Sunday, April 19, 2009

#37 You Can't Live on a Diet

In the past week, I must have had about 5 people mention my weight or ask about my weight or comment on my weight. The common theme of their remarks was "how do you keep it off? Why can you, unlike others, stop yourself at 3 or 4 or 5 pounds gained and turn it around before it becomes 10 or 15 lbs?" This isn't the first time I've been asked these questions, nor are they questions I haven't asked other weight loss maintainers. I'm curious, too.

I recently read in a diet newsletter about the three S's: starving, stuffing and skipping. Well, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that starving leads to stuffing, which then leads to skipping. I could probably write a book on all three, but I think the previous sentence pretty much sums it up. I also recently saw an advertisement for a Holistic Nutritionist. Her ad must have been written by a Ph.D. psychologist specializing in people with food issues and who also happens to have an MBA in Marketing. I mean, she hit all the right buttons, and she threw in some new technology like biofeedback, partnered hypnotherapy, etc., to really draw in the desperate dieter. Her whole deal sounded really enticing, but in seconds after thinking that she/this/her program might be the answer to everlasting thinness, I hit myself on the head [the V8 kind of hit on the head]. I know the secrets to successfully losing weight. I know the secrets to maintaining your successfully lost weight. And, I know the secrets for continued success of your successfully lost weight. Here is how to be successful.

1. You really want to lose weight. I mean REALLY want to.

When I heard about Trevose Behavior Modification 8 years ago, I couldn't wait to join. I was sick and tired of feeling fat. I hated going out because that meant finding something in my closet that fit. I hated shopping for clothing because nothing covered my "dread" areas enough to make me feel secure. I was nasty and bitchy from sugar highs and lows. I was tired of dieting, losing and re-gaining. I was so ready. So desperate. So sad.

2. You need to decide how you are going to lose weight.

Is this something you think you can do alone or are you going to need a buddy or a group or special meals? I remember sitting at the computer reading about TBM with my girlfriend. She had learned about this program from her decorator who had lost a lot of weight and managed to maintain it. The program sounded wonderful, but also a bit scary. First, you had to find a group in your area that met when you were able to meet, then you had to apply and hope they had room for you. This program consisted of counting calories, mandatory weekly meetings, losing your "told" number of pounds per month, and finally keeping it off [or be asked to leave]. I wrote a letter to the leader of a group in my area and sent it off that day.

3. You need to be honest with yourself about what you are able to do, and then be ready and willing to commit to whatever program/weight loss regime you choose.

I knew that buying "special" food or doing a liquid diet wasn't going to work for me. I needed to eat normal everyday food that you buy at the supermarket. I also knew that I couldn't do this alone. I had lost and gained, lost and gained more times than I could count. It was time for group support. I admitted to myself that I needed diet police. I needed to be accountable to others because obviously being accountable to myself just wasn't working.

4. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Of course we all want to lose 10 pounds the first week. Well, that's what almost happened when I finally started Trevose. I lost 6 1/2 pounds my first week. How? I cut my calories down to nothing. The group leaders told me that I needed to eat the calories they had calculated for me [weight x 12 - 500] to lose weight or this program wasn't going to work. I followed their directions and sadly, gained some weight back during the second week. By the third week, I had gotten the hang of it and by the end of the month I had lost the 3 pounds I was told to. I was continuously reminded by the group members that I needed to look at this program as a way of life, not a diet. This is probably the essence of maintenance. You can't live on a diet.

5. Keep a Journal

Writing down what you eat after you've eaten it is the only way to really know what you have put in your pie hole for the day. I can't tell you how many times I forgot [or was just too lazy] to write down my day's intake, and by the next day I couldn't remember dinner let alone the meals and snacks eaten earlier in the day. Mindless eating is not something that works when you are trying to lose weight. To be honest, I sometimes resent having to write down all the food I eat. However, 8 years later I'm still maintaining. The friends that started with me, and many people who have started and left over the years, left because either they thought they could do it on their own or [the majority] they were just plain old tried of having to keep a journal and go to meetings. Many have gained back their weight - plus some. Some have been successful, but most are on the loss/gain roller coaster. This goes back to #3, Commitment.

Last, but so not least......................

6. WATER!!!! This is the mother of secrets. TRUST ME. Growing up, I never drank water. Ever! I lived on milk, orange juice and cans of TAB diet soda. I swear. It wasn't until my early 30's that I started drinking water. A friend bet me $5 that if I drank 6-8 glasses of water a day, I could lose close to 10 pounds in 7 days. I was desperate to lose and so I took her on. I didn't lose 10 pounds, but I did lose 5 and that was with eating normally, not dieting. I shared this secret with my mom a few years later and she decided to try it. Well, she couldn't go anywhere that didn't have a bathroom nor did she feel safe on long car rides, but she was successful in losing weight. Another plus to all this water drinking is that it helps reduce my ankle edema. A friend once said to me that when the body is dehydrated, it holds onto fluid and the best way to get rid of that extra fluid is to hydrate your body. Perhaps a little compulsively, I keep a bottle of water in my car, on my night stand, and on my desk. I know where all [best and worst] the bathrooms are in every store and restaurant in my neighborhood.

So, what I am sharing with you readers [and please share this with others who you think this would help] is that losing weight and maintaining isn't a secret. It's really and truly about being emotionally ready, honest about what you can handle, and making the commitment to yourself [or a higher power or a group or your children or whomever] that the time is now.

There is no secret!!! I swear!!

Quote of the Day: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible" Walt Disney


Dawn Nelsen is the co-author of "Girlfriends Diet Diary" said...

On a quest to drop a few pounds, I went on a cleanse. It was an amazing rollercoaster of experiences both physical and emotional. The diet diary really helped, but I went a step farther and included the emotional and inspirational stuff as well as the physical symptoms that were changing daily. My journey lead me to write "Girlfriends Diet Diary" which I call an empowerment journal for 30 days of dieting. Check it out on

Bobbie's Babbles said...

Thanks for commenting on my last babble and your info on the girlfriends diary. I will check it out for sure.

Charlie Hills said...

Good list, Ms. Babbles! I agree...