Friday, August 13, 2010

A rant of sorts

I posted this on MFD in response to the ever present fear “you’ll slow your metabolism if you don’t eat enough” that was posted in response to another poster’s success with eating intuitively.

My two cents worth...

I think changes to the metabolism occur over extended periods of altered fuel intake. A few days (or even weeks) of a lower than externally prescribed calorie count will not necessarily slow down the metabolism. However years of yo-yo dieting, over or under eating and over or under exercising will wreak havoc on the metabolism, as well as many other of the body's systems.

I think that while it is very important to know the difference in nutrition a baked potato offers vs french fries, and generally how many calories one needs, the diet industry, including this website has made it all about numbers. And when the numbers don't work, rationalization starts:

- My metabolism slowed down because I had a week of low calorie days

- I gained weight this week because I ate a high sodium meal yesterday

- I gained weight because I started a weight training regime

- I gained weight because my hormones are out of whack

Rarely does anyone not rationalize away the weight gain. Reality is we gain weight because we eat too much and don't move enough, with some very few medical exceptions.

As we grow older our bodies' caloric requirements(metabolism) lower. This is a natural process of aging. I haven't been paying attention to my body so I didn't feel the reduced appetite and kept eating my normal amounts. I gained weight. Almost 10 lbs this year. I'm listening now.

And yes, my metabolism is very slow. Part of it is naturally slow - like Cindy, I run a lower than normal temperature. And I had years of dieting - phen/fen, Atkins, Weight Watchers, and lastly Optifast. Weight was lost and gained each time - this is HORRIBLE for the body. Yes, exercise physiologists will tell us to gain muscle mass and we'll can eat more. And don't we all want to be able to eat more?

While having strong toned bodies is important, I do not think exercise should ever be the key to eating. I was exercising to the point of being miserable just to be able to eat what I wanted - not what I needed. How our bodies feel should be the key to eating. Eat when you are hungry. Not because it's a habit. (There are a few medical conditions that require frequent eating - but I think the body can actually cue that as well, but if it can't then eating on a schedule must occur)

And oh gees - that is SO very hard for me. Eating is a habit. And if I'm stressed and eat, it can very easily go into a full session of overeating.

In the past I haven't been willing to work on the internal aspects of why I don't listen and heed my body's hunger cues. I think feeling absolutely miserable after eating way too much peanut butter one day a few weeks ago was what triggered my throwing my hands up in the air with calorie counting.

Intuitive & mindful eating, will for me, actually be harder than over-exercising or counting calories. I've a life of unhealthy habits to replace.

Nina - I think there is part of you that likes the structure of a diet. Can you integrate the 'guidelines' that Roth offers into a structure that would work for you?

edited to fix the stupid typos I did catch and to add another thought - if we continue to allow external sources to guide our weight management instead of the wisdom of our own bodies, won't we always be a slave to the diet industry? And I honestly believe the diet industry only wants us to be successful enough to 'break' under the constant pressure of eating in an externally prescribed manner. The "breaking" tends to undo all the success and off we go back to look for another set of guidelines. Learning to listen to our bodies and eat when hungry and only until satisfied will help us break free from that money and sanity zapping industry. I'm writing this mainly to myself - I LOVE to spend hours looking for the next take on weight management. Unfortunately, I haven't spent those hours looking to myself, but to others.

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