To keep myself accountable I publish periodic charts showing my weight maintenance results to date.1 I've found maintenance to be much more difficult than loosing weight. Motivation can be difficult and there is often some hunger towards the end of the day.
The serendipity in all of this is I'm learning quite a bit about metabolism and hunger mechanisms and have been doing experiments to see what works for me - this has proven to be a rich area for a bit of amateur science.
A scientist does not coddle ideas. They crash test them. They run them into a brick wall at hundreds of miles per hour and examine the pieces. If the idea is sound, the pieces will be those of the wall.
The experiments are slow by nature as it is difficult to sort out the results and identify the bits of the wall, but so far there are indications that:
° breakfasts are essential
° a good amount of protein for breakfast seems to be essential
° dramatically reducing fat alone increases my food cravings. This is leading to some curious breakfasts that seem more like light dinners
° periodic treats are essential to prevent long term cravings.
I suspect that what I'm learning is far from universal - quite a bit of individual tailoring will be required. For me exercise is also important - not so much for actual weight control as the amount of exercise necessary for modest weight change is large compared to food intake - but for overall health as well as what appears to be a handle on hunger feedback. If I exercise a huge amount at high intensity, I tend to be very hungry, but moderate exercise appears to leave me less hungry that very low levels of activity. It makes you wonder about possible mechanisms.
For those who are interested, here is my note on the technique I used for losing weight in the first place as well as the beginning of the maintenance phase. There weren't any silver bullets, and I assume that will be true for everyone. I think a case can be made that the diet industry - as long as it lacks focus on the maintenance phase - is something of an expensive waste of time and resources.2
One technique I've been using in the current maintenance phase is both practical and psychological. I dramatically changed clothing size and much of my old clothing has been given away or donated and replaced by a small number of higher quality pieces of clothing. Clothing that will last longer and can be repaired over time. Since I'm cheap, this should give me good reason to put the brakes on if I'm gaining weight at some point, plus there should be quick feedback as this happens as these clothes were picked to fit much better than what I've worn in the past.
The difference in clothing quality was remarkable. I'm certainly not the fashionistra that some of you (Jheri, Om ...) are, but it is clear the new clothes, although more difficult to find, have much higher quality materials and construction. They should last for many years and I have to wonder if they will be less expensive in the long run.
Recently Jheri recommended I read Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. Here is a quick note I sent to a friend:
Last night I finished my advance copy of Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline (Jheri is fascinated by this and wrangled me a copy figuring I should have some literacy in the area).
A useful read for understanding a bit more about apparel culture and business and the enormous change that has taken place in the past 30 years as middle line clothing essentially disappeared being replaced by cheap imports with low quality materials, cheap labor and huge production runs. It goes into hauler culture (I was unaware of this, but it is really part of the basis for Pinterest and a direct outgrowth of a social form of scrapbooking - very popular with teenage girls and it the interest seems to continue with age -- Pinterest really fascinates me as it is so female dominated)
Much of it talks about the bad things associated with cheap clothing - overconsumption, pollution, etc., but what I found interesting - and why Jheri wanted me to read it - is there seems to be a reaction again Zara, H&M, Forever 21, Target .. and so on .. growing in the 20-30 yr old group of women. Interest in clothing with quality and repairability as well as more individual style is growing rapidly and that often means vintage or small shops in places like Brooklyn. It is clearly leading edge, but doesn't seem to be associated with wealth - it is more of a cultural leading edge force at this point. Jheri points out about 95% of good street fashion, as curated by the better online sources, comes from this path. She does it herself and she spends about what an average American female her age might spend on clothing - but she buys very few pieces and is adroit with alterations (she pretty much has to as her size is unusual)
It isn't clear if this will become a larger force in society - the seeds are there, but cheap and cookie cutter/non-adventurous is a powerful draw.
I can't recommend the book as a fine literary piece, but I learned quite a bit about an area I need to learn more about … recommended.
A definite recommend if you are interested in an enormous industry that has gone through enormous change and the consequences. It should also be essential reading for those of you (like me) who are wondering about future paths for fashion and the apparel industry. Understanding more about the past twenty years as well as what precipitated that change alters some of the scenarios I was thinking about - a few of them, in light of what is taking place among twenty somethings in places like Brooklyn, LA, San Francisco, Paris and Amsterdam.
1 For the record I am 6'1 and a shade and started well over my current weight. The recommended maintenance weight range from my family physician is shown in light green. I don't show the weight loss phase anymore as it is only noise from the past as I must focus on dealing with small deviations. My doctor is impressed that I was able to make the target and also suggested that, based on common experience, that one can only keep on target is through constant maintenance.
Oddly a lot of people feel I've lost too much weight. But relative to 1950 norms along with some more recent European norms I'm quite average at this point. It may be the American perception of average has moved with increasing average weight.
Since two people asked, I deal with water weight fluctuations in weight by weighing myself without clothing at 6am on three consecutive days and use the median figure. Not exact, but it deals with some of the variation.
2 Most obesity experts will tell you the surest path to gaining weight is to go on a diet.
I have been trying to figure out a winner sorbet recipe for a friend who is lactose intolerant. Here is the latest experiment. This is clearly part of the "need for treats" during weight maintenance as Sukie is allergic to chocolate. Any that comes through our door is mine ...
Rich Double Chocolate Sorbet for Juliette
° 500 ml (about 2-1/4 cups) water
° 200g white cane sugar
° 75g unsweetened "Dutch process cocoa" powder
° a pinch of salt
° 170g good bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (if you have a sweet tooth go with semisweet)
° 1/2 tsp high quality vanilla extract
° Whisk part (I use about 375g) of the water, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil stirring. When it comes to a boil continue whisking for a minute and then pull from the heat.
° Stir in the chocolate until it is fully melted and then add the remaining water.
° Transfer it to a blender and give it a short whirl- maybe a half minute or so and chill in your refrigerator. It may get a bit to thick to transfer to a freezer - if so, whisk it a bit to thin it.
° Churn freeze by the freezer's instructions.
° Serve in a cup, perhaps with a dusting of a chocolate or chocolate shavings and some chopped nuts. It also rules in waffle cones or krumkake.
Jeri mentioned a fancy homemade ketchup in an email and I was intrigued. I've had some amazing ketchups in restaurants, but didn't think much of them. I looked a few up and found some interesting looking recipes. Finally I mentioned it to a chef friend who said he loved one based on cherries. Jeri lives in the cherry rich Flathead Lake area in Montana, so this is for you Jeri. I have a couple of additions (the cinnamon, nutmeg and type of vinegar) and the amounts probably aren't optimal, but this came out spectacularly well. No - I won't get into spelling variations on ketchup - spelling has always been a challenge.
Cherry Ketchup for Jeri
° 700g stemmed, pitted cherries. These were generic sweet cherries from the market.
° 120g (about a half cup) water
° 2 tsp ground mace
° 1-1/2 tsp black peppercorns
° 1 tsp dry yellow mustard
° 1 tsp whole cloves
° 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
° 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (a bit less if freshly grated is my general rule - and freshly grated nutmeg rules)
° 1 tsp kosher salt
° more than 60g apple cider vinegar (we had some lovely unfiltered vinegar sitting around)
° Simmer the cherries in the water in a saucepan over medium low heat until they soften - maybe 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and put it in a food process for a bit to get a chunky liquid.
° In a few saucepan combine the juice, spices and salt. Stirring frequently, simmer over a low heat until it reduces by about half - 15 or 20 minutes depending on your heat.
° Add 60g of the vinegar and cook until it thickens to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon. Let a bit cool so you don't ruin your mouth (this stuff has a very high heat capacity!) and taste. Adjust the salt, spices and vinegar until it is properly tart, spicy and sweet.
° Cool and refrigerate in an airtight container.