Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ecclesiastes and dieting

Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.

Encouraging words to start a post, eh?

But that's the kind of thing it's tempting to say about dieting and weight loss stuff after reading some of the information I've received lately.

Basically what it comes down to is that studies have shown that among those with a 40 BMI or higher that it doesn't really matter what kind of diet you choose or even how successful you will be, there is almost a hundred percent chance you will gain it all back within 5 years. 'That's pretty sobering.

The news isn't a whole lot better taking an exercise approach. You can have success for a short while but then statistically you're going to gain it back.

Now reading around after hearing all that, i've seen some things written to dispute those findings. But even the ones I read show that even where there's success keeping weight off, there is still a tendency to gain back 80% of the pounds that were lost. And those studies basically took a wider group of people that are losing weight and include those who are not in the morbidly obese range such as myself. And in those studies, the average weight lost over 5 years? 6. Pounds.

Sorry, I mean yeah, every little bit may be good, but... a pound a year? Not enough.

Kinda makes you want to chime right in with the writer of Ecclesiastes. Meaningless, meaningless.

Now, that said, it's NOT meaningless. Actually I find something somewhat encouraging in it all.

First of all, trying to live healthy and get into healthier patterns of living is never meaningless. Even if you do end up getting off track, it doesn't mean that what we're doing right now is in vain. I lost 40 pounds since starting this blog. I gained 20 back. I've lost 5 of those since then. Yeah, it's a yo yo but I'm better off now than I was 25 pounds ago. Even if I end up gaining those pounds back, I'm better off now. I'm riding my bike more and more, and that's a good thing. Maybe someday that won't continue but at least I'm making myself healthier for now.

But the other part of it is that knowing that ends up taking a bit of stress off, you know? If you have been or are as much overweight as I am, you know what I'm talking about. It's that heavy chain of guilt that goes with the weight... if i'd have just eaten differently, if i'd have gotten out and exercised more... it would all be so different. Those who don't struggle with weight say it's very simple, just don't eat so much. We hear that and take it to heart and we think we're so terrible for being where we are. And then we go, we lose some of that weight, we feel great, but then something happens somewhere, we lose the momentum, it comes back, and we think we're failures.

But here's the truth... we're statistically normal. Incredibly normal. No, maybe not normal being where we are -- but for those of us who have gotten to this point, who have crossed some kind of line and gotten to this extreme level of being overweight, very, very few people ever take it off by diet and exercise and keep it off. It's extremely rare for it to happen.

No, that doesn't mean quit trying. The stakes are too high. The truth is that we know amazingly little about why some of us get to this point and others don't. We know that yeah, it's a matter of diet and exercise and skinny people don't have the trouble we have keeping it up. But there are things that go on inside us, some psychological, some physiological, that skinny people have no idea what it's like. Hell, we don't even understand it ourselves. But it's there and it's more powerful than anyone who doesn't deal with it can even begin to understand.

If it's simply a matter of "if I had better will power I'd lose it and keep it off" then there would be a pretty reasonable percentage of real long term success. It wouldn't be at nearly 0%.

Again, that doesn't mean give up. It's not meaningless. Everything we can do today to make it better does exactly that, makes it better. It buys us some more time, keeps away the real serious stuff that much longer, and keeps us plugging along until we find that breakthrough. For some the breakthrough is surgical... for others there may be something else, I don't know... I have to believe that somewhere along the line we're going to discover something that's going to help us discover what exactly that bondage really is about and no, it won't solve everything, but... somewhere along the line something really does work.

It's not all meaningless, even though it may look it. Just keep hanging on....

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