Thursday, January 08, 2009

Losing it: Part 1

Or, So Far, So Diet.

In the autumn of 2003 I was pretty sure Mr Spouse and I were getting married (we hadn't yet set a date) and I had just been offered a new job. I was getting my winter clothes out of storage and bemoaning that, as usual, the moths had got into them. However, I found that I couldn't. I remember a long and tearful phone call with me lying on my bed and him calming me down (we were in a LDR at this point). I had also recently been to the doctor who told me the cysts I kept getting were a sign of high blood sugar (which I turned out to have - only marginally - it was 7 fasting and 7 after a GTT and the normal UK range is 4-7 - the cysts were as we now know Bartholin cysts and/or abscesses).

Mr Spouse has, as you may recall, insulin-dependent diabetes. He knows all about sugar metabolism. He'd already noticed how much sugar I put on my cereal and how many sweet things I ate (probably more than him, and he needs the occasional blood-sugar rectifier). I despaired of doing anything about my weight and despaired of changing my eating. But I finally knew it was time to do something. I had never really dieted before apart from a few grapefruit efforts when at school - my mother is a chronic dieter, all food is "bad", and I had resisted getting into this when I left home.

I'd actually tried an online food diary system which I'm not afraid to publicise, Weight Loss Resources. The system emphasises calorie counting, but does all the calculating for you, including saving recipes, and calculating in meticulous detail calories expended during exercise; it encourages you to eat all your exercise calories, which for a bouncy and hungry girl like me seemed good. Plus there is pretty good evidence that just keeping a food diary makes you eat less - I like evidence.

I had done a trial for a few days at a 2lb/week rate of loss and immediately panicked as there was no way I could adjust my eating to that level. However, I decided to give it a go at a much lower rate of loss - 1/2lb per week. Between Oct 2003 and May 2004 I lost 1 1/2 stone (21lb) and my blood sugar was back to normal. Over the following 9 months or so I lost another stone and I was running, cycling, swimming and doing yoga; I cut down on sugary things, mainly through substituting fruit. I didn't feel deprived, though after I'd been using the system for about a year I started yo-yoing a bit.

My weight remained stable, or rather up and down within the same one-stone range, for about the next 2 years, 2 pregnancies. I was very unsure about keeping my eating at a reasonable level "on my own", and I even used the same system but at a no-weight-loss level, during my first pregnancy. I also begain increasingly to stick at a plateau, to yo-yo somewhat (though mainly within the same 10-15lb) and to feel a little deprived when strictly sticking to my calorie limits.

I think it was after my 2nd pregnancy that I decided to try out WW, and I'm sorry if you are a fan, but can you say "patronising"? It may seem niggly, but they have a "system" and if you appear to be ignoring the system, bad luck - not just bad luck, time to get told off. I assume it's the same at meetings, but I was doing this online. Basically they give you "points" to eat (which add up to way fewer calories than WLR suggest, but no matter, I was seduced by the "free" vegetables - and I did also try "Core", where you eat as much as you want of a limited set of foods), and you can "earn" points through exercise. Again, you don't "earn" as much to eat as you would if you calculated them using actual calories, although of course you can lie about how much exercise you do.

You are supposed to eat up to, I think, 12 points per week of your exercise calories, and then you can do 12 more and you aren't supposed to eat those (or at least, you aren't supposed to do more than 12 that you don't eat). At the time I was training for a 40 mile bike ride and regularly racking up 30+ exercise points per week.

As the online system won't "let" you eat more points, I didn't see why I should keep paying for something I wasn't using. The point of this is not that I am petty, but that evidence shows that you lose weight faster if you exercise and eat to balance it, than if you cut down on your intake severely and either don't exercise or exercise a lot. Plus I was hungry!

Anyway, sorry for the moan and I'm sure WW suits some people but really not me.

So after that exercise I was a bit despondent and then got pregnant again and then tried WLR again (not sure in what order) but eventually had to accept that I wasn't going anywhere, though I was still a lot lighter than when I started the whole thing.

1 comment:

Thalia said...

I've had my cycles with this, too, and have to say that the WLR type approach was the best for me, just knowing how many calories I'd had but treating vegetables as essentially free meant I wasn't hungry, ate delicious food, didnt' feel deprived, exercised a lot and lost weight. But it turns out I was being pretty disciplined to make it work, and once the drivers reduced, I haven't again managed to lose so successfully.

You seem to be at a reasonably happy place with this - do you think you still would rather weigh less or is this a good place for your body?