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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

As you slowly go away from me, this is only another test

I ventured onto the SELF Forum the other day.

Several readers will likely recognise SELF as the calorie-counting website the Princess set me up with back in June. It does all of the tracking for you; all you do is plug in your numbers. Easy as pie. Well, not as easy as EATING pie, but that's all too easy anyway.

I should have known that the forum would be a bad place, but I thought there might be some information about what to do when you're ready to go off a diet. I refuse to believe that you should just start eating an extra 500 calories per day. There must be a rule about working your way up with certain types of food.

It turns out that there are only two types of people posting to dieting forums:

  1. People who need to lose weight (30 pounds seems to be the magic number) but cannot get motivated. They feel fat. They are depressed. What are they doing wrong?
  2. People who do not need to lose any weight but have serious body-image problems. They are 5'8" and 118 pounds but are desperate to weigh 115. They only eat 1000 calories a day and work out for an hour a day. What are they doing wrong?
Shockingly, these people are not much help to each other, and they have no advice about not being on a diet. Instead, they talk about their metabolisms a LOT. They are very concerned about seeing a particular number on the scale. They are everything I'm not. In fact, I refused to get a scale for months, and I still don't think it's particularly helpful on a day-to-day basis. These guys weigh themselves at least once a day and become frantic if they gain two pounds.

I had not realised how depressing people on diets can be. I have several friends who are or have been on diets, and they have never acted this way. I have one friend who has counted calories for years, and it actually excites her. She could go on for hours about the number of calories in certain foods. (Her excitement is contagious. Yes, I can get wrapped up in it.) Perhaps this attitude is more prevalent online than in the real world, or maybe my friends aren't a random sample.

Readers: Have you ever done this? Do I just start eating extra food? That seems dangerous to me. I am thinking about going slowly with extra protein (eggs, YUM) but perhaps I should be eating more carbs or fat (avocados, YUM).


Anonymous said...

I say ask a doctor or dietician. I don't diet, but I do try (I can't say strive because I often don't try very hard) to maintain my health. I listen to my body. It tells me when I need/want fruit, carbs, a bit o' chocolate, etc. I also force myself to eat things I don't necessarily like, but are healthy for me. I avoid eating for the sake of eating as much as possible, but I also don't wait until I'm starving. If I wait until I'm starving I end up making quick and less healthy meals. I've had to pay attention to my eating habits more in my mid-20s than ever before because my digestive system no longer accepts a binge of ice cream with my friends or skipping breakfast. I get sick. Not just "Damn, my tummy doesn't feel so well," but on the couch with crackers and ginger ale sick.

Are you headed to return to the old eating style that you had before you started your diet? Will that negate your accomplishments? What about the exercise? I'm seriously asking, because I don't know what your old diet was or what you're headed for. You've read my recent post about my mother's obesity. She requires a lifestyle change. Did you make a lifestyle change for this diet? Do you need to maintain some of those changes for the rest of your life to keep you where you are? These are things to consider.

I am no professional, of course, so take this as you will. You asked!

Panic said...

Well, what have you been eating?
Do you know approx how many calories you're eating? How much do you weigh now, and what sort of exercise do you do? All this will change the answers to your question.

The sad thing is, to maintain what you have lost, you pretty much have to stay on whatever plan you're on now. You can't diet to keep stuff off, you have to have a lifestyle change (I HATE how that sounds, but it's true). At least that's what I'm finding (stupid Bailey's, I hate you).

Megan said...

Yeah, I've decided that I am just going to go talk to a nutritionist. I am doing really well and in no danger of backsliding like the women on the forums do. They eat giant bags of M&Ms when they get depressed about being too fat!

I was always a pretty healthy eater anyway; when I started this six months ago, I discovered that my problem was that I ate too much. What I'm doing now is simply counting calories and doing my normal walk to work. It's pretty easy and I'm not hungry.

In theory, when you decide to "maintain", you continue to count calories, but count higher. I understand that, but the transition makes me nervous. I can't figure out how to get there. Maybe it really is as simple as suddenly starting to eat more.

Panic said...

Basically, if you take your current weight x10, that's about how many calories you can/should eat to maintain the status quo. That doesn't take into account any exercise you may do though, so depending on your walk (1 hr of brisk walking is about 250 cals or so) you may want to add cals to the total. That, of course, assumes your metabolism is humming along, and that those calories are good ones (which is sounds like they are, since you're eating healthy).

I wouldn't eat too much more too suddenly though, since your body is used to a certain amount of cals, if you give it a lot more, it will just go "STORE THIS AS FAT! YAY CALORIES!"

Hi, can you tell I spent WAY too much time obsessing on this stuff?

The Blueberry Princess said...

Yeah, I recently explored the SELF forum as well. It was a little scary. I'm now trying their "Reach Your Goal" program which may or may not work. I enjoy their website, and I keep thinking that I'm going to win a prize someday (yeah right!). Their workouts are kind of fun, and I like the variety.

Seeing a nutritionist is definitely the way to go. If you added a healthy 200-calorie snack it would probably help you maintain your weight, but seeing a nutritionist is a much better idea.

Again, congratulations on losing so much weight!

Ricki said...

Hi Megan,

Congratulations on the weight loss! I'm going to echo everyone else and say yes, go see a nutritionist (what ELSE would a nutritionist say??).

As someone who's lost fairly massive amounts of weight and kept them off for long periods (ie, decades), then gained them back and had to start all over again, I can tell you that just eating more didn't do me in; it was WHAT I ate more of. So my advice would be: avoid chocolate. Rip it out of your life. NO CHOCOLATE. EVER. AGAIN. (Sorry, I know how you hate those single-word sentences). But seriously, chocolate is the devil--do not eat it! Well, unless you're not like me, and then you CAN eat it. (In other words, I guess I have no advice for you. Please let me know when you figure it out, though!)