Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Amazing Weight Loss Secrets

Routine bloodwork results are back and my cholesterol level is… (drum roll, please) 176. Not to rub it in, but that is one-seven-six. And this, despite my forgetting to fast before the test. According to my research, below 200 is normal and below 180 is “optimal”. Now, braggarts are annoying, I know, but the last couple of years my cholesterol has been 205. Not sky-high but high enough to get my doctor’s office to mail me photocopied pamphlets on “eating right” and “exercise” with my number of shame penciled in on a “Your Count Is:” line. Naturally I blamed genetics (despite not knowing a single relative’s cholesterol count), but now that I am one of the chosen “optimal” ones, I have reexamined my position (and mounted my high horse).

The truth is, a few extra pounds creeped on since college and a few more creeped on (and stayed on) during pregnancy. But once the baby learned to walk, all bets were off, and I essentially lost 30 pounds chasing after him. I think doctors are surprised at patients being in the normal weight range now- sometimes when contemplating my ailment, they muss, “well I don’t think you’re necessarily underweight”. Um yeah, not officially and not unofficially. I’m not even close to underweight but you know I was so flattered to be considered.

Friends are often fascinated by my weight loss; they ask how I did it or to give them my “secret”. And the diet industry is a quatrillion dollar deal with books and websites and videos- you name it. People are so desperate for the answer to be anything but what everyone knows the answer to be. I know this from experience, but the collective denial is staggering. Is there anyone who truly doesn’t know that if you eat more calories than you expend you will gain weight? (barring unusual medical or emptional issues of course, I dont want a bunch of underactive thyroiders whose houses burned down the day after their divorces finalized flaming me! I'm speaking to average gal who piled on few pounds that now refuse to vacate) It’s the simplest formula yet people act like the magic is elusive. Now, granted you may rev up your metabolism to burn a few extra calories by not eating carbohydrates, or you may find eating fruit gives you the sense of fullness, or that not eating after 8pm is a golden rule, but that doesn’t materially change the bottom line. Calories – exercise = the size of your ass. Now if I could just add some filler around that equation I could publish myself a revolutionary diet book!

If you are or were overweight, what you find out once you lose it, is that you eat a heck of a lot less- if you are like me, less than you probably thought was required to sustain life. I used to think eating a sandwich, a piece of fruit, and maybe a yogurt or a package of crackers was a “balanced lunch”. Well, its not, it’s a one train to fat city. There is a period of adjustment but once you start eating less you find out that you fill up quickly and just aren’t as hungry. And if you can rid yourself of the desperate inhaling of food, its easier to push the plate away when you are full because you’re done, its not really filling any void (hunger or otherwise) to continue. I often just eat an apple for lunch and I’m full. Or just a sandwich. And breakfast cereal every day (and not necessarily the “healthy kind”- dependant on mood). Dinner is not low fat, it’s whatever I make (and most everything I make is 9/10th butter) but I eat until I’m not hungry anymore and then I stop. And because my stomach is smaller, it’s not that much really. I have a sweet tooth so I always have chocolate or cookies at night, but all in all I probably eat 1200-1500 calories a day. I probably used to eat more like 2500-3000 and felt a lot hungrier doing that.

I will admit here, that my ability to cut back on food had a trigger other than my stellar willpower (haha, if you knew my willpower you'd laugh too). For me, going on allergy medicine one Spring seemed to kill my appetite. I don’t know why, and heaven knows my telling my friends this probably led to a huge profit jump in the manufacturer’s product (note: no one was able to duplicate my reaction), but for me, it just did. Once I went off the medicine, I found my smaller stomach kept up the effect, so I suspect once you get through the 4-5 day shrinking (drug induced or not), the effect kicks in.

So the second part of my “amazing secret” is I walk at least 2 miles a day, every day, to take my son to the playground. Now I always walked a lot, but not this much, and I do a lot less sitting around in general since having a child. Activities are important to kids- doing things, going places, exploring- and I cater to that. Like the rest of the world, I still collapse in front of the TV at 9pm (when he goes to bed), but up to that point, I’m usually on the move.

So there you have it. A free preview my “amazing weight loss secret” so that you too can drop your membership in the “help, my arteries are solidifying but I cant put down this HoHo” club. Unless of course you’re one of those “naturally thin” people (grr), in which case you know not of our struggles.

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