January 14, 2012

Are You Pessimistic About Weight Loss?

No, seriously. If you want to lose weight, are you afraid you won't or you'll gain it back?

I guess I should be. It seems like every blog, web site and magazine I've seen in the last week or so has quoted grim percentages regarding the difficulty of achieving/sustaining weight loss or they had ongoing conversations about all the people who've lost and then re-gained body fat. On my favorite forum, Paleo Hacks, people who've been trying ancestral eating for a week or a month sometimes complain they aren't losing weight and are frequently told "this is not a weight loss plan."

Unless you're selling a book. The only place I've seen unbounded optimism about weight loss, in fact, is on the covers of all the newly released books about eating--ancestral or otherwise. 

But I'm confident anyhow. I've lost significant body fat so far and I hope to lose a lot more. I believe my ancestral eating regimen is working and my body is going to continue its release of excess fat. I also believe that if I continue as I am I'm not going to put any weight back on. I admit it could turn out differently. After all, I lost and "found" the same 50 pounds four times before finding ancestral eating last April. I could find myself getting hungrier and gaining weight back or my weight could stop going down.

So why aren't I worried? For one thing, I'm not "on a diet." I'm following a lifestyle that includes real, whole foods rather than manufactured food-like products. I like what I'm eating; everything tastes wonderful and leaves me with a feeling of contentment. I feel great from the moment I wake each morning until I go to sleep at night. I feel calm and content rather than anxious and guilty. I doubt many people who are "dieting" can say the same.

I've had a lot of ah-ha moments lately. One occurred yesterday morning when I was typing a comment and off-handedly mentioned I was feeling a little hungry but not going to do anything about it. Hell-o? Former binge eater here. Any twinge in the GI tract was enough to send me scurrying to the kitchen--and also enough to make me worry I was about to binge. Nowadays, though, the feeling of physical hunger is just another normal sensation--it has no more meaning than the first hint that I'm getting a little tired. I can choose to respond but I can also choose to ignore. Nothing bad is going to happen.

This morning was another ah-ha. I woke up and was considering the drastic action of leaving my warm, comfy bed for the very cool air of my bedroom. Thinking, not moving, you understand. As I lay there, I realized I felt very lean and perhaps lighter. I moved my hand to touch my side but before I got there I "hit" the layer of fat that still surrounds "me." That was the first moment that I noticed I no longer include my body fat in my identification of "me." It's just a covering like a heavy winter coat and the only connection to my lean body is that it slows me down when I  move--but a lot less than it used to.

Unlike a calorie-restricted diet, my choice of real foods is causing me to slowly assume my natural shape and resume my natural level of activity without feeling deprived or anxious. There is no famine response from my body because I'm well nourished. At some point, I will stop losing weight and I don't plan to worry about that. I may be close to my desired weight or I may be quite a bit heavier. Either way, as long as I feel this good I will probably just keep going as I am and see what happens.

As I read all the depressing articles and optimistic book titles I plan to walk the middle path and just do what feels right. I'm not worried and I'm not afraid. 

If you aren't already doing so, I hope you'll try eating some real, whole foods and see what happens. What have you got to lose?

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