Set points, sloppy joes and settling points

I think I’m happy to have found this article by Joseph Hooper in the March issue of Elle magazine. It explains why I went at weight work this morning with a bang that’s left me still breathing hard 20 minutes afterward.

There’s no reason for this piece to be titled “Sexy and I Know It,” unless that hed is for a monthly column because the piece itself is about keeping weight off after you lose it and how very, very tough that is (only 2 to 20 percent of losers manage). Mostly, because our bodies themselves are fighting our good intentions. (I nominate myself for a place in what he calls the “one-woman hunger museum.”)

Science is pretty clear by now that anyone losing more than 10 percent of her/his body weight “experience(s) a corresponding change in crucial appetite-regulating hormones.” In other damn words, lose weight and feel hungrier.

And while I’m losing weight, science also says my metabolism is slowing down. Curses! As if it weren’t already comatose. So I can only be successful by doing as the author’s wife — paying “undying attention to what she eats and how much she exercises.”

The silver lining in this big, purple cloud is “outfoxing our uncooperative physiolog(ies) with exercise. ” Weight training and sprint work seem to help, but “The most important priority is to get regular exercise and plenty of it,” as much as one hour daily.

This is a really well-written and researched piece (why I keep lifting quotations). Hooper cites Dr.George Blackburn as recommending that we lose no more than 10 percent of our weight, slowly, then simply maintain that loss for six months “to let your body metabolically recalibrate.” Jury’s still out on whether our bodies actually do that, but I like the idea of just staying for a bit at this weight of 198, which is probably what the authors call my set point. My settling point, which they also use, is probably more like it. Eventually, I’d like to not settle and continue on my way to 174.

In the meantime, I’ll eat a diet heavy in vegetables and fruit, curtail sugar (maybe even dairy and gluten when I can without being a diet diva), and exercise, exercise, exercise. Oh, and get plenty of sleep. Hoping someday to, paraphrasing Hooper, embrace healthier new habits as real pleasures.

I know you can use protein crumbles in your same old, same old sloppy joe recipe, but I’m not supposed to eat soy (too much estrogen) so I  really enjoyed this variation from the April issue of Parenting magazine. My best guess is about 400 calories per sandwich with an onion hamburger bun, 1 ounce of grated cheddar and 1/2 cup of the sloppy joe mixture.

Black bean and salsa sloppy joes

I used a corn and black bean salsa which ups the protein content ever so slightly.

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 minced garlic cloves

2-1/2 cups rinsed, drained canned black beans

1 15-ounce jar mild chunky salsa

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon-type mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheddar cheese, shredded

In large skillet, heat oil and add garlic, sauteing until golden (don’t leave — it chars in the blink of an eye). Stir in beans, salsa, brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, cumin and salt. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Spoon onto buns and top with cheese. Stuffs 4 sandwiches.

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