By the time I was 20 years old, dieting had become a way of life for me. Even as a child, I remember going on “fasts”, trying not to eat for days at a time in an attempt to lose weight. However, nothing seemed to work. Even if I lost the weight, I would always gain it right back.
When I was in my 40’s, I woke up one morning, saying to myself “Today is the day I’m going to start losing weight.” It then hit me. This was the same thought that had run through my mind every day for the past 25 years. Reality hit me hard. I knew I had to try something different.
I began studying about calories and fat. I began reading up on sugar and fiber and metabolism. As I read I came to realize that there is a huge emotional component to losing weight. It was then that I realized I was using food as a drug to make me feel better when I was sad, anxious or lonely. Food was no longer fuel for my body. It had become my best friend.
I knew that I needed to tackle these underlying issues that were causing me to overeat. I read books, went to therapy and joined a support group. In the process I found that my dysfunctional relationship with food was tied to different things. As a child, my mother had “loved” me with food. If I was sad, she cooked my favorite meal. As a reward, she gave me money to buy junk food. Another reason is because my father began sexually abusing me at the age of 11. I came to realize that my weight gain had become an invisible barrier to keep people away from me. I did not want to be hurt anymore.
After dealing with these internal issues through a lot of hard work, I felt a sense of freedom. I began to love myself more and actually WANT to take care of myself. For the first time, I wanted to lose weight for ME…not for somebody else. Here is what I did to lose my 60 pounds:
1.I stopped weighing every day and began weighing twice a month.
2.I started drinking 8 cups of water a day.
3.I ate one portion of whatever we had for meals…no matter what it was. No second helpings.
4.I stopped eating past 8 pm.
5.I started walking at least 30 minutes 5x a week…sometimes 60 minutes
6.I stopped eating in front of the TV and started doing all of my eating at the dining table.
7.I started lifting free weights every other day.
8.I began eating more fiber.
9.I ate breakfast every morning and did not skip meals
10.I ate 2 to 3 snacks a day.
Did I do all of this perfectly? Of course not! But when I messed up, I forgave myself and just started back up again. When I started back up again, I did not wait for the next day. I started back that moment.
Notice that I lost weight without any restrictions on what I was eating. I did not cut out anything. I did not deprive myself of my favorite foods. What could be better? And the best part? I am maintaining the weight loss because the plan is one that is easy to live with.
I have never liked the word “diet”. I don’t believe that diets work. I believe they only serve as a catalyst for more weight gain. I would not call what I did a “diet”. Rather I would call it a lifestyle change, because it isn’t temporary. It is forever.