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A Tale of Five Pounds

Posted Jan 22 2009 6:31pm

By Lynn Haraldson-Bering

I don’t believe in coincidence. The things that happen in our daily lives and the people we meet along the way all have a purpose, if we choose to look for it.

When Barbara and I met earlier this year and launched this website, offering information and support to people in maintenance, I felt pretty confident in my ability to maintain. I figured having lost almost 170 pounds and maintaining for a year that I knew a thing or two about weight and how to keep it off.

Then I gained five pounds in three months.

I hit 133.3 the day after Thanksgiving. Before you say it, it wasn’t because of Thanksgiving dinner because we weren’t eating until Friday. It happened because….and I can finally, at age 45 and almost four years of seriously dieting, losing and maintaining, admit this….I am sensitive to S Foods: starches and sugars (and, in addition, sorbital and sucralose).

For nearly a year I’d been telling Barbara that I wasn’t sensitive to S Foods. But the truth is, I am. How do I know? Because I got careless starting sometime in late August. While I can eat a few S Foods and be perfectly satisfied and not gain weight, for whatever reason I began substituting crackers for fruit, oatmeal or other cereal for yogurt, and couscous or pasta for almonds or tofu. One S Food, maybe two, is one thing. Four or five a day (as “experts” recommend) means a definite weight gain for me.

My Intake Balance Mechanism is as sensitive as a Swiss watch. Reader Donna, who commented in Barbara’s IBM blog, could have been talking about me when she said, “When I was overweight…I did eat on a regular basis white pasta, bread and pizza – and the pounds came on fast when those were a regular part on my diet. Other than those S Foods I can' t say that I overate consistently. In fact, even when overweight I was moderately active, ate vegetables, fruits, lean protein and nonfat dairy and in moderate amounts. So it does seem that I am sensitive to the S foods and just never realized it.”

This last time up the scale, when I went from 200 to 300 in four years, I overate much of the time. I also developed hypothyroidism and was clinically depressed. But all the times I gained before, I realize now, were not simply because I overate once in awhile, but I also ate the wrong things.

When I was 200 pounds, I didn’t realize this sensitivity. At 128, I do. Five extra pounds on my frame now is much more noticeable than on my 200-pound frame.

I wasn’t looking forward to weaning myself to only one or two S Foods every other day, but if I wanted to get back to 128 from 133, and more importantly to prevent a gain like that again, I knew I had to. Calorie for calorie I was eating the same amount as before, but I was gaining weight, and the only thing that changed was my intake of S Foods.

So I ate an orange when I wanted to eat three whole grain crackers, and I dipped a banana in my beloved PB2 rather than spreading it on fluffed up “lite” bread or a “high fiber” English muffin. For a few days, I felt deprived, like I did when I quit smoking years ago. But after a week, I discovered I wasn’t craving more food soon after eating the fruit (or protein or vegetables or skim milk or soy latte) as opposed to the S Food. Within three weeks, the five pounds was gone and my stomach, where I’d accumulated the gain, was flatter and I wasn’t bloated anymore. Just like Barbara said would happen.

I realize now that if I’m going to eat grains and potatoes, I need to respect this sensitivity and take care when and how much I consume. Instead of four or five servings of whole grains and root vegetables a day, I eat one or two, and they are carefully measured and balanced with the rest of my diet.

I have to accept that I have a slower-than-normal Intake Balance Mechanism. If I ignore this fact, I’ll be back to 150, 200, maybe even 300. It’s that simple.

In her essay,“How Did I Let This Happen Again”(unfortunately the entire article is no longer online), Oprah talks openly and frankly about her 40-pound weight gain. Like me, she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and depression. She chose food as her drug of choice. And now, after a sort of awakening, she knows that a commitment to weight loss and weigh maintenance is a commitment to yourself. Your whole self – mind, body and spirit. It takes diligence and tough love. It means realizing your sensitivities. It’s about understanding the difference between giving something up and modifying it.

It’s being open to new ideas and letting go of old ways of thinking.

I met Barbara for a reason. Several reasons, actually. And my 128-pound body is grateful for that introduction.

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