For the last few weeks Monday morning has been a time of great trepidation. I’ve been weighing myself.
I’ve had an odd history when it comes to trying to loose weight. I started my meteoric rise to obesity when I was still in juniour school and so, by the age of 9 I had already gone on my first diet. So young was I when the weight started to pile on that I can no longer remember what being thin was like. Somewhere in the back of my mind I can remeber running around and having energy but I just thought I had lost that by growing out of it. My parents certainly didn’t mind it when I slowed down. You have to remember that my dad was 55 at this time and he just couldn’t run around after me, even though he probably wanted to.
It’s very easy to blame my parents for gaining weight. Did they over-feed me, did they not make me excercise? For years these thoughts ran through my mind and somewhere in the back of my head I had always wondered what my life would be like had I not gained weight at an early age. I have since learned that it’s not their fault but more on that later.
I have always been one to buck trends. You say that the obese are lazy and eat too much. Well, I never did. Many times over the years I’ve eaten with friends who have asked if I was all right because I was seemingly eating very little. As a child, and right in to my 20s I was always active. I wasn’t obsessed with excercise like the youth of today (trist me, they are, I’ve met them) but we were always going out for walks on the hills or around the local countryside when I was young and at college I was dancing at least once a week. I didn’t take on a completely sedentory lifestyle until I started making websites tor a living but I was twenty stone by the time I left college.
My eating habbits haven’t changed much since I left school. I have been on a string of diets and excercise programs, each one promising to make me thin, each one failing horribly. You start a diet well. You put the work in but the fact is, to loose weight you have to eat so little and excertcise so much. As you get fatter this becomes more difficult. So you give up because it’s just too hard. Don’t take that to mean I was being lazy.
Christmas and Easter were the worst as you can probably imagine. If you’ve never been on a diet then you have no idea of the pain involved. There is the pain of being hungy, the pain of not reaching your target, the pain of seeing your friends enjoying themselves whilst all you can think about is your next meal. More important is the pain of your own weakness when you inevitably fail to keep up with the regiem you have set for yourself. Oh and the cravings, those bloody cravings that eat away at you day and night. You loose sleep, all for want of a bar of chocolate or packet of chrisps. I wanted to eat more when I was on diets than I wanted to eat between times. Food is like a drug. If you don’t eat what your body is telling you then you will start to experiance symptoms of withdrawl and that is exactly what I went through on these diets. The problem with obesity is that you can’t suddenly give up food.
So you start to begin every diet with the knowledge that you will eventually fail. You are expected to keep up with this diet for life. Forget about the government guidelines about taking in 2000 calories a day because I was eating less and I still put on weight. If that is the case then what am I expected to eat on these things? Certainly les than is recommened, which is already starving yourself.
As you can imagine, I have been pretty down on diets and diet books for some time, I don’t read them because experiance had taught me that they all contain the same matrial. When I first heard about Gary Taubes’ book “Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It” I was more than sceptical. After all, the book promised a way of looking at my condition that no one has done before. How many tmes have we heard that? But I bought the audiobook version anyway as there was nothing else on audible that month I wanted to listen to.
I listened to the book in a day. It wasn’t what I expected, it referenced proper, peer reviewed studies. For the first time, I was reading a book that looked at the physiological reasons for weight gain and only touched on the psychological conditions to decry the use of them.
Taubes tells us that we have been looking at dieting the wrong way since the 1950s and that we wrongly attribute obesity to over-eating or lazyness. It is, he claims, not the cause of the disease but rather a symptom. People are overweight because the insulin level in there bodies is too high. This increase in insulin forces the body to store all foods as fat and only use certain sugars to power the muscles. These sugars are used fairly quickly but instead of the body burning up the reserve of food, it sends signals to the brain telling it that it needs more food to survive. So the obese patiant feels hungry again, even though they have just eaten.
This behaviour also explains the lazyness caused by being over-weight. A body starved of food (or at least not processing food properly) is less caipable of doing anything. As the individual’s size increases the more energy they have to expend in order to move around. This makes them more sluggish and hungrier at the same time.
For me this was a bit of a revelation, something I always knew was out of my control but the only medical opinions I could find suggested that I was wrong and it was something that I should be in control of. But, one of the things the book insists on is that you don’t take it at face value. So, I didn’t. I looked in to the papers listed in the Book and sought out current research on the subject. What Garry Taubes was saying seemed to be backed up by all of the available evidence.
Basically what was being suggested was a low Carb diet. Much like the Atkins programs Taubes claims this is the best and safest way to loose weight. I was sceptical at first as I had tried Atkins before and it didn’t work for me. But the advice in the book was slightly different to that of the more popular counterpart.
I resolved to try the steps in the book, taken from a study at Duke university. This was about five weeks ago and since then I have been loosing weight.
This brings me back to my trepidation at weighing myself. The last weigh-in saw me hit 22 stone 10 lbs. When I started, I was 24 stone, so I’ve done well so far although I didn’t loose any weight last week because of the comic relief event. It has actually changed my life doing this. I have more energy now, I have been told by friends that I am looking better but the real change has come from my attitude towards food.
Remember me telling you about the cravings that I used to get for food? Well, they’re gone. I can’t tell you what a difference it’s made. It’s the main reason that diets have failed in the past for me. My energy levels have shot up as well and I am actually sleeping better. That’s a big claim for something so simple as changing the type of food I’ve been eating. I’m not even eating less, if anything I am eating more but I am eating what I am now told is the right thing. This time, however, I am seeing results so quickly that I think they’re right. I’m not even talking about the weight loss. I had extra energy and felt more awake from about the third day in.
So, imagine the scene. Monday morning. I’m in the bathroom ready to weigh myself… OK you don’t have to imagine it that closely. I step on the scales and all of this flashes before me. This is the moment of truth. So many diets have failed on similar Monday mornings when my weight has yet to move for a second or third week. I’m not asking for much, just a little movement down. Just a pound. And, there it is. 22 Stone 4 lbs. That’s six pounds over the last few weeks. On average, I have been loosing three pounds a week. That’s exactly what the researchers at Duke university said I should be loosing.
For the first time in 32 years I truly believe I have found an eating plan that is good for me, easy to stick to and actually shows some results. I will be interested to keep track of my progress and I’m sure this won’t be the last post I make on the subject. Until then, happy eating.