On Weight Loss and Metabolism

It may not be scientific, but it’s what I’m seeing here.

As regular blog readers know, last summer I went on a diet and lost 45 pounds. That translated into four pants sizes (14 down to 6) and more than 20 inches (total) off my bust, waist, and hips.

I did all this in about four months — I started on June 15 and was pretty much off the diet food by October 15.

45 pounds was about 23% of my body weight. A friend, on seeing me in January for the first time in more than two years, said I was 2/3 the person I was. Not exactly accurate; I was closer to 3/4 the person I was.

My point: I lost a ton of weight in a very short time.

The Real Benefit

The benefit — other than looking great — was feeling great. I had (and still have) a ton of energy. I can walk faster, hike longer, and even climb hills without getting winded. And I have a theory about that.

When I was fat — there, I said it! — I was carrying around a lot of extra weight. My body had to adapt to carry that weight — it had to get stronger just to lift that extra weight off the ground and walk with it. When the extra weight disappeared, I still had the strength to carry it, but had nothing to carry.

Imagine being forced, every day of your life, to walk around with a backpack that gets heavier over time. After nine years, it’s 45 pounds. Because the weight was added slowly over time, your body has become accustomed to it and, although it’s not easy to carry, you can carry it because you’re used to carrying it.

Now imagine someone taking weight out of that backpack at the rate of 10+ pounds a month for four months. Your body still has the strength it needs to carry all that extra weight, but now it’s gone! How do you think you’re body’s going to react? It’s going to have all kinds of extra energy that it doesn’t need.

I’ve been putting that energy to good use since this summer by going on long hikes, getting out and about with friends, maintaining an aggressive travel schedule, and keeping active around the house, packing and moving my belongings into storage.

How Metabolism Fits In

Here’s where my theory gets a bit sketchy — mostly because I have no scientific evidence to back it up.

As we age, our metabolism slows down. I think that’s pretty much accepted as fact. Because most of us don’t reduce the amount of food we eat or eat smarter or better as we age, we gain weight. I’m pretty sure that — and normal female hormonal changes — are what caused me to pork up over the years.

After losing all that weight, I worried a lot about gaining it all back when I got off the diet — which required me to eat special food. But I certainly didn’t want to stay on the diet forever. So I weaned myself off the food and tried to eat sensibly.

Then the holidays came and I ate whatever I wanted to. And then I did some more traveling and I ate out a lot. And I spent a lot of time with friends, eating and drinking and having a grand old time.

At this point, I eat almost exactly as I did before I went on the diet. I should be gaining weight, right?

But I’m not. The weight is keeping off me.

And that’s where I think the metabolism is coming into play. I suspect that my weight loss and increased activity levels — because I now have more energy to keep active — has raised my metabolism. My body needs those calories and it burns them off.

What do you think? Does this make sense to anyone who knows about this kind of stuff?

4 thoughts on “On Weight Loss and Metabolism

  1. Sounds right to me. I went on a cutting diet, eliminating 300 calories every 10 days from my diet. Went from about 185 to 168 in 50 days. I was thinking that I would put it all back on when I returned to eating normally but I have not, I am maintaining at 170. I am actually finding it hard to even put on weight now.

  2. I so agree, Maria. As I’ve lost weight and exercised on a regular basis, my energy level has gone up a lot. As I keep going and get the rest off I know I’ll feel even better. The heart and lungs have to work harder… Well, your whole body has to work harder, as you wrote. Once that’s gone it doesn’t have to work so hard. But maintaining an active lifestyle and eating healthy is key. Being overweight contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, all kinds of bad stuff…

    I’m so impressed with your weight loss and keeping it off. You truly look great, Maria. But most importantly, FEELING great and being healthier is most important.

    Especially now that the weather is nicer here, I’m pushing my exercise walking even more to get the rest of my extra weight off. I’d lost 26 lb but gained some back after hurting my hip and not being able to be so active for awhile. It’s tougher at this age (I’m 59) to keep the weight off. Gone are the days of just cutting back a little and magically losing 5 lb. LOL

    Good article, Maria. :-)

    • Thanks, Shirley. Feeling great is so much more important than just looking better. If we keep active, we’ll keep it off. I need to get more involved with a local hiking group; I’d like to do at least 5 medium-to-tough miles a week with a group to keep me motivated.

  3. When you increase your activity level your metabolism will adjust by increasing so yes your metabolism has rebooted even as you may be older & the rule of thumb is right, age usually equals a lowering metabolism that typically applies when we maintain the same habits as always without adjusting activities. Just like a 30 year old man starts to realize that he can’t eat like an 18 year old & still maintain his boyish figure without some adjustment somewhere. Many people hate adding exercise to their routine so their weight loss solely depends on diet & when you do that you don’t get any increase in metabolism. You did it right!! Keep up the hard work & enjoy the fact that with an increased metabolism you get more opportunities for eating & drinks with friends!! Women typically (genetically) have lower BMR (basal metabolic rate) than men & height plays a factor as well. Short ladies typically have lower metabolisms than tall men so sadly me being a female of 63 inches tall (5’3″) my natural metabolism isn’t too high so in order to keep my girlish figure I have to try harder than my taller friends. It’s not always been easy. At my heaviest I’ve weighed 235lbs (ouch!!!!) I was pregnant at the time but I didn’t give birth to a 100 pound baby so that’s not a good thing. I now weigh 140lbs & I may still want to shed 5 to 10lbs but I’d say 95lbs later I’m much better off than I was before!!! Before I was pregnant I weighed 138lbs. Ya I know!!! How the heck did I manage that? Dairy Queen & meatball subs & just giving up all forms of exercise is not a good pregnancy regime but thankfully all my babies are healthy & now I know better!!! ;)

What do you think?