I am very happy that today marks 30 days of my paleo challenge and I'm not going anywhere! This is too easy, too helpful and too flexible to be anything but a lifestyle (not a diet). I feel like this is a way of eating that I can do for the rest of my life and that the 80/20 rule means that I can still enjoy (if I choose) the social/cultural eating that is part of real life in a family and community. You know, like eating cinnamon rolls Christmas morning or having an occasional slice of birthday cake.
That said, I AM interested in weightloss because I have a lot to lose. I am interested in getting to my body's setpoint, which is a weight I don't know yet. But one of the things that scared me from even thinking about weightloss is the idea that one has to be perpetually on a diet. Enter this blog post:
I do NOT want to micromanage my life the way this woman does; she sounds pretty miserable.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on that blog post? I'm especially interested in hearing from those of you, like the fabulous and always helpful @sherpamelissa and @Stephen-Aegis and @luckybastard and anyone else who has lost weight and maintained that loss.
Finally I want to thank you all for this AMAZING resource -- the expertise, intelligence and diversity of experiences is making my journey SO MUCH easier and I really appreciate it!
Well, well. Interesting discussion. I am Debra, of Debra's Just Maintaining. Checked on my stats and saw a "bump" on Wednesday, so I investigated and found your discussion.
To the person who thought you caught me on a bad day. Actually, you caught me in my first couple of blog posts. When I launched that blog last year, I was hopping mad, and had been seething for quite some time. Seven years of maintenance at that time (eight now) had not played out as the zippy lifestyle that was promised by cultural mythology. Serious health complications, moreover, caused me to have to adapt a lot. For example, I started out in LOVE with exercise, because I was a runner. Running is medicinal, until it's not. At any rate, my most recent blog post (which will be one of my final ones before I shut down to move on to new pursuits) reveals that I have become more stoic. I needed to air my anger, discuss the science that I had found with other people (and I got a great crowd to help me, as it turned out), and, more or less, I needed to be assured that I wasn't nuts. That I was right (for me) and Women's Day magazine, with the diet of the month and all the tips and tricks you could ever want, was wrong (for everyone).
To the people who acknowledge that maintenance is individualized and not effortless for everyone (even those on the magic Paleo diet), bravo. I agree. In the past two years I have radically limited my grain-based carbs, but I have not eliminated them entirely. My family culture would make that too difficult. I was able to have a pretty successful maintenance for five years being a daily jogger (two days of heavy weights) and Mediterranean-foodie. I'm now closer to Paleo, with calorie monitoring, but not there entirely, and I do an exercise routine that incorporates light weights with high reps and aerobic intervals.
For the Taubes fan: Please consider broadening your perspective. I'm glad his theory works for you, but it is not universally true for everyone. Gary Taubes is just a journalist and not maintaining all that much loss himself. He wears blinders that prevent him from seeing other points of view, and has Mac-truck sized holes in his theory. You can find a review of his more recent book in two blog posts on my site, if you're interested.
For anyone who is overconfident in his or her routine: consider adopting humility. While optimism and hope can be helpful, they can also make you judgmental in an unhelpful way. Our health is a gift that changes over time. Within those changes are cycles, phases and surprises. All of these things can affect our hunger/satiety, our other endocrine impulses and our weight.
For those of you who are new to maintenance or approaching it, you are wise to listen to the old-timers. I applaud you if you're doing that. I encourage you to start if you are not.
Thanks for visiting DJM, everyone. And thanks for having a predominantly positive, productive and open-minded conversation. I noticed one of you left a comment for me at the "Job Description" post, and I answered it. All of you should feel free to go leave comments on any post, regardless of when they were written. Subscribe to the post and I'll get back with you.
PS Hi, Beth! Good to see you.
Maybe Paleo would help her, maybe not.
She's eating 1600-2000 calories. I am still stuck in the 1200-1400 range to maintain. A week of 1500 makes me gain weight. I am probably 98% Paleo compliant.
I was able to maintain on 1200 calories with minimal exercise. I could do 2 days of 30/40 mins HIIT and still maintain my weight. So, I didn't have to exercise as much as her.
I think it depends on how damaged your metabolism was to start. I am guessing I am pretty messed up and even with 2 years of maintaining, almost a year of Paleo, I am not "fixed". I am rarely satiated. I am still hungry often.
One thing she mentioned was that if she did gain, that it wasn't as easy as "getting back to plan" to make the weight melt of. I agree with that. I took a month off from my usual routine and have gained 5lbs that I can't seem to get rid of. I am currently working through a PSMF (protein sparing modified fast) and increased exercise routine to get back to my comfortable weight.
MAINTENANCE IS NOT EASY. At least not for me and not for many formerly obese people that I know. It is a lifetime of work. It's worth it though.
I don't think enough time is spent with people in weight loss programs explaining the difficulty of maintenance. Many people think they can go back to their old habits as soon as they hit their ~goal weight~ (insert rainbows and unicorns here) and that's just not true. I started researching maintenance about 1/2 way through my weight loss and was amazed and saddened a bit by how much work it seemed to be for many formerly obese people. The good thing though, is that the research prepared me for what was to come.
I would love to be able to eat unweighed/unmeausured Paleo and maintain my weight. It just hasn't happened for me.
for me, paleo has made loss and maintenance mindlessly simple. i eat foods that are killed or grown almost all of the time; i don't weigh or measure; i don't count calories; i occasionally skip meal here and there- just because i can, painlessly and voila- my weight stays the same. along the way i found out that for me, macronutrient ratios didn't matter after metabolic healing had taken place and insulin/leptin sensitivity returned. also, if i listen to my body, it naturally tells me whether it needs more or less carbohydrate or fat. i'm rarely high fat and high carb, and those time where it's happened, my body either is satiated for a long time- as in a 24 hour fast following it- or i'll go do something that expends alot of energy. i really do think that energy balance is the key to a healthy metabolism- as stephan has been writing about recently.
caveat: i think that there is a very real difference in gender when it comes to weight loss and maintenance and i'm pretty sure that it's hormonal. i find that women who are hard losers many times also have hypothyroidism symptoms. that hypothyroidism can also be a manifestation of estrogen dominance. there seems to be alot of other factors brewing when it comes to weight loss in females that can be very frustrating to work through. but i do think those two issues are good places to start. h
having said that, i don't think all that this woman does is necessary. if she can gain ten pounds by not working out for a month, then she still has some serious metabolic healing to do, and i'd be very surprised if she doesn't have wheat and seed oils in her diet still because it sounds like there's still a good bit of inflammation there. that type of exercise is unsustainable. that's how i found paleo, i hurt myself with chronic cardio and it forced me to find a dietary solution to my lifelong weight problem. my bad achilles is the best thing that ever happened to me:-)
I have lost over a 100lbs as well and the only micromanagement I do is weigh myself nearly every morning like I would check my bank account. I don't measure my food. I love the food I eat and I love the exercise I do. I love feeling good and strong. This way of eating and living is in no way a punishment. That's the difference. I've fully and enthusiatically embraced it. I do have to watch my weight though just like I have to watch my bank account.
I lost 70-75 pounds (I bounce around in a 5-pound range) from April 2007 to December 2009, first going VLC (20g of carbs per day) to lose 30 pounds, and then ZC in September 2009 to lose the remainder. I maintain my current weight by being pretty strictly animal-only, with coffee and spices. If I go super-clean paleo -- no wine, no chocolate, no dairy -- I can lose another 5-10 pounds and stay there, all with no formal exercise.
I don't find it difficult, but it is restrictive, without a doubt. Every time I've added even green vegetables (brussel sprouts and cabbage are faves), much less so-called "safe" starches, my weight has rocketed up 15 or so pounds over a several-week period, and I call off the experiment because I know I'll end up back where I was before on VLC.
(I don't especially buy that it's water weight due to eating these foods "incorrectly," that is, eating them in the wrong amounts and the wrong combinations at the wrong times, but perhaps adding carbs back in requires exceptional tracking and micromanagement. I don't know, and quite frankly, I probably will never find out. The plain fact for me is that eating zero-carb is effortless in that regard -- I don't count, weigh, or measure a damn thing; I just ask, "Is it meat?")
I do have to say that before I started eating this way, I would have been totally put off by the prospect of eating such a "restricted" diet for the rest of my life. I am very sympathetic to the fear of restriction for life, and had I known my fate back then, I'd probably have never tried this, and would weigh over 300 pounds by now. But that's only because I would not have known how relatively easy this way of eating is, and how free from hunger and cravings I am. In that sense, I'm glad I was clueless then, because it allowed me to get going on this path by telling myself that it's only a short-term experiment, lol.
So, to answer the question in this post's title, I wonder if she limited her refined carbs even more, she might find herself less chained to her routine. But I also notice that many of the other answers in this thread are similarly themed; to wit: "If she did what I do, she wouldn't have to work this hard." And I do know of a couple of ZCers (well, three, actually) who didn't lose, even after a year of strict meat-only. So I think the real answer is, there's no way to tell from here. I think at some point we have to back away from second-guessing other people's choices, and realize that they're the ones with the clinical data about their own experiences, and the motive to apply that data to themselves.
The blog posts seemed overly whine-y and pessimistic. That said, many people do have trouble with maintenance and find it to be much more difficult that just gaining or losing. Many cannot go back to eating any foods that probably landed them in trouble in the first place. Everyone is different. In her defense, it is easy to be pessimistic when you are doing many right things and the result is failure. Paleo may or may not be the solution for her. It is a workable solution for many, but it doesn't solve all problems. It is easy for people who aren't in her situation to judge her behavior a bit harshly.
Hopefully you're reading J Stanton's fabulous Why Are We Hungry? series, and you'll see that there are certainly clues that eating paleo will help most folks get to a place where their weight and hunger stabilizes. At this point, I'm thinking that eating unprocessed nutrient-dense foods is certainly key. But as we're finding out, folks who lose weight aren't the same as those who never gained weight.
As someone on the journey (not yet at weight maintenance but have lost 100 lbs), I suspect that there are things that can help re maintenance. I'm looking at ensuring nutrients that help digestion and help the liver do its job, as well as using BBS to help restore insulin sensitivity in muscles, and HIIT to (hopefully) help improve basal metabolism.
I've been slowly losing on about 1300-1400 cals/day with very little hunger. It will be interesting to see where I can get to! I don't expect maintenance to be more work than weight loss, but that's also because I don't expect to change my approach once I get to goal (this was lifestyle change, not short-term diet).
The way I see it Paleo is not a diet, it is a Lifestyle and one of the benefits of this Lifestyle is weight loss. Like someone said 'This way of eating and living is in no way a punishment'. This is what the human body & mind need to be healthy, based on 1-2 million years of evolution. Paleo is wide open and can be tailored to each individual, as each person is unique. Any good change takes time for the positive effects to manifest esp if one is metabolically deranged it can take months and even years to reverse the damage done from decades of abuse and eating SAD.
Good gravy, NO! NO NO NO NO!
I've lost ~35lbs (granted, not as much as some others) and kept it off relatively effortlessly.
I do not count calories. I do not measure. I don't worry too much about my macronutrient ratios (although people with a LOT of weight to lose seem to do better starting out pretty low-carb).
I eat. Real food. Sprint 1x per week, weight 2 or 3x per week - which sometimes just consists of carrying full water cans around watering the many, many flowers, piggybacking 70-80lb kids up the stairs, or bodyweight exercises.
She may just be obsessive (which I think is part of it), but if she really needs to micromanage that much, she's eating the wrong things and not exercising properly (aerobics!).
Edited to add: I missed the part where the OP said she had a lot to lose - I realize it may be different if you've lost a lot of weight. Thanks, Melissa.
People who are exercising and counting calories to lose weight and are on a Paleo/Primal program must not have read Taubes' Good calories Bad Calories. It's not about calories-in/calories out. That's old thinking. It will be hard to get back to your new weight. It could take years. Don't restrict your calories! It doesn't work! Be satiated. It's very important that you not feel restricted in what you eat (other than the carbs of course!).
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