darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Graph)
[personal profile] darkemeralds

In a long and thoughtful comment on my recent post about the new disciplines I'm undertaking, [personal profile] tehomet raised some important points about my decision to lose what I consider to be excess fat. (I won't try to summarize her ideas here--her comment is well worth reading.)

I was discussing some of the Fat Acceptance and feminism ideas that [personal profile] tehomet mentions with [personal profile] kis yesterday, and she said a couple of things that I hadn't been aware of:

One, that my writing style on this blog has a Voice of Authority quality to it that might make it seem as if I Speak For All when I'm really only speaking for myself.

And two, that I never actually described the food-related discipline that I've decided to undertake, so that it's easy for people to misinterpret what I'm up to as "dieting" in some commonly-understood and rightfully-maligned sense.

So, to address [personal profile] kis' first point, I really am only speaking for myself. I'm excited enough about what I've undertaken to want to write about it. I do my best thinking in writing anyway, and I'm still thinking: everything on this subject is provisional, experimental, and still open. I'm way too old to believe that I've found the Answer--especially the answer that applies to anyone else--but I move forward by means of enthusiasm, by embracing new ideas, running with them, talking about them, living them; and that's what I'm doing here. That's all I'm doing here.

And to address her second point, here's what the heck I'm up to:
  1. Carefully and accurately counting the caloric content of what I eat
  2. Deducting the calories I burn with exercise
  3. Keeping the total as near to 2000 per day as I can, averaged over a week
Why 2000? Because if I weighed 175 lbs I would need 2000 calories a day to maintain that weight.

(How do I know that? A sedentary 55 year old woman's body metabolizes between 11 and 12 or so calories per day per pound of body weight. 175 x 11.5 = 2012.5)

Why 175 pounds? That's a harder question. It's a working hypothesis, and subject to change, but I needed a number and 175 seemed about right. It will probably result in 25-28% body fat, which is a healthy range according to both my experience and the data I can find. Plus, I liked my appearance and felt good the last time I weighed 175 lbs.

(And yes, this is about my appearance. And my comfort. And my feet. But there is a large body of medical evidence supporting the unhappy notion that excessive fatness is a health risk, one which increases with age. I understand that not everyone agrees with this body of evidence, but I have chosen to give it credence.)

So how will I get there? In a way, I'm already there.

Here's what I mean. Arithmetic ahoy.

If I weighed 255 to start with, which I'm pretty sure I did, I was eating about 2925 calories a day to maintain that mass. So cutting down to 2000 calories a day creates a 925 calorie a day deficit.

A pound of fat contains 3500 calories, so in (3500/925) days (3.8), presumably, I've lost a pound of fat--about 1.85 lbs in a week. I know, I know: there are variables. But stick with me.

That means that at the beginning of the second week, I weigh 253, and now my slightly smaller body needs slightly fewer calories a day. I'm still eating 2000, but the deficit is smaller, and I'll lose a little less this week than last.

If I keep eating 2000 calories a day, the weight-loss curve that started off steep soon flattens out, slowing week by week until it just...stops. It flatlines at around 175 lbs. In about December, 2015. Yes, five years from now.

Chart showing the curve of projected weight loss over time

And in all that time, I won't have really made any food behavior changes. I made the one change on October 17, 2010, and that was it. No "weight loss diet" versus "maintenance diet". No "prancing around with a trophy for a few days" (as [personal profile] kis vividly put it) when I Win The Game and then stop playing.

In theory, I've effectively already made all the changes I need to make, and I'm on "lifelong maintenance" from the get-go.

So far, I'm doing pretty well. (Note--the calorie counts are before exercise.)

Scatter Chart showing my daily calorie intake since October 17, 2010

...but that is a VERY SMALL DATASET and I know it. I could revert tomorrow.

The big trick, of course, lies in not reverting tomorrow, but in managing to do the same thing every day, every week, pretty much for all the days.

I have never tried this before. I've tried every "diet" except the one where I commit to the kitchen scale, the bathroom scale, the measuring cups and the teaspoons for the rest of my life.

I might fail spectacularly. I might fail modestly. I might just say "fuck it" tomorrow and get back to those yummy nearly-3000 calories a day I was enjoying.

But I might succeed in forging this new (neural) pathway, and I've decided that I want to try, and to marshal all the resources available to me to bolster my chances of success.

One of those resources is writing about the journey here. I'll keep it behind cuts for easy skipping, but I certainly welcome comment and discussion.
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