Perspective in the Land of Kamikaze Weight Loss
Most of us who have lifted weights to gain the strength to increase strength know the addiction of “progress”. The ever-greater hoisted weight and/or increased numbers of repetitions combine with the intensifying muscular definition to feed a narcissistic fascination. When the number of reps stay the same or the lifted weight doesn’t increase, there’s a palpable piss off that after all this work you’re not getting results.
The exact same reaction happens in a body mass reduction campaign. When that rucksack of fat gets flung off your bones in the first few months, the sense of relief and empowerment has an intoxicating quality. Just like the crack addict, the first hit (often donated by the local pusher) is extremely seductive, so seductive that you want to keep feeling that good forever.
However, when progress happens at an ever-slowing pace, a sadly predictable sense of dread sets in. The biggest danger is that, conditioned by several decades of eating as much of whatever food I wanted whenever I felt like it, I would respond to frustration by automatically eating a bunch of carbs and fats and fall asleep. Obviously, that would have broken the karma that had brought me this far. I avoided repeating that pattern of self-sabotage by seeing the fat in the food I would no longer succumb to.
As we middling men age and the testosterone level drops off to a trickle, our ability to process every molecule of carbohydrate into body fat becomes greatly enhanced. Therefore, the “delivery systems” of those carbs and fats need to be made more circuitous. Rather than drink a fluid with calories or gobble up sugars and other refined carbs that can be instantly processed into my blood stream and stored as fat since I’m not running a marathon, I just said “no”. I knew that I literally had to deny my parched fat cells, which had purged and now desperately wanted to binge.
The last three months of loss ended up being similar to an infomercial-inspired regimen that had failed a decade earlier. The infomercial’s promise of reduced mass resulting from increased consumption of some carbohydrates was a fool’s errand. This time I kept a steady flow of difficult to digest bulk in my stomach, while at the same time making ritualistic exercise an undeniable part of just about every day of the week. In doing so, I appear to have effectively “raised my fat thermostat”.
The bottom line: Your body does not like change, so when you wean it off of too many easily accessed calories to fewer and harder to process calories, it gets bummed (meaning fatigue.) But if you are active, taking vitamins, and flushing those ketosis by-products out of your kidneys, you don’t get sick because you’ve radically changed what you eat. At least I didn’t…
That being said, the radical nature of the change that I imposed on my form had a pretty good time investment ratio: .75 years of radical change to undo 25 years of heedless ingestion. The transition of my internalized body image was fairly extreme during those nine months, ending an adulthood that dealt with my fatness as little as possible. My last weigh-in prior to going on this three season campaign happened five years before deciding I’d had enough denial and bloating – and that event was responded to a state law requiring load limitations on helicopter use. In the years prior I would have rather watched a “Sex In The City” marathon than subject myself to stepping on a scale or seeing a doctor, let alone joining Weight Watchers.
By using an all meat and water diet I was in the Bizzarro World of anti-rational weight loss. An immediate change gets immediate dramatic results, but the body adapts (even though our middling male brain doesn’t.) You grow to expect extreme weight loss and continuous and ongoing decreases in belt length, pants butt tightness and the ability to wear the jacket you last wore in 1984.
So in the End Times of a high performance weight loss regimen vigilance is still required. Part of me had to finally grow up and be dedicated to an effort that had less and less positive reinforcement. Despite all previous patterns, I muddled through.