13 Weeks: Week Eight -- Plateaus and Diets and Goals, Oh My!
Episode VIII: A NEW HOPE. It is a period of gluttony and excess. The Taubes rebellion, striking back from a hidden base of scientific papers, anecdotal stories, and statistics, has managed to win its first high-intensity battle against body fat and blood glucose, only to find itself stymied by the holiday season, plateauing weight, and coffee cake. Follow Our Hero at PJ Lifestyle and Facebook as he enters the eighth week of his thirteen week experiment.
Yeah, okay, it's a little cheesy, but it sure worked for Lucas. So this is Week Eight, and you remember all that stuff about plateaus for the last two weeks? Well, you can forget about it. This morning's weight was 272 pounds, which is 5 pounds or more off in the last week and within a hair of 30 pounds off since I first had my mortality wake-up call in October. Blood glucose has a bigger variance, so since day numbers aren't as useful, but my average morning fasting blood glucose for the first week of the experiment was 142; for the last 7 days, it has been 122. This is progress.
Twelve-steppers are told to "trust the process" and it's good advice, but it sure is a helluva sight easier to trust the process when it's actually visibly working.
Now that I'm well past the halfway point, however, and the end of this experiment starts to be something foreseeable, people are starting to ask me what my next goals will be. This goes along with the people who ask you what your New Year's Resolution will be?
My New Year's Resolution is not to make any New Year's Resolutions.
As I've said a couple of times, the physiology of this whole low-carb eating plan is interesting, but the longer I go into the experiment, the more the psychology of "dieting" and weight loss, and socially-conditioned feelings about diets and weight, and my own personal baggage (two steamer trunks, three suitcases, and an extensive scrapbook) involving all of this has become the most interesting part.
This week, in addition to the sudden weight loss itself, I had what I think has to be described as a therapeutic insight about my weight and that baggage. How I came to that realization would be a long, extraordinarily geeky but eventually boring story involving, of all things, MMORPG computer games, but the upshot is that I realized that in my day-to-day life, when I'm interacting in person with other people, I've always -- always -- had a subconscious awareness that I was fat, and that being fat was disgusting, so therefore I was disgusting.
I suspect this may have had some impact on my confidence in social situations.
Of course, I always resented that, and always resented the efforts to shame me into losing weight, which is one reason why I hate calling this change in my eating habits a "diet". I realized this week that this is also the basis of my intuitive decision to stop talking about "weight loss goals" even at the start. The truth is, that to the extent I have any goals in this experiment, it's that I want to eventually be really really old, and we're not going to see if I succeeded for a long time. (Anyone who wants to argue that 57 is already really really old may leave the room.) I started it because I was watching my health declining: chronic and severe gastrointestinal troubles -- I was hospitalized a couple years ago for what at first appeared to be a heart attack but was in fact just a really outraged esophagus; blood sugar rising well beyond really safe levels and continuing to rise; poor sleep and apparent apnea; all the simple mechanical issues caused by weighing 300 pounds; and the subconscious certainty that I was disgusting in appearance.
The conclusion I've come to is this: I don't and won't make any stated goals for weight loss at all. To the extent I have a goal, it's that I want my health to be visibly better at the end of this thirteen weeks, and the next thirteen weeks, and the thirteen weeks after that.
I'm learning from the experiment, however, that it's clear lots of wheat is hard on my body. I'll continue to avoid wheat after the thirteen weeks are up, but I'll avoid it because wheat clearly makes me sick. I'll stay with a low-carb diet because lots of easily-digested carbs make me fat and sick. And I'll continue working on better ways to get more exercise, because even the limited success with Tabata-protocol training has shown me that it's possible to not devote hours and hours a week to boring exercise, but that efficient targeted high-intensity exercise makes me feel better.
And I'm keeping my ears open for that "fat and therefore disgusting" subconscious voice. It's got to go.
Image courtesy shutterstock / Michaelstockfoto