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I haven't been a reader of WHEE posts for very long, and I tend to skim more then read, so if I'm misinformed please let me know, but I haven't noticed much in all the discussions about weight loss concerning "will power".

So being laid up this morning, after hurting my back yesterday while making a sandwich for lunch, and unable to go for a bike ride, I thought I would get my two cents in here today, while I wait for the Pitt (my alma mater), North Carolina game to start at 1 PM.

And if Ed wants to take a break this afternoon, he can. I suspect this topic might generate some interesting dialogue.

I'm just wondering if this post will automatically show up on WHEE, just by adding the WHEE tag. I guess I'll soon find out.

In my opinion, keeping track of what you eat in a day, subscribing to eating healthy scenarios, etc. doesn't make a difference. If you don't have the desire to lose weight, and the will power to follow through, coupled of course with a daily dose of healthy exercise, you're not going to be successful.

I for one don't subscribe to the eating healthy theory. I love to eat, especially good, rich foods. It's what makes life enjoyable for me, and depriving me of that would only make things worse. But to compensate I do try to add in lots of fruits and vegetables as well as a healthy dose of exercise, which I believe have both been important in my battle with lymphoma. But that's another story.

Although I've never been truly overweight (my max weight was around 180 pounds before my diagnosis with lymphoma in March '02), I was able to get down to 147 pounds in a relatively short period of time, eating whatever I wanted, while conscientiously trying to restrict how much I ate of everything, and significantly increasing my exercise level.

Now I'm up to 160 pounds, mostly resulting from a trip to France in '03 (the food is to die for there), and a bad bike accident in '05, which put me off the bike for about 3 months, and I'm finding as I get older, it's getting harder and harder to to get back to that 147 pounds, despite the fact I do keep trying.

Now at 5' 10", 160 pounds, some of you might wonder why in the world I would want to lose more weight. (I get asked that question quite frequently.) Basically it's because I'm a competitive [more avid now that I'm older] cyclist, and I'm a better hill climber the lighter I am. And yes my speed does suffer on flat ground at that weight, but I can still usually keep up, but mostly I'd rather be a good hill climber that speedster.

So I think I can speak with authority, having been there before, when I say if you really put your mind to it, you don't need all the tricks and gimmicks. You can lose those extra pounds quite easily without them.

The real trick to losing weight is simply burning more calories than you consume. And if you have a slow metabolism, which might make that goal more difficult, you just need to exercise more, and increase it. I never claimed it would be easy.

For me, the desire just hasn't been that great lately. Like I said before I love to eat [and drink wine], and I especially love chocolate chip cookies, which I can't seem to get enough of. Plus 160 pounds really isn't that bad a weight for me.

Now I know this might all seem to be an over simplification of a much more complex issue to some, and it certainly wouldn't do the whole weight loss industry a lot of good, should more people subscribe to my theory, but I believe it is a better and healthier alternative, and maybe even less expensive.

Originally posted to MetalMD on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 11:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, sharonsz

    The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

    by MetalMD on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 11:06:10 AM PST

  •  you hurt your back making a sandwich? (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but I don't dare continue.  Nothing personal.

    Never walk into a public restroom while breathing through your mouth.

    by quityurkidding on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 11:17:11 AM PST

  •  Well, as H. L. Mencken said, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1864 House

    "...there is always a well-known solution to every human problem..."

  •  You're doing the same thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1864 House

    eating whatever I wanted, while conscientiously trying to restrict how much I ate of everything, and significantly increasing my exercise level

    many of those of us who track do, just without the "assist" of knowing where a weight loss inducing balance lies.

    Both require will power to keep it going, but tracking gives me enough information to say "I've got a calorie deficit of 750 today, if I feel like I need to eat I can eat one more thing and still be OK".

    I wasn't losing weight guessing where the balance was.

    As for the will, I'm sorta where you're at.  I could push it further with my particular mode of will power (tracking with the bodybugg and maintaining a calorie deficit) but 160 is kind of a good weight for me and so my will is a little sapped.

    •  I really wasn't saying don't count calories, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      although I don't put much faith in the ability to accurately track your intake, and especially the amount you burn.

      What I was referring to was a commenter on the previous post who stated that you should

      ......... look at what you really eat, write it down, and face the truth.

      I know the truth. I know I don't always eat the healthiest foods, and I know when I've eaten too much (especially during the holidays). And deep down I think we all know it as well, so why do we need to write down what we eat. When you do that, it just makes it seem more like a job than a way of life.

      The key really is exercise. Without it, I don't believe you can be very successful, or at best it will be very limited.

      Exercise can make up for a lot of bad decisions, when it comes to food that is, and even emotionally, for other things as well, for that matter.

      Count calories if you want, but my advice would be just eat less, and exercise more. It really is that simple.

      But you have to have the will power. You have to really want it!

      The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

      by MetalMD on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 03:26:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I exercise (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1864 House

        intensely at least an hour daily, and two hours 3-4 days of the week.  But, I have a sedentary job.  So I need information to maintain the right balance.  I don't burn enough calories even on a two-hour day to just eat whatever I feel like -- I have to keep it under 2000 calories to lose weight.  That is actually not that much food.  It is quite easy to exceed it eating things that look modestly-sized and healthy.

        Tracking works in that situation.

        •  One of my biggest pet peeves (0+ / 0-)

          is watching people at the gym on the tread mill, life cycle, stair stepper or what ever, reading.

          The only thing I will say about that, is if anyone can read while they're exercising than they're not working hard enough. It's about as far from intense as you can get.

          So one question I have is how do you define intense?

          Secondly, I would say if you're working out intensely everyday, you're working out too hard too often. You need to take a break every now and then, and give your body an opportunity to recover.

          I never ride my bike more than 5 days a week, and I vary the intensity. Sometimes hills, sometimes speed, and sometimes just an easy day. The other days, if I work out at all, I will typically work out with weights.

          If you don't do that, your body actually adapts to what you're doing, and exercise becomes less effective. Similar to the fact people have been known to gain weight on a starvation diet, because the body thinks it is starving, and actually starts to conserve calories.

          Like I told Kismet, count calories if you want, I just don't have much faith in the ability to do that accurately. Plus it's too much like a job, and you're less likely to faithfully adhere to any regimen your on. NOTE: That is just my opinion!

          Oh, and I have a sedentary job as well, so I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. In fact most of the people I know have sedentary jobs, or they're retired.

          The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

          by MetalMD on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 04:56:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I burn about (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            1864 House, Edward Spurlock

            450-500 calories an hour doing what I do (running, zumba classes).  This is measured, not estimated from sources on the internet.  I do change up what I do from day to day so it's not exactly the same exercise or plan each day.  Some days are easy days -- just a long walk and ballroom dancing.  I don't not exercise on rest days though, I just do low intensity.

            Sedentary jobs matter hugely because if you're sitting still all day you're essentially burning the same amount of calories as if you were lying down all day.

            If you have a job that gets you up and moving around part of the day, even if just at a walk, you can about double the calories you're burning per minute.  For me that would mean I'd burn maybe 2500 calories without a deliberate exercise session, as opposed to 1800.  On days when my job does have me walking (even to give a lecture or to walk across campus to a meeting) it is much easier to burn enough calories.  However, my job often ties me to my desk.

            I have months of data to back this all up, by the way, I'm not just pulling it out my ass.  The bodybugg is accurate to within 10%, and I lost weight quite successfully with it when I was maintaining a 500 calorie a day deficit (according to its on-body measurements and my food logging).

          •  Also, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Edward Spurlock

            who said anything about reading while I'm exercising?  I didn't claim to be doing that.

            •  I never said you read while exercising (0+ / 0-)

              I just said that is one of my biggest pet peeves. People say they're exercising, when IMO, they're really not.

              That's why I asked you for a definition. And it is good that you vary your exercise.

              Currently I use the Garmin 305, which is supposed to give an accurate calorie count, since it's based on my weight, and heart rate. I like it because the HR is accurate [I believe], and it has a built in GPS which makes it easy to keep track of my miles without wires.

              I always know how hard I'm working, or when I'm not working.

              But I've also used one of the top polar heart rate monitors, which is also supposed to give an accurate calorie reading (at least so I thought) for the same reasons, and I've found wildly different results. The polar indicates calorie results about 30% to 40% less than the Garmin.

              Maybe the bodybugg is more accurate, and maybe I should try it. I'm just not sure I need another device to confuse me even more.

              I just don't like getting too bogged down in this weight loss thing. I prefer to just have fun cycling, and should I get on the scale, and notice I've gained a pound or two, I'll just work out a little harder, or only have one glass of wine instead of two at dinner.

              It's more fun for me that way. That's all I've trying to relay to everyone. I think everyone will be more successful if they take that approach.

              I was also hoping to get more excited feedback from more people, since I'm not having such a great day. I always get cranking when I can't go for a ride.

              The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

              by MetalMD on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 06:27:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clio2, Edward Spurlock

    Yes, the will to lose weight - wanting to lose weight more than wanting to eat those chocolate chip cookies - is part of it. But it really is not that simple. There are many, many complex issues that go with that - physical and emotional. To start, not everyone has the physical ability or the time and opportunity for hours of intense exercise each day. Some people don't have the access or resources for healthy food. Some people have weight gains that were precipited by medication.

    At WHEE, weight loss is generally part of a desire to live a healthier life, not just to lose weight for the sake of weighing less. Some of us are here for exercise support. Some are here to maintain a weight loss.

    I've noticed there are almost as many approaches to eating and exercising as there are WHEEbles and almost everyone is respectful of what works for others. The support offered here is not a trick or a gimmick. It's powerful stuff.

    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

    by 1864 House on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 08:18:11 PM PST

  •  No offense, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1864 House, Edward Spurlock

    philosophically, I believe the concept of "will power" to be a clumsy construct, and practically speaking, I find it useless and potentially even harmful to health.

    When we observe someone who has accomplished something others find difficult, it's human nature to look for an explanation.

    Subjectively, in the case of weight loss, the most common difficulty experienced is mixed motivations: on the one hand, a person feels a powerful desire to eat something in order to feel good immediately; on the other hand, there is a simultaneous desire to not eat it in order to lose weight and feel better in the long run.  

    Why, with some persons, does the short-term motivation win out? Why with others, is the long-term goal more effectively controlling?

    To say one individual has more "will power" than the other explains nothing, any more than Aristotle's pronouncement that dropped articles fall to earth "becasue it is their nature." "Will power" cannot be identified on an ultrasound, distilled in a laboratory, ordered online, constructed according to a blueprint, knitted in line with a pattern in Fine Needlework ;-), or obtained in any other direct way. In other words, the term "will power" is simply an abstract noun describing a pattern of behavior observed in some individuals, like "cowardice," or "courtesy." Unless Plato is correct and there is some realm of Ideas out there somewhere, ;-), "will power" doesn't exist as an actual entity.

    But "will power" can nevertheless in some cases become a stick with which to beat up ourselves and others: "Gee, I just don't have enough will power, sigh," (gives up -- therefore harmful to health). Or, "Obviously, I have superior will power, smile." (Of course, the easy recourse to "will power" as explanation is not limited to weight control, but also quitting smoking, exercising, keeping the house clean, doing the filing, and various other activities over which it's naturally to feel some inner resistance.)

    Kessler's The End of Overeating is a concerted attempt, among other things, to get at what really goes on, biologically, in people who subjectively experience a loss of "will power" when faced with certain foods. To find out the nuts and bolts underneath.

    An important point: Kessler shows that some individuals vividly experience this loss of control in relation to foods; others simply don't. From your description, I would guess you do not happen to be in the group who have this particular type of experience.

    There may be differences of nature and/or nurture accounting for this. Kessler's thesis is that eating "hyperpalatable" foods high in fat, salt and sugar is what potentiates this loss-of-control pattern for a subset of the population.

    What's most helpful for those of us who do know this loss-of-control experience is to locate strategies to understand what underlies these experiences and identify specific methods we can deploy that will enable us to follow our long-term choices more consistently. Starting Tuesday with Ch. 40, we'll be getting into Kessler's practical recommendations.

    •  That's just my point, it isn't that complicated (0+ / 0-)

      Why, with some persons, does the short-term motivation win out? Why with others, is the long-term goal more effectively controlling?

      And my [simple] answer simple would be "Will Power".

      To say one individual has more "will power" than the other explains nothing, any more than Aristotle's pronouncement that dropped articles fall to earth "becasue it is their nature." "Will power" cannot be identified on an ultrasound

      And neither can gravity be identified by an ultrasound, yet we all accept it as fact.

      Kessler shows that some individuals vividly experience this loss of control in relation to foods; others simply don't. From your description, I would guess you do not happen to be in the group who have this particular type of experience.

      And again, that's where you're incorrect. For me chocolate chip cookies are the one thing I can't seem to get enough of. It doesn't matter, whether I'm hungry or not, or even if I've had several chocolate chip cookies already, harnessing enough will power not to eat another one is very difficult. And many times I succumb to the desire to eat, even when I know I shouldn't.

      But many times, I have just walked away, and not eaten any, because I realize that is all it takes.  The desire not to eat it.

      Another example is cycling. There is nothing easier that not getting out of that nice warm bed in the morning, instead of getting dressed, and going for a bike ride with the club, especially when it's freakin' cold outside, like it has been the last several days.

      But I know if I don't, I'll feel bad about myself, and I'll know that I won't be able to eat as much, or I'll eat as much anywaze, and feel even worse (like I am right now, because my back is still freakin' hurting to the point I can barely sit on this chair to write this post).

      But I force myself to get up anywaze, and get dressed, because that is what I want to do, and because I enjoy it. There just can't be any other reason.

      But still it takes a certain amount of "will power" to get my sorry a&% out of bed in the morning!

      The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

      by MetalMD on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 07:19:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, to play Socrates: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Edward Spurlock

        Can you show me this "will power"?

        To me, it sounds like just a name for a subjective experience in which you feel an inner conflict between desires, which is ultimately resolved in favor of the long-term desire.

        When you eat the cookie, it is resolved in favor of the short-term desire. When you don't, the long-term desire. Why is that? Would you say, "My will power is strong in one case, not in the other?" Why might that happen? And what does the term add to our knowledge? Does it not, rather, tend to stop thought by providing a putative answer that answers nothing? What is the actual difference in the cases, cookie eaten, cookie uneaten?

        I woudn't be bothered about the philosophical point as such. It's just that many of us on the overweight side have been beaten up by others verbally, and learned to beat ourselves up, for "lack of will power." It's an important point to me that control or loss of control around food not be used as a hammer to enforce a sense of personal superiority or the reverse. to remove that concern allows for a focus on more practical matters: are there specific stapes I can to increase the effectiveness of the long-term motivation over the short-term motivation more often?

        BTW...occasional inner conflicts over eating do not define the kind of loss of control that Kessler is writing about. He's concerned with deep and long-term patterns that make a subset of the population feel seriously out of control around food a lot of the time and contriobute to significant health problems.

        •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

          "Are there specific steps I can take..."

        •  No I can't show you will power, but (0+ / 0-)

          I can show you people who have it, and practice it. Just like I can't show you gravity, but I can prove it exists.

          And chocolate chip cookies are just one example (the most extreme I'll admit), but I have many others as well.

          I even think Kessler's chapter 35 (reviewed by Ed this AM), and some of the points made by others in the comments may even help to emphasize my point.

          One of the biggest reasons obesity is such a problem here and around the world is a learned experience trying to deal with a changing environment.

          And anything we have learned, we can unlearn. We can change habits. It just takes will power.

          I guess you'll never convince me otherwise, and vice versa, although I'm not sure we're not in somewhat of agreement here, but I also believe there are some people who won't admit to themselves that to change is within them, and prefer to look for some other obscure reason for their failures.

          And as for specific steps, umh, well yeah maybe.

          When you have an overwhelming desire to eat something, and you're not hungry (stomach growling), just tell yourself no. Don't eat it!

          And when you don't have a good excuse to not exercise, i.e. a bad back, force yourself to exercise.
          No matter what anyone says, or how little time they think they may have, there's always make time to exercise.

          It just takes will power.

          The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

          by MetalMD on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 08:17:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "It just takes will power" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            1864 House

            But what is that simple thing, and where do people find it?

            Or does it just descend from heaven inexplicably at times, like the ineffable saving grace of God, won not by any merit or means accessible to human understanding (apologies, Martin Luther ;-)?

            I mean, one thing about the force of gravity -- intangible it may be to our sense, but it's reliable.  If we can't see and touch it, human beings can still describe its behavior according to reliable rules...cooperate with it...use it...with absolute reliability.

            I'm not saying you can't use the term "will power" as a shorthand for, "Wow, I somehow resisted my short-term impulses and went for the long-term gains," but if you want me to believe in will power as an actual entity, then, since we agree it can't be seen or heard or touched or smelled or tasted -- you'll have to show me that its activities obey some decipherable laws. I won't even insist on the total rigor of Newtonian physics...but some laws.

            Otherwise, waving a hand at personal experience and stating, "That demonstrates existence of willpower" is like waving a hand at at a burning flame and stating, "See, that demonstrates the existence of phlogiston."

    •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1864 House, Clio2, Edward Spurlock

      saying it's just "will power" and that it's "simple" really goes against my experience, and the experiences of other people I've known who have tried to lose weight, which is what I was getting at above.

      Maybe I'm just tetchy about this phrase, because when I was a teenager and a little bit chubby, my parents beat me about the head with the phrase "will power".  This is a very common attitude, and I find it unhelpful.  Like being able to lose weight at will is some kind of moral virtue and conversely being overweight meant you had no "will power", i.e. a moral failing.  

      For a long time, I had the will, but I didn't really have any knowledge of how to implement "will power" or how much I would have to do to successfully lose weight.

      •  ...and I guess to finish the thought (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1864 House, Clio2, Edward Spurlock

        "get some will power" has never seemed to me like advice per se.  As Clio said, you can't measure or see will do I get some?  There's no concrete advice there, it's more of a character judgment.

        So, when people I know ask me "how did you lose all that weight", I could just say, "oh you know, I got some will power", or I could say, "well, I ate less and exercised more", but what I actually say is "I got this little device that tells me how many calories I burn each day, and I track my food so that I eat less than I burn".  That's concrete advice that anyone can actually follow without guesswork, and in the spirit of being supportive of people who want to do the same thing I did, I give them the actual details of how I made it work.

        •  A rose by any other name (0+ / 0-)

          Ok, so you had a specific device to help you keep track of your calorie intake and output. There's nothing wrong with that. You could always choose to ignore the device, and eat more calories than you burned. It was your will power which allowed you to follow through, and resulted in your weight loss. It wasn't the bodybugg.

          You burned more calories than you consumed. It was as simple as that.

          I for one, don't need the device. I guess I could say I have an internal device that tells me when I've eaten too much.

          My only point is don't try to place blame obesity elsewhere. It's not helpful, and it's why so many people fail when it comes to losing weight.

          As a final note, it looks like someone either complained about my diary at WHEE, or Ed just didn't want to here it, as Ed modified my tag taking the post down from WHEE.

          Not a big deal. I've learned when people don't have a good response to something, or just don't want to hear something, because they're afraid it might actually be true, they change the subject [a common ploy on the political right], or they simply bury it in the sand.

          Best wishes,

          The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

          by MetalMD on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 09:44:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, Ed would have to say, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            1864 House, Edward Spurlock

            but generally, if we want to post a WHEE diary, we sign up for a spot on the schedule. If you weren't signed up, that might be the reason.

            •  I might have agreed with that (0+ / 0-)

              had Ed eliminated the WHEE tag after he posted yesterday.

              But like I said it isn't a big deal.

              Right now I'm more concerned with the fact my back is still hurting, and I might have to skip a 3rd day in a row of riding, if it's not any better tomorrow.

              And I'm also a disappointed that my post didn't spark a little more controversy, which was the original intent of the post, in addition to getting people thinking about alternative views.

              Unfortunately only you and Clio seemed willing to participate.

              Oh well, such is life! :)

              The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

              by MetalMD on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:44:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Clio2, the diarist has made his intent clear... (0+ / 0-)

              And I'm also a disappointed that my post didn't spark a little more controversy, which was the original intent of the post, in addition to getting people thinking about alternative views.

              His intent is pretty clear. And the purpose of WHEE have also been made crystal clear, IMO:

              WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated.

              Looking at this diary, I don't see "supportive", so I deleted the "WHEE" tag (and added "will power").

              There are several WHEE regulars with TU status, and any of them can restore the WHEE tag if they disagree with me. For that matter, I can't stop the diarist from putting the WHEE tag back on the diary himself. But I've expressed my opinion.

              •  I assume this is your "baby" so to speak (0+ / 0-)

                So I would never add the WHEE tag back. That would be, childish, dumb, stupid, ..... pick one or some other.

                And as far as being supportive, well some [me] might say say that's pretty subjective.

                I admit I was trying to spark controversy, but it was also my intent to be supportive in my own way.

                I know how difficult it is to lose weight [admittedly likely not in the amounts which may be typically expressed here), and I know how difficult it is keeping it off.

                I deal with it every day myself.

                But blindly following one direction, without considering the ideas of others, doesn't do anyone any good.

                Just my opinion!

                The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

                by MetalMD on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 03:32:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you started a thread called "will power" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Edward Spurlock

            I was just trying to explain why the "will power" formulation doesn't work for me as weight loss advice.  I know there's a lot of gimmicky weight loss crap out there, but there's also a lot of value judgment masquerading as "advice" and "concern" that fat people have to deal with.  As a formerly fat person, I know how hearing that tends to make one feel.

            You're lucky to have that internal device.  Most people don't.

  •  Oh yeah, and one last comment (0+ / 0-)

    Why does everyone refer to the "diarist" when referring to the poster of an article?

    I just hate being called the diarist. It sounds so hokey.

    Why not just use the name of the diarist, or even call him/her an a hole if you don't like him?

    The future is just a concept we use to avoid living today

    by MetalMD on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 03:48:56 PM PST

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