An old photo of yours truly.
_ We have a way of thinking – if something ‘worked for us’, then the reason we’re told that it works must be true. For example, if you eat less food, and you lose weight, people tend to assume that the calories in/calories out mantra is true. Until it fails... and then... we still think it’s true.
Or if we cut out sugar, and we lose weight, we tend to assume that sugar is bad for people.
Or if we avoid meat, and we lose weight, we think meat is bad – we sometimes extrapolate that to include entire macronutrients, regardless of where they come from.
Or if we train more, and we lose weight, we tend to assume that exercise makes people thinner.
We also tend to assume that if I can do it (lowly, inadequate me), then anyone can do it. As if all our struggles and obstacles are the same. As if we all respond to the same stimulus in the same way.
_ But health doesn’t exist in a bubble – there’s always context.
So what if – some things that are successful, some of the time, for some people – what if the reasons they’re successful are different from the reasons we’re told?
What if we don’t know why they sometimes seem to work, for some people, for a period of time?
We’d have to – I don’t know – admit that we cannot control life and death. That bad things happen to good people, all the fucking time. That twelve year old children who did nothing wrong can still get diabetes (don’t worry, I’m working through my stuffs and it’s actually going rather well).
Calorie restriction does appear to make people lose weight, for certain people under certain circumstances, for a period of time. For others, it does not. But we cling to the cases that demonstrate success (even though they are in a minority) as if it proves the theory true.
We simply have to believe that all this can be controlled. That our bodies can be controlled, that we are not subject to our base needs. That we rule chaos, and chaos does not rule us. What if your weight, and your health, cannot be controlled? What then?
And so we think – when the calories in/calories out practice fails – that we have failed, that we did it wrong, and we should just suck it up and do it harder. Why is that? Are we so desperate to believe that controlling our physical shape is actually possible? Are we so eager to blame ourselves for something that is not our fault? That merely comes down to other people’s prejudices?
A little restriction results in a little weight loss – oh, it stopped? If a little restriction is good, a lot of restriction must be better.
I believe the opposite is true. The inability to lose weight – that’s a sign that you’re not eating enough. Your body will not release the fat stores, because it doesn’t trust that food supplies are adequate. Your body feels threatened. Starvation-mode isn’t just a buzz-word. The metabolism is phenomenally adaptable, it slows down, I think by as much as 30% after just one day of calorie restriction.*
“I’m too fat to be starving, what do you mean I’m not eating enough?”
“It’s not possible for someone like me to be eating inadequate quantities of food.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll eat more vegetables.”
Vegetables are not enough.
When eating less stops working for you – and it seems to stop working for people long before they reach their ‘goal weight’ – what does that mean? Does it mean that you failed, or does it mean that our way of thinking about weight loss is a little skewed?
What if – what if you actually need to be eating more, even though you think you’re too fat? Even though you want to be thinner?
That was the case for me.
You can’t re-feed someone with vegetables alone. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to eat something that someone else thinks is going to kill you. If you want to be healthy, that is. Maybe it’ll be meat. Maybe carbs. Maybe fat.
For me, it was dairy. Dairy! Dairy first, then other foods I hadn’t eaten for more than a decade.
I had to believe it was possible to change my body. And change is inevitable, but it seldom turns out the way you expect. I still have diabetes. I still have belly-fat.
And now, I get sick less often, I have more energy, and my overall athleticism has developed far more rapidly than ever before.
I’m heavier than ever before, and healthier.
“But I want to be thin! What will make me thinner?”
Without costing your health? Think you really do need to be thinner? What are you buying into?
Anyone who says they know – they’re selling something. And I’m not buying any more.
*Oh, how I wish I could remember where I found that figure! It was a real one, I didn’t just make it up.