Saturday, November 19

Food Angst and Holidays

My aunt should have owned stock in Diet Shasta. She's been dieting with every option she could find since probably around 1969, and she's still morbidly obese--she got fatter over time of course. That's a lot of options and there's a lot of trying and it not working.

Sure, she lost weight. She just regained it of course. See this post on research related to weight regain. Concise summary: "Nearly inevitable." My theory: Moreso the more fat you begin. Caveat: entire amount may not be regained (so, that's something positive).

It is her daughter, my amazingly artistic cousin, who gained weight about as rapidly as I did and ironically at about the same age I did (I never thought of that until just now), and who eventually took up cocaine as the only hope for a solution for her wailing grief and mortified shame about her body. Now she is on the federal prison diet. That didn't end well.

I remember when I was 18 I went to a big celebration of my grandfather's 80th birthday. Family had come from around the country for this, and it was the first and probably the last celebration of its kind. My aunt was frustrated because she wanted to eat some of the food she'd spent 3 days cooking for it -- the smell of garlic bread wafting through the house was knee-weakeningly wonderful.  But she was on this diet at the time which was mostly about drinking so much water it's retarded and dangerous.

And... I could tell she felt like everybody might be "thinking" that she "should" be on a diet.

She might be right.

When I was at most 15# overweight (I didn't feel overweight, but I wasn't as thin as is considered proper today), age 19 or so (this is the 80's), I went to my stepmom's parents' house for the Thanksgiving family meal. She has 3 brothers. The entire family (except the brothers, and her at the time) was diabetic. I don't mean borderline. I mean losing eyes and limbs and dying over it eventually. At that time, several people were alive and whole who aren't now, and they were there.

Did anybody make LC versions of anything for them? No. The idea was, it's a special occasion, you stuff yourself on food that will kill you and then use insulin to compensate. Don't get me started on People Killing Their Diabetic Family Members By Making No Efforts To Help Them as that's another rant.

So, we are all eating. I was mostly scarfing down stuffing and white meat turkey which I love, despite it is dry and tasteless, go figure. Everybody else was eating more food than you can believe a person can shovel in. Plate after plate of macaroni salad, potato salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, twice-baked potatoes, brown sugar yams, fruit salad, on and on and on. I was sitting there feeling concern and pity for the fact that these people were diabetic and all the food seemed deadly. I considered eating some yams (love 'em!) but then I saw the dessert table! I decided that I wanted to have some pie instead, so I go get a slice of cherry pie. And I am walking back to my seat with it when her youngest brother eyes me with disdain and says, "Not like you NEED that, you know."

I was mortified. The other brothers laughed. I looked at him in some confusion, because a quick look around the room showed me that aside from those 3 young men, there were only approximately 3 other people in that entire seriously overcrowded house that were NOT fat, more fat, or hugely fat, plus diabetic: that would be ME, my dad, and my stepmom. So why he would say this to ME, when I weighed about 140 or so (~5'6), in that environment, compared to everyone else!, was a total mystery. I ate the pie (after saying something quietly unprintable to him) but I felt horrible then.

So the thing is, maybe people at that family gathering really WERE thinking that my aunt "should have been" on a diet. Maybe she wasn't just paranoid. Maybe she'd lived long enough fat to know what to expect.

It seems to me that this is often the perception people have about anyone fat. It doesn't matter how well you eat, or how much of the time you eat well. If you are eating anything but carrot sticks when they see you, "Well that explains it."

I (thin at the time) said you know, given you've been dieting since I was about 4, and given you are not thin, I think maybe you should take this opportunity to just enjoy the meal you worked so hard on. I mean if this were a one-time focus maybe it would be different, but this is just one day in the middle of 15 years behind and however many years ahead, and I do not think it can be held to blame for your figure. 

Journal Trolls

This reminds me of the people who on the internet, will go into someone's journal (I've seen this happen with several forum buddies), ignore that they have been eating nearly impeccably for years, point out the times in their journal that they said they ate "a coconut cookie" or "ten chips with salsa at the restaurant" or whatever, and then say, well it's obvious you just eat like crap so quit whining about being fat.

You know, if someone weighs 350# (let alone more) they are not fat because they ate 10 chips with salsa or a coconut cookie. Most people on an eating plan, averaged over a week, are low enough on carbs and calories both to absorb 'minor' things like that. People do not get and stay fat because they ate 6 cherries when otherwise VLC. That's stupid. We're not talking about major constant violations of eating plan here we're talking about occasional tiny things that were merely unplanned; not even necessarily exceeding their ideal food count totals.

Neurosis and Food

At minor gatherings, like business trips or vacations, I have gotten up and left a shared public table to eat elsewhere, because it was filled with women who the minute they sat down, started rationalizing why it was ok to eat what they were eating because..., or started talking about nothing but fat, food, food that will kill you, disease, etc. If we ever meet and you want to share a meal with me, do not bring up the evil of food, or disease! WTF is wrong with people that they can't just have a freaking meal without such neurosis?

I see it as even metaphysically bad, like cursing your food while you eat it because you're focused on totally negative stuff.  I want to tell these people, either eat well or don't, but shut the hell up about it and let other people enjoy their food! I've actually said that before -- more diplomatically of course -- but you will not be surprised to know that people did not like me any better as a result... :-)

I actually feel if you take total responsibility for yourself, oddly you don't have all that guilt because you simply accept that it was your decision to make, you had the right to make it, and that was the result and you will live with the results of your decisions. It's a matter of fact thing.

IMO the great angst is not about 'the decision' but about feeling one didn't really have the RIGHT to make the decision. So people are wringing their hands about what they should have done, even while they are with every bite making the decision over again. When you truly feel your food is your decision to make, you can just make it.

Holiday Food

In major gatherings like holidays, I'm not saying (in the above example with my aunt) that anyone should eat crappy food when they don't want to, or use it as an excuse to blow a good eating plan. Actually I'm very conservative on that point because it's been my experience that "going off-plan for a day" often derails people for six months instead.

I'm just saying that ideally, a person would not do it, and feel fine about not doing it. Or, if they ARE going to eat it either way, then they might as well enjoy themselves. The whole big complex of guilt and shame and longing and sense of unfairness and misery attached to holidays because of food is just crazy.

The best weapon is to eat yourself stuffed on meat/fats before going of course, but failing that, I would much rather a person just ENJOY LIFE if they are going to eat it anyway: being miserable doesn't reduce the carbs at all.

Being so fat and worrying about surviving to see my grandkids has really made me realize how important it is to enjoy the moment. "Life is what is happening while you're making other plans," as that saying goes.

I think for people who are new to LC or who know that they have a problem with carb-up days, clearly holidays breaks aren't the answer. But if the need feels real, you can work on enjoying life by learning to make yourself lowcarb versions of what you feel most deprived of, or alternatives that are yummy, and eat those before going.

A couple years ago my kid wanted to eat carby at Thanksgiving and she was on LC with me. So we came to an agreement: we would make some LC sweet-crunchy-maple pecans, and we would make some "almond joy" LC candy, and she could have some of that instead. It was a decent trade. Beat eating 3 plates of potatoes and more, which she might have otherwise.

I think the psychological element of food is almost worse than some of the health elements.


Thursday, November 17

The Legos of Low-Carb

In the end, it's all about each person putting together the building blocks of what they find works best for them. Like legos, it can be fun, it can be creative, and it can hurt like hell when stepping on them.

Comments here and in a forum about the 'Truth About...' post have given me a lot of food for thought. From the back of my brain, up popped my Evil But Occasionally Right Twin, to have a little talk with me about the long list of Where I've Gone Wrong, Where I've Gone Right, and Why I Owe It To Readers to post that. It seemed to feel that other post translated like, "You're dooooomed! Doomed, I tell you!"

I explained to the Little Voice that the post was just fine on its own, and that I have the noted info in other posts here and there. But IT thinks that while I'm depressing the crap out of everybody, I should at least provide a succinct list of what really does work for me, what doesn't, and maybe most importantly, what I haven't tried, and considerations I haven't addressed.  That way, people can say, "Ha! You see! She has not investigated (thyroid disease, pancreatic tumors, or eating only fish eggs while living at 30,000 feet elevation and fasting only days of month that start with the numbers 1 and 2), so how can she possibly say that for the super-obese there is a limit to fat loss or that regain is close to inevitable? She hasn't tried everything!"

In what time I've had, I have been completely redesigning the blog. I added pages, if you see the tabs up top, "collections" of posts, like recipes, fat politics, or psychology, for example. But this was nagging me, so, let's see what we've got.

Wednesday, November 16

Sacrificing Competence in the Name of Perfection

My second-biggest problem (after not-eating for a long time, then later over-compensating), is not buying/making "less than perfect" or slightly higher-carb food... only to result in my not having food at all when I don't have energy, time, money, defrosting time, or hating what I have because I'm sick of it (or more often, my teen is).

So for the sake of not buying pinto beans or peas for stew, or deli meat, or almond meal, because those are not ideal foods, instead I either starved (usually), or (if I let the teen talk me into it) ordered pizza.

Oh yeah... that helped.

I suppose it's better to be less than ideal sometimes, than off-plan when you haven't time, money, energy, or other elements in place for the ideal.

For a long time I have not had certain foods in my house like beans and peas and carrots for adding to stew (I swore off legumes for no good reason except they were 'a little' carby and the eating plan folks I like seemed to add them to grains as the devil), deli meats, almond meal, soft cheeses for making salad dressings, because they weren't sufficient protein/fat and hence were less than perfect, higher carb, etc.

As a result, my food options ALL require cooking and have such a tiny range of variety that my teenager keeled over off the edge of boredom long ago.

I have a lot of smart journal friends who try to course-correct me on this regularly. Being rather type-A, and a bit of the "anything worth doing is worth overdoing" sort, I am prone to sacrificing being relatively competent at my eating plan in the name of being as close to perfect as possible.

Additionally, I'm neurotic about not affording grass-fed meat/eggs/dairy. I think that worsens how I over-compensate everywhere else.

I can't eat enough meat/eggs/cheese to make 1500 calories and 18 carbs most the time even when I try. My food options are going to have to expand a LOT if I want to raise both to whatever 'max' level turns out to work for me. Actually right now my mind is still boggling over that concept. Short of living on bacon and avocado (which really, is not such a horrible fate...) I don't know how that's going to work out. We'll see.

I've been thinking about a new approach (and more common posting) for this blog.

I think it would be nice to see more focus on Low-Carb just because it's awesome and healthy, and not just because people are despairing over being fat and hoping it will bail their ass out of it. That's great, but that's not the only reason it's cool.

Monday, November 14

The Truth About Super Obesity and Weight Loss

A little background on me and general stuff, before we begin.

I lost 170# on low-carb, which migrated to grain-free whole-foods a-little-dairy fairly primal, minus the 'grass-fed' element which is not do-able for me for several combined reasons. I have re-lost the last 50-100# of that repeatedly. I am, by category, 'super-obese'. When it comes to being fat, there is overweight, obese, severely obese, morbidly obese, and super obese. These are based on body fat percentage.


I have come to understand that my expectations and my plans and my approach to eating, were not realistic.

I have come to understand that my experience, with the normal human variations, is echoed throughout basically all super-obese and many (not all!) of the higher-edge morbidly-obese people I have met in in person or online. I have also come to understand that what the science experts say, and the stats about fat loss and fat regain, echo my experience.

In short, if you remove the starry-eyed hope from the equation, you realize that pretty much all the facts from all directions say the same thing.

That's what this post is about. At the end, I have suggestions.

Friday, November 11

The 10,000 Ways That Don't Work

I've worked 20 hours a day, 7 days a week from last December 9 to May. I worked more like 16/6.5 since then. Starting just at the beginning of November, a bit over a week ago, I have actually been taking time off. I've had 1.5 weekends entirely off now, and 1.5 days (Wednesdays) entirely off now. I've gotten more sleep in the last 10 days than I have gotten in any 30-40 days in about a year.

This has led to the understanding that if you sleep 3 hours a night, you are not going to lose weight, for several good reasons.

I was re-reading my blog, like a 5-year review. I summarized many of the best/worst things I have done since I began this journey:

Thursday, March 31

Veggies, V-Slicers and Very Bad Ideas

This is cool.
I bought a V-Slicer Mandoline I've wanted for a long time. It's the affordable sort but it's pretty darn good. It slices thin, thick, or tiny (matchstick) julienne, or larger (McD french-fry size) julienne. Or you can use it for slicing 'cubed' stuff. It's superfast to clean up (just rinse off), easy to use and has its own holder you can mount it on the wall with if you like. It has reduced the 'prepping veggies' part of these dishes to vastly, vastly less trouble and better outcome.

I've been reading about everything from OTC supplements to illegal steroids geared toward fat loss. This is probably indicative of my state of mind in some fashion. It's unfortunate that most stuff is so much better for men than women. Everything mucks with hormones which is a big deal, but what the hell, if my hormones were anything akin to balanced I would not weigh what I do anyway.

A recent agreement between the 14 year old and I, resulted in my agreement that we would go on a "mostly Salad and Stir-Fry" diet for awhile (she lasts on any plan about 3 days, sigh).