For all of you who are struggling with your weight, I'd like to know how it happened. Was it eating habits you were brought up with, a life event that made you stop caring about what you ate, or just an affinity for unhealthy foods?
Combination of factors.
When I was young, my weight would fluctuate with the seasons, I'd get a little chunky in the winter, and be fine in the summer. As I got older, that shift got more pronounced. Heavy in the winters, average in the summer. Then I turned 30 and the warranty expired on my body and my metabolism changed. The weight that just went away normally, didn't.
Up until then my eating habits weren't great. I was raised with parents that didn't cook, and ate at restaurants all the time. Both my grandmothers had been June Cleaver style housewives in the 50s/60s, so they naturally cooked very heavy, fatty food using tons of butter, crisco, etc. (aka delicious). When I moved out on my own, everything I have came in a box or bag.
So I was raised just eating whatever and not really ever thinking about nutrition. Some people are naturally slim, the older I get, the more I have weight lingering. I really have to be careful of what I eat and exercise a lot, otherwise my weight creeps up. Even if I eat healthy, I will be on the chunky side if I don't work out regularly, this is just what my body does. I don't want to say it's glandular, but my digestive system converts and stores fat carbs way more than any other kind.
Keeping this in check should be as easy as pie since I have this information-- but it isn't.
Here's what I have working against me:
1. That lifetime of not caring about nutrition is REALLY hard to deprogram, both psychologically and physically. Using sugar as an example, even when I am healthy and replace it honey, maple or agave, it's still a form of sucrose that my body associates with comfort, not caring, relaxing. Stressed? Tired? Overworked? upset? HAY ICE CREAM! Going back to the hunter/gatherer comment-- this is the root of the paleo diet, which makes a lot of psychological sense to me. Basically, the idea is that in nature, food is sweet, savory (fatty) or bitter. And in nature, those taste cues evolved with the human body to let it know what it needed. Savory is generally energy/protein food. Sweets and satiating happy foods. Bitters are OMG NO EAT THOSE BERRIES, THAG! UGG ATED AND DIE! /cavemantalk
If I have been eating crisco fried burgers full of hormones and cookies my whole life, natural savory and sweet are going to be WAY below satisfying. So I keep eating and eating and my body never says OKAY! WE GOT WHAT WE NEED cause I'm eating things with no nutritional content. So I eat until I'm too full to keep eating.
2. I'm a food lover. Everything I said above probably doesn't apply to people who don't obsess over food. Most athletes aren't super food obsessed people. The Paleo diet is clearly intended for slow fatty cavemen, not the actual hunters. I'm the sit-by-the-fire and tell stories cave man, not the go-kill-the-mammoth caveman.
3. I've got addict genes. I managed to live all my life without being a drug addict (hi Uncle Bruce!) or an alcoholic (hi dad!) but rich, heavy treats? GIMME. I'm not a person who can have a cookie. I have to have a tray. Some people can eat a slice of pizza and be out. I got to finish the box. At parties if there's a dish of mixed nuts I can't stop taking handfulls just because it's there. It's this confusing pleasure/reward/shame cycle in my head because most of my life, eating was a fun family thing, but I know that's not the case now. If I'm stressed out, HEY PIZZA AND BEER SO GOOD I'M HAPPY, then I feel guilty.
4. I was told "clean your plate" a lot as a kid, which is TERRIBLE. I take portions that are usually too big, and I go to restaurants a lot where portions are oversized, and I feel like I can't stop until it's gone. Funny enough, I never make my kid clean his plate so long as I know he's eaten enough to get nutrition. The comedy of life here is, he is rail thin and active as hell... and when he doesn't clean his plate I worry I'm being wasteful... so I eat what he didn't...
I'm not using ANY of these as excuses mind you. These are all just bad habits that have to be reprogrammed. I've lost lots of weight before, and I'm not really considered obese, I just am heavier than I should be. I hate when thin people are all LOL JUST DONT EAT LIKE A PIGGY when it's NEVER that simple.
Like Copper, I had the love/hate relationship with Weight Watchers. TWICE I used it and lost weight, and eventually gained it back. I think ultimately I figured out the flaw of it. Portion control is what the points system is. And for me, over-eating was a big factor, so it helped get that under control and I would lose weight... usually after 25-30 pounds I'd hit the plateau and not lose any more. When you're dropping pounds, you're all about those points cause it's working. But a month or two of not losing weight and you're screwed. You're either depressed because you're not losing weight, or you're depressed cause you fall of the wagon. Ultimately, you say screw it and eat what you want again, cause at least there's some momentary happiness there between when you start eating the pizza, and when you finish it and feel guilty.
Also, Weight Watchers isn't teaching you nutrition beyond the fact that you can have one slice of pizza or an entire plate of chicken and veggies. Obviously one is better than the others, but Weight Watchers says EAT WHAT YOU WANT! So you do-- you sneak in the candy and ice cream and feel like it's fine if you track the points-- but once you hit previously mentioned plateau you haven't trained your body to actually be healthier, so it's way easy to backslide.
ALSO ALSO TL;DR your weight as a number is something people obsess over too much. I've decided to stop weighing myself. My goals these days are low blood pressure, good cholesterol levels and not having physical limitations that effect my lifestyle-- as in I'm not expecting to have the cardio capacity needed to join the NBA, but I'd like to be able to climb trees with my kid, keep up with him at the park and not throw my back out when I bone somebody. And I don't want to look doughy in photos.
And seriously, it's taken all my life to have all this information consciously at hand. Literally, I figured out some of this stuff in the last couple weeks. (hence the paleo cleanse mentioned way above).