Thanks to my work-wife, Erin, I’ve been alerted to two things:
1) That you can listen to All Things Considered* all day, every day while at work (though she forgot to mention that it’s actually sort of hard to pay strict attention to both the news and to writing coherent sentences. So probably not going to play this game again, but good to know back episodes are at my fingertips).
2) All Things Considered has been reporting a series on obesity in America. And lo and behold, one of their most recent reports noted something I’ve been telling people for a long time: that you have to make a lifestyle change, not simply go on a diet (and trust me, I hate this advice too. I remember when I realized I would never be eating Lucky Charms ever again. Annoying. And sad. I’m left with my memories of those little marshmallow charms. Sigh). Anyway, I’m posting an excerpt of this report by Patti Neighmond here because it’s interesting, inspiring, and totally backs what I say. More on my own food rehab soon.
When you begin to lose pounds, levels of the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells, begin to drop. That sends a message to the brain that the body’s “fat storage” is shrinking. The brain perceives starvation is on the way and, in response, sends out messages to conserve energy and preserve calories. So, metabolism drops.
And then other brain signals tell the body it’s “hungry,” and it sends out hormones to stimulate the appetite. The combination of lowered metabolism and stimulated appetite equals a “double whammy,” says Ryan. And that means the person who’s lost weight can’t consume as much food as the person who hasn’t lost weight.
For example, if you weigh 230 pounds and lose 30 pounds, you cannot eat as much as an individual who has always weighed 200 pounds. You basically have a “caloric handicap,” says Ryan. And depending on how much weight people lose, they may face a 300-, 400- or even 500-calorie a day handicap, meaning you have to consume that many fewer calories a day in order to maintain your weight loss.
This means no more grapefruit or cabbage soup diets: You need a diet you can stay on forever. For most people, that means high fiber, low fat and low sugar.
That whole weight handicap thing terrifies me. And seems really mean. It makes sense – I’ve heard before that your body can get used to being a certain way, and once you’re that way it is challenging to change, whether extra-skinny attempting to bulk up, or larger and trying to lose those last ten pounds. But it still seems as if once your body is used to being bigger for a nanosecond, it is way harder to get all svelte and toned. I wonder why that is.
* Is anyone else super tickled that All Things Considered is one of the most aptly named shows around? It’s a show where they consider all things. I love this.