In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a bit of an obsessive personality. I like to fully immerse in what I do from work, to relationships, to recreation.
I’ve been slacking on blogging because my “church” has developed into a full fledged obsession. It’s not just “going to the gym”, it’s all the in depth research I throw into anything I get into. As I mentioned, I also joined the online app “LoseIt” to track calories burned and consumed. I like the idea of a support community and people who will notice when you’re up or down a pound without all that messy in person stuff.
Except, I’m stubborn as hell and once I decide to do something, I will do it. I don’t find myself suffering from the typical dwindling motivation or need for support or encouragement which is often cited as the reason most people fail their weight loss goals. I don’t really need the community component of the app. If I need advice on something, I’d much rather go to source documents than ask the general masses.
And truth is, if it were in person, I’d likely punch someone and get kicked out of the group. The amount of sound-bite (fad) diet (mis)information flying around the site just fuels my obsession (and slowly drives me crazy). I give gentle nudges and try to dispel the occasional myth but it’s a never ending battle. So, if I don’t need the community support and cheerleading, and it actually just aggravates me a significant amount of the time, why the fuck do I spend so much time on the message boards?
It brings up another personality trait of mine; being ingrained in a community makes me feel a huge sense of responsibility towards other members.
I can’t leave people to their own devices when I am witness to their self-destruction, at least not without saying something. If they chose to continue after, there’s not much I can do. Stupid and annoying spreading of miracle diets etc. bug me but I’m learning to ignore them. Carbohydrates are not evil! You do not need to figure out how to cut them out of your diet. But the three common threads I can’t ignore are (a) people talking about their less than 1,000 cal/day budget, (b) people talking about not eating back their exercise calories, (c) anything that even hints at an eating disorder.
The first two are frustrating because the site does a pretty good job of explaining how it calculates your daily budget and the very simple math. Anyone who is talking about the first two points obviously hasn’t bothered to read anything. (a) and (b) are obviously fueled by unrealistic goals. People obviously want a quick fix. When setting goals, the temptation to hit the 2lb/week button is just too attractive. I keep seeing people say “But I have to lose 30lbs by Spring break”. The site does explain that 2lb/week option is intended for people who have a lot of wright to lose. If your starting weight is 300lbs, your BMR is much higher and your body can probably handle a 1,000 cal/day deficit. Maybe you want to lose 30lbs, maybe you want to lose weight by Spring break, but chances are you are not being realistic or making a healthy choice if you want to lose 30lbs by Spring break.
(a) Calorie budgets are based on BMR, essentially the base number of calories your body needs to survive in a coma. It then factors in an average day in the life, a multiple of about 1.4, which gives you a total number of calories your body needs to fuel itself through a day. To factor in weight loss, you need a calorie deficit of 3,500cal/lb. So to lose 1lb/wk you need to reduce your total daily calories by 500. Easy peasy! But it’s not like your body is just a big storage of calories you can chose to tap into instead of eating. My body needs 2000 cal/day. So if I didn’t eat for a week, it’s not like my body would just go into my fat storage and pick up 14,000 calories and I’d end up losing 4 lbs. Well, in some ways it would BUT it would be grabbing for any calories it could find, not just from fat but from muscle and other tissue.
(b) As I explained in (a), the calorie budget is calculated based on average day to day activity your body needs to fuel. It does not include explicit “exercise”. Also important to note, is that it is your daily calorie budget, not total number of calories you can eat. Calories-in are pos. (+), calories-burned from exercise are neg. (-). Weight loss is already calculated into your budget which means you really are working out so you can eat more! I totally convert my gym workouts into number of beers! 3-mile run = 3 beers! The bonus of this is it also works the opposite way in your mind; if I want that brownie, I need to go for a 3-mile run. I don’t really want the brownie.
(c) This one really gets the protective instincts flaring, for very good reason.
My mother suffered from bulimia when I was young. I don’t remember much from the time when she was actively bulimic but it’s like a recovering alcoholic, there are signs and impacts on one’s life and family even after you abstain from the behaviour. As a result, she made very concerted efforts to impart to me and my siblings the message “it doesn’t matter what you look like or how much you weigh”. While it is a good message, it perhaps doesn’t come from the most healthy of places. It was a defensive message. In many ways I think this is why I have never actively and consciously tried to adjust my body with diet or exercise before. There is almost a shame associated to it. In the family ethos, making healthy choices that affect your body are lumped into the same category as unhealthy obsessions. On top of that, the fact that the rest of the family have 50-75lbs on me has always made it seem extra wrong for me to want to shed a few pounds.
It’s shocking to read posts on the message boards from teenagers (though the site is supposedly 18+) talking about needing to hide their diet from their mothers, or needing to lose 20lbs for cheerleading tryouts in the spring, or being motivated by not wanting to be teased anymore. I guess I was very deliberately sheltered from that growing up almost to the inverse of being one of those skinny girls who felt she was too skinny. It makes me want to reach through the internet and give them a big hug.
It also hits a nerve of slight paranoia about my own self-image. I’ve done the reading and found the formulas and compared results to make sure my goals are “healthy”. I’m staying well within the BMI and body-fat ranges. Part of the reason to start this whole thing was to give my OCD a productive outlet but there is always an underlying fear that I can get so wrapped up in an obsession that I will lose site of reality.
FYI, progress update: It’s been just over one month and I’ve lost 4lbs, a bit ahead of my 0.5lb/week goal. My running time and endurance are also both improving and I’m feeling energized.