It Hurts

I’ve been as candid as possible about my weight loss experience. Sharing my story is a way of finalizing this process for myself and I do hope that others may benefit from it. Being heavy is difficult. I never realized how hard life had become until I got lighter. I had constant aches and pains, breathing trouble, and emotional stress.

But here’s the thing, I still have some of those troubles and for the ones I’ve alleviated, I’ve gained a few new problems. When I envisioned being lighter and being able to do more, I did not imagine negative side effects. It’s really easy to imagine weight loss as a magic bullet, tired as the cliche is. If only we could fit into that dress, play that basketball game, or run that marathon, things would be perfect.

The weight loss mirage fools us into believing that if we can just get over the horizon to that sweet oasis, all our troubles will disappear. We’ll really burn up our high school bullies at the reunion or get that promotion. Flocks of people heading to the gym January 1st has become a societal skit. We all laugh at the prospect because we know that few people will stick it out through the month, never mind achieve long-term success.

I raise these specters because I worked through all of this on my path. I had a few failed attempts at weight loss before I found any success. After the birth of my son, I joined a fancy gym, but never went. I had another attempt after the birth of my daughter. I picked up a pair of rollerblades and tried to use them, only to discover that my muscles could no longer support me. And I joined a gym again a few years later, only to stop going within a few months. I couldn’t bear the shame of cancelling the membership!

This time, I fell back on all the marketed ideas I had in my head. I made smoothies, bought fat-free and no to low sugar foods. I ate salad everyday. What I’ve learned since then is that none of these things are necessary for weight loss. They may be helpful to some people but they are not required. When it comes to food, what makes you feel most satisfied is best. For me, that means a lot of volume, but also some indulgence. A large salad has very few calories but a lot of bulk. But salads are boring by themselves, so, for me, making it satisfying requires a nice full-fat dressing.

Some people do really well on high fat diets, others on high protein diets. My diet is variable. When I am preparing for a road race, as much as 80% of my calories come from carbohydrates. I can’t begin to tell you how much pasta that is. Typically, I get 50% of my calories from carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fat. My point is that there are so many diet plans out there, from counting calories like I do, to counting macros and intermittent fasting. You just have to find what works for you in particular. It will be hard. But it is possible.

Next week I’ll share more of the research that helped me and some interesting statistics on weight loss!

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