Embrace Your Inner Ghrelin

When you begin an exercise program you’re constantly told to listen to your body; your trainer tells you to push yourself but that if it actually hurts you need to do something differently. A good trainer finds your pace and helps you take it a step or two further by telling you to listen to you body. Listen to your body, listen to your body: you’re told that over and over.  Well, Sherry isn’t. Her trainer just asks her to stop whining and start working.

Why don’t we get that same advice when we’re dieting? If your experience is like ours, you’re only told to listen to your body and stop eating when it tells you you’re full.  But when you say you crave something, you’re told to ignore your hunger and your body will get used to it. Our dieting lives are filled with discomfort because we valiantly try to move forward while ignoring this pesky body that screams “Give me icecream” on a regular basis. This is deemed good.

Why this disparity?  Why are we supposed to listen to our muscles but not our stomachs?  Isn’t my stomach a muscle? If you work out too vigorously  nobody tells you to keep going because the pain you’re feeling is only in your head.  Start a strict diet and you are told to ignore your pain. And so you cheat. You cheat because you need to shut your stomach up, you cheat because you get tired of living a food deprived life, and you cheat because you can. Just like when you snuck out with your friends when you were a teen. (No, Mom, I never did that.)  But, really, you cheat because your body is telling you exactly what it needs and you are telling it no – it isn’t hungry and if it is hungry, it’s not for what that stomach is begging for.

Well here’s the truth.  You are really hungry.  Sometimes really, really hungry. No,this is not permission to party down with a gallon of ice cream and a super sized pack of fries. Yes, this means you need to eat when you are hungry.  How do you strike this balance?  This is one of the reasons we really liked the Satan Diet. We could eat when we wanted but we could only eat food from specified categories.  We realized we were often not that hungry when our category for the day was vegetable. We became very reasonable and waited until we felt hunger pangs like when we were kids. And we also liked that the food we ate was healthy because, as you know, your body will continue to be hungry after eating if vitamins and minerals were missing from your food source.  The Devil Diet made us realize that a successful dieter needs to listen to that body and meet its nutritional needs. One reason the diet was easy to follow.

To maintain a weight loss, you need to really understand the mechanics of that hungry feeling. This gets a little serious for a minute, but try to stay awake as this is important.  There are two hormones that play a central role in our feelings of hunger or satiation (satiation here simply means not hungry). Those hormones are ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is a hormone that is involved in growth, learning, and appetite.  It is produced by cells in the human stomach and pancreas and stimulates the release of growth hormone, as well as feelings of hunger.  Leptin, the other hormone, interacts with your circulatory system, your bone metabolism, and induces appetite suppression.  Many contemporary diets focus only upon ghrelin and leptin in matters of appetite and appetite suppression;  framing ghrelin as the “bad” hormone and leptin as the “good” hormone but it is important to remember that both of these are good hormones that help us take care of our bodies.  If we’ll only listen.

So here’s the news for you: Ghrelin is not the diet Gremlin.  It can be your friend if you let it.  But you have to listen to what it is telling you.  Instead of believing that diets are all about appetite suppression you need to realize that if you satisfy the ghrelin, you won’t have to cheat on your diet.   This is a lot to digest so we’ll tell you more about it tomorrow!

Weight Watchers Points Plus – Dieting Made Easy

So far the Weight Watchers Points Plus system is very perplexing.  It’s strange to be on a diet and be eating candy in the same day, and to not be cheating.  Today we both felt very bad for ourselves because now we have the flu so sore throats and coughs all around.  So we dosed ourselves with chocolate and tacos somehow still didn’t exceed our points limit.  Completely unfathomable.  Can we really lose weight this way?

We woke up feeling groggy and icky and consoled ourselves with a little bit of chocolate.  One of the best lessons we’ve learned from dieting so far is that self control doesn’t mean never ever eating what you like.  Rather it means eating things you like but in reasonable amounts and mixing in a few things you like less, like fish and vegetables.  So far that seems to be the best thing about this Points Plus system, it really focuses on choices and allows for indulgences in moderation.  This makes sense to us because never eating tacos again is completely unrealistic.  People will always ask you to lunch or out to dinner and it’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll never go or that you’ll only order one of those oh so unsatisfying salads.

So far, this diet seems like it has some great potential.  It’s really important record what you eat as you go, otherwise by the end of the day it’s hard to remember everything you’ve eaten.  Part of the purpose of recording your food is making calculations, but another part (and probably the more important part) is becoming more mindful of what exactly you are putting in your mouth.  It’s very easy to eat continuously throughout the day, never really noticing what you’ve picked up and started munching on.  If you write down everything you eat, at the end of the day you can see where the majority of your points are going and whether or how nutritious your choices were.  It reminds us of our credit cards and those little pie charts that tell you where you’ve spent most of your money.  It looks like today we spent a bit more than we should have on indulgences.

We haven’t whined at all during this diet.  So far we’ve been able to move right to aligning what we choose to eat with our allowed points.  We’re wondering if our coming to terms with our relationship with food has kept us out of the whining stage for this diet and allowed us to move right into the aligning phase and well on our way to dining.