Head and Heart

15 Nov

It seems like my mind works against me when I’m trying to lose weight.  I feel like I have to find ways to trick it.  Honestly, there is some evidence that this is true.  I know that my body’s biological measures are working to keep me thinking about and craving food.  These are not just the rants of a woman with no willpower (we’ll get to that at some other time).  First, let me say that I’ve been very successful in other areas of my life.  And I definitely have restraint (I tend to be pretty cheap).  But also, there is a lot of evidence that shows how this works.  Just Google leptin or ghrelin and you’ll see what I mean.  But nothing seems to illustrate it better for me than the old Ancel Keys study.  If you haven’t heard of it, here is how it goes:

Ancel decides he wants to see what the effects of starvation would be on healthy men.  He recruits 36 men from ages 22 to 33.  They purposely selected men who could pass their physical and mental health tests.  Then they feed them for 12 weeks to get their weights close to their ideal weights.  On average, the men ate about 3200 calories a day.  Then for the next 24 weeks they “starved” the men, feeding them a diet of limited foods with an average of about 1560 calories a day.  1560!  Really?  Because most diets now call for that as a higher level and tend to suggest 1200-1400 for women.  Anyway, after the 24 weeks were up, the men lost about 25% of their weight.  Then they gave them a 12 week period of restricted rehabilitation and another 8 weeks of unrestricted rehabilitation (i.e. you can eat whatever you want).  Back in those days, people did observational studies.  So this is what happened:  Most of the men exhibited a preoccupation with food.  Some of them developed eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.  They were lethargic and irritable.  They overate during the unrestricted rehab.  They collected cookbooks and recipes. Three even became chefs.  They talked about food all of the time and lost their sex drives.  You get the idea.  Granted, these men were at a normal weight, while I am… not.  But, it does show some interesting things about dieting.

So it’s no wonder that all I can think of is eating cake and deep fried sushi.  Even though I know if it weren’t for me counting calories, I wouldn’t be having cravings at all.  So, I’ll be finding interesting ways to motivate myself this week.  And I’ll be reading a few books to help me figure out how best to stay on track.  On a positive note, although I definitely had thoughts about overeating today.  I didn’t eat more than I needed to stay full.  Feeling good….


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