Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fast paced diets or slow and steady diets?

I got into an interesting discussion on a weight loss forum. It gave a LOT of food for thought for me and others, so I wanted to talk about it here.

We have all seen celebrities lose a ton of weight to gain it all back - Oprah being the biggest celeb. Remember when she wheeled out that wagon full of fat and she was so thin? She had been on a liquid diet and dropped tons of weight, but as soon as she went off of it, she gained it all back.

You can see all sorts of whack-a-doodle diets. The cabbage diet is a great example. You only eat cabbage soup!

And guess what, a lot of people can't tolerate that diet for very long and when they stop that diet, the gain all that weight back and maybe gain even MORE weight.

But is losing slow and steady any different? You are still eating less and moving more. You are still creating deficits. They weight just comes off slower, but it also takes longer. And, like the crash diets, guess how many people stick with it and how many people keep the weight off? Again, most people regain. Let's go back to Oprah. She has regained on the slow and steady diet too, right?

So, is there a difference then between the two if most people tend to gain it back?

Now, of course, a lifestyle change that includes moderate exercise is more than just losing weight. It's also improving fitness. Many people will start to exercise for the weight loss benefit, but it is the fitness aspect that they soon realize is just as important - less wheezing, feeling better, getting better sleep, etc.

I don't think there is any study that shows (and if you know of one, please link it) one diet is better than another for weight loss (other than true starving yourself - that cannot ever be good). The problem is with weight loss is twofold. One, people choose methods they cannot keep up - it's either too restrictive, too slow, too boring, something. So, instead of tweaking it, they give up. And two, people don't know how to transition from weight loss to maintaining weight loss. So many times when people "stop their diet" they go back to old habits and then the weight piles back on.

What can be said, I think, is that if you take it slow and steady, AND you can stick with it long term (that's a big if), you probably have figured out things that work for you to be able to maintain such behaviors long term. Supposedly then, being in maintenance should be easier as it will just be slight changes to your dieting behaviors  - a few more calories, or a bit less exercise to find that spot where you neither gain or lose.

That would appear to be much harder to transition to maintenance then with a more rapid, crash diet. Like, how do you go from eating only cabbage or drinking only liquids, to regular foods again? It would probably take a lot of trial and error to get it right and some regains as you figure it out. With that said, does that make it impossible to do? No. It doesn't.

I have now lost weight 2 times in my life with the 'approved' method of slow and steady - reducing caloric intake (slightly) and increasing exercise. It has resulted in a steady loss of about 1-1.5 pounds per week. Both times I regained the weight because of depression settling and me just hitting a point I really didn't care about my weight, my exercise, or my health in any way. This time as soon as the depression lifted, I went right back to what I was doing before - eating less and moving more. And like last time, it's working.

But this discussion I got into started to make me think about a more rapid weight loss effort. Maybe I can reduce a bit more? Or exercise a bit more? Making the journey a bit faster. I KNOW how to lose weight and I KNOW what I will do to maintain that weight loss. Perhaps, once a week I could do a very low calorie day? Or just every day that I can manage it, eat more low calorie, or walk more. I wouldn't go on a liquid diet or a cabbage soup diet as I know I couldn't sustain that, but what if I did such things here and there and then went back to "slow and steady" when such radical things started to make me buggy - or want to pig out?

I've 'sort' of been doing that already, but not intentionally. This time around, especially since I wasn't as hungry, I've eaten fewer calories than the last time I did this. I never calorie count DURING the day, but at the end of the day, I add it up to see where I'm at calorie wise.  Most days I'm eating around 1200 calories. Some days a bit more. Some days a bit less. Last time I was eating around 1500 calories a day with actually calorie plannign for the day - adding it up meal per meal - alloting so much for dinner to not go over the threshold.

What if I stayed at 1100 or 1200 with exercise? The weight "should" come off faster and I could probably maintain that for a long time. Maybe every week or two weeks having a higher calorie day of say, 1500 as a splurge.

I think I'm finding it easier to eat lower calorie this time because I have the foods that are the most satiating that KEEP me full. I know that nuts are filling. Eggs are filling. Pork and Chicken is filling (beef is too, but is much more calorie dense and not any more filling). I've learned to drink half and half with coffee instead of skim milk because it keeps me satisfied for hours. Right now, I feel I could probably eat like this for months, years. I already have for 5.5 weeks, so why not?

Now, I can already see the "Melissa, No! That's now how you lose weight and keep it off!" Says who? I know my body. I know what I need to do. My main obstacle? Depression. If I can keep myself from getting depressed, I should be successful long term.

And right now I think I need to see faster results for my head. I have VERY few clothes to wear. I have a closet full of too small clothes. And I gained this weight FAST. I want my body to reflect the Melissa I see myself as. Not the one that got fat again. 

Will I do anything stupid? No, of course not. But I think my idea of "there is only one way to do it right" was misguided. The actual WAY of losing weight is probably irrelevant - short of doing starvation diets and laxatives. But how you MAINTAIN those losses are the key. Since I've done the learning of changing my lifestyle habits, I think I have a good chance of being successful of keeping the weight off - as long as I don't get depressed and now I have a plan in place for managing that too.

With that said, I had a 2.1 pound drop on the scale this morning. I stopped taking one of the blood pressure drugs a few days ago and I think it was making me hold water as that is a common side effect. So, in addition to post ovulation weight loss, I'm experiencing post BP drug weight loss. AND my blood pressure is staying fine. So, one medication GONE... one to go. I'm down to 10 mg Lisinopril.

Here is my lovely chart for weight loss:

And here is for blood pressure:

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