Posts Tagged ‘diet’
As someone who was overweight for most of my life, weighed over 450 pounds by the time I graduated from college and then finally took off the weight sensibly without surgery or prescription medicine (and has kept the excess weight at bay for almost two decades), I’m often asked: “What’s the secret to successful dieting?” To which I often want to reply, “Don’t.” (Diet, that is.)
While this response might seem factitious to some, I assure you it’s not. It’s communicated with compassion and understanding.
I started to gain excess weight during the first grade. And my parents, thinking they were making smart decisions on my behalf, immediately put me on a strict diet, which taught me the rules of what and what not to eat. Naturally, I was more drawn to the “forbidden fruit” (the richer, more caloric foods) than I was to the iceberg lettuce and cottage cheese. So my parents next started locking up crackers, chips, sweets and any other foods they deemed not diet-worthy. Although still at a young age, I quickly learned the concept of being “on” and “off” of a diet.
For anyone reading this with a furled brow, I will quickly point out I do not demonize my parents for doing this. Again, they were making the best decisions they knew to make. My father was in the Air Force, so his whole family being perceived as trim and “in shape” was very important to him (and, he believed, to his job).
But mentally armed with knowing what it meant to be on a diet, I knew exactly how to go off of said diet. I eventually began stealing money out of my dad’s wallet and used the cash to buy sweets and treats that I would hide in my bedroom closet. My “secret stash” as it were. By the time I was a teenager (still being put on various diets—some even completely liquid-based), I was buying “contraband” food while my friends were trying to get their hands on “contraband” beer.
You can probably surmise that as my constant dieting efforts continued, so did the excess weight gain. Because we were stationed on an air base in Germany, I was forced to shop for clothes from the Sears Big & Tall catalog (nothing like forcing yourself into a pair of large-sized Toughskins jeans to remind you of even more ways you didn’t fit in at high school). But not even that kind of self-perceived shame kept me from going off of whatever diet I happened to be on. And certainly there were times I stayed on the diets. But that was usually just the first day of them—after which all bets were off.
I continued to try every kind of diet known to man as I gained more and more weight. Sometimes I’d actually lose weight on the diets. But I’d eventually re-gain the weight I lost along with some extra “bonus weight” when I finally went off of the diet I’d been most recently “successful” on.
On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. All with more and more weight gain. And what was the common denominator? The diets themselves.
It wasn’t until I finally dropped the diet mentality that I began to make some real progress toward getting healthy. Healthy being the key word. Suddenly I wasn’t as focused on getting thin (and getting out of those damned Toughskins jeans) as I was on feeling good. When weighing as much as I did, I would get breathless just talking on the phone. I would become winded walking up a single flight of stairs. And I even had broken a movie theater seat that buckled under my weight (while on a date no less).
When I focused more on feeling good and the benefits that working my way to a healthier weight would bring me, I realized the “diet” wasn’t as necessary of a tool as it had been originally presented as.
This doesn’t mean I didn’t do everything I could to learn about nutrition. But I also dedicated myself to embrace the concept of moderation. As I learned to enjoy food in a way that wasn’t like it was the last time I would ever have it, I didn’t have to overeat extreme amounts. I could have one scoop of ice cream because I knew there would be more reasonable amounts of ice cream in my future. The concept is simple I know. But sometimes it’s the simplest changes that lead to the biggest triumphs.
I did a lot of work on my mental self as well—realizing that after many years of child abuse (separate of the extreme diets I had been put on), I had as much mental weight to get rid of as I did physical weight. But this was all do-able. And it began with reminding myself of my true goals: Feeling good, being healthy and loving myself (no matter what brand or size of jeans I was wearing)—all while being able to enjoy the occasional rich food in moderation.
Don’t get me wrong. A reasonable (and nutritious) food plan is something that can definitely help you learn portion sizes. But you might want to drop the word “diet” while incorporating the food plan. And the plan shouldn’t be as much about restriction as it is about delicious, healthy choices in quantities that satisfy your hunger while fueling your body.
Dieting can be a concept that doesn’t work for a lot of people. Otherwise those of us with “diet mentalities” wouldn’t have to keep starting and re-starting diets over and over again. For some who are trying to change their lives and better their health, it might be time to try dropping the D-word from their vocabulary as they commit to their overall goal of living a happier, healthier life.
When people learn that I used to weigh over 450 pounds and not only dropped the excess weight, but also have kept it off for almost two decades, they have questions. Lots and lots of questions.
These questions only increase when people find out that I had been overweight most of my childhood and young adult years before finally getting rid of the excess weight. And the questions multiply from there when they hear that I took the weight off without surgery, pills or fad dieting.
The trouble is, after many of these people ask their questions, they’re not very happy with my answers.
Despite wanting to lose weight in order to feel, look and be healthier, people often don’t want to hear the hard truths: To successfully lose weight you need to reduce you calorie intake, eat healthier (cleaner, less processed) foods, exercise more (burn more calories than you’re taking in), get plenty of sleep and drink enough water. When hearing these edicts, people usually become blank faced. Then, a few seconds later, most will ask, “But how can I lose weight really fast?”
Their horror continues when I tell them that even though I reached my weight loss goal years ago, I still must continually think about what I eat, how much I workout, etc. People want to believe the myth sometimes propagated by the billion dollar diet industry that once you lose weight, you never have to think about dieting again—and can even go back to previous habits of overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
This is why I’m sometimes frustrated when people come to me for dieting and health advice. Not only do they not want to hear my honest answers, they also don’t want to apply these common sense tactics to their lives. And I’m sympathetic, I assure you. Change isn’t easy. Especially life changes that could affect your way of doing things in almost every way.
Peoples’ disappointment when hearing my advice isn’t their fault. Again, the diet industry is a big business that pumps out a lot of confusing rhetoric in order to get potential customers’ to fork over lots of money in exchange for an easy way to lose weight. There’s a reason that organizations like Weight Watchers offer methods for old members to rejoin. They know that people often fail at dieting and will have to start all over again.
And no, I’m not knocking Weight Watchers, since it’s one of the few diet programs that allows all foods and works to teach balance and moderation. Plus, when it comes to trying over and over again, what other choice do those of us with a dieter’s mentality have? I tried to start a diet a million or more times before it finally stuck. So there’s no shame in “Try, try again.” Own your efforts even if they’ve fallen short—and be proud of them. Barely anyone gets it right the first time. Especially us supermodels.
The good news is that you can (literally) have your cake and eat it, too. But that starts with changing the overall question about dieting. Perhaps it’s time to stop asking HOW to lose weight, but instead ask yourself WHY you want to lose weight.
That’s right. I suggest you change the narrative that surrounds your desire to drop excess pounds and fit into skinny jeans, lower your blood pressure and live a happier, healthier life. (It is, after all, really true what “they” say: Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.)
So instead of approaching a potential diet as a diet, approach it from another angle. Get out a journal. Or scrapbook. Or start a new Pinterest page and begin to articulate or visualize why you want to lose weight. Is it to feel better about dating someone? Is it to stop being breathless when climbing a flight of stairs? Is it to be able to keep up with your grandchildren on the playground? Is it to fit into a favorite outfit for an upcoming social occasion? Or is it to show a certain someone that you’ve got what it takes and then some? Hey, these are all great reasons to get healthier. And focusing on these reasons has to the potential to provide the motivation that might have been missing during previous attempts to lose weight.
While I was on my journey from over 450 pounds to around 175 pounds, I kept what I referred to as a “Me Book.” In it, I placed magazine articles about health and cutouts of whatever else that motivated me (even if just a certain picture or image). I also added photographs of clothes I wanted to wear and pictures from different kinds of media of “happy couples” that inspired me to visualize the kind of romantic relationship I wanted to find. I also included all sorts of health information, advice and even recipes that I would come across. I wasn’t into scrapbooking per se. But I was into reminding myself of why I wanted to take off the excess pounds.
Anytime I would be tempted to stray from my eating and exercise plans, I would pick up my “why I wanted to lose weight” book and thumb through it—reminding myself of all of the reasons I was committed to really achieving dieting success this time around. And guess what? It worked.
Again, not only did I take the excess weight off, but also I kept it off. All because I had an easy vehicle (my book) for reminding myself of my WHYs. And as mentioned before, these days you can even create a virtual “reasons” scrapbook on a site like Pinterest or something similar.
So if you’re contemplating a weight loss journey that can lead to many of your dreams coming true, start with putting the dreams into focus. Then the healthier eating, the healthy movement, the better sleep and even the 8 glasses of water (or however many) might become more routine a little more easily than they have in the past.
Whether virtual or otherwise, you might want to try creating a book that becomes the testament to WHY you want to lose weight and just let the HOW fall into place naturally. What have you got to lose?
How’s your new year going so far? For many of us, the rush of post-holiday chores (and challenges) might have you a little flustered. We often think that come January 1st, some sort of imaginary light switch can be flicked in order to initiate change in all aspects of our lives — whether that’s related to diet, exercise, mindfulness or other habits that affect us on a daily basis. Sadly, that light switch doesn’t exist. But that can be turned into good news when we remember we have every minute of every day to get it right. “Step by step” as it were. So be gentle with yourself. But don’t give up on your goals. You are worth it. And you are amazing!
Who’s ready for 2019? And who has met all of their goals for 2018? Please don’t feel badly if you didn’t reach of meet all of your goals. I have several I’m carrying from one year to the next myself. There’s no reason to beat yourself up. And if one of those goals happens to be getting rid of the diet mindset and getting off the “On again/Off again” diet roller coaster once and for all, 2019 could be your year.
Do you feel frustrated with dieting, losing weight and keeping it off? Are you exhausted from the emotional ups and downs that always follow an emotional eating outburst and then gaining the weight back that you lose?” Do you always end up “cheating” on your diet because of the constant tinge of hunger that goes along with deprivation and starvation, and the realization that it’s just too easy to put all the weight you might lose after a diet right back on again…
In 2019 and beyond, all of this can come to an end when you learn how to change your habits, behaviors and the relationship you have not only with food, but with yourself.
The battle against food, dieting and weight loss does doesn’t have to be the story of your life – and I’d like to invite you to a free event that will show you how to rewrite your story.
Here’s the sitch: My good friend and nutrition guru superstar Lisa Goldberg has invited me to present on The Right Mind, Right Weight interview series — a free online event where nutritionists, doctors, fitness experts, psychologists, coaches, therapists and other transformational health experts will gather for 11 straight days to share the latest of their tips, tools, strategies and more!
This isn’t just another “diet discussion” that will tell you about what you can or can’t eat, or how much you should exercise to see results. This amazing event is focused on changing your mindset on healthy eating and why learning how to change your thoughts, habits, and relationship with food is really the missing piece to your struggle with life-long yo-yo dieting.
You’ll discover why you keep sabotaging your efforts and how to stop that behavior and you will learn that losing weight doesn’t have to be difficult. Anyone reading this who is interested can register for free and then take part in the event to get started creating the habit, behaviors, and beliefs about food that will result in losing weight without being on a diet.
Because I’ve been invited to be a guest speaker for the event this year, I get to invite whoever I want to the event…100% free of charge. That means you, and anyone else in your life can access this information. As a loyal member of the Just Stop Eating So Much! family, I’d like to give you one of my exclusive invitations to attend this online summit.
Now that we’re further into January (AKA a most popular month for dieting), I’m reminded of a disturbing trend in the billion dollar diet industry—albeit one that has been pervasive for years. I refer to it as the “Light Switch Mentality” that’s being sold by many organizations, programs, books and so-called experts who proclaim that to lose excess weight, you (we) should be on a diet. But this kind of thinking often leads to the opposite of being on… Being off.
Certainly being on or off has become part of the dieting vernacular. But in my humble opinion, it’s a way of thinking that can potentially lead to more weight gain than weight loss. In fact, it’s while many of us with a dieter’s mentality are on our diets that we’re focused on when we plan on going off. It’s a mindset we’ve been sold as the way to success, when in reality, it can be the way to put on extra pounds.
As someone who started gaining excess weight around first grade, and whose parents immediately took me to a doctor who put me on a strict diet (yes, even at a very young age), I can attest to the fact that the on/off cycle contributed to my continuing to gain weight throughout my youth. Sure, I would take off a few pounds (when I was on). But then I would gain even more weight back (when I was off). By the time I graduated from college, I was clocking in at over 450 pounds. And this was after years and years of constant dieting—the very thing that was supposed to be helping me was actually doing more harm than good.
Thankfully, I was able to remove myself from this cycle after my home electronic scale started reading “ERR” (its internal code for error, since it was not programmed to register any weight above 400 pounds). It’s when I stopped thinking of “dieting” (and being on and off of one) and started embracing healthy eating that I began to make some real headway. Within a year’s time I had dropped most of my excess weight. And sure, I yo-yoed up and down the scale for a couple years after that. I was, after all, recovering from a lifetime of “on and off” behavior. But once I nailed it (reaching a healthy weight for my height and body frame), I’ve stayed at this weight for well over a decade.
But this is where I quickly bring up that damned light switch thinking again. Because many people who see my before pictures want to know my secret to losing over 250 pounds of excess weight without any kind of surgery or medication. They’re not too thrilled when I tell them the secrets are eating less, moving more, getting plenty of sleep and drinking enough water (AKA common sense). And they sometimes go onto register abject horror when I tell them I have to keep all of these mandates in mind even today (otherwise right back up the scale I’d go).
Successfully losing excess weight has nothing to do with a light switch. There’s never a time that we should be on or off. If we’re prone to gaining weight or if we choose to lose excess weight to benefit our mental and physical health, then it’s going to take some work. This doesn’t mean food plans can’t be extremely helpful. But whether we choose to have a salad for lunch or even if we opt to have some ice cream for dessert, we’ve got to always think about portion size and ingredient content (yes, even when it comes to the salad).
This doesn’t have to mean we are always on and never off. Instead, we can adopt new mindsets and start living life as healthy minded individuals. You know—like those those fantastical types who can eat half a donut and then declare they’re full. (Yes, even I’m dumbfounded by this kind of behavior to this day.) But what these people know that we do not, is that they can have another donut (or whatever) in due time. But those of us on the endless on/off cycle of dieting often think, “I will be on my diet tomorrow (or Monday or come January 1st),” so I better have eighteen donuts today.
On. Off. Not always helpful.
Healthy thinking. A move in the right direction.
And healthy thinking can include well made (meaning clean ingredient) treats that can be easily and moderately worked into our eating plans—whether we’re taking off excess pounds or simply maintaining a healthy body weight.
Although somewhat baffling, this can be triumphant news if we allow it to be. Thinking less of on and off can mean reduced shame and self-punishment (also part of many dieting cycles, mentally speaking). Fact is, you are beautiful at your current weight (inside and out). If you choose to get healthier and drop some of the excess weight, then do so in a fashion that embraces all that life has to offer and try leaving the on/off Light Switch Mentality behind.
At the risk of an eye roll or two, what do you have to lose?
Photo Source: Zazzle