There's a lot of talk floating around, since the holidays, about over-indulgence, followed by self-loathing and need for diets. Ever year right after New Year's, TV-land becomes infiltrated with gym and fitness commercials: gorgeous, toned people, who probably never even over-indulged, working out until they get covered in SEXY SWEAT (not the sweat that the rest of us seem to get covered in. That's simply STINKY SWEAT, and it requires soap).
*Random Facebook status: "I'm sooo sick of eating"
*Random Facebook status: "I'm looking forward to eating normal food again."
*Random Facebook status: "OMG, I ate the whole box of chocolates"
No, those are not my facebook status messages. I hardly ever update that thing, except when, months later, my sister or friend tell me they're sick to death of my last status message.
Anyhoo, I'm just going to come right out and say it:
I DON'T DIET ANYMORE.
Okay, this is going to sound like some cheesy, flim-flam sham diet advertisement, or phony book endorsement, but it's not. I've just been pondering this whole diet thing lately, because doesn't everybody at one time or another in their lives make "losing weight" part of their New Year's resolutions???
I DON'T DIET ANYMORE.
No can do. Unh-unh. No way. Finito. No more diets. I may be pleasantly Rubenesque (or unpleasantly--depends on your tastes, I s'pose), but I haven't gained any weight in nearly 4 years. If you're a yo-yo girl like I, then your eyes might have widened just a little bit at that statement, because if you have also been on that weight rollercoaster your whole life, you know that not gaining any weight in that amount of time is unheard of.
I don't know how much I weigh though. I can't back up the not gaining weight in nearly 4 years thing with any numbers. I go by how I feel. I go by how my clothes fit. I'm still wearing the same (large-ish) pants. When I go for my annual physical, I never look at the scale. I also ask the doctor, and nurse not to tell me. I haven't stepped on the scale at home in 3 years.
I have 2 goals that I try to meet:
-eat as little junk food as possible (and that goes for white sugar and carbs too)
-keep my body healthy through food and exercise
DENIAL? MAYBE! However, if you're a woman, you'll know that the scale has ruled you since right about that horrifying time you discovered that your legs actually had hair on them. We've all let it define as as women. We let it put us in categories of truly beautiful, and desireable. We compared that number to those stupid body charts that have been presented to us by doctors and physed/health teachers over the years, to see if we fit in to our slot in life, like the nice little peg we should be. Let's see...I'm 5'5" tall, and I should weigh 155 pounds. Hm...if I have a 'large' frame...or 117 pounds if I have a small frame...oh no! I don't FIT THE CHART! WAAAAA! Well, F*CK the chart.
Girls, does this sound familiar to you:
*I first started dieting when I was 13. I decided I was too fat (at around 125 pounds), and I lost weight by skipping desserts and doing jumping jacks after every meal. Seriously. Makes me want to cry a little bit just thinking about how easy it was back then before I burned myself out. Jumping Jacks. Pffft.
* I was probably on a diet at some point from then on, every year until my 20's.
*I drank those horrible "chocolate" shakes that promised slimness, and ate the horrible meal-replacement bars too. You know what I want at breakfast and lunch though? BREAKFAST AND LUNCH, not a chocolate or vanilla shake!!!!
* In my 20's I tried one of those idiotic high protein, next to no carbs diets. I lost some weight, but for a couple of weeks I walked around with zero energy, and a really disgusting taste in my mouth at all times.
* in my mid-20's, a girl we worked with at the casino had an aunt who did a well-known weight-loss company's diet plan, whereby each food is assigned a certain number of "points," and you can eat whatever you want, but you can only consume "X" number of points per day. This girl photocopied her Aunt's meal guide, and some of us got a copy and went on this diet. I had a journal filled with foods and their points, which I would use to keep track all day of what I ate, as well as see what I could exclude in order to get that damn piece of cake. One girl tried not to eat much all day, so she could save as many points as possible for beer.
I lost 30 pounds thanks to this plan, paired with the strenuous casino job, and was added to the "top 10 eff-able cashiers" list, that was informally bounced around amongst the guys who bagged all the tokens we took in. BOO YAH
However, I couldn't take writing down everything I ate, no matter how sensible an idea it might be. Also, I moved to suburban hell when I was 28, and with the stress and loneliness, watched the weight slowly return.
* I gained 60 pounds when I was pregnant with Jack. I did lose most of it. I went to a prominent gym for women, where they were offering a 6 week diet/diet counselling session. My body was starting to really fizzle out from years of dieting, so I lost about 12 pounds, even though I followed the diet to the letter. It was very frustrating watching other women in the 'class' lose 10 pounds just from giving up pop.
* I tried the session again one of the next times it came around, and lost about 8 pounds. 8 pounds in 6 weeks. Sigh.
* I gained a TON OF WEIGHT when I was pregnant with my daughter, and stopped checking the scale around the 220 pound mark, or right around when I started to outweight my dad and father-in-law. Being super heavy, and caring for a difficult 2 year old, and trying to tie my shoes everyday nearly did me in.
After Ella, not all of the weight came off.
I was so, so, so, sick of dieting, and being obsessed with food, and bingeing, and feeling ashamed of myself. I had a raging sugar addiction, and could cram carbs down my yap like a champ.
So that's when I decided no more. I wasn't going to diet anymore. After over 20 years of dieting, and never ever being satisfied with how I looked anyway, I decided I wouldn't do it to myself anymore. Besides, as soon as I'd tell myself I was on a diet, I'd immediately become OBSESSED with food. The sense of denial I felt was always overwhelming.
I'm not trying to sound preachy, but I just made some changes in my life, and that's it.
First of all, I decided that I was going to eat whatever I wanted, and as much as I wanted--AT BREAKFAST. If I wanted cookies, I would eat them at breakfast. If I wanted leftover pizza, I'd eat it at breakfast. Chips? Breakfast. Chocolate? Breakfast. Why? Because this is the time of day when our bodily "engines" are revving the highest. Supposedly. So at first, I was like HELLZ YEAH, and I chowed down this crap at breakfast. Because I wasn't denying myself the junkfood, I actually lost interest in it.
Then I decided I would eat as much as I wanted at breakfast, as long as it was healthy food. I'd eat as many raw almonds, or oatmeal, or whole wheat toast, fruit, or whatever, as I wanted. At first, this was fantastic. And then, I just didn't feel like chowing down any longer. The option was always still there, but I didn't feel like it.
Here is the difference between someone who lives in France, and someone who lives in North America (in a roundabout, generalized, overly simplified sort of way): in France, they don't deny themselves that indulgent dessert, or yummy cheese. So, they don't mind eating a little bit of it, because it's not FORBIDDEN. In North America, we see that piece of cheese cake and say; "OMG, I really, really shouldn't eat that...oh, it's so bad...BUT LOOK AT IT, IT LOOKS DELICIOUS...if I just have a little bite, then I won't be 'bad'...THE LITTLE BITE ISN'T ENOUGH!!! I HAVE TO HAVE THE WHOLE THING!!!!!!!!! Oh, I ate the whole piece. I hate myself now. I'm disgusting."
I no longer beat myself up about PMS overeating. I don't feel like eating for most of the month. Honestly--I don't care. I no longer go PSYCHO for sugar (the sweeter, the better, I used to think), and sometimes I want some baked chips at night, and I'd climb the wall for them, but generally speaking, I honestly don't feel like eating. But, when I have PMS, for some reason I feel like I'm "starving" all the time. I need the greasy food, and sometimes the chocolate. So, for a whole day, I'll listen to my body and eat whatever I want, and as much as I want. I figure it'll all balance out in the end, and basically it does. If I feel myself spiralling down into bad habits though, I do rein myself back in.
I don't buy junk food. Let's not pretend I'm Wonder Woman here--if I had 3 bags of chips sitting in my pantry, I'd bang them back one after the other, 3 nights in a row, until they were GONE and off my mind. If I bought cream-centred vanilla sandwich cookies, I'd eat the whole freaking row, and feel tormented by the other 2 rows. If I had a bag of mini chocolate bars, I would eat them until they were gone. Junk food is unbelievably hard to resist. Growing up, our cupboards were CRAMMED with junk food, but it was the forbidden fruit, because my Mom would get mad if we ate too much of it, or opened a new package of something. Perverse, I know. The second my Mom or parents went out, or went on vacation, my brother, sister and I would go on a junk-food rampage.
I hardly ever bake now. This was a tough one because I love baking. I think there's a real art to it, and it's fun and challenging to come up with something truly good. Also, my Mom baked all the time, so it seems like the thing a mom should do. But why? Sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies. Care for a little sugar reading? Go HERE. Poor pancreas! But if we put a cozy, snuggy word on it and call it a "TREAT", then we think it's okay, right? Oh, I'll just give my baby a bit of pop for a TREAT. I'll buy the kids these enormous cookies with the chocolate and sprinkles on them for a TREAT. It's just not good. However, I'm not Princess Perfect here, and I likes me a really nice, well-crafted dessert. So, I bake, but only when a lot of people are around to eat it. That way I get 1 piece of cake, rather than 6 pieces of cake.
I stopped baking like a maniac for Christmas. Hoooooo boy, this was a hard one. I used to make at least 3 or 4 different types of cookies. I'd fill up a giant tin with them. They'd look so purdy. And then I'd eat them. And eat them. And eat them. And think about eating them. Then go eat some. All day. Every day, until they were gone. Is that actually fun?!? To be tormented by food? No, not really. Yeah, I made 1 small batch of sugar cookies weeks ago, and 1 Christmas cake. And that was it. I also didn't buy any chocolates. Waaa...that was sad, I'll admit.
This was the first year ever that I was actually hungry for breakfast on Christmas morning, because I didn't over-indulge in anything. Mind you, it kinda sucked not to chow down on any holiday snackies, but my voluminous pants still fit.
Stop dieting girls. Eat more veggies. Go for more walks. Lift some weights, and stop filling your cupboards with junk food. Yeah, you'll climb the walls for junk like a crack-whore for her fix for a few days, but the feeling will pass.
Just say NO to diets! THEY SUCK LARGE.
***okay girls (and boys--sorry, girls just seem to diet more), now it's your turn: tell me about the stupid diets you've been on!