The article is a bit old (Dec. 28) but worth circulating. It’s about the struggle to keep the lost weight off. The author goes over the latest science that suggests that most obese people who lose weight will face an up hill battle trying to keep the weight off.
After peaking at 330 pounds in 2004, Janice Bridge tried again to lose weight. She managed to drop 30 pounds, but then her weight loss stalled. In 2006, at age 60, she joined a medically supervised weight-loss program with her husband, Adam, who weighed 310 pounds. After nine months on an 800-calorie diet, she slimmed down to 165 pounds. Adam lost about 110 pounds and now weighs about 200.
During the first years after her weight loss, Bridge tried to test the limits of how much she could eat. She used exercise to justify eating more. The death of her mother in 2009 consumed her attention; she lost focus and slowly regained 30 pounds. She has decided to try to maintain this higher weight of 195, which is still 135 pounds fewer than her heaviest weight.
“It doesn’t take a lot of variance from my current maintenance for me to pop on another two or three pounds,” she says. “It’s been a real struggle to stay at this weight, but it’s worth it, it’s good for me, it makes me feel better. But my body would put on weight almost instantaneously if I ever let up.”
So she never lets up. Since October 2006 she has weighed herself every morning and recorded the result in a weight diary. She even carries a scale with her when she travels.
She goes on to describe the lengths at which she goes through to maintain her weight. Which isn’t even a glamor-model weight; we don’t know her height so I can’t say her BMI, but she’d have to be a pretty tall woman for 195 to be in the healthy range.
I achieved my weight-loss goal in April. 164 pounds. And my lowest weight was the week after my first marathon, 149 lbs. I’ve thought about this topic a lot on the past few months; in a way, its easy when you’re on a trajectory towards an exciting new goal, but then — making it permanent? That’s a little more … well, you think about it a little differently.
For you runners out there, I found this paragraph interesting, too:
Scientists are still learning why a weight-reduced body behaves so differently from a similar-size body that has not dieted. Muscle biopsies taken before, during and after weight loss show that once a person drops weight, their muscle fibers undergo a transformation, making them more like highly efficient “slow twitch” muscle fibers. A result is that after losing weight, your muscles burn 20 to 25 percent fewer calories during everyday activity and moderate aerobic exercise than those of a person who is naturally at the same weight. That means a dieter who thinks she is burning 200 calories during a brisk half-hour walk is probably using closer to 150 to 160 calories.
I don’t know if this explains why I find endurance running so appealing, or if maybe I’m better suited to endurance running because I was fat once, but … maybe?
I haven’t really limited my food intake after the marathon and I don’t plan on limiting it much now, either. I have started charting my weight every day and I’m going to see how that goes. If the numbers start trending in an alarming direction, I’ll change, but … god, I can’t imagine living a life like Janice Bridge, charting and weighing everything.