Yes, I know, weight loss can be hard. It is even harder to maintain, and there is a lot of literature on this. There is also experience, which many people share. Most dieters lose weight and regain it. So far I have lost quite a bit, and still, need to lose more. I might add, I have hit a plateau, which is you know a lick about this…perfectly normal. However, this is about those small victories that come with that weight loss. Some of the things that keep me, and others, motivated.
The first is that I can walk. This may sound stupid, but if you have a significant amount of weight on you, the pressure on your joints is very real. You know what I speak off if you are there. The pain is not completely gone, and there are reasons for that. My right knee has been an adventure since I was seven… so there is that. I am trying to keep mine until it can no longer be sustainable since partial replacements have a life to them, and quite frankly having to replace them every so often (average is ten years), is not something I look forward to. A total replacement can last up to twenty years, but still, try to keep my own as long as possible. Decades of high weight did not help.
Here is where small victories come. Yesterday we needed to have some work done with our Jeep, the one we use to cover wildfires in the self-assigned climate desk. The first shop I took it to was a good mile plus from the public transportation hub. That was a nice walk, which I did with no issues. Riding the trolley in the midst of Cómicon was more problematic. The second mechanic is closer, but still, needed to walk both to leave it and to pick it up. Oh and the Jeep is ready for coverage now.
I have been walking about three to four miles every day. And that helps with insulin resistance. Yesterday though, I had absolutely no issues walking these distances, just made sure to not do it in the middle of the day. I even took a more challenging (read uphill) route on one of these twenty-minute walks. It was enjoyable, it was doable and I did not feel like I was dying. Now going downhill it was harder, but that has all to do with the knees that soonish will need to go.
When I started this journey due to that tooth infection I got winded with five minutes of walking on flat ground. My knees used to hurt all the time. Even my heart rate was much higher. In other words, I was out of shape, and could not do what normal humans are designed to do: WALK.
This is a victory in critical ways. I can walk. I can exercise and I can move. This is something I want to do, not just that I should do. This matters and I suspect that came with the changes that happened to my body due to that infection. I used to have to talk myself into doing any kind of exercise. Now I enjoy it.
This has been the easiest ever to lose weight. As I told my dietitian, I am in better shape now than I was when running calls as a medic. I have always struggled with my weight, or at least as long as I remember. I think I was a thin kid, and this struggle started with puberty. We know when because both my sister and I attended our first Weight Watchers meetings as teenagers. When cleaning my mother’s house we found those ancient booklets. They are one reason I hate liver. It was required once a week, and I lost my taste for it. These days an iron supplement will do what liver used to do back then.
However, here I am. I have lost a lot of weight and found some insights that may be of interest to others. Today I had to go to the lab. This was fasting, so of course, I went to get some breakfast after the fact. The place I went to is a nice hole in the wall Mexican place. I have zero issues these days asking for Huevos Rancheros with only one tortilla, and some beans. The plate normally comes with three tortillas, rice, and potatoes. There is no need for that much food. As my mother used to say, who can eat that much? An earlier version of myself could, easily. In fact, I did often. Why? It tastes good, and I used not to notice when I was full. I left some of my beans today. I was more than satisfied.
Those are the kinds of insights I now have. And I am more than convinced that as studies on obesity continue, the role that the gut biome plays will become more apparent. Of course, I have another theory as to what is leading to the current crisis. It is also the highly processed foods we eat. At home, I cook every day from fresh ingredients. We use very little, if at all, processed food. No, not because I am a fan of the “clean eating movement,” whatever that is. But because I have a few food issues, like allergies. So to avoid some ingredients I have to cook at home. Processed foods tend to use wheat in (almost) everything. So… there is that.
It is a good thing that I developed a deep enjoyment of the act of cooking and eating wholesome foods. I used to not like to do it. But over the course of the years, I discovered the joy of cooking, experimenting with flavors and textures. I love new flavors and recipes, as well as the classics.
Then there is another insight I have. There are no forbidden or bad foods. Well, unless you have an allergy, then it can be a matter of life and death. If you want to have a slice of cake, by all means, enjoy. If you want to go get a burger, it is tasty. I do make them at home from time to time. If you desire a piece of chocolate, do it. Deprivation is the road towards developing a bad relationship with your food and craving things to the point of binge eating them.
If you have certain diseases, such as diabetes, you need to watch how much you eat of these things, but by all means…as long as you maintain glycemic control, enjoy. There are certain things I chose not to have, such as juice, because I prefer the whole fruit. But this is a choice, not because the juice is inherently bad for you. When I was growing up, juices were things we had often, but freshly pressed at home.
The keyword is ENJOY your food. Do not rush it, do not gulp it, be in the moment. Food is not just fuel, as much as I treat it that way. It is trapped in meaning and memory. It is also what humans have gotten around for millennia, as well as fire hearths. This is why some dishes are treated that way, and kitchens at times become the beating heart of a home.
Food is something to enjoy. If you listen to your body, you will learn when you are full and what you like to eat. You might surprise yourself. Veggies can be amazing. A nice salad in the summer is refreshing. Experiment.
Tonight we are having a burger, nice fresh tomatoes, microgreens and a slice of (gluten-free) bread. Perhaps nice mustard to go with this. Dinner should be great, filling and tasty.
Losing weight though will give you freedoms that you did not have before. So you need to take your car to the mechanic and then walk home. Sure, enjoy the moment and the fact that you can do it. Going on vacation means you can explore places. Even everyday life is far better, because you can move, and you can walk. We, humans, were designed to walk. Just do it.