Focusing on the Long Haul While Craving Chocolate, and Desperately Seeking Leptin

I’m having kind of a tough day as far as food cravings go. I just ate lunch—kale, white beans, chicken andouille sausage, onions, tomatoes, in reasonable proportion to one another—and am contemplating rummaging around in my husband’s office (he’s out at the gym, spinning off calories) to see if he still has the chocolate-covered pecans I asked him to get rid of after our party a couple of weeks ago.

Ugh.

I am stressed about work. Instead of just doing the work, however, I find myself prowling the house. I just ate a spoonful of cake filling. Cheese, chocolate, cream.

I’m going to throw the whole damn thing away next, except I’m scared that if I take it out of the fridge, I’ll scarf down as much as I can before I finish the five steps to the trash can. I may wait to ask my husband to do it.

It is awful to admit that I don’t think I have the willpower to manage to throw away a cake because I will eat it, utensils or no, right off the plate as I hover over the trash can. But there it is. I’m afraid of cake.

Trying to distract myself by reading the paper, I came across a newly-featured story on the New York Times website: The Fat Trap.

Double-ugh.

The article mentions a weight loss registry maintained by Brown University and University of Colorado professors determined to show that it is possible to lose weight and keep it off. What they’ve observed in registry participants, who are people who’ve lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year (and who, on average, have lost 70 pounds and maintained for six years):

  • Registry members exercise about an hour or more each day — the average weight-loser puts in the equivalent of a four-mile daily walk, seven days a week.
  • They get on a scale every day in order to keep their weight within a narrow range.
  • They eat breakfast regularly.
  • Most watch less than half as much television as the overall population.
  • They eat the same foods and in the same patterns consistently each day and don’t “cheat” on weekends or holidays.
  • They also appear to eat less than most people, with estimates ranging from 50 to 300 fewer daily calories.

Triple-ugh.

And also, OK, there’s a road map. There’s what to do. Suck it up and get to work.

I know we all say that we’re in this for the long haul. This isn’t about being thin and wearing nice clothes, it is about health and lifestyle changes and being healthy and yadda yadda yadda.

But you know, sometimes, I just want to be lean and lithe and enviably thin. I don’t care about my health 100% of the time. I’m a petty, small-minded, weak-willed person. I want to be able to eat anything, at any time, and just not worry about it. And that isn’t going to happen, but it doesn’t make the feelings go away, and it doesn’t make anything easier.

One very nice point this article makes is that it is actually really difficult, for complex reasons not entirely within our control, to lose weight and maintain that weight loss. I’m not saying it is entirely outside of a person’s control, but when you are working as hard as you can to lose it and facing a life of having to work as hard as you can to maintain it, it is somewhat comforting (and somewhat terrifying and overwhelming) to know that it isn’t just about willpower.

And so, to leptin:

The view of obesity as primarily a biological, rather than psychological disease, could also lead to changes in the way we approach its treatment. Scientists at Columbia have conducted several small studies looking at whether injecting people with leptin, the hormone made by body fat, can override the body’s resistance to weight loss and help maintain a lower weight. In a few small studies, leptin injections appear to trick the body into thinking it’s still fat. After leptin replacement, study subjects burned more calories during activity. And in brain-scan studies, leptin injections appeared to change how the brain responded to food, making it seem less enticing.

Where do I sign up for one of the studies?!?!?!

But such treatments are still years away from commercial development. For now, those of us who want to lose weight and keep it off are on our own.

Yep, when it comes down to it, it is just me. What is that bleak statement? We all die alone? Cheery.

I’m sure that, as soon as possible, leptin-injection clinics will open up in strip centers across the country, probably in the same space as Fen-Phen clinics and whatever came before Fen-Phen.

Oh yes, you will not be surprised to know, I took Fen-Phen and loved it. Wish I could have taken it forever. But alas, as we all know, there’s no such thing as a weight loss pill that is actually good for you and safe.

I kind of need to hold out hope that at some point, there will be a leptin injection, a pill, a potion, something to make the constant vigilance a little easier. Something that seems like a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dim the light and how long the tunnel.

Thanks for listening. Check out what I just did, all by myself, without having to ask anyone for help because I knew you were there, rooting for me:

I took a bite, but I spit it out. I also tossed the two extra containers of filling (recyclers, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t risk scraping them out and rinsing them) and a piece of the strawberry cake from Christmas day I was saving for a friend who doesn’t want it.

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10 Responses to Focusing on the Long Haul While Craving Chocolate, and Desperately Seeking Leptin

  1. Good for you!!! I am a big fan of trashing stuff. And, similarly to you, I wish I could just be thin, eat what I want, not need to have this focus on “healthy living.” Sigh.

  2. Yayayayayayayay! You’re my hero.

    Really interesting information inre: the Registry. That road map sounds oddly reasonable to me, and in fact — if I’m being totally honest — it’s more or less an accurate depiction of my slim, lithe, fit friends, minus the “cheats” on holidays and birthdays.

    Keep it up, lady, you’re amazing.

    • Andie says:

      Yep – now that I’m in a better mood, it does sound reasonable. It almost sounds like me 3-4 days a week … something to work towards. Thanks for the support!

  3. You did the right things for you! After all the Christmas treats that I ate,now I am having so much craving it’s crazy! The freezer is still full of cookies and I only had one today and it’s the best I could do.

    • Andie says:

      The sugar buzz of Christmas has a long tail. I’m impressed you only ate one, knowing you had so many. Good for you! I’m so glad I don’t have any New Year’s traditions that center on sugary foods. Salty ones will be the challenge this weekend, but that, I can manage much more easily.

  4. S.N.S says:

    Wooohooooo – internet high fives all round:) It took me such a long time to get over my guilt about wasting food (Irish kid with picky eating habits = famine horror stories at every meal time to make me finish my food!) but it is so much better in the bin than in your belly.

    Thanks for sharing the roadmap – I think it’s going to come in very handy in 2012.

    • Andie says:

      I am so glad my mom only had the “starving children in Africa” to fall back on – starving grandparents or great-grandparents in Ireland would have made that a far more effective guilt trip to lay on me. If she’d dug around in the family history, she could’ve hit on famine in both Ireland and Scotland!

      Yep, that road map, the more I look at it, the more encouragement I draw from it.

  5. Congrats. I too suffer from the condition/ formula stress at work = eat something sugary and bad.
    My BF got 3 large tins of sweets from his family for Christmas. So far they remain unopened 🙂 I’m trying to convince him to take them into work in the New Year to get them out of the house.

    • Andie says:

      I should have thrown it all out – I ate a chocolate-covered pecan yesterday fairly unthinkingly when I went out to his office (the garage). I’m trying to convince him that the way to solve my work-stress/eat something sugary situation is for me not to work, but so far, he’s not buying it! 😀

  6. J. says:

    Great article, congrats on tossing the cake.

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