Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do you have the Weight Whammy?

It happened to me year after year. I couldn't understand it. Now I see it happening to many people in cyberspace and in my personal life. Finally, I think I understand it. I am not a doctor or in any way an expert in nutrition so remember that when you read this because this is only what I think, based on my personal experiences and sharing in the experiences of others. I am sharing this in the hope it will help someone else.

I've named this condition. I call it the Weight Whammy. Yes, I name conditions. It is one of my many God-given talents along with baton twirling, cake decorating and knowing how to frustrate my daughters at any given moment.

This is how the perfect storm called the Weight Whammy was created in your body (and the way it was created in my body year after year before I finally caught on.

December found us enjoying many of our favorite foods and desserts. The holidays were evident in our homes, at the office and everywhere you went. Food everywhere was enticing. Special foods. Celebratory foods. Comfort foods - whatever. We knew we were starting a fresh new lifestyle in January so we indulged and did not wallow in guilt or limit ourselves to just one every single time we ate. Okay, that is the fact of what happened. There is no beating yourself up over what cannot be changed.

January starts out fine. We're are freshly committed to whatever mode of weight loss we are following: food plan, exercise, weight loss guru, commercial diet programs, etc. We do not wavier at all in our attempts to keep to our commitments and pounds are falling off; dropping at a quick rate. Wow this is great We feel less bloated and more committed. It is a great start to what we know it going to be a successful year of getting the weight off.

Three weeks in, IT happens: weight loss slows down to a trickle or stops abruptly. We think 'Why do I refrain from cookies with my tea or pizza for dinner if I am not going to lose 5 pounds for my sacrifice?' We start to resent the plan we're following.. Will the scale be different next week? We stick with it another week, maybe two. Oh crap, I only lost a half a pound this week. It's not working. It's not working. . . . . its not worth it. . . . .

DON'T STOP! If you are not re-gaining then it is working. You have to understand what is happening in your body, in my opinion and based on my own, repeated experiences. 

During the month of December (and maybe all the way back to Halloween), you ate more of what you wanted. More sugar? More white flour? More carbs? More fat? Whatever - it was more. Your body, perhaps use to the diet mentality you followed last year, saw the extra calories as manna from heaven and stored away as much as it could. This in turn caused you to retain water, water, glycogen, and whatever the hell else our bodies store along with the fat that it creates from our excess calories. Because your body was not accustomed to the types/quantities of food it was suddenly enjoying, it overreacted (with fear of future famine) to hold on to it.

Then January came and you began your commitment to losing weight and you stuck with it. Some people lose 12+ pounds the first week and more than five pounds the next. This is not all fat; in fact most of it is water, glycogen, and lean muscle (because muscle is always lost when we first restrict our food). For every pound of real weight loss we lose up to three pounds in non-fat fluids. But then there is a halt.

Once the body has depleted the bloat from the holidays and its stores of glycogen the weight loss naturally slows down - and people start to lose faith in efforts. They totally forgot the damage and stress they added to their bodies with that onslaught of food during the week or weeks before January 1st. This seems to happen to everyone who has that final 'fling' with food before they change their way of eating. It seems to happen with most 'diets.' It is happening everywhere you look on blogs and around the  water cooler at work.

Don't lose faith. Lose your expectations. The weight loss will continue if you stay committed and continue to progress. Let's chuck the 'I have to lose 50 pounds by tomorrow' thinking and practice thinking 'I'll keep moving and keep following a healthy daily plan of eating.'

After the body adjusts to what it sees as the unexpected closing of the buffet, it will return to the process to letting go of excess fat as you eat healthy and exercise moderately. The pounds will come off if you stick it out through this weight loss drought. Lets drop the faith in the fork and hold on to faith in our efforts, in the higher power that sustains us (you decide what that is) and in yourself.



Maren said...

I LOVED this post, because three weeks into January, that is where I was. This happened to me! I pushed through though and I'm sticking to what I KNOW works. :)

Miz said...

LOOOVE THIS as well.
for me it us leaning on the faith when what Im doing ISNT working but I know it will---in time.

Vickie said...

I agree with all you wrote.

I am adding that even without the binge/over eating part, many people are not a straight down arrow on the weight loss graph.

In 2005 or 2006 we talked about this as a flutter thing. We drop a bit, the scale bobs around, and then we settle into our new low. We hold for a bit, the scale flutters a bit, and then we settle into the next new low. Very slow even with very consistent effort. This is very common (in my opinion).

I also see crazy unrealistic expectations for rapid weight loss.

The people writing about the X lbs by X date drive me NUTS.

Many have been around long enough to know WAY BETTER.

I can understand it in the newbies, but not in the lost, regained, in the process of losing again bunch.

I also am always aware that we have no idea what is going to be needed at the other end of the scale/maintenance. I think it is important to keep the calories as high as possible with quality food and moderate exercise so there is some where 'to go' at the other end of the scale. I see people paint themselves into corners with crazy low calories, no real food, too much exercise too early in their process. A change is needed for a change. There has to be room for changes all through the process.

I am not saying to underestimate exercise, it is important and the quality has to improve as we become leaner/better able.

I guess mostly what I am saying is people do not seem to look at the BIG PICTURE.

very good post.

Sarah said...

I'm trying to lose a few Xmas pounds at the moment - so thanks for the positive thoughts. Especially : If you're not regaining, then its working.

Caron said...

So true! I see people questioning themselves because of slow weight loss but it is still a loss. Sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it. At least that's what they tell us at Weight Watchers.

E. Jane said...

Very good post, and so needed at this time of the year. I'm a pretty slow loser, and I always have big expectations. It can become discouraging. But I've been doing this long enough to know that consistency is they key. It will come off. I can stay the same for two or three weeks and then all of a sudden I lose four or five pounds in a couple of days. But this only happens when I stay with the plan.

The body is quirky. It allows the loss to happen when it is ready to release the fat and water. I think that is why losing weight is so hard and so often we give up. It doesn't happen like we think or wish it would. At least that's been my experience.

Fatoutofskinny said...

I couldn't agree with you more and couldn't have said it better myself!!!

Lisa said...

This is SO true! When I first started, I was losing like 8 pounds at a time. It was shocking and inspiring. Then a few weeks later it slowed down. Then it was 2-3 pounds a week. Then I was lucky if I was losing 1 pound a month. But i kept going!

Jane Cartelli said...

We are all learning from each other and I know that is how I am getting better. I hope you (all of you) are finding what you need to get better, too.

shaonpark said...

I like your talent. I am agree with you about the name Weight Whammy.