I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that a lot of my friends are talking about weight loss/weight maintenance issues. After all, we’ve just finished a holiday season and it is the New Year, with subsequent resolutions and attempts to reform one’s life. Weight and body issues are probably one of the first areas that pop up for most of us.
Of course, a recent NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/tara-parker-pope-fat-trap.html?pagewanted=all) about the problems those of us who trend toward natural heaviness ends up being slightly discouraging. I fit the profile of the yo-yo dieter, though I’m trying to break out of that mold. What I’m discovering is that I really do have to be obsessive about diet and exercise in order to maintain the weight I want. Which means daily dates with the scale, constant contemplation of food choices, constant thoughts about quantity, and regular scheduling of exercise.
These issues are different for different folks, though. Some people can exercise and see weight loss. Others can restrict their diet and see weight loss. But there are those of us (like me) who need to be very controlling of both diet and exercise to lose and maintain the weight loss. I’ve done the yo-yo thing enough to know that yeah, I can eventually lose 20-60 pounds. But it’s hard, and gets harder every time I do it. Without monitoring quantity of food consumed and amount of exercise, the weight creeps back on.
This time around I’ve managed to keep the weight consistent for about a year. But I still have to maintain the very restricted quantity diet to do so. I can only allow myself occasional indulgences, and then offset them not just by exercise but by strict food control for a few days after.
I’m determined to beat the yo-yo effect. I’d just as soon not deal with weight gain/loss cycles every five to ten years. At some point–at my age, racing ever closer–it’s going to be harder on my body to manage these swings. I’d just as soon lock the weight in now, and keep it at this level. I’ve been fat and I’ve been skinny, and even with the need to exercise and control my food intake, I prefer myself at this weight. I hurt less. It’s easier to move and do things. Oddly enough, my clothing choices remain about the same (no matter what size I am, it seems like all the cute stuff is in sizes I can’t wear–now there’s lots of cute XL/XXL/12/14/16 stuff), so that’s not really the issue.
How I feel is more important. And, at this point in my life, between food allergies, food intolerances, and everything else I’ve got going on, restricting what I eat needs to be happening whether I do it for weight control or for allergy/health issues.
But most importantly, I am happy with myself as an active person. I hoop, I spin poi, I ski, I ride my horse, I practice yoga, and I lift light weights. I seem to have finally found the right mix of movement activities that are fun and that I can do. Mastering skiing has shown me that I can do most physical activities available to me…within reason (running or other high-impact activity is Right Out, however, thanks to past injuries). And in the last sequence of yo-yo weight gain, despite the weight, I was able to remain active and Do Stuff. It simply took the addition of controlling food to lose the weight. I got fit first, and then lost the weight.
Fitness first. That’s my mantra for the New Year. The rest of it just follows along.