Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Now, this will be a bit of an unusual post - thanks for reading. Any advice gratefully received. I could do with a bit of help, actually. The post has actually taken twice as long to write as usual, there have been multiple writings and rewritings and it sitill hasn't come out right. BUt at this rate, it never will. So: here goes.

I weigh ninetyish kilos, give or take a kilo or so.

That means on the days when I'm over ninety kilos I'm obese, days when I'm under I'm merely overweight. Some of that, obviously, is muscle and bone and the basic starter pack of internal organs, less of it than previously is hair, but a fair amount of it is fat.

Twenty years ago I was seventy kilos.

Now, I could go on at great length about how I feel about all this. I don't know about how valuable or interesting that would be, I suspect that my feelings about this are very much the same as many of the people I know, and that others have written much more eloquently than me about this. I've written and deleted, rewritten and deleted about how I feel about this, but for the moment, let us take it as read - I want to lose ten, twenty kilos.

So - what to do? Part of the problem is the psych medications - almost all the psych medications make you fat with a few exceptions that either let you go crazy or actually push you further along the way. I can't really change that. If I don't take the valproate I get too high (starting ten different martial arts at once) or too low (becoming a stromatolite), and that doesn't work. Plus I get detained, and the gym at Clearwater is crap.

So - from what I have read it is possible to get some of it back. People have done it. It is possible to lose the twenty kilos, to feel lighter, to have more energy, to be able to do more stuff more easily. That is what I want to do.

You know, by the way, thinking about obesity is an incredibly rich area. Every question, biochemical, sociological, philosophical, when examined diverges into new ones, like a fractal or a hydra's head. There are hundreds of questions here. And by the very act of asking particular questions, or answering them, you place yourself in certain positions along a curve, align yourself with blocs against other blocs - you start out thinking "these pants don't fit any more" or "my joints hurt" and three firing of synapses later you're a cocaine snorting nazi.

Anyway. From what I understand, people who lose significant amounts of fat seem to have certain core characteristics. The cornerstone is diet: they restrict caloric intake - low fat, low carbohydrate, low whatever, just low. There is tweaking - certain foods provide more of a feeling of satiety than others, meal frequency and portion size is important, dairy/calcium appears to make you feel fuller, stacking up on the pasta last thing at night seems to be a death sentence - but overall you lose weight when you eat less stuff.

The rest of the equation is exercise. People who lose sizeable amounts exercise as much as an hour a day every day. From what I understand preservation of muscle mass is nigh on essential, any exercise is good, more exercise is better, high intensity exercise is best of all. As far as I know interval training is the best method of exercise, but the type of exercise is secondary to actually getting out there and doing it.

And above all the diet and exercise, the mechanics of it, is the whole cognitive and behavioural stuff, the real interesting stuff. Obtaining and maintaining motivation and performance in a grossly obesogenic environment, tai-otoshi-ing a biological drive that is as old and smart and strong as the need for sex and the need to breathe. Starting and sticking to stuff that for every single one of your twenty trillion ancestors would have been suicidally stupid.

And it's not as simple as willpower. The more I read the less I believe in the whole "free will/free choice/we are as we make ourselves/we choose our future" thing. When I was a kid my best friend's father would quote "I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul" at every opportunity. He mustn't have ever gazed into the eyes of a pale-skinned brown eyed girl, or been jealous of a friend, or heard the blues, or drawn closer to a fire on a beach at night, or done any number of things. If your soul is your sense of everything beautiful, then we are not the masters of our soul, it is the master of us.

Anyway. We're not a blank slate when we're born, we're not a photographic negative waiting to be slid into the developing fluid, but the depressing truth is we're probably closer to the latter than the former.

So, what's the point of blogging all this?

I'm going to change what I eat and how much I exercise.

I am going to lose fifteen kilos.

I'm going to do it by midwinter next year.

I'm going to get back to seventy five kg.

I know I am going to do this because I am going to have motivation to burn, and all without spending a shred of willpower after Monday night.

Because Monday I am* writing a cheque to the Australian Liberal Party, our version of the Republicans/Conservatives/Daleks party. It will be a bank cheque, one that can't be dishonored, and it's for a sizeable amount, an amount that it will pain me greatly to pay, several hundred hours of my disposable income.

(For those who came in late, I loathe these people. At the rising of the sun and at its going down I have loathed them. I loathe what they have done and what they have failed to do, I loathe them in the morning and in the evening and I have loathed them at suppertime, I loathe what they think and say and do. I hated them in the beginning, I hate them now, and I shall hate them for ever more, amen. When John Howard, our ex-Prime Minister, dies I will dance on his grave in a red dress. A long red dress.

Something low cut. I was thinking maybe slit up the thigh, clingy, but classy. Nothing slutty).

As I said. It's a sizeable cheque. It's an amount that they would certainly notice, particularly as I have requested only some small public acknowledgement of my generosity, a mention in the Worker's Fiend or whatever fascist rag they bring out, printed on the skins of single mothers and written in refugee blood or whatever they use. It may be, for all I know, that my acknowledgement would come with a mimeographed letter of support from Tony Abbott or Philip Ruddock (he's on the left) or that ghastly little moral homunculus himself.

I am not sending the cheque to them. I am depositing the cheque witha lawyery kind of person, along with formalised instructions that should I fail to present to the offices of a particular place on a particular date and "weigh in" and weigh under seventy seven kilos, then that cheque will be sent off.

Now, obviously, the rest of it is up to me. Diet, exercise, all that kind of thing I will have to work out. But motivation? I've turned it up to eleven.

Additonally, I feel I can count on the support of my friends and colleagues, many of whom hate those bastards too, almost as much as I do.

I can count on the support of Sarah, once she has gotten over her horror.

I can count on the realisation that every excess morsel of food, every stepper-free minute of television can, and will, be used against me to bring forward the return of those grasping phobocrats from the limbo to which we so savagely dispatched them a few months ago.

Anyhow, I will keep you informed. Hopefully the next few months will be a gradual loss of surplus fat. Otherwise I'm going to be looking at that starter pack of internal organs and working out which ones are going to die for the cause.

Thanks for listening,

*As in "I am saying I will". At the moment this is one of those imaginary futury things. We shall see. And I don't know that full agreement on the wisdom of this plan is shared by all in the household - I may have several of the leading cats on my side, but the chickens are opposed and Sarah is still wavering.


Anonymous Milo said...

Dearest BJ, I havnt finished reading your post yet. I am up to the weight part and gonna read the rest about the liberal party later... something just came to my head, i have to tell you now otherwise it is gonna fly off from my mind... i think will power is the key here. i also sky rocketed in the weight department when i was put on anti psychotics. putting on 4 kilos every month, well, lets say it was really hard to miss for people who knew me before taking meds. being a female did not help the situation either unfortunately... but i think it is all about the will power and the CAN DO attitude. I am down to 100 now, but i think i need lots and lots more of that will power to be even close to a healthy weight or BMI or whatever they call it! Good luck mate and many many kind greetings to lovely. I just love the picture of her cats in her blog!
Regards, Milo

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Milo said...

sorry, I wanted to say greeting to Sara. I must be really tired! cant see things properly. some sleep would be nice if i could only master this art!

12:24 AM  
Anonymous sara said...

Actually moral willpower is the only way I've ever maintained weight. I have the feeling for med-school-passing compulsive overachiever types, what you did would be a good technique. I thought of doing it too.

I don't mind being heavier sort of, because I do associate it with mental well-being. Worst thing is always when I got off a TCA I would lose the weight right away, no effort...but this time it didn't happen.

Also - are you a candidate for metformin?

Let us know how it goes.

4:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cheque-thing is a great idea! Plus, I'm going to draw some motivation for my own life in watching your story unfold, so thank you for writing about it.

Is there anything readers can do to help cheer you along the track? (Praise the Liberals once a week or something?)

- Deirdre, lurker.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Juanita said...

I am duly impressed by your innovative form of self-motivation! When I think of all the shallow motivators I have had for losing weight in the past! Well, actually I think the shallow works best for me, but you sound like you've hit on something very powerful for yourself. Good luck! I recommend Weight Watchers if they have it in your neck o' the woods.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

1) If you get desperate for the weight loss here is another condition you could get - it might help with the rapid 20 kilos or so Body Integrity Identity Disorder.

2) Like I have said before - get a fasting blood done, insulin(fast), prolactin, FBE EUCLFT CRP, glucose (fast), testosterone, SHBG LH and possibly a few more... If you have high insulin (like 3 or more times the maximum fasting - like I did before losing some weight) then Metformin is a serious option - like Sara said.

3) Why don't you go and see an exercise physiologist - get a VO2 measurement - and when you come out very fit at the end, accept the weight, accept you are fit, and move on (you can be fat and fit and yes I know I am not and I have shirked the VO2 tests myself).

4) See Professor Trim - you stole my symposium documents, The Prof is in town later this month ask a Pfizer rep for an invite. His web site is well worth perusing, unless of course you think you already know it all.


PS Haven't we already had this conversation?

1:42 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Good Grief! If you don't make weight you're going to punish Australia? Hmmm.

Losing weight is already an heroic undertaking without overfilling the scales by adding the well-being of an entire nation. You won't be going into the trenches for a short tour, you'll be signing on for life. Instead of choosing a goal that is perhaps unattainable, why don't you just eat in a manner which would allow you to lose weight and exercise. Slowly up the exercise over the next few years. It might take much longer to lose the weight but you won't be martyring your country at the same time.

Do it however you want--it is your body--and perhaps your way is better. It's just that I like Australia. Good luck!

5:50 AM  
Anonymous sara said...

Hilarious!! Thanks for the wonderful laugh, and good luck!!

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Milo said...

...and i am resting my case!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Dragonfly said...

Awesome. So glad I read this today on a day I became even more determined to step up my own efforts to drop ~10 kg (just tried on pants from 2 years ago...gaah). Good luck! Am inspired.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

Wow. Good luck, but really, that seems to be putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Why not merely plan to resolve the drug addiction problems in South Australia or merely Adelaide? About the same amout of pressure.

I've found that antidepressants (or any effective psychopharmaceuticals) result in weight gain. Some more, some less, but no weight loss. Weight gain. ADHD drugs seem to trend toward weight loss, but since I take more antidepressants that anti-hyperactivity drugs, I trend toward plumpness. Which in a woman is supposedly the kiss of death.

However, plumpness = breasts, so that's good. I think for guys there's some similar upside/downside balance. Except for guys, breasts = bad, so stay away from that. Good luck with the diet/regimen/whatever.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Milo said...

Dearest Foilwoman, i am all for my plumped up bosoms! but i just wish either his eminence or BJ could shine a bit of heavenly torch into this issue. antipsychotics made me put on weight.... lets say, in wierd kind of way. like i have got these skinny chicken legs and this giant, out of this planet belly. I tell you one thing, it aint a pretty look... Kindest regards, Milo

9:56 PM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

Milo: I think those of us who take psychopharmaceuticals on a long-term basis are just not destined to be slim. Except in times of famine of course. The belly thing, I can't help with -- I keep the figure, I just get generally larger. But I really wish shrinks would make antidepressants that don't make you gain so much weight you get more depressed. Or antipsychotics that change your body so much you go crazy trying not to rationally observe how alien your body is. I actually think the shrinks are trying to drive us crazier, and thus ensuring their job security (no paranoia here).

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Milo said...

Thank you Foilwoman... I know there is no paranoia here. And it feels like their hearts (the shrink's) is just made out of pure cold stone. They will never know what it feels like and yet they expect us to go through with it. I think that's one narcissistic personality disorder on its own really...

12:18 PM  

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