Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reverting To Old Habits

I've been holding off posting this for more than a month now because there were other things going on, but here's my take and inquiry into losing and regaining weight after crash dieting.

Last year, some of the day shift nurses had a competition on who can lose the most weight within a certain amount of time, like the TV show The Biggest Loser except without nutritionists and personal trainers. The contestants contributed money in a pot and whoever lost the most weight would claim the winnings. The nurse who won the contest lost more than 40 pounds mostly by dieting. I never heard this nurse mention anything about exercise. As an outside observer, I noticed that he/she kept the weight off for many months. However, recently, it seems like he/she has been regaining some of the lost weight. During the competition, this nurse followed a low calorie diet fastidiously and was able to do so for several months after winning, but recently, it appears that she has reverted to her former pre-competition eating habits, like eating goodies that people bring in to work which she didn’t partake of during and immediately after the contest. This made me wonder if majority of people who initially succeeded in losing weight eventually regained it or even added more. I’m pretty sure there has been research done about that already but I’m just not up to looking it up at the moment. This also reminds me of one of the actresses who played a nurse on the TV show ER. She had gastric bypass surgery and lost a lot of weight. I stopped watching ER for a couple of years and one time when I happened to glance at the show in its last year, the actress had regained a lot of weight. Look at Randy Jackson, one of the judges on American Idol. He had a similar procedure, lost some weight, but he doesn’t look so different now than he did before he had the surgery. Another nurse went on a strict diet where she can eat only certain kinds of food at a particular time of the day. She initially lost weight but now I noticed that the puffiness in her cheeks is back. I’ve observed her eating between her supposedly strictly scheduled meal times. This leads me to believe that people can initially succeed in losing weight through crash diets and surgery, but they cannot get away from their previous eating behaviors for too long, and thus gain some if not most of the weight back. While I have never been overweight in my life, please believe me when I say that staying the way I am physically takes a lot of hard work. The discipline to keep it up is tough but doable, however it takes tenacity and a lifestyle change. I’m guessing that people who eventually backslid to their bad habits discounted exercise as an important factor in maintaining what they achieved through dieting and surgery. But that’s just my opinion and I could be wrong. I’m not a calorie counter but in the end, it all boils down to that, whether one likes it or not.
It’s hard to crash diet for a couple of months, but it’s even harder to maintain the lost weight afterwards. All I’m ultimately saying is that keeping weight down to an acceptable level (whatever level that might be to you) is very hard work and a matter of changing long-programmed behaviors in your brain. Is it just normal human behavior that makes us revert to bad habits? I am probably as guilty of that as the lapsed dieters because I tend to return to my injurious running habits after trying to retool my stride. We could all do better. This is not to bash those who have tried and failed but a matter of questioning why it happens. And then there are people who are happy and content with what they have physically, and if they are healthy to boot, then who am I to question them?

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