Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are You An Ali or A Brittany?

I've been thinking a lot about metabolic differences since watching Biggest Loser a few weeks ago. In that episode Jillian decided to mess around with Brittany's salt intake and see if they could get a bigger result. Jillian was talking about how hard and frustrating Brittany's weight loss had been on both of them. In contrast Ali returned to the show that week having lost more than any other woman. And even though she is now the lightest contestant she has been the Biggest Loser on campus the last three weeks averaging a 7 pound weekly loss.

Now I know Brittany is portrayed on the show as whiny and overwhelmed. All I know is that Jillian told the camera that she has never pushed a contestant harder and STILL she only drops about 2 pounds a week. I believe there are metabolic differences. And I see it all the time around the weight loss blogs that I read. Obviously it is hard to know if everyone is working out as much as they should or eating within their limits but it sure seems to me that some you have a harder time losing than others.

I'm the first to say I didn't have a hard time losing the weight. Is that metabolic? Did I have a stronger resolve? Was I just more accurate? Is it because I had no cheat meals? Genetics? Was I just more committed? Who knows? Not to say I didn't work hard. I did. I didn't take a day off. I worked out like I never had before and I accounted for everything I put in my mouth. For me weight loss was a very predictable math equation: burn more than you consume and lose. But it seems to me plenty of people do that and don't see the same results.


Julie said...

I think I am more of a Brittany. Although, I feel like I have not been consistent enough with my resolve to lose weight. When I worked to get the weight off finally when my youngest was 1 years old, I lost consistently and with absolutely no exercise. But then after maintaining that for 2 years, I allowed myself to regain 40 pounds. Part of that was due to my hypothyroidism, but I think even more to emotional eating and lack of exercise. Yes, I lost the 40 pounds the first time, but I don't think I addressed fully what was going on in my head. This time is different. I will eventually lose all the weight and keep it off this time.

I know the show is all edited to look a certain way, but Ali seems more ready to lose the weight and change her life. Brittany seems to still have a lot unresolved issues. She seems more immature than Ali and more able to get off track due to emotions. Ali seems so focused. But then it is easier to stay focused when your body is losing the weight faster. It is really discouraging to work so hard for minimal results. I should know:)

Julie said...

Mrs F, how much weight did you lose...after the initial 20 that you lost 2 weeks after Baby was born?

Mrs. Furious said...

After the initial 20 I lost 48 more pounds. So that took me from about the end of Feb until early December. I averaged 1-2 a week... but I did sometimes plateau for a couple weeks and then drop 4 pounds.

I'll be back.

Mrs. Furious said...

For sure I think Brittany had more emotional issues (seemingly) but Ali always dropped bigger numbers and has kept that up. Brittany was able to kick major ass in every challenge so clearly she was working out. Once Jillian wanted to mess with her salt in take I started to think that Brittany might have some kind of legitimate metabolic issue that was making it harder.

" But then it is easier to stay focused when your body is losing the weight faster. It is really discouraging to work so hard for minimal results"
I think this is key.

As for the weight loss. I lost everything from Kid then over the next few years gained up to about 4-5 pounds and then lost that (but only that). I did pilates but NEVER any cardio.
Now I've embraced the "this is for the rest of my freaking life" aspect to the exercise. I'm an eater and I'm over 30 and I need to freaking exercise like it is the same every day occurrence as taking a shower. If I do that I can stay here. And now that I'm here I realize that this is my actual body type and I was actually kind of slowly letting myself go before.

Marie said...

I think I am more of an Ali. If I stick to a "good" diet and even remotely exercise, the weight comes right off. At the same time, if I don't exercise or watch what I eat, my body stays pretty much at the same weight. I am 5'4", and before kids the weight my body gravitated to was 128-130. After having 3 kids, it naturally settles at 140. BUT I CAN lose the extra 20ish lbs if I stick to it without much plateuing. What gets me is that it is somehow harder to lose those final 10 than all those other baby pounds. Of course, I turned 30 this year, so this may all change......

I think Ali does seem more "ready" to lose weight, but I think that may also be because she has good numbers every week. I know if I lost 7lbs a week, I'd be much more motivated than being the lowest loser and only losing 2-3lbs. kwim? I think it probably gets depressing being the least loser, and that in turn demotivates you. And that the opposite is true too. And Brittney seemed to be in good physical shape even though she wasn't losing weight as quickly. She kicked butt in challenges, and would probably excel in some type of competition exercise (racing or such) where she could "beat" others.

Julie said...

I agree with the exercise being another daily thing that one just does. I think it clicked for me when I realized, "wait a minute, I want to lose weight and the people on the Biggest Loser exercise every single day" and it is recommended that we get like 60 minutes of exercise every day. Now I don't exercise every day because life happens, but I definitely see it as something that I must do to be healthy and not just to lose weight.

I also think that I have been using my hypothyroidism as an excuse lately. Enough is enough. I mean I had it when I lost the 40 pounds 5 years ago. Yes, I know I am getting older, but I want to be healthy and feel good about myself. I totally get Nike's Just Do It. Because really that's what it comes down to. So it's harder for me because of my metabolism. So what. I'll get there.

And wow, congratulations on losing a grand total of freaking 68 pounds. 48 pounds after the initial post pregnancy drop. That is awesome. And you did it real life way by still having a chocolate croissant or whatever and not completely getting rid of foods. So it truly is a lifestyle change and not just a diet.

Ok, are we the only losers home today?

Mrs. Furious said...

"Ok, are we the only losers home today?"
LOL. I'm sitting here... procrastinating... I should be making a dent in that giant pile of shit at the bottom of the stairs!

And thanks. Because for me if I hadn't started working out I think I dieted to about 136 and I'm more than confident that is what I'd weigh right now. 10 pounds up from my pre-Baby weight. I'm actually really thankful that I realized how important the exercise component is. I feel much more in control of my weight. If it goes up I know what I need to do.
Now as for the diet. Yes that worked for me... but I would still like to work at eating a better diet. But with my considerable sweet tooth that is hard! I think if you get too goody goody it is too hard to maintain. Although I did eliminate soda. And Mc D's during my weight loss phase.

I will say for me before 30 I could drop weight over a weekend. I always felt like I could lose it if I wanted to. After 30 I noticed I had a harder time with that last bit of weight and that it was firmly clinging to my thighs! Before kids I weighed 118-122 after Kid 124-126. By the time I got around to getting pregs again it was taking some kind of work to keep it at 126. With the cardio now I'm keeping under 112. But I know I need to keep the cardio or I'm screwed.

Julie said...

I should be folding laundry right now. Maybe Kate would let me borrow one her laundry helpers.

I know I was thinking that when I started doing the jazzercise more frequently that more weight would just melt off even without really changing my diet. That was not the case so I am becoming more dedicated to lowering my calorie learning to be in control of what I put in my mouth mindlessly. If I do all that and I still can't lose weight, then I will cry like a baby. Waaah.

For the record, I have lost about 10 pounds since sometime in January after I blew up to the largest size I have ever been. I need a little "Ali action"..some big weight loss in one week (like 2 or 3 pounds). I am working on it.

Mrs. Furious said...

10 pounds since January is good consistent weight loss! That is like a pound a week.
I think it would be really really hard to lose 2-3 pounds in a week. You can only go so low calorie wise and only have so much time/opportunity to workout.

Okay I have to go do some kind of organizing....

Mrs. Furious said...

or drink a cup of coffee and read a magazine....

Marie said...

LOL!!! That last (two) comments cracked me up! I have been stalking the blogs today, and am now contemplating a) laundry, or b) making a cup of coffee. Can you guess which will win?

Mrs. Furious said...

I still haven't done anything...

okay I'm going down to the hell hole now!

Julie said...

i still haven't done anything either. i actually stopped folding laundry mid way and walked away.

i need a coffee:)

Deb said...

I'm cracking up at these posts.

I'm like Marie, and I definitely think there is a metabolic component to weight loss. I have no problem dropping weight when I stop eating crap or start exercising -- I don't have to do both. I think the gift I got from my father was a natural tendency toward high muscle mass, which helps me stay lean, even if I'm not really working at it. Maybe it helps that I was an athlete most of my life and my body is "trained" to work this way? I think the body's memory is vast.

Unfortunately, now that I'm 38 (going on 39, people), I don't just stay the same if I stop exercising. I get a little saggy. So while the muscle comes back quickly when I'm exercising, it doesn't return overnight anymore. I think it's time I get back into sports, because having a race date on the calendar may be the only thing that keeps me motivated. (Although you have been helping, Mrs. F.)

Mrs. Furious said...

Now if only I could motivate Mr F. I keep telling him "don't forget you could be in the best shape of your life at 41!"... you know like those old Bowflex commercials? So far that hasn't been inspiration enough. Calling him "Mr Fat Pants" doesn't seem to be motivating him as much as I thought it would either...

Heather said...

Mrs F were you always an Ali? Cause I think I'll always be a Brittany, unless this pregnancy drastically changes my metabolism (unlikely). I think I'm an endomorph, with a naturally higher percentage of body fat (now astronomical).

Gotta go up to the city -- I'll check back tomorrow!

Amy said...

I think it's a combo of genetics, metabolism and discipline. For me, I figured I have screwed up my metabolism over the years of all the yo-yo dieting. It takes a very strict regime for weight to come off me...and at 38 it isn't getting any easier!

There is this little "theory" known to some Weight Watcher's out there...called the "Wendi Plan". You can google it to find her testimony, but basically she was doing everything right and according to the math, she should have been losing. One week after having a really big cheat day, she lost 3 lbs. She played around and discovered that if you alternate days of hi/low calories, then you body's metabolism does not adjust to the set lower-weight loss calories intake. Hell it worked for me during plateus!

Mrs. Furious said...

that is so funny that you wrote "endomorph"... god I love those old school body type classifications! Seriously.
I'm a Mesomorph. Always have been. And yes I'd say always an Ali. I have always lost weight quickly and in general (barring pregnancy) maintained with little effort. Now I sometimes I weighed more than I wanted but that would be due to some serious hog town hog action and I could lose it by drinking slimfast for a week. But that did seem to change for me abruptly at 30. And now I think I could probably maintain a slightly higher weight if I didn't want to workout... but I'm committed to keeping it here.

Mrs. Furious said...

I think there is something to that. I didn't do that and didn't need to but that is where I think the metabolic differences come into play. Some people's metabolisms seem to shut down during dieting and I believe in the theory behind the hi-lo. I'm going to recommend that to my mom!

Deb said...

Mr. F knows women dig the bald, artistic thing, so he doesn't feel compelled to work out. Have you tried hanging pictures of Matt Lauer on your fridge?

Mark said...

Considering my generally pretty decent calorie intake, my decent (though not daily) exercise and my loss of a whopping 1 lb in the last 2 months, I'd say I'm a brittany, metabolically speaking.

I'm not working super hard at loosing weight (I'm working super hard at sleeping enough so I don't just die and working enough so I don't lose any chance at the scientific career I'm working toward), I AM trying. I don't really have a ton to loose, so that is probably a factor in the slow rate, but it's a tiny bit discouraging to see nearly NOTHING happening.

In a month I'll be adding several hours of daily hard labor for my research to my several times a week running (or probably substituting it at least half the time) so maybe things will pick up. I'm basically holding out hope for that. I can't afford a gym membership, I can't afford (or have space for) a treadmill in the house, so right now it's running whenever I get a chance.

Nutmeg said...

I know you're all like..

Who the hell is Mark.

It's me.

Mrs. Furious said...

lol... I was like who is Mark?.. but I figured it out before too long.

It could also be the sleep deprivation. That messes with the metabolism. Because I know you don't eat very much. You might try that hi-lo intake if you still aren't losing later on.

Heather said...


I'm just remembering that I saw a clip on the Today show that said that Brittany discovered she had Polycystic Ovarian something-syndrome, which was wreaking havoc on her hormones.

I can't believe you were driving when you shot this video -- I didn't until I saw the trees whizzing by.

Mrs. Furious said...

Interesting about Brittany. I'll have to try and scare up some info...

Yes I was driving but don't worry I wasn't holding the camera!

P.O.M. said...

Ok- joining late in the convo. I don't watch the show (not because I don't want to, it's just that channel doesn't come in with my non-cable lifestyle). But I would have to say I'm an Ali. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that I had to work my ass off and live on less than 1200 calories a day to get where I wanted to be.

I decided to lose weight in Jan 06 (at about 168 lbs). By that summer I was at 132 and my family thought I was too thin - my sister called me a bobblehead). I'm at 136 now, but still want to get back to 132. (I'm kinda crazy.)

Here's a question, do you think people use "metabolism" as an excuse sometimes? I hate to say this, but I do. Some people are not as dedicated or strict on thier diets and want an excuse for their plateau or non-loss situation. I dont care what your metabolism is = if you live on fruits/veggies and protein and work out at least an hour a day, you will lose weight. Period. (Unless you have some crazy medical disorder thing.)

I always say
"It's the easist thing to do, but the hardest at the same time."

Laura said...

I have a lot of cheat days lately due to traveling for business. However, before I was on a local project, cooking all my own meals, and measuring and recording every.single.bite. I did drop a teeny bit of weight, but nothing near what I should have, even if you didn't factor in my exercise (I was doing 30-60 minutes minimum every day). Once I started traveling, I've been gaining weight, no matter how good I try to be. It's really frustrating.

What makes it especially hard to keep my willpower is the fact that it's totally vanity weight (yes, I admit it). My current weight is not considered obese or fat or in any way dangerous to my health - I just would like to get rid of my tummy. It's almost more difficult to be good when you know that the consequences for eating junk are a slightly thicker figure and not a health problem or full-blown obesity. And then there is social pressure to just relax and eat anything, because I don't "need" to worry about my weight. Well, I don't "need" to now... but at some point if I keep eating all this junk, it will become a need.

Mrs. Furious said...

Yes I do think some people use the metabolism as an excuse. Like you when I decided to lose weight I just buckled down and lost it. And I do believe that if everyone did that they would lose. But lately I've been thinking some people might have a harder time losing it as consistently and that that might derail them just because it is frustrating.
It is hard to know. Even on the show different people have different eating habits and workout amounts. It is tough to know if I lose more easily than my friend because I work harder or because it is actually easier for me.

That is kind of how I was and where I was at before kids. I would have been happier a few pounds lighter but I didn't need to lose and no one would have thought I did. I think the only reason I have broken that weight is that I had the pregnancy weight as a motivator to start losing and then I was able to just keep going. I was never as motivated to work as hard for the 5 or 10 I wanted to lose before. Does that make sense?

Suzy said...

Mrs. Furious,
"...But I know I need to keep the cardio or I'm screwed."

I couldn't agree more. Sometimes it feels like a life sentence...knowing that if I skip a workout the scale will go up at least a pound the next day. It's exhausting sometimes trying to keep up with the balancing act. But, I must admit that the workouts aren't as hard as they were in the beginning of the weight loss journey and I actually look forward to them now. I don't know if that's more like Ali or Brittany, but for me, it's all about the exercise as far as maintenance goes, and all about exercise and diet for loss. Like you said, it's a pretty simple equation when you think about it, but not as simple in actually getting it done.

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