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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Slow-as-Molasses Metabolism

I have always been overweight. I didn't get to be obese until my mid-twenties. I have been on many diets in my life. Tried all variety of fad diets. I think in college I even went on a milk and banana diet! No matter the diet, it was always easy for me to lose weight. I got immediate gratification from the scale when I weighed my self. It gave me the positive reinforcement I needed. Today, at this stage in my life is another matter altogether. It turns out our metabolisms do slow down as we age. For women post-menopause it is particularly true (usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss). This is the stage of life I am at....yep, it happens to the best of us.

At the beginning of May I started on the path of better health. Part of that commitment was to target a certain number of calories I would consume on a daily basis and stick to it in order to lose weight. I have 63 pounds to lose as my goal. I targeted 1200 - 1300 calories per day. With the Dispirito Now Eat This! Diet cookbook I had my tool and recipes to do it. I have been religious about planning my meals and documenting my overall calorie in take, including the lattes I drink in the morning and the Crystal Light lemonade I enjoy in the afternoon. I even bothered to look on the labels of the various vitamin supplements I take, only to find that the Omega 3 oil has 10 calories per pill, and I take 2 each morning!

I felt angelic for being this diligent about my daily consumption. No calorie was going to get by me without a fight! The bizarre thing was that with as little calories as I was consuming and as much exercise as I was performing each day, I wasn't losing the weight. In fact, more than once, as you can see by my Weight Loss Logger, I would gain weight! There is no worse psychological downer than not losing weight when you are working really hard at trying to lose it. It felt like my body was fighting me every inch of the way...like it wanted me to stay just the way I am. Being over weight is an interesting existence. In many ways my weight has buffered me from certain parts of life. As many of us do, I used weight as a way to regulate my emotions...literally swallow them. My body and mind are very used to this pattern. Put a slower metabolism and a body used to protecting me by hoarding pounds and you have a real challenge on your hands when you actually want to change lifestyle and habits!

It is interesting, but when I started thinking about why I wasn't losing weight and realized my sublimal mind and old habits might just be working against me...I had a pep talk with myself. Sounds a little "woo-woo" but it worked! I lost 2 lbs the very next day! I tell myself each day that- "it really is okay to lose weight, it really will be a good thing". Having a husband and daughter giving me similar pep talks is also a big help. Face it, big changes need big encouragement. Finding ways to encourage ourselves in the midst of change makes the difference between whether we succeed or not. I want to succeed so I am bound and determined to seek out all forms of encouragement, starting with myself.

Encouragement is key. I also think a philosophy of "hanging in there" is also a fundamental part of lifestyle change. I can't keep doing the same old things and expect change. I have to change the pattern and stick to it so it becomes the new pattern and way of living, even if I don't see an immediate transformation from the start.  We live in a world of quick fixes and immediate gratification. It is hard to realize fundamental change in such an environment. Taking the long view, realizing that is what you want, no matter the immediate feedback, helps me to power through. Living is a life long proposition. I keep reminding myself that this new pattern of lifestyle I am developing is the means to the end. I can't wake up one day and say- "okay, I did it, so now I am done" and then go back to the old ways. That is what diets do to us. We go on them for a prescribed period of time and then go off them because we are "done" and have achieved our goal. It is a brief interlude but does not support a fundamental change. No more diets for me!

Instead, I am going for lifestyle solutions. My goal is big and long term, but it is broken down into many parts. That keeps me busy and distracted so I don't become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the big vision- transformation.

For now I am focusing on being conscious of what I need to do to change while keeping track of that change so I can be totally honest with myself...having fun each day as part of my lifestyle commitment, is key, and I know I need to remain encouraging to myself and seek out support from my family and friends....one day at a time!