Mar 20, 2017

The Hard Truth - Obesity is a Chronic Disease

All my life, I have wanted to get the place and the weight where I could just be a normal weight and eat a normal diet.  I am not an overeater or a binger or a snacker - I eat moderate portions of healthy homemade food!   I knew if I could take off the extra pounds in a healthy, slow, deliberate way and exercise while doing it, once I reached my goal weight that I could continue my healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off.  It never worked.  Not once, not for a minute.  Apparently, I am not alone.

As the video describes, the moment I stopped losing, my body started gaining.  It took fewer and fewer and fewer calories to maintain the smaller size.  In 2009, I estimated it took 800 calories a day for me to retain my weight loss.  A slow half a pound at a time it started creeping back.  Resolve gives way, life interrupts, jobs change, people die, and the last thing you can do is get in the gym and eat another salad....

Several concentrated and serious efforts were made along the way to halt the progress but like a creeping flow of lava, the weight would not be staunched.

The depressing and hard fact of life is that once an individual is overweight, they will struggle for a lifetime.  Instead of viewing this journey as a destination, I have chosen to look at this as a concerted effort to get the symptoms of a chronic condition under control.

When I have lost the weight (again), I will look at it as if I were a malaria patient who was not exhibiting symptoms at the moment.  A chronic disease is one that reoccurs and has to be managed, usually under a doctor's care, and one for which there is no known cure.

It's indeed sobering; at first glance very discouraging - but upon deeper reflection, like any truth, once looked in the eye is liberating.  For the love of God, we should understand what we are up against!  Know the truth and the truth will set you free.

As such, I have placed myself under a physician's care.  I am taking appropriate medicine to help control my chronic disease.  There is no shame in seeking help, I have tried to do this on my own.  I have tried willpower, I have tried organic, I have tried homeopathic, I have hired personal trainers, I have read books, I have done every diet on the planet.  I have tried everything on my own to get this disease under control and I can not.   So Viva la Pharmaceuticals and a new way of looking at a lifelong struggle.

The one hope - the one glimmer, did you notice I put in the above sentence that there is no "known" cure?  That means that we do not give up hope, we keep pushing, we keep striving, we keep trying.
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Mar 19, 2017

Being Emotionally Ready for a Weight Loss Journey

This series has been all over the place!  Getting real with the image in the mirror, coming to terms with the different sides of yourself, discussing rock bottom and the freedom that comes from that place, as well as what you need to do to get ready for a Weight Loss Journey.

Personally, it is the paradox of being the healthiest, happiest, and fattest of Your Life!

Life is good right now.  I have a great job, marriage, family, house and garden.  I've been under the loving care of a holistic doctor for three years and we've solved a myriad of imbalances and health issues.  I have learned how to cook, I mean really cook.  Not just make recipes but technique and skill and nuance and I love it.  I have friends, I like to host parties - life is good, except I am doing all of this wonderful stuff in stretchy pants with elastic waist bands and giant shirts that cover my butt.

In this frantic desire to take off the weight, I need to hang on to the things that I love about myself and my life.  I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to remember the negative.

You have to do the same.  Before you undertake any sort of journey - get right with yourself.  Take stock of where you are and where you want to be.  Get your head together.  Get your marriage together.  Are you sick?  If you are, don't attempt a weight loss program!

Is your world falling apart around you?  Go for a walk, eat good food, take care of yourself but don't try to lose weight.

This endeavor is only for the times when everything else is in place.  When life can be put a little on the back burner so you can spend the extra time and energy to fully engage.  If you ARE taking this journey then rejoice that you are in the place where you are free to do so and love the ones around you who aren't quiet there yet.

Mar 18, 2017

The Genetics and the Psychology of The Skinny You vs. The Fat You

When I was in college I sought the help of a counselor to help me overcome some baggage I was carrying around.  One of the very first issues that came up was my weight - yes, sadly it has been a life-long struggle.  Through some probing, we discovered that I thought of myself as having two very distinctive personalities depending on my weight.  The counselor asked me to bring in pictures and the difference was very very clear.  There was a skinny Dolley and a fat Dolley - no two ways about it.

I'd like to tell you that those issues were worked out in the college campus counseling room but I don't think we even began to scratch the surface.  Prior to considering the epigenetics of weight loss, I thought the phenomenon was entirely psychological but perhaps it is more complex than that.  Perhaps it is the expression of genes that is different - not only physical genes but personality genes as well.  

Get out your pictures and look closely.  Do you have a thin you and a heavy you?

I'd like you to consider if this holds true for you.  What do you like about each of them?  How are they different?  How are they alike?  Do they like each other?  Do you look like one side of the family vs. the other side depending on your weight?  Is the Skinny side of you safe?  Who makes better choices?  Who is in charge?

Are the eyes different?  How about the carriage?  The clothing and the colors - do they look like the same person picked them out?  Are they both worthy of love?  Can they live together in a new Healthy You?

From my personal experience, there is a heavy biology on one side of my family.  When I am heavy and expressing the "fat gene", I look like that side of the family.  Strangely and rapidly, within a week of me beginning to loose weight, my face begins to change.  I start to look like the thin biology side of my family.  I used to think it was because I lost weight in my face first but I have begun to consider if it is more than a mere reduction of puffiness.

Fascinating to consider, isn't it?  Does this hold true for you, too?

This is a complex subject on many fronts

These are all things that each of us has to delve into - I promised at the beginning that this wasn't going to be a diary or a "look at me" sort of thing.  Simply a journey we could take together.  This just happened to be around the corner.

Mar 17, 2017

The Science of Epigenetics and The New Frontier of Weight Loss

Epigenetics is a new scientific field, only discovered in the last 10 years, and it is blowing the doors off everything we thought we knew about... well, almost everything.  For decades scientists believed that DNA was destiny, that we were hardwired for certain diseases or traits and there was very little to be done about it.  Then along comes the discovery of genetic influences and triggers that seem to act as light switches that turn on or off certain genes and all scientific hell breaks loose.

From disease, to obesity, to learning disabilities, to addiction - the ability to influence haywire genetic signals from our bodies is revolutionary.  To discover and treat genetic triggers that are not firing (methylating) properly through diet, exercise, therapy, drugs, electric shock, or whatever means necessary can change the way we approach cancer, for instance.  Instead of trying to kill the cancer cell, we try to turn on the tumor suppression gene that is not turned on properly.  An addict could potentially find true freedom from the addiction.  Obesity could be cured.

Even more compelling and interesting is that these specific triggers are passed down from generation to generation.  This was demonstrated in Dias and Ressler's study on mice subjected to an electric shock when exposed to a cherry blossom smell.  Their pups and their grand pups, reared completely independent of the initial subjects demonstrated the same fear of the smell as the original test group.

The Science of the genome is well above my expertise but I'll try to explain in common English what I've been able to glean.  Epigenetics actually means above genetics.  If our DNA is the hardware of a computer, then the epigenome is the software telling the hardware how to run.  It can also be explained as words in a paragraph punctuated differently to change the meaning.  The words are the same but the meaning is different.  (Let's eat Grandma.  Let's eat, Grandma.)

Scientists have discovered that the health and the well-being of the mother during pregnancy has a profound effect on the developing baby - not only at birth but throughout the life of the child.  It is staggering to consider that stressed mothers have children that carry the genetic markers of their mother's stress through their lives.

I have lamented throughout my life that sometimes my weight loss efforts work and sometimes they don't.  I've likened it to a perfect alignment of the stars, burying a toad by the October moon, and hopping on one leg 34 times while wearing a birthday hat.  It turns out, I wasn't too far off the map.  It turns out that there is indeed a switch, there is indeed an on/off switch, it's in my genetic material.  They have discovered it is either on or it is off.  There is no dimmer for overweight people, which would explain why we are either losing or gaining.

Part of our journey is going to be to discover what turns it on, how to keep it on, and what turns it off and how to recognize that.  We are on a Quest!

For more about the Science, check out this video and others:

Mar 16, 2017

Let's Get Real - We Don't Really Like Ourselves When We are Fat - No Matter What We Say

Yesterday, I wrote about one of the freeing aspects about abandoning dieting and the scale for three years, now I am going to write about the biggest negative.

I have never been comfortable with the school of thought that teaches us to love ourselves as we are, something inside me always rebelled at accepting myself when I was overweight.  It felt like I was giving up, which is why I resisted it for so long.  I knew it was not okay to accept and affirm a part of me that was disconnected and dysfunctional.

That is very counter-cultural in today's society but the truth is, we can do better and accepting ourselves as failures is just plain stupid.  I don't care how loud you shout it from the rooftops, the truth is we have to come to a true knowledge of ourselves and we should not settle for less than the best we can be when it is in our power to change it.

Just as it goes against the Holy Spirit inside of you to accept sin in your life or your body, no matter what the world tells you, our conscience will not let us glorify sin.  Let's use swearing as an example.  I have a terrible habit of swearing, I always have.   It is ridiculous sin in my life, it's been part of me forever.  I can accept that I have a tendency to do it but I should never love myself and praise myself for having a filthy mouth!  I should strive to change, I should do better.

By accepting something, or glorifying it, we give up changing it.  Even if we never lose another inch or another pound to give up abandons a lifestyle that is far healthier than one of fat acceptance.  Neither is really about appearance, fat love or fat hate, it's about choices and health and showing up in your own life and trying.  We hear a lot about self-love these days - I think it's okay not to love the things about yourself that aren't great.

Trust me, I've spent the last three years try to accept that I was just a short little middle age fat woman and that was all I was ever going to be.  It never worked.  I got good at living in denial.  I became profoundly disconnected with my body.  I really did not love the image in the mirror.  I think we do ourselves a disservice when we settle.