After a failure to weigh last week, I’m back on the wagon. Or I guess it’s more like back on the scale. But in the past two weeks, even over the holidays (and my worst eating in recent memory) I managed to lose 1.2 pounds, for a grand total of 3.4 pounds since after Thanksgiving.
Not too bad for getting no exercise and not eating “perfectly”.
I’ve posted before about just eating the cookie, but it’s really an important concept, and one that took me a really long time to understand. There’s no such thing as eating “perfectly”. Sometimes I just need a cookie. And yeah, I know I should eat an apple or go for a walk or distract myself when I want something sweet, and I’ve tried that. When I’m doing something to distract myself, I can’t help but thinking “this is to distract me from wanting cookies. Mmmmmmm cookies. As soon as I get done with this distracting thing, I’m gonna eat some cookies.”
So eat a cookie. But your day/week/month isn’t ruined if you’ve eaten a cookie. Or 17 cookies. Or a whole pan of lasagna. It isn’t ruined! Just turn the page on the day and start over. You may have to work a little bit harder the next day, but losing all willpower at one meal isn’t an excuse to give up on trying for the rest of the week or month or year or whatever. I understood the concept for a long time before I really “got it” and was able to modify my behavior. It’s like one indiscretion or choice to eat something “bad” opens the floodgates for more of the same, since I already lost my opportunity for a perfect weigh-in.
But even on “perfect” weeks I’ve maintained, or worse, gained.
And I’ve realized it often has nothing to do with what I’m eating. It has to do with my body frantically trying to equalize to it’s new “starvation” weight.
Our bodies are designed to hold on to as much weight as possible. Our metabolisms evolved over millions of years when calories were scarce and calorie-dense food items even scarcer. A sweet tooth is an evolutionary protection against starvation – we seek out what’s sweet in nature (fruit) because it has high calorie density and low caloric output to acquire and consume (like meat), which was crucial when we were hunter-gatherers scraping by to get enough to eat.
(photo stolen from http://cookingcaveman.tumblr.com. I don’t know where he got it)
So our metabolisms slow when there’s less and speed when there’s more. And in any time of “famine” (like eating nothing but grapefruit for a week in a desperate attempt to lose 10 pounds) our metabolisms shut down as a protection against starvation. Consuming fewer calories makes your body go into starvation mode. So you have to work with the biology.
An interesting side-note: my mountain man, although happy to eat whatever food I put on his plate, tries to loosely follow the Paleolithic diet. It’s designed to return our consumption to a pre-convenience, pre-indoor cooking, pre-packaged food kind of diet, where we plucked from the earth and ate foods in their wholest forms. I try to cook with whole foods, but I don’t go quite as far as some followers of the diet do! So, so interesting though. it’s how our bodies are designed to eat. We have not caught up with the past 50 or so years of food nonsense. Like cookies.
When I do lose weight, especially if it’s over a pound, my body usually needs a week to recuperate, to stabilize and get adjusted to its new weight. I have to lose slowly, and if I force too much loss my body will rebel.
So I’ve had to learn to allow imperfection, to be patient as my body adjusts to its new weight, and to just eat the cookie already and move on. But don’t eat 1,000 cookies, and don’t let those 999 cookies I did eat be permission to give up!