Friday, March 11, 2016

my work in progress: dieting

This will be done in a few installments, since it's long.  It's also not completed yet, so hopefully I'll finish that up soon.



Everyone, including myself, thinks there’s some magic diet that will take the weight off fast and it will be gone forever.  I’m going to say this now:  there is no magic pill or solution for weight loss other than cutting calories.  It’s simple math:  calories in, calories out.  If your calories out are more than your calories in, you’re going to lose weight.

I’ve been on a lot of diets throughout my life, although probably not as many as one would think.  I’m always amazed when I see people on TV saying they’ve tried over 30 different diets.  I would guess I’ve been on seven different diets; this doesn’t include all the times I said I was on a diet and just cut calories.  I’ve tried Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, Slim Fast, Medifast, and also worked with dietitian and underwent hypnosis.

I know several people who have tried fad diets, such as the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, and the Cookie Diet, to name a few.  There was also one that involved very deep breathing.  I don’t know what that one is called, but it’s hokey just like all the others.  Oh, and one that involved visualization.  If you wanted junk food, you were supposed to imaging that the food is covered with really disgusting stuff, like dirt and pubic hair.  (Oh my God, I’m ready to dry heave just writing this. I must stop.  Now.) The problem with these diets is that they don’t promote an actual lifestyle change, which is what it takes to sustain weight loss.  They promote fast weight loss.  That’s great, but as soon as you go back to regular eating, the weight creeps back on.  If you limit your calories to what you actually need to sustain the weight loss, then the weight won’t come back.  But after being on a fad diet, you typically eat more than you should because you felt deprived for so long. You might not realize you’re doing it, but you usually are.

Slim Fast is the first diet I tried.  This is probably a very well-known diet to most people.  Basically, you have a Slimfast shake for breakfast, another for lunch, and then a “sensible dinner.”  I didn’t do this for very long, because I was so hungry all the time; it’s very hard to go from eating three huge meals a day, plus snacks, to having a liquid breakfast and lunch.  I wasn’t very good at eating a sensible dinner.  By the time dinner rolled around, I was starving.  I don’t know anyone that had long-term success with this plan.  I tried it a few times, but, ultimately, I just couldn’t do it for long.

I’ve been on Weight Watchers three times.  The first time I lost 80 pounds.  The second time I lost 50 pounds. And the last time I lost about 20 pounds.  It’s a great program:  it encourages healthy eating, exercise, and accountability.  It also gives you lots of tools to succeed, like goal-setting, holiday eating tips, and online support.  When I was on it, they were using the basic Points system.  You get a certain number of Points per day based on your weight.  Every food has a Point value and you can spend those Points any way you like.

The first time I was very focused.  Cindy went on it with me and we attended the weekly meetings together.  That really helped, because it’s always easier to do something when you’re not doing it all by yourself.  We pushed each other and encouraged each other.

I also joined a local gym.  I was very faithful in going to the gym after work.  I went typically four times a week and worked out for about an hour or so.  When I started I met with a trainer who gave me a fitness test; I failed miserably.  Well, it wasn’t pass/fail, but I was in very bad shape.   I had to do one minute on the step, just stepping up and down.  I was breathing so hard after about 20 seconds that I thought I was going to pass out.  Then she measured my body fat and did a few other things with me.

I started my workouts, and I was barely able to make five minutes on the elliptical machine. My legs were burning really bad and I was breathing very heavily.  But I pushed through it and eventually I was able to go for an hour with no problem. I also used the treadmill and the weight machines.

Meetings were on Thursdays.  Eventually I got into the habit of eating a fast food feast after the meeting. That wasn’t bad.  But then I would start eating whatever I wanted on Friday.  Then it got to also be Saturday and Sunday.  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I would stay on track.  Then Thursday I would eat very little in hopes that an empty stomach would translate into less weight on the scale. I know, that was stupid.  I also started eating more fast food, which meant a lot of Points were spent on that.

Once I hit the six month mark, I started to lose steam and get bored.  I kept going for a bit, maybe another couple months, and lost about 80 pounds in total, but I finally stopped following the plan altogether and stopped going to the gym. I eventually regained then wait, and then some.

The second time I did Weight Watchers I lost about 50 pounds.  I joined another gym. This time Cindy and I joined the same gym, so we would go together most times. I would say that lasted about six months and then I gave up.  It was much harder the second time around.  I knew all the ways to cheat and had been there, done that. I regained that weight.

The third time was after losing 80 pounds on Medifast.  I joined Weight Watchers again in order to stay accountable and follow a plan. I lost about 20 pounds and I lasted barely three months.  I then quickly regained the whole 100 pounds.

To be continued...

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