Search Me!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Too Much?

I saw a new doctor this week. I was weighed (with the assistance of a quite portly male nurse) as part of the intake. My weight? 192 pounds. I'm 5 foot 3.75 inches tall. That body-mass combo delivers a body mass index of 33, which puts me firmly in the obese range (as would anything over 30). Obese is not an attractive word (I prefer "chunky" or "full-bodied"); I don't like "obese" but I wonder if anyone does. (And why is there not a category after obese--like "really obese"? Maybe I'm rebelling against being lumped in with my brethren and sistren in the mega-obese category.) 
Portion control to me is like
gun control to 2nd amendment fanatics:
always control the food with a steady hand.

So I asked the new doc (a very slender and tall woman), how much she thought I should weigh--145? 140? Said she, "Well, let's focus on something that's doable, nothing that you
won't be able to sustain. I'd like to see [your BMI] in the 29 range." For the uninitiated, a BMI of 29 puts one in the "merely" overweight category.
I'd need to lose about 20 pounds, not overwhelming, to hit a BMI of 29. I did tell the doc about my success in losing about 35 pounds, but admitted that I'd been on a plateau for quite a while since, and long ago stopped keeping a food diary. I also (with pride in my voice) talked about my weekly swimming and regular walking.
"I think my problem is portion control," I offered. And that is certainly true. Portion control to me is like gun control to 2nd amendment fanatics: always control the food with a steady hand.
She nodded quickly, then said something about exercising six times a week. I currently exercise about 3-4 times a week. That's when I nodded while thinking, "Wot! Six times a week! You're out of your mind!" But what did I say? "Oh yes, doctor; I can do that." Ack.
I primarily think of most exercise as eating insurance --if I exercise the "right" amount, then I will be able to eat as I wish without getting more fat. And as doctors and nutritionists have told us ad nauseum for quite a while, I've believed the primary reason I'm fat is because I don't exercise enough. 

Eat Less Food? 

I haven't really considered reducing the amount of food I eat as a path to being less fat. There are many reasons for that. First, of course, is that I like to eat what I eat when I want to eat it. Tracking my food wasn't about controlling the volume of food, merely noting what it was that I was eating (especially the nutritional composition). Second, I do a lot of emotional eating (especially with certain types of food, particularly creamy and fatty foods like almond butter), and that is difficult to do when eating less. Third, I have long lived with the story that I eat differently than other people, people who don't do emotional eating, and therefore eating less won't work for me.
What if I started living another story, believing another story? That is, what if I'm not unlike other people, and have merely lived that story to enable my resistance to change?I mean, I have seldom worked very hard to reduce my food intake as I assumed that it would be impossible for me to do so. Of course, I've not thought of it like that, merely taken it out of the realm of the possible. That is especially curious, as I've been able to virtually eliminate eating foods (heavy carbs) on which I supped for years, yet I haven't even considered the idea of eating less food.

What if I'm not unlike other people,
and have merely lived that story to enable my resistance to change?

 And then I saw a report on the BBC website today about the primacy of excess eating versus low levels of exercise in the development of obesity. Seems a study of a group of very low-tech hunter-gatherers in Tanzania showed that their "metabolic rate was no different to that of Westerners" even though their physical activity levels were much higher. "Dr Herman Pontzer of the department of anthropology at Hunter College, New York, said everyone had assumed that hunter gatherers would burn hundreds more calories a day than adults in the US and Europe." Not so, it seems. ""This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much - it's not because we exercise too little," said Dr Pontzer."
The report doesn't say exercise isn't useful, just that eating too much is a primary factor in being overweight.

 So Now Wot?

I have no idea how many calories I consume a day. The last time I checked I was eating about 2600 calories a day, comprised mostly of protein and fat and salad greens (with some carbs--prunes and dark chocolate and, lately, granola). I think I now may be around there, or higher.
My first step is to again use a food diary. I will, of course, continue at my current level of exercise. I also am increasing my water intake, as I've noticed I often eat when I'm not hungry and may, instead, be thirsty. After a month of that I'll start reducing the amount of food I eat.
Of course this is terrifying, and one of the biggest challenges I've ever undertaken. But I won't be able to say it won't work until I've tried it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy! I want to know what you think...