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Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Battle for Middle Earth

 I’m fat.

I’m at risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. I want to change. But I can’t seem to make it stick.  Here’s a quick summary of my major diets over the past several years:

  • May-Aug 1996 – Lost 35 pounds (from 201 to 166) – Low calorie, low fat, TONS of exercise
  • Jan-June 2004 – Lost 33 pounds (from 204 to 171) – Low carb
  • Jan-May 2007 – Lost 20 pounds (from 198 to 178 ) – Low carb
  • Aug-Sep 2007 – Lost 11 pounds (from 196 to 185) – Low carb
  • May-Oct 2008 – Lost 30 pounds (from 197 to 167) – Low carb

I lost between 6-10 pounds twice in 2009 doing a low carb diet. In 2010, I lost weight 7-10 pounds two times doing the HCG diet. But the weight came back when I went back to “eating as usual.” Unfortunately, I started 2011 at 194.

I am happy to report than since January 1, 2011, I’ve lost nearly 11 pounds and three inches off my middle. I’m down to 183, but my ideal weight is in the 160 range with at least 4-5 more inches off my middle.

So what am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get it off and keep it off? Exercise hasn’t been a problem. I jog six days a week for 30 minutes each day quite consistently, and have been doing that for nearly seven years. I suppose I need to do some strength training and that will help, but I hate gyms and I don’t like pain… 

I’ve decided that one major reason I can’t seem to keep my belly fat off is because I haven’t fundamentally changed the way I approach food.

I need to lose the fat and then monitor my food intake carefully for the rest of my life. I can’t keep going off and on diets. I have to change my lifestyle permanently. Maybe you do too?

Obesity is an epidemic. Diabetes is becoming such a major medical problem that it could easily bankrupt our health care system in the coming years. Forty years ago, obesity rates were 13% of Americans. Ten years ago, obesity rates had jumped to 23%. Today, American obesity rates have climbed to 33%! Why? I think it has a lot to do with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

However, I am convinced it has a lot to do with the USDA food pyramid’s focus on grains and other simple carbs. In the decades that the food pyramid has been emphasizing this plan of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, obesity rates have skyrocketed. This can certainly be attributed to the availability of processed foods. Corn and associated products (subsidized by the government) are in everything. Our grandparents’ generation knew that breads, pastas and starches (like potatoes) were foods that pack on the pounds. Why do you think cattle at feed lots are fed a corn and grain instead of grass to fatten them up? It’s because simple carbohydrates are quickly converted into glycogen and, in turn, into fat stores. What’s more, they spike our insulin levels and make it that much more difficult to release the fat our body stores.
 
Our current American eating patterns are totally contradictory to thousands of years of human evolution. We’ve evolved eating a high protein diet rich in nutrients and healthy vegetables. Only in the past few decades when the agricultural industrial complex came to power have all these high-carbohydrate foods become staples of our diet. They are so available because they are cheap and subsidized by the government. But they are contrary to our body’s natural way to process food. Thus the dramatic spike in obesity rates in recent years. It’s killing us as a nation.
 
Some suggest that it’s all about “calories in” and “calories out.” I am certain that it’s not that simple. It’s not just a will power issue. Often naturally skinny people say that it’s just a person’s lack of self-control that causes them to be fat. And while I’m sure there’s some truth to that, there are a lot of complexities in the body’s chemistry and the way insulin regulates the body’s fat reserves that makes it extremely difficult for many people to lose weight.

Many studies have shown that people on a low-calorie, low-fat diet experienced less fat loss than those on a low-carb diet that did not have a specific calorie restriction. That’s because dietary protein and fat satiates us much more than carbs, so we naturally reduce calories because we’re not hungry. (Eating eggs for breakfast vs. a bowl of cereal is the perfect example of this — you get hungry more quickly with the bowl of cereal, even though the calorie input is the same.)  
 
So is the credibility of what I’m saying compromised by my confessions above? That low carb living isn’t a viable long-term solution since it’s not a realistic lifestyle? I’ve been on a yo-yo because I’ve allowed myself to get in “diet” mode and then get OUT of diet mode. Long-term health and weight maintenance REQUIRE a lifestyle shift, and that’s where I have failed. I work hard to lose some pounds and then go back to “eating as usual.” This simply doesn’t work. I am a living example of that. I’ve lost the same 30 pounds three times now. I’ve lost the same 10 pounds at least five times now.

This current weight loss I’m engaged in is the last time for me. I’m not going back. That’s because besides being ugly, belly fat is SOOO detrimental to my health. It significantly increases my risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

My brother Aaron is a fitness guru, and he’s helping me design a plan to lose the belly fat and then do what I’ve never been able to do before — find a realistic maintenance plan in which I can slowly add back carbs and find that perfect nutrition balance that allows me to stay trim. I’m not getting any younger, so now’s the time to make the change. Permanently this time.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Health