Monday, June 14, 2010

The Diet

Last week I started a diet.

That may not be big news to most people. But it is officially the very first diet of my life.

I was born skinny and stayed skinny throughout my adolescence. I could (and did) eat whatever I wanted and never gained an ounce.

In college, where I developed really poor eating habits, I also started smoking, which apparently kept the weight off.

When I lived with Daphne I gained weight for the first time in my life. Oh, she did love that fried food. I went from skinny to thin.

When my world fell apart and I lost weight dramatically. Not that I cared. My friends kept forcing enough food down me to keep me from starving. When I was finally able to move from that place and begin a new chapter of my life I was 5' 7" and 105 lbs.

And then I met Martha. She started wooing me with chocolate. Yeah, that worked. She complained about my hip bones digging into her and started to cook for me. A pint of Ben & Jerry’s was dessert almost every night. Hmmm. I began gaining some much needed weight.

When we decided to have children, I quit smoking and noticed the first serious weight gain of my life And, as I’ve aged, my weight has slowly but steadily climbed. I was still thin in the 120s. Felt healthy in the 130s. Started getting that muffin top in the 140s.

When Martha and I almost broke up a few years ago, I discovered that no sex was not good for the metabolism. I gained almost 20 pounds and found myself weighing 165. Whoa! I couldn’t even find my hip bones. But when Martha and I got back on track, most of that weight disappeared through no effort on my part. But I still found myself hovering in the low 150s.

Having always been a person who could eat anything I wanted and still be thin, dieting is a hard concept for me. I love sweets and ice cream and snacking at night. I eat all day at work. I have been doing it my whole life. My brain tells me I'm thin while my clothes are telling me otherwise.

Martha loves to eat too but she is also a life long dieter. She can easily gain 50 pounds and then diet it off. She is a professional dieter. She has boxes in the attic with clothes ranging from size 8 to 16. But she does these fad diets - eats soup for every meal for weeks, or cuts out all carbs, etc. - not suitable for an amateur like me.

I have opted for a 1200 calorie a day diet. 300 k breakfast, 300k lunch, 400k dinner and two 100k snacks. And I must say I am eating healthier and reading labels. Who knew a jar of macadamia nuts had over 2,000 calories? I could polish that off in one sitting. Pecan crusted chicken salad at Fridays - 1360 calories. For a salad!!! I bought these 100 calorie snack packs - sweet and salty chocolate covered pretzels - only to discover there were like 9 pretzels in the bag. Really? 9? And they are microscopic in size. Pretzel crumbs really.

The first few days I lost a couple of pounds. I’m not looking for anything radical - 10 pounds would put me in a healthy place. 14 pounds, or as my British friend Haizey would say - a stone, would be ideal. Yes, I need to lose a stone. But then I already began to cheat - lunch out with a friend going through a hard time required dessert and then Martha made an irresistible blueberry pie - and I gained some back

People have told me losing the last 10 pounds is the hardest. I am already fairly active, especially this time of year. And I drink a ton of water. I like healthy meals (if someone makes them for me) but easily rip open a bag of chips rather than cook for myself. But the hardest is the will power part. I work in an building where people bring in food all the time - coffee cake, brownies, cookies - and most people have a small dish of candy on their desks. Since my job requires me to coordinate with a lot of other departments, I spend my day grazing from office to office.

So, if you have any helpful tips on how to do this, I would be most appreciative. Especially how one can walk past a bowl of Hershey kisses and not rationalize that eating just one won’t matter . . .


  1. I just looked it up - 1 hershey kiss is 25 calories. 5 minutes of sex uses 25 calories.

    Do the math.

  2. AnonymousJune 14, 2010

    "grazing from office to office" made me laugh.

    I was just like you were; always skinny, no matter what I ate. Back in the day,I would eat 2 big macs with large fries (super-sized thank you!) in one sitting and not gain a pound. Now, even if I look at, I feel like I'll gain weight.

    When I first started gaining weight at 32, it shocked me. One year and 20 lbs later, after a lovely bout with the stomach flu I started eating healthier. It's been years since I touched fast food and I can't imagine that it will ever be appetizing to me again.

    I try to eat as healthy as possible but I do love my pasta so I compromise. If I eat something high in calories, I'll just cut the portion so it kind of balances out. As for the snacks and all that stuff, I don't over-indulge. That takes discipline. But, then I look at my wardrobe and think - it's so not worth it. That usually works.

    Good luck!

  3. I can't believe you think you need to lose weight! I haven't been your size since Junior High School!

    One trick that used to work for me was wearing a rubber band on my wrist. Everytime I was tempted, I would snap the band.

    Well, it worked until I was getting welts on my wrist and I gave up : )

  4. I'm not a dieter for the sake of losing weight (I'm still in my 20s so my metabolism is pretty high, lucky me!), but for the sake of feeling healthy. So maybe this suggestion won't work for you.

    But - I've found that what really helps me stay on track in terms of being healthy is having one small area where I do *always* allow myself to indulge. That really, really helps with the discipline. If you deny yourself everything, you will just give up. It would take a superhuman not to.

    So, instead, choose a healthy eating plan (like what you've done) and then say - "but, I really like m&m's, so I'm going to allow myself to eat as many m&m's as I want." Or ... chips. Or blueberry muffins. Or whatever it is.

    When I was first getting into my healthy eating plan, I needed to fall back on that indulgence a LOT. (For me, it was peanut butter cups.) Because I was so used to doing the grazing, like you are, instead of grazing on whatever was there, I would reach into my drawer or my purse and get a peanut butter cup. Then I felt like I wasn't just denying myself things. So it was easier. Gradually, I relied on that crutch less and less and less. Partly because I got sick of peanut butter cups, but mostly because when you're choosing NOT to graze on whatever's in front of you (even if you ARE turning to something else), you're still practicing more mindful eating than you were before. And that starts to ingrain in you the habit of deciding not to eat something. So eventually (pretty quickly, actually), it's a lot easier to say "no" to the blueberry pie at the restaurant and then not even reach into your bag for you crutch.

    Another tip: find healthy alternatives. If you want dessert at a restaurant, order mint tea instead. It feels like a treat, but only has a few calories. When I was working an office job, I found I would nibble out of boredom -- and drinking tea there too actually satisfied the same "do something with my mouth" urge. Chewing gum is another option. Or bringing something like blueberries or mini carrots with you.

    I'll stop now! Good luck :)

  5. Walking past a bowl of Hershey Kisses is easy, they don't taste good, our chocolate is so much nicer, LOL, mind you Ren's suggestion for counteracting the hershey kiss might just make it worth trying them again :)

    Seriously though, good for you, it is not easy to lose weight but not impossible either, I am now 2 stone 2lb lighter (translation - 30lbs). I haven't really excluded anything but do find that I question whether I am really hungry before eating more these days.

  6. ren - I don't think Martha would find the humor in me telling her we have to have sex for 8 hours tonight because of all the crap I ate during the day. But then again . . .

    greg - I am not the clothes horse that you are. But I decided to try on my favorite (now a little too snug) pair of shorts as a reminder for the day.

    knitter - great idea. In fact, I have borrowed one of those 'shape' rubber bands from Peachie. The shape is a pig. That should help.

    alphafemme - I love this idea. Now I just have to narrow down what I want my indulgnece food to be. So much to choose from . . .

    Haizey - congrats on your amazing weight loss. Good for you. Maybe I'll go get some Cadbury chocolate to celebrate : )

  7. AnonymousJune 15, 2010

    I'm not one to give advice on weight loss but I did want to say that it isn't the one Hershey kiss that's the problem... it's the 10 that follow.

    I've heard and I have also tested the theory that if you begin your day with exercise and a healthy breakfast then the rest of your day will follow suit. The trick is waking early enough to exercise - that's usually the part I fail at. :)

    Good luck to you on your diet.