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My Body is Functional, NOT Decorative

20 Apr

This could be a long post, because this realization was a big Ah-ha moment for me.  Have you ever gone to someone’s house and seen a beautiful sitting room that no one ever sits in?   It’s the room that has furniture that has never been used.  That room is totally decorative.  And it has always struck me as odd, because let’s face it, furniture is pretty much made to be used.  The same can be said for our bodies.  Despite what our culture seems to believe, the purpose of our bodies is to allow us to do the things we have to do in order to live.  And not just breathing, but lifting, walking, pulling, hearing, smelling, seeing, wiggling our toes, feeling the warmth of the sun.  Even our hair keeps our scalp from getting sunburned.  The way you look has nothing to do with your health.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that physical beauty does matter to us, I’m just saying that it isn’t the primary purpose of the body.

You may be asking, what’s the big deal?  For me, it was this.  I have to stop critiquing my body based on how it looks and focus instead on what it can do.  Suddenly it helps me realize that the purpose of getting healthy is not to lose weight, but to keep my body functioning well for as long as possible.  And while this may seem like a “duh” statement, I have found that the world has a different idea.  Every time I look for fitness or nutritional information, weight loss is the primary focus.

My first step along this journey has been to stop hating my body.  I truly believe that you can’t get healthy if you start from a place of hating your body.  Being healthy requires you to do the things that are best for your body.  It means you have to decide to love your body enough to keep it functional.  And has anyone ever been truly, deeply loving to something that disgusts them?  Heck no!  It’s like cockroaches.  You see one and you either want to run from it or stomp on it.  Basically you try to get rid of it as quickly as possible.  Same thing with your body.  If it disgusts you, you’ll just want to “fix” it as quickly as possible.  It won’t matter to you how you do it.  You’ll just pick whichever way seems fastest and you won’t be able to sustain it.  You’ll think things like “I can’t stand to look this way one second longer” or “I can’t even look in the mirror”.  We are kindest to the things we adore.  It is what has allowed me to start thinking about how certain foods make me feel.  I’ve also decided to eat cleaner, because I believe it is best for my body.  If we adore ourselves and our bodies we will want to do what is best for it.  So love your body.  And thank it for all the things it allows you to do and experience.



Dieting is Making Me Fat

16 Apr

It’s true.  The more I diet, the more weight I gain.  I reached my highest weight only after I had been on the diet train for years.  It doesn’t seem to make sense, but a lot of evidence backs me up.  Even your body’s hormones work against you when dieting.  So just to be clear for those folks who will tell me I shouldn’t diet, I should just make a lifestyle change, I’m not talking about fad diets here.  Quite frankly I’ve never been on a fad diet, unless you count the two days I tried Atkins in college.  Every time I’ve tried to lose weight, I take the time to examine my numbers and count calories, carbs, protein or points.  I tell myself that no food is off limits as long as it fits in my points/calorie range.  I’ve tried Weight Watchers as well as a doctor prescribed lower carb/high protein diet.  But every time I do this, I get obsessed with the scale and frustrated if it isn’t moving quickly enough.  And even if it is moving quickly, I end up feeling deprived or just plain aggravated that I have to count and measure everything.  And that’s when the bingeing starts.  I never binged before I dieted.  But since then food means something entirely different than it did before dieting.  I have the luxury of remembering what life was like in high school and my early years of college before dieting set in.  Back then I ate like a normal person.  Sure I overate sometimes.  But usually I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full.  I was higher in weight than the weight charts said I should have been, but that was mostly because I ate too much fast food with friends.  

So what’s my solution?  I’m going back to normal eating.  I’m putting away the scale, examining my relationship with food, eating when hungry and stopping just before full.  I don’t usually have a problem identifying hunger because my stomach actually growls when I’m hungry.  I will have to pay close attention to when I am approaching full though.  This is not about weight loss.  This is about getting back my health and sanity.  So this journey is changing.  Wish me luck.

Weight Loss Smash Book

29 Nov

 Last weekend, I decided to start a weight loss scrapbook.  I just wanted to prepare a book to chart my weight loss progress.  But when I got to the craft store, I came across a Smash Book.  Smash books are made by K&Co.  Basically they are notebooks made with card stock.  You use a Smash Book to keep things that are special or inspirational to you.  You just “smash” it in.  I loved the concept and decided to turn one into a weight loss journal/scrapbook.  I purchased the Smash book on sale for 9.99 and bought a pack of assorted stickers.  Then I printed pics off of the internet and created my book.  I love it.  Here are the pics…   I added goals and quotes that inspired me.  My favorite thing is the reward page.  I created a list for big rewards and pockets for weekly rewards and ten pound rewards.  Basically every week I set a goal and if I meet the goal then I pick one reward for the week.  I just pull one out of the pocket and it’s like a mini surprise every week.  I’m excited about it.  Each week I set a nutrition goal and a fitness goal.  The weekly goals will build towards the major goals that I have listed.  I keep the book visible in my room and it has been a great reminder of my goals this week.  Which are pretty simple:  Stay at my calorie goal for six days this week and walk/run for at least 30 minutes three times this week.

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….

Day 1 of My Journey

13 Nov

Let me just say, this isn’t really the first day of my journey.  I’ve been in the process of losing weight or dieting for the last ten years or more.  BUT, it is the first day of this blog, so I liked the title.  I’m starting this blog for motivation, support and just to get my thoughts out there.  First I just want to explain the perspective I’m coming from.  I’m a child psychiatrist.  So, naturally I have an interest in my inner experiences and how they shape my actions as well as the way I view the world.  I tend to bring this into my thoughts about weight and health.  With medicine’s recent emphasis on evidence based practices, I also like to focus on evidence based methods of weight loss.  I love to investigate if things really work or if people just think they work.  But, I’m also just a regular old single black woman, raised in the South and it is impossible to separate myself from that experience.  Nor do I want to.  So many of my posts will just be based on my opinion and how I feel.  I’m excited to start.  So here are the before pics (I don’t believe in taking sad pictures) and the beginning stats.

Wt: 240 lbs
Ht: 5’8″
BMI: 36.5
BMR: 1877
Daily Calorie goal: 1500

Workout plan:  TurboKick, TurboFire and Hip Hop Hustle, six days a week