Last week I had a breakthrough. For more than a year, ever since I started my fitness career, I’ve been trying without success to get off of a fat release plateau. I need to be honest here and give the number. That number was 128. I could get below 129/130 but no farther.
Why was that? I’m convinced that I was experiencing the phenomena of compensation. Many of us are familiar with the theory that metabolism will slow down, and appetite will increase if we eat too little. You may have heard that called the starvation response. Compensation can be the result of a significant increase in exercise. The thought is that when we increase our physical output by several hours a week the metabolism will slow down and appetite will increase to compensate. What I’m describing is essentially a response to the stress of a heavy load of exercise. In my case, if I add together class time, personal training, my own training, plus the time I spend learning new Zumba dances, and choreographing new Jazz routines, that could easily add up to 24 hours a week. You would think that such a high level of training would burn whatever I wanted to eat, but the theory of compensation suggests that my appetite will rise to the level of that extra work and beyond, especially if calorie dense food is readily available.
Believe me, calorie dense food is always available. That brings me to the subject of this post.
Free Movie Popcorn.
Did you know that I have an AARP card? Yep, even though I’m only 48, my husband got to join when he turned 50, and as his spouse I get a card too. That means I’m entitled to the Senior Snack Deal when I go to the movie theatre. That means I essentially get my popcorn for free… if I want it that is. Usually I don’t want popcorn.
Here is one of the most important secrets to the success of my permanent physical transformation:
I have un-linked eating from many of the pleasures of life. For example I don’t enjoy going to amusement parks for the Funnel Cakes, I don’t get excited about Cinnabon at the mall, I couldn’t care less about hot dogs on the Fourth of July, and I prefer not to get candy on Valentine’s Day. Would it shock you to know that over the last holiday season, I didn’t have a single Christmas cookie? Not one. No, I’m not looking for applause or approval here. The fact is that, for me, the consequences of consuming junk food are simply not worth it.
But sometimes, if my guard is down, I can give myself an excuse for eating foods that don’t serve my dreams. Yesterday afternoon I went to the movies with my son. I arrived with the intention of seeing the movie snack free as usual, but when I ordered Colin’s popcorn and drink, the nice young man at the counter offered a larger size for just a dollar more. I looked a Colin and said,
“If we get the larger size can I share your popcorn?”
“Sure.” He said.
So I ate free movie popcorn until I was full. By the time I was full there was less than an inch left in the bag.
Last night by the time I got into bed my stomach was literally sticking out like a basketball. This morning I didn’t recognize my eyes in the mirror they were so puffy and swollen.
Free? That popcorn wasn’t free. Today, I’m right back up over my plateau point again. I will spare you all the rationalizations I used when I ordered that popcorn. I will tell you though, about an article coming out in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?hpw&_r=0
I read it before bed last night, and I broadened my understanding of why I took that popcorn, and why it wasn’t free.
In order to reach my fat release goal, I have to get unhooked from junk food. Most of the time I can do it. I sincerely hope that, armed with good information, you can too.