One of the interesting things about losing weight is its universality as a discussion topic. You can’t hardly mention it without someone chiming in that they have something for you on that. Weight loss and good health more generally is the ongoing struggle that unites us all. In my job I get to chat with many folks. The latest is Michele Lamarche. She’s rebuilding her site at bodymindrevolution.com. We were mostly chatting about building the site, but holistic medicine and various Oriental disciplines will be involved. Looking forward to seeing it.
Not so many years ago I chaperoned a youth group to Cedar Point. For those who may not know, Cedar Point is an amusement park with a heavy emphasis on roller coasters. As a chaperon, I didn’t expect to ride a lot, it being my job to keep an eye on the kids but I was shocked to find I hardly rode at all. The problem was I didn’t fit any but a few coasters. I found it mortifying. Not only that, my son was disappointed we did not get to ride together. That wasn’t enough to get me started on weight loss, but once I did get started, I set it as one of my intermediate goals that I would go to Cedar Point and ride the coasters. Recently my son and I visited Cedar Point. I had lost weight but I still did not know if I would fit in all the rides I wanted to ride. Much to my delight, I fit in every ride I tried. After the first couple rides I even bought the fast pass for us so I could ride every ride in one day. It was a great milestone and tons of fun. Sustained weight loss must provide compensations for giving up all those delicious, fatty foods. I can’t think of one very much better than being able to have a memorable day with my son.
I often eat the same meal day in, day out. The advantage to that is knowing the exact calorie intake, not crowding the freezer, minimum number of dirty dishes and simplified shopping. All things that are good for my diet succes because complicated is bad, at least for me. Tonight I splurge. I had dinner with my mom for memorial day (a separate post maybe) but tonight, I was still inspired. Here is tonight’s healthy splurge – a healthy warm/cold salad. Start with sauteed onions and mushrooms, cook until slightly brown and deglaze with chardonnay. Steam some asparagus and shock with cold water to stop the cooking while still slightly crisp. Michigan has great asparagus. Sandy soil all over the west side of the state. Cut the spears into 1 inch chunks. Chunky cut tomato, chunky cut avocado, flaked salmon, garlic infused vinegar, chunky cut hard boiled egg. Mix and drizzle a bit of Dijon vinaigrette over the top. Heavenly.
My wife says this is a lot like Salade niçoise. I googled that and Wikipedia says ‘Salade niçoise is a composed salad of tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, and anchovies, dressed with a vinaigrette. It is served variously on a plate, platter, or in a bowl, with or without a bed of lettuce.’ So, as usual, my wife knows what she’s talking about. What I know is this is as satisfying as a big bowl of pasta ever was. The avocado probably ups the calories a bit but there’s good stuff in avocado like good fatty acids, potassium, plenty of fiber. In fact the whole dish is loaded with good stuff. Asparagus has lots of going for it, salmon is low fat and plenty of omega-3, tomatoes have vitamin C, mushrooms are lo-cal if nothing else and dont forget the phytochemicals in onions.
The point is not that this is the healthiest meal on the planet. It might not be. The great thing is it tastes good, has great mouth feel, fills you up and does it with few carbs or calories. Everything else is bonus.
P.S. Since this is kinda related to Salade niçoise, I added the olives and anchovies because I had enough ingredients for a second night. You won’t want to do this if you are avoiding salt, but it really did make the flavors pop. Also …
springtime rains and sun have pushed the chives to bloom. The flowers are a beautiful lilac color and every bit as tasty as the stalks. I do apologize if this sounds like a food blog instead of a weight-loss blog, but finding an interesting, sustainable diet is going to be key for me keeping the weight off.
My wife came home today with a load of cat litter and other heavy bagged items from the feed store. With more testosterone than brains I grabbed two bags of cat litter and manfully (or foolishly) began to lug them to the basement. Oh my aching knees! Then I realized the two bags of cat litter plus me added up to 30 pounds less than I weighed when I started my diet. How did I tolerate the pain of walking downstairs with all that penalty weight? Why did I do it for so long? Losing weight makes everything easier. Picking up 2 bags of cat litter or whatever activity you had in mind (except maybe sumo wrestling). Become one of the fit. Obtain a healthy weight.
If you are one of the morbidly obese, odds are that you have tried many different diets – I surely have. I recently read about a guy who is considering bariatric surgery because he’s lost weight, only to gain it back repetitively. One of the weight loss efforts he cited included a weight loss of 90 pounds. That is more than I have lost as of this writing. He goes on to say he has lost substantial amounts of weight at other times – certainly enough to achieve a desirable weight, only to gain it all back.
Whats the problem? He obviously knows how to lose weight and has a program that allows him to achieve it. Why do life changing surgery? The only reason I can see is that all his previous attempts at weight loss have been a ‘diet’. Calling a weight-loss regimen a ‘diet’ implies that some day you will be off the ‘diet’. I did that once already going from 225 down to 175. I made a few minor changes to my diet and added a bunch of activity. Then the activity got sidelined due to changes in work life and, sadly I never looked back until I weighed in an 330, was buying 4x everything and wore nothing but basketball shorts and t-shirts. Pathetic.
This time, I’m not thinking about about weight loss as a ‘diet. I’m making what I hope will be a permanent change in eating habits. If I’m not on a ‘diet’, I will never go off the ‘diet’. That way, there is no endpoint – no date where I can say ‘now I’ll eat whatever I want’. By avoiding the endpoint, I hope to avoid going back to previous habits. Making dietary changes a permanent part of life looks like a winning strategy for sustainable weight loss.
For any one who read this before, this is a rewrite. My intent in writing this blog is to tell you about my thinking and experiences and this post sure sounded like advice – not what I intended. What I have done may work for others, but if you are one of the morbidly obese, you’ll need to decide for yourself.
One of the first things I ran into when you thinking about losing weight is the old saw ‘Eat less, move more.’. On the surface this made some sense. Eat less should mean less calories in and move more should mean more calories out. Sounds like a plausible recipe for weight loss. As I discovered, the type of calories taken in and when they are consumed is at least as important as the total amount.
It is possible to take in a fairly small mount of calories and gain weight. Just reducing the amount of terrible food intake seemed to me like recipe for failure. Continuing to eat pasta, potatoes or other starchy foods would create the danger of availability. If I continued to eat those foods as part of my regular intake in any amount, it would be easy to overdo. I know from long experience how easy it is to get that second helping.
Looking on the web it is obvious that ‘move more’ in popular literature and web sites translates into strenuous exercise like running or weight lifting. As one of the morbidly obese, I knew strenuous exercise can result in damage to cartilage, bones and muscles or even cardiac arrest. Heck, just running to the basement with a load of laundry or taking the trash to the curb seemed like heavy exercise! I regularly felt like there was problems in heart-land. I knew an exercise program with running or power lifting or other strenuous exercise was asking for regular injury. The result of that would be recovery time with minimal calories burned and no weight loss. Again, failure. Worse, I might do permanent damage and miss out on all the things I was losing weight in order to be able to do.
I began to understand that ‘Eat less, move more’ as the whole program, is for the folks who just need to lose a few ponds to get that 6-pak or bikini body. At 330 pounds, ‘eat less’ means a total diet overhaul and ‘move more’ is a careful program of gradually increasing exertion starting with the minimal amount that seems like exercise. Eating less and moving more may be the basic equation, but the risks in launching into popular culture interpretations are failure and injury. Understanding that I was starting far outside the norm, allowed me to eventually create a sensible program of eating and activity that gets results without injury.
Why get started losing weight? There are lots of good reasons but most important is extending your life. A young person who is Class III obese (>45 BMI) can expect to lose 14 years of life! One study considered obesity to be equally damaging as cigarette smoking. So what would you pay for 14 extra years of life? What would you give to see your children get married? What would you give to meet your grandchildren? Would a million dollars a year be too much? Luckily, the price is much lower. Besides, aren’t you tired of shopping in the big and tall, paying top prices for clothes that are never on sale? Wouldn’t you like to sit in that cozy corner booth when you go out with your partner for a nice dinner? Does it feel like work to take out the trash, run a load of laundry to the basement or do other common tasks? Do you sleep in a valley bed even though its only a few weeks old? Is the drivers seat in your car crushed on the left were you get in and out? Can you even fit in a compact car any more? Losing weight may not fix every problem you have, but if you are morbidly obese, getting back to a normal size is going to have a lot of benefits. The only way to get there is to get started.
Why start writing a blog about weight loss? There’s a lot of answers to that. Mostly, my daughter has encouraged me to try and get it out of my system. I’ve become a one-topic conversationalist. Other than that, I have not seen so many blogs, articles, books or magazines that address the morbidly obese. There’s lots about getting that ‘bikini body’ or getting a great six-pack but not so much about going from huge to average. Telling about my journey to weight loss may be useful to someone, so here it is and I hope you find it useful.