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February 20, 2011


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I don't know, Jamie. At some basic level, what she writes makes sense, but as it turns out, I lost 38 pounds last year (I've gained back 3 in Scotland, but I'm holding steady now) and hunger was never really part of the equation. I used Loseit.com, my original motivation for the changes was a scary-high cholesterol number, and my very first week, I was eating chocolate-chip cookies just to prove to myself that this wasn't going to be the death of pleasure. My motivation was not that I weighed 196 pounds -- I'd been at that weight (I'm 5'8") since the kids started kindergarten, after being at 181-185 since the sixth week after their birth (178 when I got pregnant in June 2000, 155 at my wedding in 1997, right after I left California and stopped walking 5 miles a day). In my case, every weight gain was sparked by a major change in lifestyle, and an uptick in mindless eating (I went to the fridge a lot more once the kids were in school, and I wasn't chasing around after them as much, for example). When I discovered that my cholesterol was scary-high, I had to Take Action. I went to Loseit.com because Bumblebee Sweet Potato praised it, I found the Mifflin index, and I was sort of shocked to discover that that index, if it approximated my metabolism, suggested that I would maintain 196 pounds with 2250 calories but maintain 140 pound with 1850 calories. Before exercise. Dude, I could do that.

And like I said, I lost 38 pounds at about 1.5 pounds a week, by doing 35 minutes on the elliptical 6 days out of 7, because for the rest of my life now, I need to get 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day, if I'm going to keep that cholesterol down -- it's an hereditary thing -- and if I'm going to ward off my higher diabetes risk from the POCS. That's the given, not a number on the scale.

(I was weighing myself every other second for a while there, and I gain about 3 pounds over the course of every day, and then lose it in my sleep. And I've always fluctuated 3-4 pounds around a given point, at least during the times when I paid attention. So maybe it also matters that I've never been a size where the difference between 110 and 113 would even register? I was at 130 in college and 138 when I finished at Oxford, and I thought I looked good. Of course, this was the mid-nineties, before twig-thin became the new standard.)

Anyway, I keep wandering from the point, which is, at least for me, when exercise and dietary content, but not food restriction, were my major goals (although I was keeping a food diary and sticking to a calorie budget, too), hunger was not part of the equation. It just ... wasn't. Maybe it's amazing what oatmeal for breakfast and carrots and apples for snacks, all that fiber, can do? I honestly don't know.

I'm not getting on an elliptical every day right now, and I think that's the cause of the 3-pound gain. I've been eating a hell of a lot of chocolate in this cold, grey, damp place and I've been at 160 since pretty much the minute I stepped off the plane. So I do believe, wholeheartedly, the part about the body craving weight stability. I gained in bursts, and then had long periods of stability before a shock sent me higher again. We'll see where I'm at in May, and in December, and so on.

I've written an epistle and I suspect it's not remotely coherent, or possibly even on point.

Oh -- I threw out all but two of my small-size clothes, and I did MOST of that after I'd already lost 20 pounds. Dude, if I lose a bunch of weight, I am totally rewarding myself with new clothes. But I put on one of my circa 1998 dresses for Christmas Eve (it's even back in style, with its leopard-print cuffs and collar) and Elba's eyes got really big: Mommy, you look so young! It took the kids about 30 pounds to notice any difference.

"So maybe it also matters that I've never been a size where the difference between 110 and 113 would even register? I was at 130 in college and 138 when I finished at Oxford, and I thought I looked good. Of course, this was the mid-nineties, before twig-thin became the new standard."

Hi Jody, Erin here, the blogger at bearing blog. I don't always explain this in my posts because I don't get new readers all THAT often, but I wanted to clarify that at 113 pounds I am at a healthy weight and not a twig. What I am is very short -- not even five feet tall. When I weighed 160 I was well into the "obese" category, and even today some "ideal weight indexes" tell me I should weigh 97 pounds or even less. I don't believe them, but there you go. My kids' Wii Fit tells me I should try to get down to 109.

I probably ought to add a "N.B. I'm probably shorter than you" to every single one of my weight-loss posts because every once in a while someone sends me an email horrified that I was still writing about losing weight when I was at, say, 118.

oh no! say it ain't so, that I was the one who dried up the Jamie blog for a couple weeks? Forgive me. It is simply because you write who you are, and the numinous and everyday meet in you, and you recognize that and share it with us. As you know from my blog, I'm not there ... yet, I hope.

I think writing about weight (and those 10 pounds) is still the stuff of life, my friend. Just as money is, and knitting, and marriage, and worship.

I often use the moving walkway analogy (as opposed to the I-80 analogy). The world is always striving to pull us toward its own values, so it's not enough just to sit still. We must always be pushing, fighting, to move toward Christ and all he has for us. Akron, indeed.

Hi Jamie - I just wanted to say that I'd love to hear about your Career Angst. I'm in the final months of finishing my PhD and have found your posts during the time when you were finishing yours to be monumentally comforting, inspiring, and helpful. Thank you!

Dave, no forgiveness needed! It is my own silly perfectionism at work. Thanks for your kind comments here.

Kristen, career angst post on the way.

Jody, congrats on the weight loss and thanks for your perspective.


Oh dear, no need to explain. I didn't make any assumptions about you being twig thin or otherwise, and if you write that three pounds makes a difference, I believe you. Who knows, maybe there'd be a point in my life where I saw a difference for me. It's just not the case right now.

The twig-thin comment was in there because I forget, pretty often, how VERY FAST the standard for 'thin' changed between say 1990 and 2000. There was a time when being 135 pounds at 5'8" was considered thin. From what I see in college towns now, that's no longer the case.

No advice on the weight loss, because I'm pretty far gone where that's concerned.

It's hard to deal with multiple uncertainties at once. It's really easy to get stuck in the spin cycle, so I hope you can find your way out of it and onward.

This wasn't a dumb post at all. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

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