Why you should stop fat shaming

Whenever there’s an article on the web or a status on Facebook trying to promote healthy body image or stop fat shaming, there’s always that person who thinks its a good time to point out that being fat is unhealthy. I’d like to point out that being judgmental is also not healthy.  These people love insisting that if the fat person would just exercise the same sort of will power as they do, they could be healthier, fitter, sexier people.  More worthy of positive assessments perhaps. Anyway, whatever it is, I’m here to explain why they are just clueless.

Losing is harder than maintaining

Eating 1800 calories a day to maintain a slender figure is not the same as eating 1800 calories a day when you’re slightly over weight and maintenance is 2300. We are not simple balloons who can be filled up or emptied at any whim. If you’ve never had a need to lose 20 pounds or more then you may not know this. You certainly can’t appreciate it, unless maybe you’ve tried to gain 20 pounds and had a hard time doing that. Our bodies fight to maintain our weight. We have hormones like insulin, leptin, and ghrelin that work hard giving us cravings, rationalisations and making us ravenously hungry. Losing weight, being in a caloric deficit, doesn’t feel the same as maintaining or eating maintenance calories even when the number of calories is the same between those two different sized people. It hurts physically, mentally and emotionally. And it’s only when all our ducks are in a perfect row that we can actually manage to consistently lose significant amounts of weight over time.

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Cortisol.

Stress makes it harder. If you have a crap job, a crap relationship, small children, or any constant low level stress that you have to endure, losing weight is going to be harder, if not  impossible. At the same time while we can exercise our willpower we also have finite amountsso if just living your life day to day spends all your patience and will power, adding weight loss is not going to be practical. This reduces the number of over weight people who will lose weight this year significantly on its own. Maybe if our society was a bit more civil and equitable it would be easier.

 The media and body image.

We all know that the media is at fault for giving us all unrealistic body image issues. Because of this overweight people will be fighting themselves and their self image. Hating themselves, in part because of people who fat shame. In many cases it’s not until we can actually truly accept ourselves for who we are, the size we are and everything before we can even get to all the other steps necessary to lose any weight. I only read half the book Overcoming Overeating but completely agree with the narrative which tells about how sometimes you cannot get anywhere until you stop trying so hard. Also, you can look at my post How I came to accept my body for what it is. (Note: I’m now a lower weight than ever since I started trying to lose it.)

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Fast food market, crap food market, food scientists

Multi-billion dollar companies spend millions if not billions on food scientists who research how to make us all addicted to their crap products that make us fat. An ex food scientist in this Guardian article says, “These products are designed to keep you coming back to eat more and more and more.” The WHO acknowledges that it’s largely the fast food market making us fat, and it’s known how much money goes into making those products hard to resist. I can’t emphasise enough how good they have gotten at making the physical product hard to resist and the marketing of that product has become so much more sophisticated. They are using a lot of research to manipulate us into getting fatter and unhappier. None of this is our fault. The only fault lies in continuing to allow them to do it.

Lack of knowledge,

If you don’t know what to eat, what to avoid or how to cook, it’s going to be really hard to manage weight loss in the long term. The diet market sells lies all over the place. Do we eat 1200 calories a day or 2000? Do we walk, run or lift weights? Do we eat calorie controlled ready meals or our own cooked meals? Is all of this wrong? The diet industry tells us there are pills and shakes and diet plans that will magically make us thin. Even shoes and leggings can do it! The fact is, even though there’s always that person saying that it’s obvious what you should and shouldn’t eat, it’s not true. I have lost weight eating burgers, tacos, and take out because I know how to make those kinds of decisions. If you eat plain porridge for breakfast, a salad for lunch and plain chicken with broccoli for dinner, you are going to be so under nourished you’ll gorge on some biscuits before the end of the week for sure. And all those people trying to sell you diet plans aren’t helping you learn either. It takes time, effort, trial and error to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

The fact is it’s not simply a matter of making the decision to lose weight and following through. Maybe technically it is, but if you think human behaviour is that simple you belong in a different century! Losing weight is possible if you’re committed, but not obsessed. If you’re prepared and ready, you have support, the chance to pamper yourself and the resilience to get back up when you fall. I don’t want anyone to feel like you can’t do it. You can! It just takes a lot of preparation and commitment. Much more than someone who judges you could even dream of.  So if you’ve been victim to fat shaming idiots who think they know better, take heart. They are charmed, clueless and not particularly attractive themselves!

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My diet break

Can I just take a minute to celebrate that I have now broken some sort of mental set point I had going on for something like five years! I could never get under this number and somehow, while I wasn’t really paying attention I just broke it! Woot!

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That happened of course before my diet break. I just finished my first diet break this weekend and I’m sure I’m a bit higher again. I’m not worried in the least though because it will be just water which will be lost again before the end of the week along with a bit more fat. I found last year that the best pattern for me is two and a half weeks “on” and then four days “off”. This was the most measured and reasonable break I’ve ever had though. I put that down to the relative lack of sugar in my diet right now.

I started “dieting” on 14 July, counting calories to under 2000, but usually under 1800. I had already cut out most sugar from my diet so what I was focusing on is eating enough veg and controlling the high calorie foods. I tend to have greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast, unless I’m really hungry and craving carbs then I have porridge. Lunch is quite varied but I try to go for veg heavy soups or salads. I had falafel, hummous and salad in a whole wheat roll a couple days in a row which was so good. I’ll have to remember to do that again this week. I lost about two and a half pounds so that’s quite a good result. By the time diet break rolled around I felt so in control and not at all in need of it, but I know from experience it’s best to do it anyway, have a few indulgences and get back on the wagon.

Normally I have all sorts of sweets, snacks and cakes on my diet break and end up feeling sick by the second day. This time I didn’t have much interest in filling up with sugary things. I had some nice food that doesn’t fit well into a diet, I relaxed about having two glasses of wine in an evening and I enjoyed a bit of ice cream too.

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This is not my photo. Image source

Thursday: I decided to eat as normal until dinner which was to be home made pizza. I love this pizza and will have to blog about it someday! I had roasted red peppers, portabello mushrooms, and pepperoni on my half. It was looovely! I also had some wine which of course was also lovely!

Friday: Breakfast was cinnamon raisin toast with butter! Lunch has been forgotten about! Dinner was steak and spicy chips! More wine! Yum!

Saturday: Breakfast was more cinnamon raisin toast, brunch was bacon, sausage and egg sandwiches (2!), dinner was chicken parm with spaghetti. We had wine too and late in the evening before bed we dug out the ice cream out of the back of the freezer. It was a bit old but hey, scrape off the edges and yum yum!

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 This is my photo

Sunday: Breakfast was regular whole wheat toast with peanut butter, lunch was a picnic with the kids at the Dino park, roast beef and cheese sandwich, pom bears, some raw pepper sticks. Dinner was mac & cheese with bacon and roasted chicken stirred through. We were going to have margaritas to send off the diet break but my littlest one decided she wasn’t tired and gave me a hard time so I ended up in bed by 8:30! Boo!

Today I’m back on the wagon and not feeling too bad about it. I think I’ll be right back into the swing within two or three days. I’ll let you know if not though.

Have you ever dieted this way? I find that most people think it’s silly to “take a break” but people who do it have better results because you’re not faced with months of deprivation!

How to turn back the clock on your aging metabolism

You used to be able to eat whatever you wanted but now you can’t even look at a chocolate bar right? You and everyone else! It doesn’t need to be that way.

Your metabolism doesn’t just tank because you’ve gotten a few years older. It doesn’t work that way. If it did, everyone would gain weight, but not everyone does do they? Apparently if you’re not overweight by age 40 it’s unlikely to happen because at that point you just naturally eat less food anyway. (These are averages people!) What happens is that sometime between 20 years old and 30 years old you start to lose muscle. Until that time you are technically still ‘growing’ but then you reach your peak and it all starts to slip away.

Lets not forget the other stuff too, the lifestyle differences between a 25 year old and a 35 year old. A 25 year old tends to have lots of energy and is always doing things with friends and family, forgetting to eat lunch, not bothering with dinner, grabbing a couple of crackers and a banana instead. (WTF?) A 35 year old tends to be more likely to be married with kids. This means you are on a synchronised meal plan with your family. The routine is you come home and eat a big dinner with your family. You don’t even think about whether you want it or not anymore do you? In fact you DO want it, because you expect it.  But are you hungry enough for that big dinner after that big lunch you had?

Back to the muscle loss. Muscle as you know weighs more than fat. It also burns more calories than fat. Only a few per pound but it’s still true. So basically someone who is 70 kg but 15% body fat is burning the same amount of calories a day as someone who is 70 kg and 30% body fat.

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This woman weighs the same in both photos, her maintenance calories per day will be the same at both times in her life except that in the fitter photo she’s obviously working out more so her maintenance calories will be more. So she’s thinner, fitter, older and eating more calories. Granted she’s not eating chocolate bars all day, but she can have one now and then and not worry about gaining weight.

If you don’t do something about it, you will be losing muscle mass every year and replacing that body weight with fat. Then the fat burns fewer calories and you gain more fat. This is the rut we get into as we age if we aren’t careful.

So what do you do about it?

You pick up heavy things. You do squats. You do push ups. You eat chicken and eggs and other proteins. Resistance training and eating enough protein (.75 grams of protein per kg of body weight) are the answers to the aging, declining metabolism issue.

Resistance training resources:

I can recommend any of the New Rules of Lifting books for everyone.

Shape.com’s “Easiest Plan Ever”

Nerd Fitness Beginners Body weight workout

Spark People Full Body Strength Training

Now I’m not going to pretend that I always follow my own advice. I keep meaning to get back to my body weight routine. Maybe publishing this will spur me into action again!

How to tame the sugar beast

I’m now pretty easily maintaining a weight that used to be my low in my yo-yo dieting routine, and I put that down in part to the lack of baking habit and the conscious avoidance of cakes and biscuits. I stick to the sugar in my coffee in the morning and the occasional dark hot cocoa in the evening as well as fruits during the day but other than that these days it’s rare that I eat anything with a lot of processed sugar. Sadly I can see and feel the benefit of this prohibition quite easily.

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I maintain this weight even though I eat take out once, sometimes twice in a week. I maintain this weight even though we rely on the fryer in this house far too often. I maintain this weight even though I enjoy a good fresh ciabatta from the market sometimes and a glass or two of red wine sometimes too many days in the week. On the one hand I kind of miss my chocolate brownies or at least the freedom to eat them, on the other hand because I’m not eating them I’m not craving them which is such a bonus.

When I get my coffee at the local coffee shop in the mornings I no longer salivate at the cakes and croissants on display like I used to. That pile of chocolate in my fridge doesn’t tempt me and neither do the chocolate digestives on the door. I’m no longer constantly dreaming of the treats I can bake and take to work with me. Having a tray of chocolate chip cookies at your desk while you sit at a computer all day is one of the worst things in the world when you have a hard time maintaining a reasonable weight. It is for me anyway.

Beast Within Me by Piedra

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When I eat one cookie, or brownie or cupcake an evil demon arrives to convince me that there is no good reason not to have another. Its not that bad for you, it’s not that calorific, there’s no reason you can’t just have one more. Over and over again. I can remember a time, at work, when I ate 400 calorie brownies all day until they were gone. Another time at home I ate tiny slices of this delicious cinnamon swirl pumpkin cake all day until it was gone, each slice was intended to be the last. That must have been 1500 calories! The beast is addiction and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past six years of paying attention to diet and how my body reacts it’s that I am highly susceptible to sugar addiction.

In the past year and a half or so I’ve been stricter with myself and I hold to one in a day, occasionally I’ll have a second, but not every day. In the past two or three months, I’ve been abstaining completely except on special occasions. Last week I made cupcakes for dinner guests and I had one, was unhappy with how it made me feel and didn’t have another even though they sat in my kitchen for a week. My poor husband had to eat them all himself.

I’ve done it many times so here’s how I tame the beast and cut out sugar.

  1. Don’t worry about calories right now just cut the big culprits like cakes, chocolate bars and sweets.
  2. Eat as much fruit as you need at first to satisfy those cravings. Its doesn’t but it helps.
  3. Do eat lean protein and veg heavy meals
  4. Stay away from energy bars, cereal bars and other candy masquerading as health food.
  5. Drink lots of water.
  6. Get lots of sleep.

I find it takes me about three to five days but everyone is different. I’ve heard for some people it can take significantly longer than that, others just a day or two. And of course some people never get addicted to sugar at all. I don’t know, takes all kinds I guess.

Are you a sugar addict too? Have you been through the detox process or do you want to? Let me know about it.

 

Half way to my nutrition diploma!

I am now half way through my diploma course in Nutrition, which is awesome. I happened to see a Groupon for this course with Shaw Academy and jumped at the chance for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve been self-studying this stuff for years and I kind of want to prove that I know what I’m talking about. Two, I have for a long time wanted to help people in their weight loss efforts. I’ve had a hard time myself so I totally understand the epic struggle it can be but I see people making so many mistakes and never really feel like it’s up to me to tell them. I still won’t interject where my opinion is unwanted, but I will be able to tell people that I can help; I’m not just another girl with an opinion based on an article I read in a magazine.

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So far, not much has surprised me in this course, except for just how bad for you alcohol is. But that must be very large amounts right? Right. As I said I’m half way through and it’s no big deal because it’s mostly all just a memory refresh. I will revise for the exam at the end, just to make sure I pass as well as possible, but I’m not at all worried or nervous about it. I’ve definitely had a good refresh though and I thought I’d go through where I see I can make improvements in my diet. You may have similar issues.

  1. I could eat more fish. I’ve known this for years. The guidelines state that you should have fish twice a week and one of those should be oily fish for it’s heart protective effects. Ick. Trout, mackerel sardines, and salmon are all examples of shit I don’t want to eat. I’ve been taking fish oil pills for years for this reason.
  2. Eat more fibre. I used to track this but haven’t for years now. I don’t think I do too badly really but I should remember to choose my black bean stews and lentil soups more often. I love these but extra cooking is such a chore at the moment with the two little ones.
  3. Increase my iron intake. I’m pretty sure that I’m iron deficient most of the time. I should go out and grab a supplement to take daily. Maybe I’ll stop craving beef all time.
  4. Water. I’m quite good at drinking enough water when I’m at my desk at work but at home chasing kids around I just forget. This is not an excuse; it’s so so important to get enough water, for everything from feeling fuller longer to higher energy levels. Oh yeah and proper body functioning too.
  5. Fruit and veg. I’m pretty good about eating my 5 a day actually but there is always room for improvement on this one, unless you are literally a rabbit
  6. Sugar. I’ve gotten into a bad habit recently putting sugar in my coffee in the morning. It’s so hard to get away from because it’s so much tastier! Besides that I’ve been mega good about avoiding unnecessary sweet treats like brownies, cakes and sweets.

All these are in addition to the very obvious things like I eat too much processed ready meals, probably too many processed carbs, and rely on the fryer too much. This is all for convenience sake, and will change once both my kids are out of the toddler and preschool phases and everyday is less like an assault course.  The current daily priority is just getting through the day!

What kind of changes do you think you should make to your diet?

 

Oreo Caramel Cheesecake (Ice Cream!)

So, I do like to talk about working out and eating right, I think it’s very important, but it’s summer and everyone needs something to make for guests or something to bring when they are a guest. I do NOT suggest you eat this whole thing. You could always just have a fruit salad, that would be the healthy responsible thing to do, but its not nearly as good as this! Sometimes we just have to be naughty. BTW, I really wanted to make this peanut butter instead of (or in addition to!) the caramel but I don’t think that very many people where this was going would have been into that as much. I, as an American, am completely addicted to peanut butter and chocolate desserts. If you want me to, I will experiment with and report back on that idea!

Edit: This cheesecake did not set! Don’t make this as is, you’ll be as disappointed as I was.

Oreo Caramel Cheesecake

Based on the BBC no-bake cheesecake here.

400 grams of full fat Philadelphia cream cheese

300 grams of mascarpone cheese

200 grams of icing sugar

1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 can of Carnation caramel

For the base:

200 grams of Oreo biscuits

75 grams of butter

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Method:

Mash up the oreos really well. I put them in a bag and used a roller but that didn’t work as well as it does when it’s digestives. I had to then pour them into a bowl and just mash them up with the back of a measuring cup. It was a bit of work.

Melt the butter. Don’t let it explode all over the microwave like it always does to me!

Combine the crushed oreos and some of the melted butter, you won’t need it all. I didn’t. Dump it in your buttered and papered 9 inch springform pan (I told you that part right? Oh. Sorry! Good thing you read through the whole thing first!) and pat it all down nice and neat. Throw it carefully into the fridge for a bit.

With a mixer, combine the cheeses and the scraped out seeds of the vanilla bean, well. Add two or three Tablespoons of the caramel into the cheese mixture and mix some more.

Sift a little bit of the sugar at a time into the mixture and mix thoroughly before putting the mixer on it (just to save you from a big mess). Once it’s all mixed turn the mixer to medium high and mix for a few minutes more.

Get the base out and pour the mixure on top, even it all out and pop it back into the fridge for apparently at least 4 hours. I went to bed so it was like 8 or 10.

Put the remaining caramel into a squeeze bottle (you have one right? No? Just drizzle it on then.) and squeeze out a cool effortless drizzle design over the top. Do your best.

You can melt 100 grams of chocolate and drizzle that too like I did. Yum!

EDIT: This cheesecake did not set. I would suggest you add some gelatine leaves. Instead I blended it up into a thick shake (which tasted amazing) and then put it into an ice cream maker. Sadly I didn’t get to try any because we brought it to a family member’s barbecue and chased my kids around and then left exhausted. I’ll probably try it again though, because seriously, Caramal Oreo Cheesecake ICE CREAM!?

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