Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Rats. I hit my top number. It’s back to counting. Counting up the calories that go into my mouth. Counting the hours I put into exercise. Every calorie, every drop of sweat.

Sure, it would be great to “eat naturally,” to have an inner consumption mechanism that works appropriately and tends to keep me thin. But I don’t have that. I have survivor genes. I am programmed to hunt and gather, graze and while grazing, scan for the next root, leaf, berry, nut, or bit of flesh. Or Klondike bar. I must have come from a nomadic people. People who were on the move almost constantly, grazing as they went. I am built for that. Sadly, I no longer engage in the moving part. My nomadic experiences are all virtual, performed from the comfort of my chair.

Meantime, my energy storage cells (Yes, fat, okay? My fat.) want to do their job. The cells I was born with, and the extra ones I made when I grew morbidly obese (they don’t disappear, they just get smaller). They’re a lot emptier these days, all those cells, and they are always on the prowl, always ready to stash any wayward calorie. And oh the wayward calories in my life! They are everywhere, all the time. Though I am good at finding them, they seem to find me first.

I’ve got to reinstate the border patrol at my mouth. And this time, I think I’ll keep it up for a good long while. At least through the New Years’ parties, and probably until after Valentines, and likely until the ice melts.

Some would imagine I’ve just consigned myself to a horrible punishment. But the fact is, I rather like counting. It calms me down, puts me back in control when my food environment, my nature and my tendencies (couch sitting, napping, grazing) tend to form a perfect storm, or maybe more like a perfect vacuum.

See, since losing a lot of weight, I am hungry all the time. Well, nearly all the time. But it’s such a rare thing for me to feel full, and the feeling so fleeting, that I don’t really feel as if I’m exaggerating. I hear from people who have maintained their weight loss much longer than I have, that it gets easier every year. I’m holding out for that, and can believe it, actually. I’m starting to believe it.

But because food pretty much always looks good to me, and because it’s always there, and because I’m always hungry, and because I have a really terrible memory and a lousy metabolism, I gain weight easily. Very, very, very, very easily. I don’t eat nearly as much as most people, and have to eat a good deal less than most and exercise more than most to maintain my weight loss.

But the hunger and the work, the focus, and the attention, are worth it. All I have to do is go back through my journals to remember how much I hurt, how sick I became. Yes, this way I have to live is a little inconvenient, but it’s nothing compared to where I’ve been.

My weight creeps up, and when I hit a certain mark, I go back to the count. With every reach for food, I grab my Palm or a pen and record what I ate and how much of it. Before every meal, I do the math to see how many calories I’ve had, how many I’ve used, how many I have left to go. Every day. Every bite. Every snack. Every walk. Every workout. It doesn’t take much time. It gets easier as I go, the more fluent I become with calories and amounts.

Sure, I love the sorts of diets that allow me to eat all I want of certain kinds of foods, the ones that promise all-you-can-eat satisfaction at every meal, but I don’t actually lose weight on any of them. They might get me to buy different foods, think differently about nutrition. And I might follow their principals, but I still have to count amounts and calories, and stay under my calorie limit, or the weight simply won’t budge. That’s just the way it works for me, low fat or low carb, Core or points, training or not training.

These are the wages of being built for survival. To survive being built for survival, I have to adapt.

I’m back at it. Calories in. Calories out. Join me?

FitDay lets you count for free

BalanceLog lets you count on your Palm

Peter’s Caloriesperhour.com lets you count upside down and sideways

The CalorieKing goes both ways, digital or paper

20 thoughts on “Write It Down

  1. Christina says:

    I am curious how far from your personal “ideal” you set the “top number?” Mine is 5 lbs. over.

    I think having a trigger point is essential, vs. going down the slippery slope.

    Thanks for the excellent website. Christina

  2. Laura says:

    I’m just starting out on a quest to lose 100 pounds. I once lost 90, 9 years ago. It took that long to get to this point again, where I am sick of it.

    I know I need to write down all my food, be accountable…it worked for me before!

    Thanks for this site, and thanks for the inspiration…

  3. Kris says:

    Inspired by you, I started my “body log” in September and it’s helped me so much already. Some days it does sort of drive me crazy, but most of the time, like you, I like the sense of control it gives me. I like to be able to look back and see my progress or look at the tough spots and readjust. I like the written proof. Thanks so much for your inspiration and the sense of humor you bring to your writing.
    Kris

  4. Quinn says:

    When I have been feeding my poor bod too much stuff it shouldn’t have for too long (like, say, three days) my tummy hurts. Hurts insistently. In that area right underneath the belly button. Sometimes this is accompanied by a twinge or two of nausea.

    Lately I’ve been telling myself this is a good thing, because counting anything — calories, points, fat grams, whathaveyou — drives me absolutely up the wall and out the window.

    I’d rather have the tummy ache than the weight regain. Really.

    Now if only I could persuade myself to go exercise more often.

    hm.

  5. jd says:

    I expect I’ll have to do this just about every day for the rest of my life. That was the deal I made with myself when I “sobered up” from compulsive eating. One day at a time, and I don’t always have to eat within my caloric limits, but I always have to write down what I eat. It’s been over a year and it works!

    Thanks for the great site.

    Namaste,

    jd

  6. ceb says:

    But don’t you find it incredibly
    disheartening that you have to be
    hungry so much of the time in order
    to keep the weight off? I’m just not
    sure this is sustainable for me. I don’t
    want to gain the weight back, but I
    don’t want to feel hungry for the rest
    of my life either!

    –C.

  7. Stephanie says:

    I sooooooooo relate to what you are saying! When I don’t journal, I don’t lose! And when I don’t exercise…I don’t lose! Hmm…could there be a connection here? LOL!

  8. Belle says:

    I have made peace with the fact that I will always have to write it down and weigh and measure portions. I thought I was the only person in the world that is ALWAYS hungry. I have only felt full 3 times in my life. The first time about 2 1/2 years ago, and only twice since then.I spent the first 48 years of my life not ever having known that feeling. I still don’t “know” it. I have made peace with the constant hunger,accepted that it is just how I am made. Most days I manage to stay on my program, but I have to journal and measure protions. My health and well being are totally worth the time it takes. I find that it brings me great peace of mind to write it down. AND, I’ve lost 165 pounds with 75 more to go.

  9. Rina says:

    I’m at my all time high right now. I am ashamed of myself. I find it so hard to eat right in this busy life. And when I do eat right I don’t fill satisfied or full. Then I get irritated. I’m a pretty girl, but have been alone for almost two years. I’m sarced to look for anyone because I feel that if it got to a close relationship they would be totally grossed out like I am. Like some of you I seem to stay hungery all the time! And it is bothersome. It takes over you and thats all you think about til you get something to eat. I also notice that cellulite is forming in places that never did in my younger days. Yuck!!!!
    When I see a thin person I just want to hide I feel as if they are looking at me in disguse. I lost a lot of weight before on the low carb diet but it too after a while will just make you sick to your stomach. Not to mention how expensive it can get. But for all of you all doing it and keeping up with it, great job! I truly admire you.

  10. eden says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write a daily post… Since I just found your site, I’ve been reading a lot of your past posts and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this site- esp being able to relate with weight struggles and being able to educate myself.

  11. Mercury says:

    Wow, isn’t it hard to be hungry all the time? It seems to me like this is an indication that your body really needs to put on weight, if it’s a constant, long-term thing. I know you’ve had a lot of issues with your metabolism, but, huh. I don’t know. Particularly since I know you try not to eat many sugars.

  12. alicia says:

    Yeah, that doesn’t seem right to be hungry all the time. It doesn’t seem like your body should WANT to be overweight, and it shouldn’t be asking for food if it wasn’t going to USE it, and just store it? I guess this is just depressing to read, since everything I’ve read about intuitive eating and trusting your body signals says that this shouldn’t need to be done this way. Perhaps it depends on how you handle losing weight, if you were exercising a lot more perhaps you could start listening and answering your hunger signals, without fear of gaining? It just seems unnatural to have to count to maintain weight. That the right eating and exercising habits and listening to your body SHOULD, in an ideal world, equal a healthy weight.

  13. ladymisstree says:

    Thank you so much for this post. The finishing line is in sight for me (well, with the help of binoculars) and I want to know what it is like to live with significant weightloss. Your honesty, while not what I want to hear, is what I NEED to hear.

    You are inspirational!

  14. juju says:

    Hey everybody, thanks for checking in.

    And thanks, everybody for your concern. I think I need to remind folks that individual mileage may vary. I was very heavy for a long time. I had been a chronic dieter. My metabolism was already very low before I lost the weight, hormones going ga-ga, etc.

    My experience with hunger is my experience with hunger. I am not at all underweight or under fat. I live at the very tippy-top of the healthy weight range, stepping back over into “overweight” every other day. I am quite muscular, but my body fat runs between 18 and 22%, a very healthy level.

    I average around 1300-1400 calories a day to maintain my weight, along with quite a lot of exercise.

    Every minute of the day that I’m not exercising, I’m on my rear end. Writing, meeting, driving, reading.

    I’m hungry before, not long after, and between meals, which are many and spaced pretty close together. I graze to try to keep the hunger down.

    I also get plenty of protein and good fats, which also helps keep the hunger down.

    I also get plenty of fiber, which helps keep the hunger down.

    I also eat extremely little sugar. None, if I can help it.

    See? I’m doing everything I can. It’s just me.

    And the more I read about what happens to your hunger-signalling hormones after a significant weight loss, the less surprised I am about the hunger. I’ve just decided to make friends with it. I wish I didn’t have it, but i do. It’s not really worth worrying over. As far as quality of life goes, a little nagging hunger is nothing compared with other things I would sooner be done with, frankly. And every year will bring more complaints, I’m sure.

    For those of you who are discouraged by the news of my hunger, please understand: It’s not so bad. It’s not nearly as bad as, say, sore feet and hips and knees…

    Okay. Nuff.

  15. Quinn says:

    Huh.

    Hey, JuJu? Is it really just hungry hormones? Could it also be a hunger neural pathway has been burnt into your/our brain/s?

    There’s an article into today’s NYTimes Health Section (availible online for free, but ya gotta register) about children and abdominal pain. Think tummy aches to the nth degree. Poor kids. At one point a doc suggests that part of what happens is an increased sensitivity to pain caused by the brain developing “abnormal pain pathways, so that the volume of pain signaling is being turned up and up.”

    So, I was wondering. Could the same thing be happening with hunger signals? From the same article: “The gastrointestinal tract is awash in nerve cells and neurotransmitters. About 95 percent of the body’s neurotransmitter serotonin is in the intestinal tract. Stress, nervousness, fear and other emotions often play out their own drama in the gut. In children with abdominal pain, the intestinal tract becomes hypersensitive to stimuli, with the slightest bit of gas, for instance, sending a flood of pain signals to the brain.”

    A couple years ago i started on Zoloft (a popular SSRI) for severe depression. Along with relief of the depression, I’ve also experienced a MUCH easier time regulating my eating habits, or, rather, my NOT-eating habits, along with other impulses and compulsions.

    Just something mull over.

    If you see any reasearch on this, would you let us know?

  16. Cassey says:

    Another great post!

    I had to comment on this. This week was my 16th week of being at goal after losing 215 lbs (I first commented here about a month ago too before we went on vacation for 3 weeks) and I have to say – what many people fail to realize, is that a person who has lost a MASSIVE (oh yeah… such a pretty word, lol) amount of weight… has food issues.

    My issue is – I’m addicted. I love food and I would love to eat it all day and all night. If there was no penalty for that kind of behavior, I would eat all day and all night. It’s not pretty – but it’s the truth.

    So, even thought the world now sees a person who is just regular looking, inside I am anything but regular. Losing the weight doesn’t instantly make me not want food anymore. I didn’t instantly get the power to inately know what to eat and how much to eat etc etc. I want food… I WANT FOOD… the difference is, now, I make my choices differently. I don’t choose to remain in that full semi-high food state anymore. I choose to go to bed a little hungry and wake up alert and ready to face my day.

    I have a limit too. 3 lbs. People might think I’m strict with that, but the truth is – I can be up 3 lbs or more after just one day of eating whatever I want. If I don’t put a stop to it right then and there – then I’m in trouble. And because I gain weight SO easily… it wouldn’t take long for a little trouble to turn into me being 390 lbs again.

    There are sacrifices to be made. I count fat and fiber and calories and I have rules and regulations… and I even lock up my candy and chocolate at home. I exercise daily and I drool over all the food I CHOOSE not to have. I don’t regret any of that… what I do is celebrate life. I have bad days… oh boy… bad days and I have great days… wonderful days.

    I have accepted what my body can give me… I suspect I’ll be working on figuring out what my body can and can’t handle for pretty much the rest of my life.

    No regrets. In fact – I lived for FAR too long, in a state where I didn’t care what my body took in or gave out. I was like a shut in – but with a job. I was closed off and hid as much as I could. I lived in shame.

    The fact is I’m happy every day when I wake up and have the energy to put in another 5k… and I’m satisfied when I lay my head down at night and feel like I did the very best that I could that day for my body.

    Being a little hungry every once in a while is a very small sacrifice for those kinds of life rewards.

    Thanks JuJu… I missed your entries while I was gone!

  17. Amy K. says:

    Wow, lots of great comments!

    I have to echo the question from the first comment: How far above your “ideal weight” is your top number? And how did you choose that magic top number?

    And a question from an issue far in the archives: After your trip to Ireland you were hoping to increase your metabolism, so you could eat more each day. How well did that go? I think at that point you were eating 1200 calories a day, and now you’re up to 1400, but I could be wrong, and you could be exercising way more! 🙂 If you’ve already posted about this in the archives, I apologize, I haven’t made it through all of the previous posts yet.

  18. Mercury says:

    I agree that there’s a lot we don’t know about appetite control, especially if you were very overweight for a long time. But I do wonder if you could find a happier medium, Juju. Obviously you know yourself better than I do. I wonder though, have you considered going to 22-25% body fat, just to see if your appetite stabilizes there?

    I’m intrigued (and a little scared) by this entry, because my big thing is hunger too. I’m perfectly happy eating carrot sticks dipped in mustard every day, but I want to feel satisfied and full afterwards. I’ve done WW a couple times, and it didn’t seem like anybody else had the same hunger issues, or at least at the same intensity that I did. I seem to have an odd metabolism myself. I weigh about the same as you, but I’d say I eat about double the calories. If I really, really focus, I can get my daily calories under 2000. That may seem like a feast, but I am just hungry all the time, or I am when I’m at the weight I like. But I would say I can maintain a normal weight without focusing on it tremendously, it’s just not my vanity weight.

    One other possibility – do you live a life with a lot of stress and very little sleep? Because those trigger hunger too, as I’m sure you know. I’m quite slothful, so that may help me regulate my eating. 🙂

  19. Marie says:

    It does sound odd, and scares me a bit too. For me hungry isn’t just a little empty feeling, almost always, shortly after the little empty hits, my head feels dizzy, I feel shakey and woozy and can’t thing, even sometimes my vision gets wonky, and I get crabby and the longer it goes the worse it gets.

    I took a blood sugar test and it went down to I think 50, (by which point I was a mess)and the doc said I was hypoglycemic. Which I think translates into I need to eat like JuJu has been all along. Its much better and happens less i’ve noticed, if I don’t drink pop (and I do drink diet..weird huh) ..which I drink too often. And its better when I remember to eat enough protein and fiber, and not all simple carbs. And oh yeah, apples somehow are pretty miraculous for filling me up, small as they are. I should test out the sleep thing cause I’m sure that’s a factor for me. But I still get hungry and get the shakes soon after. No fun at all. But luckily there are decent spaced intervals in between.

    On the plus side though, I’m not always hungry..and have no problem with feeling full. I am usually hungry by the time I eat these days, sometimes ravenous. I know in my teens I used to eat 2nd even 3rd helpings..and end up full to bursting but eat it anyway, and I often started eating when I wasn’t even hungry, go get a slice of pizza after dinner. Bad things like that. NOw its rare that I eat past a comfortable level of fullness, and I really regret it (and feel horrible) when I do. I’m almost always hungry when I eat, and once dinner is done I’m done. But somehow (argh) that hasn’t translated into any big weight loss. sigh. Maybe i’m screwed up too. And oh..I haven’t done a lot of diets for long or had a yoyo weight gain and loss.

    With the fullness thing though I really wonder if some people are wired differently..tht somehow the fullness signal..however that works.. that works for most people just doesn’t work for them, and that’s one reason they gain weight in the first place. I wonder if they’ve researched that.

  20. NewJane says:

    I don’t like anyone telling me what to eat, or more to the point, what not to eat. It triggers my urge to resist authority. Perhaps that’s why diets have always been short-lived for me.

    I’ve been more drawn to the intuitive eating idea and to using tricks like eating half portions, smaller plates, etc. I’ve tried the psychological approach of OA and the Christian approach of the Weigh Down Workshop. Only problem is that I didn’t lose much weight doing any of those, and being morbidly obese with full-blown metabolic syndrome, I HAVE to lose the weight or die soon. I would lose a little and then get stuck and eventually give up. Putting up with someone else’s “shoulds” and not being rewarded with consistant weight loss was too much to take.

    But April 2004 I decided to use my analytical brain and really focus. I was afraid I’d get obsessive like I had years ago when I calorie counted and talked of nothing else. What I’ve discovered is that writing it down sets me free. The data is there to analyze when the weight stops coming off (and it’s been a series of fits and starts, but keeps coming off), but once I write it down, I can move on to the next activity of my day. I usually have to double-check my notebook before dinner to see how many calories I have left, because I forget – far from obsessing on it!

    I’ve lost 35 pounds so far, perhaps a hundred or so to go – who knows, since I’ve been very fat my entire life.

    I call it my “Changing My Life” plan notebook. I track far more than daily calories. I track where in my menstrual cycle I am, since I gain right on schedule every month. I track physical activity, both exercise and true work. My house is looking so much better and I figure heavy cleaning takes more energy and strength than I used to have, so it definitely “counts.” I track sleep, water intake, and SAD light time. I track social contacts, relaxing activities, and spiritual disciplines. Basically, if I have come to recognize it as something which impacts my mental health and how well I take care of myself in general, I track it.

    My form has changed over the months, as I’ve fine tuned it. If someone else had created it, I would resent it. But I did it. I am doing it. It gives me control AND releases me from focussing on it incessantly. When I don’t lose as expected, the data is right there and I can modify my plan as necessary. Otherwise, I just live. I am empowered to change into who I want to become. I highly recommend it.

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