I’m on a diet. This is not entirely a shock seeing as I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. Not the same diet, of course, otherwise I probably wouldn’t need a diet so much as counseling for my eating disorder. I have, however, been dieting on and off since middle school.
Diets suck. It doesn’t matter what kind of diet; they all suck. Anytime I have to deny myself something I know tastes good and that I enjoy ingesting, it sucks. Yes, I realize it seems like a gratuitous usage of the word suck, but I really want to get across how much I think diets do, well, suck.
Over the last twenty years, I have tried a variety of diets. For awhile in high school I tried going 24 hours without eating at a time, then restricting myself to a small variety of foods when I did eat. I accompanied this with marathon exercise bike rides of two to three hours. It was sucky and I spent a lot of time feeling really dizzy and even passed out a few times, but I lost twenty pounds, so it seemed like a small price to pay.
In college, I tried a similar dieting tactic. I skipped breakfast entirely, ate a bowl of nachos (my dining hall had a nacho bar that was amazing) and then usually skipped dinner in favor of a Kit Kat bar and a Coke. Now I know it doesn’t sound like a diet, but paired with all the walking I had to do (my dorm was on the absolute north end of campus and most of my classes on the south) and the quick pace I had to do it in since I was usually running just about late, I managed to not only avoid the freshmen 15, but actually lose another 10.
Then I fell in love, which can be an amazing diuretic. I didn’t want to eat. Time spent eating was time I could have been spending with him. Not to mention that eating made the prospect of him seeing me naked repugnant to me, so I gave it up again. Come to think of it, that might have been what really helped me lose those 10 pounds!
The problem with my relationship, and with all relationships that last long enough, was that I got really comfortable in it*. That meant I started eating again. Since my S.O. liked to cook and was used to cooking for a kind of big family, the portions he dished out were also big. Coupled with my love for fast food, chocolate and my lack of free time to eat anything that wasn’t on the go, I gained those 10 pounds back. Then I added another 30 or so.
It was a gradual add. I almost didn’t notice it since I had to buy new clothes over a long period of time. One day, I stepped on the scale and was really appalled by the numbers. That marked a period of dieting that I like to refer to as “the fad” years. I tried Slim Fast. The problem was only the chocolate ones were even kind of appealing. The vanilla ones were so fakey-sweet that they made me gag. Eating two liquid meals a day was really hard. Unless you are 6 months old, there is no liquid diet that doesn’t leave you famished and eventually purging on an entire bag of chips at say 2 a.m.
So I tried low carb. This didn’t last long because I LOVE carbs. It turns out I cannot live and be a reasonably nice person without pasta and bread. I didn’t even make it two weeks before I realized that any diet that told me fruit was off limits but I could eat as much red meat as I wanted probably wasn’t a good idea. Sure, everyone I know whose really tried it has had good initial results, but then they’ve all gained the weight back with some to spare.
So I tried some sort of “miracle” juice I saw on TV that promised I’d lose up to 10 lbs in a week. I had to eat nothing and drink this juice for something like five days straight. It tasted fine, much like V8 Splash, but again, it was a liquid diet. The final straw was at the movies when my S.O. was eating a bag of delicious buttery popcorn while I sipped on my juice. When I lost only three pounds, all of which were water weight, I realized the juice was junk.
I gave up and gained a few more pounds.
By the time I left for London on a school trip, I was tipping the scales at, well, let’s just say it crossed a line I never thought I’d cross. I was 60 pounds heavier than my junior year of high school (my skinniest), and even that year I was a wee bit chubby. I had given up on losing weight and decided to just accept myself. In theory, this is all empowering and what not, but in reality, I hadn’t accepted it and I hated the way I looked. I just got better at hiding the fat.
The week in London turned out to be a major turning point for me. We were all prepared for a lot of walking during the trip, but I don’t think any of us realized that some days would be a near death march through the city. We weren’t prepared for days that started at 7 a.m. and didn’t end until after 10 because the sun was still out. Nor were we prepared for the heat wave all of Europe was having. We all packed for the 70 degree weather we’d read about (and checked on weather.com two days before hand). The temperatures hovered close to 90 (and sometimes over) every day we were there. We walked and we sweated. We sat and we sweated. We ate and we sweated. And with the heat and the walking and the sub par food we got on our tour, we didn’t eat all that much. I came back from London nearly 10 pounds lighter than when I left.
And so the diet started. This time I got smart. Twenty years of dieting has taught me something. I don’t have the world’s best will power. I cannot be on any diet that denies me entire categories of food. Instead, I decided I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as that whatever didn’t total more than 1300 calories each day. It was a struggle. There were days I broke down and had to eat the taco salad or entire candy bar, but I managed to stay on the diet for close to nine months. And more imortantly, I ended up losing about 40 pounds.
For the first time I’d made a real lifestyle change. I gave up all regular soda. I made sure I had fruit or vegetables at every meal. I ate out no more than twice a week and when I did, I didn’t Super Size anything. I skipped dessert most nights, but when I did have it, I ate one cookie or one truffle.
Over the next few years, this helped me not only maintain my weight, but actually lose another 6 pounds, bringing me fairly close to my junior year weight.
Then, I got pregnant. And while I only gained 40 pounds, it hasn’t been easy to lose it. When we were in Vegas, I saw myself in one of the long hallway mirrors. I had a cute new haircut, but the same old flabby body. My face looked chubby and once again, I decided I’d had enough.
The day we got back, I embarked on this latest diet. It’s been two weeks and I’ve lost three pounds. I’ve worked out 12 of the last 14 days (nothing too strenuous, I’ve never liked exercise–just walking at least a mile each day at a brisk pace). I’ve upped my fruit and veggie intake and gotten nearly all of the junk food out of the house. I’m on a mission.
I only have to lose 5 pounds until I’m back to my pre-baby weight, but I’m not stopping there. I want to get back down to my lowest “adult” weight, which means I actually have 19 pounds to go. I now know this won’t happen quickly. It’s going to be a steady diet and exercise routine. I’m hoping for 4-5 pounds a month, which I think is reasonable. If I can stick to it, I’ll hit my target weight by the end of October.
Just in time for the holidays!
*It is not actually bad to feel comfortable in a relationship emotionally, it was just devestating to my waistline.