Ask Cranky Fitness: Weight Loss Issues

This is a lopsided Ask Cranky Fitness. Ms. Crabby is off buying garlic to scare off all her overly friendly mosquitoes. (Garlic provides a lot of healthy nutrients, plus it's also good at keeping away sparkly vampires, which can't hurt.) So if you disagree with any of the answers, direct your beef towards me, Merry.

Another anomaly is that one of these questions was actually sent in by a real reader! See if you can spot which one.

Dear Cranky Fitness,

I’m not a competitive person. I like to encourage and support my friends in their weight-loss endeavors. But I’ve got an etiquette dilemma, and maybe you can help.

Last week I ate right, slept well, and worked out more than Madonna – only to have the scale tell me I’d gained a pound. During the same week, a fiendishly cunning evil nemesis pal did no exercise at all, merely cut out wheat from her diet and ate chocolate and potato chips instead. By the end of the week, she’d lost five pounds. My question is: would it be overkill to hire a hit man to take her out? If so, I’ll exercise restraint and merely egg her house. Please advise.

signed, Jealous in Jersey

Dear JJ,


Bad idea. Eggs do not contain wheat. If you really want to be mean, forget the hit man and bring on the pizza delivery man. Or go on at great length about the great new pasta place that you just found. Or... you get the idea. Of course, you could just grit your teeth and congratulate her. One of these days it's going to be your turn -- do you really want to spend an afternoon trying to scrape egg residue off your house?

- Merry

Dear Cranky Fitness,

My bff and I go to a weight loss meeting each week. It’s supposed to help me stay accountable to get weighed in public and listen to people talk about their weight loss efforts. The problem is, I don’t care about anyone else’s weight loss problems; I have enough of my own. I don’t want to alienate my friend – how can I get out of this meeting without hurting her feelings?

- signed, Selfish Friend in SF

Dear SF,

I suppose this is going to sound movie-of-the-week trite, but if she's your friend, can't you talk to her? Work it up tactfully, like "Y'know, instead of going to the meeting, let's go to the gym and work out. Lots of hot sweaty guys in the gym on Monday nights."

On the other hand, maybe going to these meetings will make you a better person. Or a better friend. If they're really helpful to your friend, you might want to keep going for awhile, see if things get better. Or buy ear plugs and spend the hour fantasizing about all the guys in the gym.

- Merry

Dear Cranky Fitness,

This is a question I often get and I find it both compelling, annoying and completely frustrating as I cannot find an answer that satisfies me: How do you not realize your pants are getting tighter, see that you've gained weight on the scale, or notice that you're expanding to the size of a blimp and not just STOP right then and there? How can you put on 20, 50, 100+ pounds without first acknowledging and handling the situation?

As someone who went from a healthy weight to morbidly obese in the span of a couple years - I feel I should have a brilliant answer. i don't.

- Annabel

Great question, Annabel!

Weight gain acts on your body like a recession on your savings account. If you sit still, inflation's going to catch up to you. Treat your body like a house with a bad mortgage and the 'balloon loan' effect will land you in an unhealthy situation. But until fatty liver or diabetes or such shows up with foreclosure papers, it's easy to ignore reality.

After the first 20, your subconscious kicks in. The average subconscious never wants to face an issue like weight gain, so the natural impulse is to distract the conscious mind with a Bright Shiny Thought or provide anodynes to dull the awareness.

If you don't like your shape, there's a tendency to wear baggy clothes anyway. Harder to face the unpalatable truth if you can find "comfortable" pants that have elastic or a drawstring rather than an unforgiving waistband that gets too tight to be comfortable. A tight waistband is a sign for the subconscious to get to work explaining the problem away.

Common rationalizations sent up from a subconscious can include:

- These pants must have shrunk in the wash.
- Must be that time of the month. (Harder to believe this if the subconscious is male or in the body of a menopausal woman, but hey, a sneaky subconscious will try anything.)
- It's not me, it's the jeans.Clothing manufacturers always mess with size labels.
- I've got too much to deal with right now. I deserve some pizza and television. I'll worry about these pants later. (Notice how the subconscious neatly blames the problem on the pants instead of the body?)

So if you've suffered from the 'balloon loan' effect, it's a sign that you have a Annoyingly Smug Subconscious. Best antidotes for an ASS dilemma are:

- Trying on swimsuits. Fluorescent lighting is a cruel but effective reality check.
- Going to a high school reunion. When you see what time and gravity have done to Suzy Cheerleader or Randy Studlington, it's harder to avoid your own reflection.
- Family reunions. Someone invariably insists on taking your photo at these things. Then they distribute the pics to everyone in the family. The odds of having a family composed 100% of people 'too polite to tell you you've gained weight' are ... well, fairly astronomical.

- Merry

Do you have any better ways to deal with sneaky weight gain, or people who attend weight loss meetings, or for that matter people who manage to lose tons of weight while eating chocolate and potato chips?

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