is tinged with an anger that smacks of a martyr complex.  Apparently, his ideas are not venerated to his satisfaction, so, he believes, everyone who disagrees with him either lacks imagination, is ignorant and not very well read, is biased to believe that fat people are gluttonous and slothful (and he may have a point there, but not enough to justify his intense outrage), or is stuck in a post-World War II mentality that will not permit the equal consideration of ideas from scientists of German origin.  Huh?  Get real. Read the rest of this entry »

Unsolicited Review, Parts I and III

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

My Mother advised me, when I was a child, that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, to say nothing at all.   But then she allowed that if I had constructive criticism to offer, I could do so if I began by saying something positive.  So, I will start by thanking Gary Taubes for the contributions he’s made to my life over the years. 

First I’d like to thank him for allaying my fears of dietary fat.  The world of women’s magazines had (in my yo-yo days) hijacked my brain and persuaded me to feed myself a completely unsatisfying diet.  I believe it was you, Mr. Taubes, who gave me back avocadoes and stir fry and salad dressing that has flavor.  You gave me permission to banish SnackwellsTM from my pantry forever.  How can I ever thank you enough?!       Read the rest of this entry »

Queen for a Day

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

In the discussion of my last post, Viajera asked me what I would do if I were queen of the National Weight Control Registry.  Ah, what an irresistible question!

I think for those of us who have committed to living in a state of weight-loss maintenance for as long as we are able and have submitted our names to the registry, the NWCR comes to represent many things.  It is our annual call-to-account.  Its presence hangs with us, not like a cloud, an itch, a funny smell or any kind of bad thing, but like the periodic recollection of a smart but nosy sister who lives in a distant city, and with whom we only touch base once a year.  She is guaranteed to ask about our weight – sometimes she grills us at length – and she’ll judge us, gently, if we’ve regained, so we anticipate our meetings with her with mixed feelings – angst, indignation, smugness, humility.   

I can’t say I’ve ever turned down a specific piece of my mother-in-law’s pie because of the NWCR.  I’ve never “prepared” for the arrival of the form by dieting or ramping up my exercise.  I pretty much continue with life as usual, but I have a sense of her always, and I’m sure she affects me.  This is pathetic to admit, but I probably think about the NWCR as much as I think about my own breathing sisters, who each live more than 100 miles away in different cities.  And I gotta give the NWCR credit, she may have all kinds of opinions about my weight, but she hasn’t lifted an eyebrow with regard to my housekeeping (or told me I should hold a garage sale).

In addition to being the nosy sister in Rhode Island, for those of us on her rolls, the NWCR is an affirmation (once all the cheering for our weight loss has long gone silent).  

Perhaps I’m being overly bold and should speak only for myself.  For me, she is affirmation.  I know many (most?) other Read the rest of this entry »