Why losing weight is so hard

I think Jane Galt hits it on the head when she points out the following:

The difference between quitting smoking and quitting overeating is twofold: one, the desire to smoke is not hardwired at the same fundamental level as the desire to eat; and two, one can quit smoking, so that eventually the brain gets tired of fruitlessly demanding its dopamine treat. It is much easier for an addict to quit something entirely than it is for them to cut down, which is why I haven’t had a cigarette in almost eight years.

I don’t smoke now because I never started. I didn’t have that choice with eating.

My BMI is currently 28.0. I weigh 218 pounds and I’m 6’2″ tall. That puts me squarely in the “overweight” category. You can complain all you want about BMI being biased, yadda yadda, but there’s no doubt I’m carrying some extra fat around my waist. Just because I ran 7 miles yesterday doesn’t mean I’m not still overweight. Here I am after hiking 3,000 vertical feet with a 40-pound pack. Fat’s still there.

For me to lose weight I have to be constantly hungry. Simply stepping up the exercise doesn’t do it: My body will tell me I’m hungry and I’ll eat more. Furthermore, bumping my average workout from about 30 minutes to an hour plus doesn’t actually consume that many more calories. Take a look at this chart. An extra 30 minutes of running at 7 miles per hour consumes an extra 492 calories. An extra 30 minutes of biking gives me just 372 calories of wiggle room. That’s maybe half an extra helping at dinner time, or the difference between eating a frozen enchilada and going out for lunch — and that’s just if I want to maintain. To actually lose weight, I have to eat the same amount I was before, which means I’m constantly hungry.

Since I started training, and after I took the picture above, I have lost 12 pounds. I’d like to lose another 10 pounds before I run the half-marathon on December 9. That still puts me in the “overweight” category with a BMI of 26.7. The ultimate goal is to run a full marathon, probably in the fall of 2007, and I’d like to be down to 190 with a BMI of 24.4 for that — just barely in the “normal” category. At that point, I’ll weigh 20 percent less than I did at the start of this whole endeavor. Too bad that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to run 20 percent faster!

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2 Responses to Why losing weight is so hard

  1. Mark Sample says:

    Don’t feel too bad — even President Bush’s BMI has him as “overweight”…

  2. dave says:

    I love the way only the skinny senators responded to that survey!

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