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By Roz Rogoff

Shorten the string

Uploaded: Jan 26, 2012

Some of my readers might recall that two years ago I went on a Progresso Soup diet as part of a makeover contest from the Progresso Soup Company. I didn't win the contest, but I managed to drop 50 lbs in the 6 months I stayed on it.

My goal, in addition to winning the contest which wasn't all that important to me (a woman who lost 150 lbs won) was to lose 25 lbs for my 50th High School Reunion in October. I lost almost double that amount and weighed 226 lbs. at the reunion.

I was chubby in High School but never close to 200 lbs. I weighed between 150-160 and wore a size 13 or 15. I wasn't the fattest girl in school, but one woman who was heavier than I in high school was considerably lighter at the reunion.

I started over eating again a month or two before I left for Maine and New Rochelle, and I continued to eat during the trip. When I returned I had gained back 5 lbs, then 10 lbs, then 15 lbs, and after a year I had gained back 20 lbs of the 50 I lost.

So I started a soup diet again at the beginning of this year. Since January 3, 2012 I've dropped about 6 lbs. I find it relatively easy to cut down on my eating in the winter months, and I have concluded without any scientific research, that humans are designed to eat and store fat as a protection against starvation when food isn't easily available.

What is often branded as compulsive eating in obese people is really a primitive form of survival. To try to make an obese person "eat sensibly" all year round, is to go against every instinct we have. I have, at times, forced myself to eat everything in sight even when I'm full, to be sure nothing goes to waste. Being able to store food on my body as fat is a guarantee I would not starve during the lean times.

The problem with this now is there are no lean times. The obesity epidemic in America is caused by the abundance and easy access to too much food. So I am going to venture my solution to the obesity problem from my own personal experience and a lifetime of self-scrutiny.

Fat people are told we must "eat sensibly" to control our weight, by people who dictate how those of us who are not like them are supposed to behave. They tell us not to "yo-yo," meaning gaining and losing weight on cyclical basis, but yo-yo'ing is exactly what we are programmed to do – store fat, use fat, store fat, use fat. Humans are designed to yo-yo, or at least my group of humans. We eat as much as we can to store the fat for the lean time. If there's never a lean time, we keep getting fatter and never use it up.

That's why yo-yo'ing is so important. Most people whose weight fluctuates + or – 20 lbs every year do this naturally. You go up a size or two, and diet for a couple of months, and drop back down. Then after six to eight months, it's time to drop those 20 lbs again. Don't let any of those thin freaks tell you this is wrong.

My mother used to yo-yo the same 40 lbs most of her life. She's 96 now, and keeps her weight fairly constant at 145 lbs. Yo-yo'ing 40 lbs is a lot. It's probably better to keep it under 30 lbs, which is why I titled this blog "Shorten the string." Obese people like me, let the string grow to 100 or 200 lbs, and then it is too long to yo-yo.

I lost 150 lbs. in two yo's between 1989 and 1991. I got down to 150 and looked gorgeous for a few years. I know that's hard to believe but I have photos to prove it. I kept most of the weight off for about five years and then gradually gained it back until I hit 250 and then 280.

Despite the prediction that obese people gain it all back and more, I never went all the way back to 300. I dropped from 280 to 275 and now I'm 240. If I yo-yo 30 or 40 lbs. every year, and keep between 220 and 250, that would be better than gaining more. It would be even better if I could inch down an additional 10 or 20 lbs. each year that I don't gain back, so I could get under 200 (I'd be happy at 210), and then yo-yo between 200 and 230.

So I'm hauling in the string on my yo-yo and hoping to keep it shorter each year. My 96-year-old mother is still active and alert. So for me yo-yo'ing is the best way to maintain my weight when eating means survival and being skinny isn't an option.