Gluttony and Sloth: A Character Assault not Supported by Evidence.

The charges leveled at the overweight and obese are what has risen to epidemic levels.  The media has not helped with de-humanizing reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” and the West’s love affair with Jamie Oliver.  It’s as if demonizing the obese is the one society-sanctioned form of discrimination and outright prejudice.  Especially if you consider that many overweight people are not unhealthy and will never have heart disease, diabetes, strokes, or other “weight-related” illnesses.  People immediately attach a roster of negative personality traits to the obese, and it’s really unfair.

I’m nearly finished with “Why we get Fat” by Gary Taubes.   It basically boils down to some truths that I’ve recognized in my own situation. Chiefly, I really didn’t overeat before I started this weight loss program. The total amount of calories I consumed per day was well within a normal range.  How it is I am obese and someone who eats much more is thin has always baffled me.  Additionally, exercise sometimes makes no difference at all on my weight. For example, the ATX100 had a particularly difficult exercise session yesterday.  My fitbit logged nearly 15K steps and 7 miles. When I got on the scale today, I did not lose any weight at all.  That just adds insult to injury (literally, as I’m sore today.)

I’m nearly down 25lbs, but even though I am exercising every day and have cut out essentially all carbs and sugars, the weight is coming off much more slowly now.  It’s always at this point I start to get discouraged.  The more I read about weight loss and these theories, I just get frustrated.  It seems there are very few universal beliefs on weight loss.  I’m inclined to agree with Taubes, however, as his findings do coincide with my personal experience.

Here is a summary from an Amazon reader of Taubes’ myth-busters from one of his earlier books, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” that serves as the foundation of his latest book.

1. The ‘calories in, calories out’ mantra is a myth

2. ‘A calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ is a myth

3. The ‘just eat less and do more exercise to lose weight’ message seems to be logical but is actually wrong and unhelpful

4. Overweight and obese people often eat no more calories, or even less, than their thinner counterparts

5. Low calorie diets also reduce the amount of nutrients in the diet

6. It is a myth that the brain and CNS needs 120 – 130 grams of carbohydrate as fuel in order to function properly, as the body can use fat and protein equally as well, and these fuels are likely the mixture our brains have evolved to prefer.

7. Restricting calories with a low fat/high carb diet just makes you hungrier and more lethargic and slows your metabolic rate. Weight loss is only maintained if the patients stays on a semi-starvation diet forever, which is impossible for most people and also undesirable. Being far more active just makes you far more hungry.

8. It is a myth that reducing calories slightly or increasing activity slightly will lead to weight loss.

9. It is a myth that we evolved through periods of feast and famine to be very good at holding onto fat. Fat gain is due to excessive insulin levels caused by high dietary refined carbohydrate intake. It is a sign of something in the body going wrong, not a healthy adaptation.

10. Fructose is not much better than glucose and the two together may cause more harm than either individually.

11. The idea of a weight ‘set point’ is a myth

12. Insulin is the overall fuel control for mammals. High insulin levels cause the body to store fat and stop the body from using fat as fuel. This means that high carbohydrate foods make you put on more fat, and also leave you still feeling very hungry and unsatisfied.

13. Our bodies have evolved to do best on a diet of plentiful fat and protein (including saturated fat), lots of greens and minimal fruits and starchy vegetables. This diet is the best for health and also for losing weight and stopping weight gain.

14. Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of obesity. Refined and easily digestible carbs causing high insulin levels cause obesity.

15. To say that people are overweight due to gluttony and slothfulness is just not correct and it is very unfair. Overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are often CAUSED by eating a high carbohydrate diet! This association has wrongly been interpreted as a cause of weight gain, rather than an effect.

16. Hunger caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet (or excessive exercising while on a low calorie diet) is a very strong physiological drive and should not be thought of something mild and psychological that can be overcome with willpower. This is something serious occurring in the body, not the brain!

Thus psychological ‘treatments’ for obesity are inappropriate and cruel. Most people are overweight due to bad medical advice, NOT a lack of willpower, greed, laziness or because they lack ‘moral fibre’

17. People have different insulin secretory responses. Even if insulin secretion is slightly off, weight gain can occur.

18. Eating large amounts of a high sugar and high fat food like popcorn is easy because the body will not use most of the carbohydrate and fat for immediate fuel but will store much of it as fat – leaving you able to eat a lot of it and still be hungry a short time later as well.

19. Eating foods with a large bulk or high in fibre wont fill you up, you need the correct proportion of macronutrients and will stay hungry until you get them.

20. Those advocating the low calorie and high carb diets for health and weight loss are not involved in legitimate science. These approaches are not supported by the evidence.

That’s all for today.  Just a bit grumpy.

Week Ten and General Update

So, I’ve been at the dieting thing for 10 weeks. I just gained a pound and a half this weekend somehow, but before that I had lost 22 pounds since the end of August. It’s not really great, and I’ve hit a bit of a lull. I know what the problem is, I’m not exercising enough. I have started walking every morning, but it’s really not that far– just around the neighborhood. I listen to a few podcasts then come home and take a shower. On the other hand, I’ve been really faithful to the diet. I don’t fall off and I’ve learned to cook several South Beach recipes that even the kids like.

With the news of the economy worsening by the day, I decided I would try my hand at going back into the single’s market. I’d feel better for some reason if I could go through this financial meltdown with someone special in my life.  I so wish I could find someone else who is trying to lose a large amount of weight, too. That would be ideal!   But for now, because I really don’t have much of a “real” social life, I’m trying eharmony. I tried eharmony before when I first got divorced. It worked really well, so I’m hopeful something good will happen. Of course, I lost quite a bit of weight when I first divorced, so I felt a lot better about myself. (Yes, of course I gained it all back.)

The “wordle” image at the top of this post is something that is increasingly annoying in all the matches I receive.  These are the words that jump off the “match” profiles that come to me.  Men simply do not want to date fat women. Period. They make it very clear in their introductory comments they are only interested in __________ (substitute your euphemism for thin) women. It’s a shame, really. I have a lot to offer a single man, despite the fact that I need to lose this weight (which I will alone or in a relationship).  If it’s about the sex, that’s ridiculous. Without getting into a lot of personal detail, I consider myself adept in that department.  The way I look at it, sex is more or less about orifices anyway.  In all the years I’ve been alive- when I was rail thin and when I was overweight– I don’t ever remember losing or gaining weight in any orifice.  My brother reads this blog, so I’ll stop here.  Rant over.

I imagine it’s the same for men. I was watching “The Tao of Steve” Saturday morning before I got out of bed, and the main character, Steve, basically said the same thing. The dialog went something like this, “You wouldn’t date a fat guy, would you?” He was asking his love interest who honorably replied in the negative.

So there you have it. Discrimination once again levied against the fat population. Ironically, this is a fight I’m not willing to fight because it’s one that I, by default, tacitly endorse with my stated desire to lose weight (presumably to look better, not be healthier).

I’m not sure anyone is reading this blog (besides my brother), but if you’ve had personal experience with this fat-and-single-trying-to-date thing, I’d love to hear it. Thanks.