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What I’m doing and why

November 6, 2008

So far I’ve been really meta with these posts. Both because I’m honestly trying to figure out my own thoughts and because I want to be sensitive to the fact that this blog is still on the fatosphere feed. At this point though I think most people who regularly read the feed are hip to the fact that the general theme of this blog has changed.

I really don’t want this to be a weight loss blog in the sense of daily posts about what I ate or weekly updates on my scale, but what’s the point in protesting that weight loss doesn’t have to entail hunger or misery if I don’t actually explain how that might work. I know that only a year ago I would have seriously doubted anyone who told me such a thing – or I would have assumed that they must have previously had some kind of damaged/disordered relationship with food which is kind of weird, but whatever. The point being that one of the big reasons I resurrected this blog 3 months after I closed up shop is that I talked to more and more people in my position. People who wanted, for various reasons, to lose weight, but were absolutely not interested in the self-hatred/flagellation that is so encouraged in fat people. People who worked against fat discrimination, but mainly steered clear of FA communities, or stayed silent in them because they felt awkward about ‘hiding’ their weight loss. I don’t think FA must change to include us or anything, but I figured why not create the kind of space that’s supportive of weight loss without abandoning the ideals of dignity and respect for people regardless of size.

So the next couple of posts will be addressing exactly what I’m doing wrt changes in eating and exercising and my reasons behind these various changes.

The thing I think I want to address before I start getting into the nitty gritty is to talk about why I want to lose weight.

I could probably write a lot about this, explaining, in detail, how my thoughts on it changed. How these changes were inspired by the very healthy things I was doing for my body blah blah blah blah blah. Truthfully, I would probably only end up inviting lots of comments dissecting every little thing I said and insisting that I just wasn’t doing HAES right or that I just need to accept that not everyone is an athlete. Instead, I’ll keep it short.

Health: I’ve been diagnosed by one doctor with PCOS. Two other doctors said no, the symptoms and blood test point more towards general metabolic syndrome. Either way, I have hormonal issues that have led to menstrual issues. My blood sugar and triglycerides also run high unless I’m very careful with my diet. Yes, I could absolutely take medication to address some of these issues. No, I am not someone who fetishizes ‘natural’ solutions or thinks that medications are poison. At this point and at my age I want to try getting rid of some body fat first since the hormones secreted by body fat and the issues caused by large amounts of abdominal fat are implicated in some of the problems associated with metabolic syndrome.

Fitness: I believe that I am currently very fit for my size. I workout. I stay active. But there are still plenty of things I find very difficult (getting up more than 2 flights of stairs) that I believe will improve when I don’t have to work so hard to overcome gravity. I’m not interested in running marathons, but I want to climb pyramids and go to ropes courses and hike the kind of hills where you have to pull yourself up by your hands and knees. Also, I’ve always dreamed on being able to climb a rock wall. Again, gravity puts a damper on this. Maybe I should move to the moon?

As always, comments are open, and I welcome hearing from people, but keep in mind that none of what I said is a judgement on people who take medication or aren’t interested in swinging from ropes 50ft off the ground. Health and fitness are very much subjective in that people tend to evaluate themselves based on whether or not they’re able to do those things that are important and interesting to them.

So tomorrow’s post will address mindful eating. Stay tuned.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Twilightriver permalink
    November 6, 2008 6:06 pm

    The current thinking on PCOS is that the hormonal imbalance is what causes the weight gain, not the other way around. Some people who get proper treatment for PCOS lose a lot of weight because the imbalance is corrected. However, some people do not lose weight with treatment. It really depends on a lot of mechanisms that are not yet fully understood.

    Weight loss does not correct hormonal issues, but it might make it easier to manage them (sometimes, it doesn’t.)

    A note about stair climbling: It does not get easier as you lose weight. It only gets easier if you do exercises similar to it. The same is true of any kind of exercise because of how the body adapts to movement.

    When my activities were incline extensive (stairs, hills, etc.) I was able to outrun my skinny, athletic friends on stairs without getting winded because that’s what my body was used to while theirs were only used to flat plane activities such as running track, playing team sports, etc. They were always so suprised that a fat chick was better at something than they were.

    No matter how fit or thin you are, there will always be things that are harder to do than other things. That’s why you hear so much about crosstraining. It’s ok to specialize, but if you want to be able to do a wide variety things you’ll want to crosstrain.

    You don’t have to be an athlete to crosstrain. A mother who walks her kids up the hill to school, takes the stairs at work, plays volleyball/softball, and takes a yoga class is crosstraining because her daily activities require her body to move in different ways.

    The benefit you’re going to get from any movement you do is going to depend on duration and intensity. Longer durations build stamina in that kind of movement. Highter intensity builds strength.

    Even if you crosstrain, each new activity you try will be difficult at first because your body isn’t used to it. Even athletes start at the beginner’s level when they are starting something new or picking up an activity they’ve neglected for several months.

    I hope that information is helpful to you.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2008 7:23 pm

    I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 14, which is extremely young for that syndrome. However, I’m pretty much a textbook case. Amenorrehia, excess body hair, fat, pain in my ovaries, etc. It didn’t get better when I lost 40 lbs. In fact, if I recall, my period was just as irregular and painful as always. It wasn’t until I started eating more intuitively (cooking for myself helped) that my PCOS improved and I started ovulating with a semi-regular and pain-free period. I haven’t missed more than 1 month in a row for a while now, over 2 years. I’m also heavier than I’ve ever been and (unfortunately) more out of shape. PCOS is not well understood. Nor are many other metabolic syndromes. Fat is usually targeted pretty strongly in “treatment.” However, in my personal experience, weight loss didn’t actually help.

  3. November 6, 2008 7:23 pm

    That was me posting as anonymous. Oops.

  4. julie permalink
    November 6, 2008 7:43 pm

    I think it will be easier to move upstairs, etc., when thinner. Force = mass X acceleration, that’s physics. I notice it on my bicycle, and walking uphill. Today, on the basis of BMI, I passed from obese to overweight. And my car got towed. Feh.

  5. November 6, 2008 8:52 pm

    Twilightriver,

    I think the studies and theories around both pcos and metabolic syndrome are all over the place. No, weight loss is not an automatic cure by any means, but some studies show improvement in hormone profiles with fat loss. If that doesn’t work in my case, I’m not against looking at other treatments.

    The rest of your post is very good advice. I have been cross training (including running/walking in my very hilly area) for several years now and it definitely had a much greater affect on my overall fitness than spending an hour a day on the elliptical ever did. Perhaps it is just me though, but even after 3 years of regular and varied exercise, I still have to work much harder than my thinner friends while doing the same movements.

  6. November 6, 2008 8:57 pm

    Shosie,

    It’s definitely important to remember that weight loss is never a panacea. The causes and feedback loops of these syndromes are not completely understood yet and they also seem to vary from person to person. Some will have relief of symptoms with metformin and others will have relief with a some weight loss and some will get results with just lifestyle change.

    For me, I’ve been eating well and exercising for several years now so I’m interested in seeing if fat loss will help to lessen some of my symptoms.

  7. November 6, 2008 9:06 pm

    Julie,

    Yeah, I know some might accuse me of being too simplistic, but it takes more work to move greater mass, right? And in the case of body fat, it’s not working to help you move like muscle might be so it’s kind of dead weight.

    I definitely noticed a difference when I lost 40lbs several years ago. Of course, part of that is also the increased fitness.

  8. Twilightriver permalink
    November 6, 2008 9:23 pm

    “I still have to work much harder than my thinner friends while doing the same movements.”

    That certainly may be weight related. It may also be related to bone structure, musculature, and reflexes. By musculature, I don’t just mean how strong you are, but how your various muscles are working together.

    We have quick twitch muscles that are responsible for the speed of certain movements. Mine are slow. I can do all of the speed enhancing exercises I want, but I’ll never be as fast as someone whose body uses those muscles more effectively than me.

    We have plenty of other types of muscles that control other aspects of how we move. So we have people who are built for speed while others are built for strength and some people find swimming comes easily while others take to fitness classes more easily (in this case I speaking of physical ability rather than preference.)

    It was a tough pill to swallow when I realized that I could never be as fast as I wish I could be. I even gave up on activities requiring speed for awhile because “I suck at that.” Now, I don’t care if I can keep up. If I enjoy something, I do it. I simply accept that I’m not going to be as fast as other people try to tell me I should be. I am as fast as I can be. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on doing what I can to improve my speed. I am always making incremental improvements. My increments are simply smaller than what other people’s are when they are doing the same thing. That’s ok. My increments of improvement are leagues beyond other people’s in other areas.

    I’m not saying you’ll never have as easy a time as your friends at doing things. Strength training, speed training, and training of any kind can improve your body in ways you never hoped.

    Just remember that you don’t have to feel defeated for anything you don’t achieve because there’s a lot more you can and have acheived that you haven’t seen yet.

    PCOS/metabolic disorders can contribute to the sense of not being able to keep up or having to work harder than other people at things. I have a lot of friends who have been living with such things for years and they all report great improvements with proper treatment. Some have lost weight. Some haven’t. They all report greater energy and increased ability to fully engage in their llives in ways they didn’t used to be able to.

    The wrong treatment can be crippling, but you are looking out for yourself and listening to your body, so you’re on a good path for finding the right treatment earlier rather than later in your process.

    Keep taking the best care you can.

  9. November 6, 2008 9:56 pm

    “I still have to work much harder than my thinner friends while doing the same movements.”

    Yes and no. This is something I actually posted about today. When researchers try to simulate obesity in nonobese people by strapping on extra weight, yes, they burn a LOT more calories. Yet when they run the same tests on actual obese people, it didn’t work that way.

    http://living400lbs.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/being-fat-is-just-like-carrying-a-heavy-backpack-right/

  10. Susan permalink
    November 6, 2008 10:26 pm

    I can only speak from my own experience, but I find all forms of exercise far easier, and far more enjoyable, after having gone from “morbidly obese” to “normal”.

    I love your goal of hiking and rock-climbing! The hardest (and most rewarding) thing I have ever done was climb up a 120 metre cliff.

  11. Susan permalink
    November 6, 2008 10:31 pm

    I meant to write ‘after I went from a “morbidly obese” to “normal” BMI’ – but I think everyone knows what I meant!

  12. November 7, 2008 7:37 am

    From my experience, going up stairs gets a lot easier when you lose weight. That’s how it happened to me, even before I lost all the weight I wanted, or started exercising. I’m probably a lot older (50) than most people posting here, but a lot of my joint pain went away, and I wasn’t as out of breath.

  13. November 7, 2008 2:19 pm

    @Linda – I don’t question that works for you. Losing weight never made me stop getting out of breath tho — that took getting my asthma treated. And I’m finding that working out with weights makes stairs easier too.

    (I don’t diet because I lose, regained, and end up weighing more than I started. I dieted up to my current weight. Apparently 30% of dieters tend to regain more than they lost, so I’m not the only one. But I figure if I’ve done the same thing over and over and always got the same results, I should try something new.)

  14. vegr permalink
    November 7, 2008 2:20 pm

    Yeah, I found it a lot easier to run after losing just ten pounds, all within a normal weight range, I just didn’t like running at the higher weight. Too heavy and bouncy. So wow, with a lot more weight, that would be hard for me. I think it is really awesome to exercise whatever your weight, but I would go for more strength-training and walking if I were bigger.

    Good luck! A medical doctor who has had much success with healing PCOS through diet (his wife had it, it completely went away years ago–plus patients) is Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He has a few books, a blog for his office at diseaseproof.com, and is vegan-friendly (though not veg himself). 🙂

  15. Another Anonymous permalink
    November 8, 2008 4:19 am

    I know you’re going to get a flak for what you write. But as someone who has just popped in, I am so proud of you. So, so proud of you.

    You’re a good person, and you deserve to not hurt.

    I know I will likely get flak too for saying that I too was diagnosed with PCOS, two years ago. I hurt for two weeks of each month, bled in varying amounts for half of each month. It always hurt. Then, I did start watching my calories…not starving myself (ever!), but keeping better track of what I had eaten that day, and I lost a not-insignificant amount of weight. I’m still in the “overweight” category (or maybe on the wall between that and “normal”), but my PCOS problems are nearly completely unnoticeable to me. I bleed normally now! I don’t hurt for days and days! If only for that reason, I was so glad to have made a change.

    Again, you deserve to not hurt. I hope this works for you, and you don’t hurt! 🙂

  16. November 24, 2008 2:56 am

    I am not sure, but I think there are some rock walls that would work. They tilt to different heights, and the hand and foot holds are at different distances from each other to accommodate smaller people, like children, or scary overhangs for more athletic experienced climbers.

  17. November 24, 2008 3:01 am

    I mean they tilt to different inclines.

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