So, back in the day, oh, on or around a little over a year ago, I started the Eat Less Move More Diet. Nothing formal or prescribed, just an attempt to embrace the weigh-loss-equals-calories-in-minus-calories-out formula.
I had lost 15 pounds by sometime in November and for a variety of reasons I explain here, had the goal of maintaining my weight loss before digging in and losing more. I read a book called Younger Next Year and adopted its tenets:
- Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. Recommendation: an hour a day.
- Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.
- Do serious weight training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
- Don't eat crap.
I did and have been doing all these things. Religiously.
As I became stronger and stronger, though, my weight started to creep back up. I figured I was building muscle. Yeah, that's the ticket. Muscle weighs more than fat, and as I watched all the muscles in my body transform from the inside to the outside, I felt OK about gaining it back. My skinny clothes still fit, so all seemed well and good. I was feeling great and looking great through and through.
But then that obnoxious muffin top started bulging its way back into my life. I don't know who invited her to the party, but it certainly was not moi.
I scoured the Internet for solutions. I watched The Biggest Loser. I became inspired by Helen. I mean, if a woman just two years my senior could lose 140 pounds and run a marathon and win all that money, then what did I need to do to ramp up my weight loss?
I turned to Jillian Michaels and Lance Armstrong. I got on their websites and started figuring it out all over again. I read articles like this and became increasingly confused. I decided to add time and intensity to my workouts. I vowed to eat more low-fat protein and cut back on carbs (again) even though that's all I wanted to eat (ever.)
I mean, I can ride the elliptical for an hour-and-a-half at the top resistance level and barely be out of breath burning as many as 1500 calories at a pop. The next day: weight gain.
I can go on 14-mile hikes and hardly be sore afterwards. The next day: weight gain.
My dilemma: I am burning hundreds and hundreds of calories a day in my workouts and I'm absolutely s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g to death.
The math was not adding up. Calories in minus calories out was not equalling weight loss, it was equalling weight gain.
So, I decided to talk to my doctor about it. Have my thyroid checked. Do the bloodwork. Prove that I do indeed have the World's Slowest Metabolism Evah.
Of course my thyroid is fine (despite the many, many times I can't get warm to save my life even in the middle of summer with socks, sweats, and a sweater on under all the covers of my bed for over an hour.)
My cholesterol levels are the best they've ever been. I mean off-the-charts stellar.
I'm as healthy as that proverbial horse.
So, I'm telling my doctor this entire, sad story, and he actually says to me, and I quote, "I think you ought to stop exercising so much."
I about fell out of my chair. He acknowledged that that was a strange thing to hear from a doctor, and I'm sure we all agree.
But what he said next was quite profound to me. He said, "We exercise to maintain our weight, we diet to lose weight. The reason you aren't losing weight is because you are working out so much your hunger has increased. Your body is just doing its best to meet its need."
Great. So, working out like a Titan makes me fit but not skinny--and I'm s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g all the livelong day. When it occurs to me. Maybe it's just time to accept the size my body wants to be. I'm fit. I'm healthy. But a little smoodgie around the middle.
This line of thought was not registering any sort of happiness in me. Which I expressed to him.
To which he replied, "Well, how 'bout we put you on an appetite suppressant? That way you can keep working out because it makes you feel great, but you can cut way back on the calories because you won't feel hungry. You'll only be on it until you've lost the weight you want to lose, then you can use exercise to maintain."
Brilliant! Except. Isn't that cheating?
I weighed the pros and cons. I decided that it was OK to let this little pill help me.
I started on Sunday. Since appetite suppressants are stimulants, I was a lot etched out on Sunday, less so yesterday, with today being the least etchy of the 3 days. I've lost 4 pounds and have to remind myself to eat. The worst part? I've had to give up coffee (Lord help me!) and the withdrawal headaches from that are pretty severe. And I miss it. Oh how I miss it.
I'll let you know how it goes. And don't worry, I'm doing all the things I should: eating enough, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and working out.
Muffin top schmuffin top. It's time you left for good.