Sunday, April 27, 2014

Trudging back in...lip up!

I'm back! Did you miss me?

Almost a month without a post! I'm making for a bad blogging statistic. Then again, I'm not doing this professionally or receiving kickbacks/free schwag, so there have been other pressing matters. To be fair, I've even missed a lot of the Rangers games on their way to the playoffs, so you KNOW I've been busy!

I believe all the other pressing issues that made the blog so very post-secondary are now squared least on my part. If and when there is news to reveal, I will do so when it happens.

Then again, as you know, I am not one for very much personal detail on my site, except in relation to my Streamlined activities. So, there may not be much change here, except that I'll now (hopefully) be back to regular posting and perhaps a return to the Foodie Pen Pals pool. I didn't give up my regular perusals of scholarly journals and the accursed Well section of the NY Times, so I've amassed quite a few "for a future blog post" citations. But as I'm going through these citations, I'm noticing one thing.

Nothing new is really being said.

We've kind of hit this data/news plateau in that yes, our portions and sugar intake have increased and we all work longer hours than we used to and we exercise less and now we're all facing this great obesity dilemma. And while this is going on, we're still bombarded with health and nutrition "experts" (and we probably ignore the poor underpaid RDs and Librarians who have FACTS) in order that we may find the quick fix.

And I could, I suppose, post the basic same post for the next several decades and I certainly would have enough resources to do it. But others are doing it better and on a more regular basis.

So right now it's back to the increasing scale.

Here's a recent photo of me at work:

And here's one from two years ago at a similar event:

In the older one, I'm drowning in an old suit. It's way too big for me. In many ways, that was cool. I basically now had dressy clown clothes because I lost so much weight. 

In the newer one, I'm bursting out of my outfit and not all in a good way. Extensive weight training had begun and my body shape was something I never imagined having. Yes, my back, chest and shoulders are all much bigger. That jacket can barely fit around me on the top. I no longer fit in a medium t-shirt and that's not from fat gain, but rather from larger lats and shoulders. I don't mind THAT sort of size increase.

But you can also make out that the "donut" is making a comeback. Not that it went away completely, but it definitely got a few extra fillings injected. And that's an issue.

I am doing less exercise, and more binging. Maybe from stress, maybe from timing. Most likely just not being present while I'm eating. It does take will power and mindfulness. (And somewhere, my teenage punk self is derisively sneering at my using such a word about life. But, hey, we all grow up, kid!) 

But is it really stress doing this? A rather extensive literature review from a few years back shows that the answer is a definite "maybe". But they still think it does play a role:

"Despite the limitations discussed, we can make some broad conclusions that support the idea that stress can influence food intake. The studies examined revealed that stress can lead to decreased and increased eating, which may be related to stressor severity, such that in animals a severe stress results in a lower intake and in humans the response is variable. There is some evidence to suggest that elevated stress levels are associated with a greater desire for hedonic, highly palatable foods that are energy dense. This may contribute to excess energy intakes and weight gain, which is supported by longitudinal studies that suggest there is an association between chronic life stress and future weight gain."

"Chronic life stress." I wouldn't say my life is chronically stressful situation. In fact, I think the stress makes me control more things around me, such as exercise. 

One of the studies mentioned in the previous one was this paper regarding twins in Finland and weight gain. They also took into account personality traits, as well as stress factors. One of the conclusions (although again, they say this was a fairly modest study) was that "low levels of extroversion in young men [was a] stable personality character related to subsequent weight gain."

One thing I have never measured low on was extroversion. (As one of my old friends once said, "Dan, you're not subtle as a brick, you're subtle WITH a brick!" That was about my dating habits, but you get the idea...) So this would mean I should always have been a skinny least if I grew up in Finland with a twin. 

The answer once again falls to ourselves. I found what works for me, and, unfortunately, I need to find a way to maintain that while still having a life and the stress contained therein.

But there is one difference now. And I find it fascinating. I now feel deprived if I DON'T exercise and I find that I lose little ground muscle-wise if I miss the gym for a week. In the past, I would find myself not being able to lift the amount I had been if I hadn't been doing it for a while. Or getting winded easily. But now I notice I can still lift, pull, span, fly, squat, etc. at continued higher weights. Even my abs are stronger under the donut (the six pack under the pony keg). And again, looking at myself in the mirror...yes, there's a donut, but I also can't help but see a more solid, muscly body, as well. 

So while there are moments that I am terrified I will fall back to complete Retro Ska Librarian, I see that I made a big effort to get to Streamlined and it doesn't fall away immediately.

But I have to keep at it, and that includes blogging about it. 

You're stuck with me and my muscly fingers.   

I will add one more thought to this long post. Another recent NY Times op-ed piece was by someone who was a fat child in the midst of a non-fat family and his journey (via fat camp AND self-awareness) to his own acceptance. It struck a lot of familiar bells. But one thing he focuses is on is what he would say to his son if his son was fat. And it was getting him interested in sports and moving and activity, but with support. 

Now as I've posted so many times before, being that "bad at sports" fat kid myself, it wasn't just me at an age to be aware enough that I was fat to want to do something. It's having the upbringing to know enough about moving and sports and activity to enable that innate feeling in your kids. If I had children back in the day, I imagine they'd be sedentary pop culture bookworms like me. If I had them now, I think I'd make more of a conscious effort to explore movement with them, whether or not they felt fat, thin or didn't care. ("Hey kids, let's play Legion of Super Heroes Freeze Tag!" And it has to be alphabetical or you run a lap!")

Or, I'd probably just make them sing and dance along to this:

I'm back, kids!!


Korkeila, M, J Kaprio, A Rissanen, M Koskenvuo, and T I A Sörensen. “Predictors of Major Weight Gain in Adult Finns: Stress, Life Satisfaction and Personality Traits.” International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders 22, no. 10 (October 1998): 949.

Max, Joshua. “What I’d Say to My Fat Son.” The New York Times, March 22, 2014.
Torres, Susan J., and Caryl A. Nowson. “Relationship between Stress, Eating Behavior, and Obesity.” Nutrition 23, no. 11–12 (November 2007): 887–94. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2007.08.008.