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The Octopus wonders about weight...
the first of a loose series on how weight works, with a foolproof, 95% effective plan
Since my schedule is crazy right now, I'm trying to focus on giving myself as much support as possible. I feel better when I eat "better" (for me that means eating plenty of meat and plenty of veggies, with other stuff filling in the edges), and fit more movement into my day. I'm using an app to keep track of what eating, in large part because it helps me keep my focus on getting adequate protein--but apps tend to be weight-loss focused and I have to be careful about how I use it because the weight-loss mindset WILL trigger all my most unhealthy behaviors.
But using the app means that I've been thinking about weight, and how it works. It's a topic that I come back to frequently because it's so complicated and interesting, and there's so much that we tend to get wrong about it.
I'll be spending the next few newsletters exploring weight, largely from the perspective of how the biology works rather than a cultural examination (probably, although there will certainly be a little of that brought in too). It's a bigger topic than can easily fit into a single newsletter (or, at least, a single newsletter than can be read in a single sitting...), so I'll be taking my time to really dig into it. And because my primary focus is on learning medical massage, "digging in" means taking small bites and working my way through these ideas slowly and sometimes in a disjointed way.
A request: if you feel that this exploration would be unhealthy for you, please practice good boundaries and unsubscribe or stop reading. I know for many of us, and this certainly includes past-me, ANY conversation around weight can be triggering and upsetting. I don't want to cause problems for you, and would much prefer that you unsubscribe than find yourself in an unhealthy place because of something that I've written.
With that caveat, let's begin.
We're told that our weight is not just in our control, but is our responsibility. It's no different to our clothes--put it on, take it off. Just choose what you want it to be and then get there. Failure to achieve your goal is simply laziness. End of discussion.
If that were true, then commercials for weight loss programs wouldn't have the disclaimer: results not typical.
In fact, our current obsession with weight and weight loss has found an easy and almost foolproof way to automatically cause weight gain, with 95% efficacy. Just deliberately eat less and move more. It won't take effect right away, of course. There'll actually be some loss before the gain starts. But in as little as a few days, the magic will start to happen and then you'll effortlessly start to gain weight. And when things start to slow down, just kickstart the process with another few days of deliberately eating less and moving more. After a few years of this, you'll hardly recognize yourself.
That's not the story that we're told, of course. But the numbers are there. For 95% of people, deliberately eating less and moving more results in a higher weight. That was certainly true for me, and it's been true for many other people that I've spoken to. We diet ourselves into ever higher weight, and we feel miserable and guilty the whole time.
The truth is, our weight is complicated. It's also not in our control. Kind of like fuel-efficiency in a car. High fuel-efficiency means that we go farther on less gas, but we don't achieve that through trying to literally drive farther with less gas in the tank. Fuel-efficiency is about more thans miles and gallons.
We can affect it, like we can affect whether we're healthy or not. But ultimately our weight, like our health and like the fuel-efficiency of our cars, is a result of the accumulation of many, many different factors. It's not just about the number of calories (or carbs) that we eat and the minutes of exercise we get in. It’s complicated, which is, truly, the interesting part.
to be continued…
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