Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Thrifty Gene

I hate the 'thrifty gene'.
Have you heard of it? Scientists are researching the possibility that some people possess a gene that basically stores fat in the body, to protect against famine. 
I say, if I'm starving, just let me die already!

Now, I don't know if this is for sure fact, but I'm inclined to believe it is.
We all have that friend who can eat whatever junk she/he wants, and never gain a pound. Those are all around. I wouldn't mind at all to be one of them, but I'd settle for this person. I have friends like this...you know who you are! They say "I needed to lose some weight, so I started walking and I lost that last 15 lbs." or "I decided I wanted to get down to my super skinny jeans, so I stopped eating fast food" or "I stopped snacking in between meals/ not eating after 8pm" or "I started doing Zumba a few times a week and lost 30lbs over the summer!".

Now, I would gladly be one of the latter people. I'm not giving myself an excuse to be obese, but currently I am considered overweight, even with these self imposed dietary guidelines for myself.

  1. I don't eat fried food. Once in a blue moon I'll have onion rings or fried falafel.
  2. I don't cook with oil when it's not needed (soups, saute) and cut it down in recipes
  3. I avoid sugar and don't eat artificial sweeteners. When I do bake something sweet, I substitute stevia for half of it, which has no calories.
  4. I try to avoid carbs. I eat small portions of rice with stir fry/curry or when I do eat pasta, I add more veggies than pasta. 
  5. I avoid cheese (of course I"m already a vegetarian, so calorie laden meats are out too)
  6. I don't eat fast food often. Literally once a month maybe I'll eat a burrito at 490 calories.
  7. I don't butter things.
  8. When I do have carbs, I usually eat whole grains.
  9. I don't make creamy dishes.
  10. I don't keep any kind of junk food in the house.
You would think a normal person would be at a healthy recommended weight by adhering to these guidelines, yes? Well, these guidelines keep me from being clinically obese, but not overweight!
Maybe higher protein? Tried that. It made me gain weight. Maybe exercise? While it's great and a needed addition to every healthy lifestyle, I did intense cardio classes a lot this past summer. I had a goal of working out at least 3 days a week formally for at least an hour. The result? I gained 5 lbs over the course of a few months. Muscle? No. I have read up on this and it's not possible for me to gain that much in muscle. My clothes also didn't fit better, if you were wondering. I even just did a thyroid blood test to test my TSH and it was very well in range.
So what does work? Vegetables (raw/cooked), fruit, salad (with dressing calorie count under 40 a serving), 1 oz nut, beans, greens, and no more than one serving of whole grains a day. No dairy, no oil, low salt. That's it.
I lost 13lbs in 12 weeks doing this last year (without an exercise regiment), but it crept back when I stopped. Probably need to adopt it as a permanent lifestyle. At least for a while.

Now, I wasn't always this way. I was a slender child, with a pudgy phase from 16-17. After that I was thin again until after I got married at 22...and I married someone who celebrates every tiny thing with food. Greasy pizza type food. If I knew then what I know now, things would be different!

At least I get sympathy from my husband, he's just as baffled as I am, and empathy from some fellow thrifty family members.
Some good news is...I'm forced to eat food that keeps my insides healthy, I should save money on food since I can't eat a lot, and I now know what works!

But seriously, I hate the thrifty gene.


Amy Ramsey said...

Very well written and very well understood Karen! For me it doesn't matter if or what I eat... I keep weight on especially with the shots I have been getting at the OBGYN. The only thing my body reacts to is serious tough workouts. And yes, I to gain for the first few months and then start to drop. Only problem is the boys get up to early and I am so tired at the end of the day after cleaning up that I can barely get my butt in bed! We are so looking forward to tax return so we can get an elliptical. That is something I can do while the boys are watching a show or something. And... There are so many things you give up as an adult and parent, My Ice cream is one I will not. =)

Rebecca said...

I hear you! I really think I have to avoid grains nearly all the time. A little higher protein works for me, being diabetic, but I think the kicker is the grain. Must be hereditary.

Working out at least an hour a day, five to six days a week is what really helped me--back when I was doing that. I'm interested to see what will happen when I start doing that again combined with a low/no grain diet. (Maybe some homemade sourdough bread or sprouted wheat.)

Scott said...

I feel for you babe! Stay positive, great things are coming our way! Love you!

Kizzie said...

Yeah. I've noticed just getting older has slowed my metabolism and I have a harder time losing weight. I've gotten to the point where I just want to be in better shape, I'm heavier now that I was when I was younger and having kids sure hasn't helped, but I just want to be able to run around with the boys and go up stairs and what-not without getting winded. I hate that. So that's my goal...just better shape, whatever the weight.

maridee said...

Excellent article Karen, you are a great writer too. I love the way Scotty supports you.

Before I had this latest weight problem I was walking 6 miles a day (in a little over an hour) and I was weight lifting three times a week and I ate like a truck driver and didn't gain an ounce. I tore my rotor cuff and that was the end of my weights and the weight started coming on -fast. By the time I realized what was happening I was in bad shape. I swear by the free weights and perhaps you could try it and see if it works for you. It changed my fat vs. muscle ratio so much. Muscle weighs more, so it worried me for awhile -- until I saw the results.

Keep writing, love reading your thoughts! I love you so much and am so happy you are my grandaughter! <3

Helmbunch said...

So I know this shoots all the theory's in the hind end, however after 25+ years of frugal eating and daily killer workouts, the doctor told me that I had starved myself into severe obesity. Karen look at me for try obesity, you just have a few extra pounds, and yet look fantastic--I would love to look like that. Anyway, he (the doctor) told me that I needed to eat more, not less to loose. Funny thing is, it worked. Still have to work out, and the eating more is mostly veggies--cooked as well as raw, along with lean protien, but I really do have to eat more. When you starve yourself for so long, you put your body into starvation mode--it wants to hold on to each calorie. Lean muscles (strength training) burns calories even while you sleep. Perhaps it isn't what you eat, but that your body is in starvation mode. Most importantly, Karen, you are really a beautiful woman--someone I wish I looked like. Give yourself credit for that, and look for the joy in the food you eat. It is good food.