So I’m back on the diet again. Those near and dear to me know exactly what this means, as they too have been on the diet at one point or another. Granted, I realize just about everyone in the world has been on a diet at one point in time, but several years ago my friends and I all embarked on pretty much the same one. Being on a diet, any diet, with pretty much all of my friends made the entire thing infinitely more bearable. I am not, as it turns out, the queen of willpower.
For anyone who knew me in high school, this should not be too much of a surprise. For the first two years there was a pretty steady weight gain. Not so much that I might be sought after by Captain Ahab and his crew, but enough so that nobody was beating down my door asking me to homecoming. By my junior year my weight began a series of odd diet induced fluctuations that would occasionally allow me to share clothes with friends who were much more stylish than I. I got into a size of jean I hadn’t seen since I was 12, a homecoming dress actually made in the same decade I wore it and a cheerleading outfit, even if it was just part of a Halloween costume.
My senior year I started a new tactic that carried over into my dorm days: I simply skipped meals. Breakfast was the first to go. It wasn’t so much a matter of diet as it was a way of catching a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning. No self-respecting person brought their lunch at my school and the school lunch was hideous, so I’d get by with a small order of fries or if it was a good day, a bowl of soup. On nights I wasn’t working, my parents were, so I would eat a thing of ramen noodles or cook up some spaghetti. While these aren’t exactly low-cal items, when they are all you really eat a day, the lack of calories, well, doesn’t add up. On nights I did work, I’d grab a few handfuls of popcorn from the bin anytime I started to feel hungry.
The problem was that I was hungry and eventually it caught up to me. And usually in the worst way. After days of denying myself food, one lunch, I’d pile my plate so high with fixins from the nacho bar in my dorm, I thought my stomach would explode. Or, instead of eating a normal dinner with fruits and maybe a veggie or two, I’d go down to Out of Bounds and get a king size Kit Kat and a few sodas and have those as my final meal of the day. I didn’t gain the dreaded freshmen fifteen, but my weight was constantly going up and down.
The problem with these diets was that I was constantly denying myself foods I really, really wanted and when I couldn’t stand it anymore, I would blow it by gorging on chocolate, chips or McDonald’s. The gorging cycle usually only lasted a few days, but they were some devastating days for my waistline.
A few years ago though, I got fed up with seeing what my husband lovingly referred to as my moon face, and decided something needed to be done.* Several of my friends had already started dieting and since they were on the diet, facing the same restrictions, it wasn’t quite as hard. I’m not sure who among us lost the most weight, because it wasn’t competitive, but we each got down to weights we were more comfortable with. I lost a total of 50 lbs and was finally able to shop for cute clothes, not only in the same stores but in the same department as my best friend. It was awesome. Of course, it took me about a year and a half to do it.
The biggest problem with all my earlier diets was that I wanted a quick fix to a lifestyle of unhealthy eating habits. I stepped on the scale every day and if I went several days not eating much and not losing weight, or heaven forbid I had a small fluctuation and it looked like I gained any weight, I quit. What was the use, right? It’s been 20 years since I went on my first diet,** and it took me 18 to learn that I had to actually change the way I ate as a whole, not just for a few weeks to actually lose weight. The beauty of that discovery is that I was able to keep my weight off and even slowly keep losing it for almost three years.
Of course, then I got pregnant and even though I tried like heck to be good, like many other women, I used it as an excuse and my belly and butt came back in force. So now I find myself with a few pounds to lose in order to get back into my school clothes. School starts in five weeks and somehow, I don’t think I’ll back into those cute capris I bought right before I got pregnant, but maybe by next spring I can sport them again.
*This really was said lovingly and not at all as an insult. In fact, when I started losing weight, my husband commented on how he missed my sweet moon face. It was a term of endearment.
**A secret diet at the age of 12. My mother would have had a fit if she knew I was on an actual diet. I was working out in my room and throwing parts of my lunch away at school.