Saturday, October 08, 2005

Why fit people should shut up (and why losing weight is hard)

Right. I'm closing in on the 10 pound mark in lost weight. This is the second time in my life I've had to shed some signficant amount of weight, and by far the hardest. I have to lose 55 pounds total medically, and my goal is actually 81 pounts for a good weight for me.

I hit the max of 246 at the beginning of this summer, which is a lot of weight on my ~6' frame. I hadn't been on a scale in a year and was horrified, as my previous top weight was 210 or so and that was pretty fat to my mind.

I gained the weight in a new job position this past year that was all driving, no exercise and yet still so exhausting mentally and emotionally that coming home I wasn't super keen on doing more than a basic stationary bike workout. The main problem was eating 1 or 2 "drive through" meals a day.

Anyways, I've been back to the gym and an office job where a packed lunch is practical for a few months now, and I'm finding losing 80 pounds a hell of a lot harder than losing 45 was. Granted I'm a few years older, but mostly its just that being much fatter means having less energy. I'm in excellent cardiovascular condition. I can exercise 30 minutes straight at my max heathly cardio heart rate without even getting winded, but the pounds aren't melting off.

The reason I find this remarkable is that this is the first time in my live I've ever been clinically obese (gotta get down to 208 until I'm just overweight :P). For most of my *adult* life I've been fit, able to make reasonable but not paranoid food choices and able to get by on a few days exercise a week. When I did exercise strenuously 6 days a week, it was to put on muscle mass and maintain really peak condition. When I was in *good* shape, I could eat like a glutton, although with my stomach shrunk as it was then, I'm sure I got full quicker than now. Now I'm starving hungry more often and get headaches if I don't eat enough. Of course if I eat much *more* than enough I won't be losing weight, so it's a fine line

So here is my message to folks who are fit and/or have never been obese. Give us a break. Just because you can't imagine how it's possible to get this fat doesn't mean that it's not easy to do, nor that we're not trying (although I have to admit lots of folks just give up and rot). Remember that once you ARE obese, normal chores tire you. Just hauling my ass up a few flights of stairs can be a chore, although I can remember only a few years ago racing a buddy of mine up 18 flights of stairs full bore just as a lark. So yeah, if you find just moving yourself around tiring, it takes an extra dose of willpower to actually go to the gym. Not to mention feeling all the eyes looking at you judgementally as a walking advertisement for what all the other people in the gym don't want to be.

On the list of why it's hard, also don't forget being obese means health problems more often. Diabetes, lower back problems, knee, foot and joint problems can all be *caused* by the weight, but can also contribute to keeping it on. Taking "a nice walk" with my wife is frankly hell, and that's mostly due to sore feet and the aching back that comes with hauling around a nasty gut.

So yeah, my message to fit and thin people, for what its worth is next time you see a fat/obese person exercising, don't stare, don't judge and don't make jokes. They are having to go through hell in an effort to take that weight off, and if you've never been that big, you'll never know (I hope) how hard it is.

For those obese or badly overweight folks looking to drop some weight or thinking about it, I will say this. It gets easier. The first 5 was harder than the second 5. And I know from experience that losing the last bit of weight is MUCH easier than the first 10 or 20 pounds. Don't give up, don't stare at the scale cursing if your weight is even up a pound now and then. Judge your weight weekly based on an average of daily weigh-ins at the same time of day and on the same good-quality scale every day. Make exercise a daily routine, and force yourself to go even if you're tired, and work out even if you don't have enough time that day for a full workout. Keeping routine keeps you going until you really start getting results.

And don't get discouraged. Our lives, and our health, are worth saving.



Anonymous Meade said...

I agree, losing weight is extremely hard. Most people who dont struggle with weight have never had to lose weight, or just simply dont understand.

But 245 lbs is really not that bad for someone 6 ft tall. Sheesh.

Im only 5'10 and 1/2 and the charts say I shouldnt weight more than 180 lbs. But thats ridiculously low. I should be about 200 lbs for my frame and size. I have struggled with my weight since childhood. No one else in my family was heavy but me. Recently I got up to 280 lbs. I hope I can get down to 200 again.
But I know for a fact that I dont have to get down to 180 lbs to be my ideal weight. Everyone is different.

2:24 PM  

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