Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tight Jeans and Tipping Points


Yesterday I hit a personal “tipping point” that may sounds trivial in the overall scheme of things, but it gave me some useful insights into human psychology. Ever since I arrived in Hawaii on Sept 1, my weight has been creeping up, little by little, pound by pound. Jeans got a bit tighter, my face got a bit rounder – but the change was never dramatic enough from one weigh-in to the next to give me cause for alarm.

Until yesterday.

I stood on the scales in the morning to find that my weight had leaped 4 pounds in 2 days, taking me over 130lb (plenty enough for a narrow-framed 5ft 3in) and bringing my total gain to 23lb in 4 months.

I had hit my tipping point. It was time to get this back under control.

This is not a plea for flattering reassurances that I look fine anyway, or suggestions that I am trying to force my body to be lighter than it wants to be, or recommendations that I stop worrying about such trivial matters and concern myself with the state of the planet instead.

No - this is my own little personal parable, about the part of human psychology that allows us to turn a blind eye to gradual changes – especially if they are unwelcome changes. We don’t see what is happening because we don’t want to see it. We tend to ignore the problem until it has grown into a crisis.

“A stitch in time saves nine”, as my mother used to say. In my trivial example, I now have undeniable evidence of my weight gain, and it will be some time before my jeans and I are seen together in public again. And of course I am wishing I had taken action when I had a 5lb weight issue rather than a 15lb weight issue.

In planetary terms, what has to happen before we take decisive action to reduce our environmental impact? How much evidence is “enough” evidence for us to reach our collective tipping point?

I am optimistic. My perception is that the scales are tipping (forget the bathroom scales now – picture Libra-type scales). The will for change is growing, and the defence of the old status quo is eroding. The question is becoming not so much “if and when”, but “how much and how soon”. And I believe that we, as a species, do have the ability to rise to this challenge, if we can only put aside our illusions of separateness and tackle this global problem together.

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7 comments:

  1. It is so true.. we do tend to let things go until we hit crisis mode! Love the post... keep up the good work!

    Melissa

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  2. I am one for the "Via Media." Extreme weight gain and loss can be hard for a body. You put yourself through a lot on your trips. Certainly get into "fighting trim" for your upcoming leg of the Pacific row, yet keep in mind a proper balance.

    The pounds will have to come off the same way they went on. Gradually.

    One thing that helped me lose weight was by choosing a day-a-week to fast. Just skip all meals that day. I could have something to drink, but no food. Of course, one has to keep in mind their physical exercise regimen. I went from 250 lbs at my heaviest c. 2000 to 175 lbs at my lightest. I eventually evened out ~190 lbs.

    Wait. Hrm.

    Maybe I hit my own tipping point too recently. I might be at 200.

    Oh, how ironically right you are, Roz! :)

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  3. Run up and down a mountain or two every week. You will be fine. We call it here in Boulder the Boulder workout plan. I am a weight gainer too and this plan works wonders for me. Oh yeah walk everywhere and eat whole foods.

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  4. Well before you lose them curves, I think you should post a pic for posterity, for us lovers of the female curve :-)... and here is a target shape for you to attain as you get fit again: http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm201/DavidTangye/2009-0104-ironwoman-014-HayleyBateu.jpg I had to go down to the beach especially to take this pic, as these ironwomen are sooo fit and trim.

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  5. Honestly Roz, I think that when you landed in Hawaii you looked anorexic, and unhealthy. What I found more disturbing was Leo going on and on about how great you looked, as well as your commenters. There is a term for it, "female athletic triad". Even though you achieved the weight loss through hours a day of exercise, doesn't mean that it's healthy!

    At an athletic 11% body fat for females isn't healthy, as it can lead to loss of menstration and early osteoperosis, which can lead to stress fractures. Do you really want to risk getting stress fractures out there in the middle of the Pacific? Remember when the oars got strangely heavy as you were rowing to Hawaii, and you had to check the boat for anything dragging you? That heaviness was your body consuming your muscle and bone mass for energy to row. Your body was talking, telling you something.

    The pressure for women to be thin is enormous, especially for women in the public eye, such as yourself. I think your weight gain is a very good sign that you're regaining your health and strength. So what your jeans are a little tight? Just get a pair that fit. The tipping point is bogus, it's arbitrary, and it means nothing. Your accomplishments, drive and passion to help the oceans means much more. (yes I know you were making a point about environmental tipping points, but I think your preoccupation with weight is making more of a statement). I'm rooting for you, I am very interested in your journey and your successes, it saddens me to see you view your body in a negative way.

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  6. I started posting another comment to this, but it got rather long so I decided to turn it into its own blog - see The Sequel.

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  7. slowpaddler1:25 pm GMT

    I like the sequel, I like this blog-it is funny to note how people miss the forest for the trees--you use your weight gain (hey, I'm in the same boat--have come to the conclusion that folks who do endurance sports can do so because they are "easy keepers"--their slower metabolisms lend themselves to hours of steady physical abuse...)--anyway, you use your incremental weight gain to point out how we are blind to the obvious "bad thing" until it reaches crisis point.... which is really a wonderful analogy, but everyone is still focusing on the weight thing and not the connection you are trying to make about the obvious degradation of our natural world that in the end will be very, very harmful for us as a species. Oh heck, we can ruin the world--it will recover (look at the meteor recently discovered that wiped out the mammoths and saber-toot tigers (a new hypothesis)--but wether we will be able to survive what we have done to our planet is a totally different matter. We so do need to adopt a "do no harm" mentality.

    Thanks for an awesome blog!!

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