Weight loss and fads

I was out walking the puppies today (and boy were they rambunctious) and thinking about weight loss. Do you remember Susan Powter and her Stop the Insanity diet stuff? Then there was Richard Simmons. Who doesn’t know him? There was the Jane Austen workout, and oh, what about the guy with the long blond hair hawking all sorts of diet programs and equipment? Can’t remember his name. I think he’s still around. Tony Little? Is that it? Don’t forget Chuck Norris. As for diets, there’s everything from Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Ideal Me, Prism, South Beach, Adkins, Mediterranean, Dean Ornish, Zone, Biggest Loser . . . I can’t begin to think how many there are.

What I was thinking about as I was walking was how our sense of foods has changed over the years. Remember when a calorie was a calorie and it was just reduction of calories and exercise? Then we figured out that kinds of calories mattered. Fat wasn’t that good. And then there were all the cholesterol issues caused by the wrong kinds of fat. Somewhere along the lines the question of carbs came up–bad carbs v good carbs v any carbs at all. Then there was “real” foods v manufactured foods, like high fructose corn syrup. Oh, I also forgot the meat v. no meat question. Oh, and all the exercise questions: aerobic v. anaerobic; walking v something more vigorous; how long to do it and how often?

This raised the question for me–every time some of this comes up, it’s right. The science is right for a lot of it, or so we are told. And then the science changes and either we learned something new, or we were wrong before. I wonder how we know if we’re right now? Not that there’s any agreement. On the other hand, losing weight isn’t a once-size fits all answer. Not only are all our bodies different, but our access to foods is different, not to mention what we like and don’t like, what we’re inclined to do for exercise and not, and so on and so forth. In the end, we all have to find something that works for us and then make it work.

I’ve lost 35 lbs (I first wrote lobs, and thought, yeah, accurate that) over the last couple of years. I still have a long way to go. But my goals are always one pound at a time. I’m not entirely sure why it’s coming off to be honest. I’m not doing anything spectacularly different. I gave up aspartame September 1, 2012. That’s meant a pretty significant change to my sweet tooth. I don’t crave stuff as much. I’ve been trying not to answer my stress and tiredness with food. I’ve been trying not to eat when I’m not hungry. So just because it’s a traditional mealtime, i don’t necessarily eat, or rather, I don’t eat a meal. I’ll have a piece of fruit or a yogurt or just enough to keep my blood sugar steady (I’m prediabetic). I’m reducing carbs, but that’s not really all that intentional. I used to crave them more when I drank aspartame. Now I don’t. I’m working on flavors more. I like food and so I am trying to expand my food palette (had some great Morroccan soup and green Vietnamese curried steak for Mother’s Day). I also love salads, so I spend the time to make something tasty. I’ve also been doing a lot of walking. Especially as the weather has improved. And of course, the less I weigh, the easier walking is. Oh, and another thing I’ve done is shift to a lot more real food. Real butter, real sugar, and so forth. I try to keep high fructose corn syrup out of the house and do my best to cook from scratch as often as I can (though don’t get me wrong–hotdogs happen in this house).

What’s funny is that sometimes my mom will call attention to what I’m eating for being fattening or whatever, and I just have to laugh. Right now things are working. Yeah, maybe I could speed up the process, but since this is working, I’m afraid to change, especially since this is a way of life for me and to incorporate bigger changes might mean that I lose the weight and then gain it back. It seems to me my body wants to lose this weight and is helping me. I’ve lost fifteen pounds so far this year, since the end of June 2012. We’ll see if I lose any more before the year’s up. I’m just really happy to not be gaining it back.


  • ChrisP

    I’m with you. It turns out that a lot of the stuff reported as “scientifically proven” is not, really. Apparently the whole idea that low-fat diets are healthy was not really backed up by studies. That caught on just because a very charismatic person decided that it was so and was able to “sell” the idea despite inconclusive research. The case for taking Vitamin C to cure/prevent colds is similarly lacking in scientific support. (Even though everyone “knows” it’s true!)

    My husband read and recommend Gary Taubs’ book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. Taubs is a science reporter that noticed basically what you are talking about. His book is more-or-less a digest of a number of dietary studies and the actual results, allowing you to make your own conclusions from the numbers. The book is pretty heavy on the data and sometimes pretty slow going. (Hubby is a research engineer, so he is fine with this.) I am fairly lazy intellectually, so I read Taubs’ follow-up book, “Why We Get Fat, and What To Do About It”. Basically the same thing, but results are summarized, plus some updates because it was a few years between books, and much easier reading.

    What I got from this is basically:
    -Dietary fat is only bad because it is easy to go overboard on calories; otherwise, there is no correlation between dietary fat and body fat.
    -Lower carb is probably the most effective eating strategy (using NET carbs, i.e. total carbs minus fiber) for long term health (including diabetes prevention and management), weight loss and weight maintenance.

    • ChrisP

      Also, congratulation due on the weight loss. Doesn’t it feel so good?!

      I lost about 30#, but have been hanging at pretty much that same weight for over a year. (Sort of a good news/bad news deal.) I would like to lose about 30 more pounds, THEN maintain. The problem is that I have to get back to watching my diet. 🙁 I do O.K., but bread, sweets and wine have slowly crept back, so no more weight loss. If I can just buckle down for a while, I could be THERE!

      I know that it is diet because I have managed to become pretty regular at the gym (5x per week in a circuit class). So, exercise is a check; that leaves diet. DANG it!

      If you are looking for recipe ideas, I can recommend savingdinner.com She has a low-carb e-book option (called Body Clutter). Recipes are easy and flavorful, without weird ingredients or intricate steps. This is a menu-style plan, complete with weekly shopping lists. I will admit that I can’t use the weekly plan because we have food allergies, but for most normal families it would be awesome. Also, if you are looking for time-savers, there is a low-carb “20 for the Freezer”. Twenty meals to assemble and freeze, so all you have to do is thaw and dump into pans. (Very convenient and, again, tastes good without a lot of fuss or extra shopping.)

  • Adrianne

    Congrats!!! 35# is fabulous!

    I think that since you have a system that works for you, it’s a good system.

    My system is to reliably enter my calories into Livestrong’s Daily Plate, and keep the total under my target. I’ve only managed 13 pounds in the last year. ::sigh:: But it’s coming off little by little. And that’s a good thing.

    As for what we’re supposed to be eating? Personally, I don’t trust the wheat growers or Monsanto or the gigantic corporations who make margarine, high fructose corn syrup, etc. to choose wisely. I think you can see it every time you step out into the wild. What looks good to eat? Leaves, berries, roots, nuts, meat. That’s what we’re designed to eat. My healthiest years have been the years that I challenged myself to eat vast quantities of veggies that came from an organic HSA.

    I had a doc long ago who told me that he ate plates of veggies breakfast, lunch and dinner. Last I saw him he was 99 and still going strong. I trust his advice.

    • Di Francis

      I have never successfully managed to count calories. It impresses me that you can.

      It’s funny though. I have moments where I want meat. WANT. I’ve never really had that going on before.

      I don’t think I could eat plates and plates of veggies, though I do like them. Just not that much. I also quit margarine and most “light” foods. Depends on what makes them light.

      And now, gotta hit the hay.

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