Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the FOREVER diet

the other day, i was thinking about weight maintenance. i've lost 40 pounds on weight watchers, and kept it off for about a year and a half, maybe two years. i'm sure people (friends, family, readers?) think i'm pretty good at maintaining my weight because i usually can stay within a five-pound range. however, i don't think i've mastered the maintenance secret yet because i continue to gain and lose the same five (or six or seven) pounds over and over again. i've read that gaining and losing the same amount of weight (even ten little pounds) can be very bad for your overall long term health. so what's my point?

to me, weight maintenance has always been this far off ideal. to be able to eat whatever you want (but sensibly), and not have to worry about gaining weight because you have control over eating. you eat to live, not to eat. my problem is, i still live to eat. every time i go through the grocery store checkout line and see those stacks of chocolate bars, my mind thinks, "gimme gimme gimme." i don't give in, but i don't consider depriving myself the same as having control.

another problem i have is the idea of "normal eating" vs "diet eating." i still think that if i am where i want to be weight-wise, then i can eat whatever i want, as long as it's a sensible portion. this is not true. why? i don't know. maybe it's true for you and not for me. i think to myself, wouldn't it be great to have a morning snack of tea and two cookies? le sigh. le cookies. don't normal women who have control of their eating eat this way? maybe, maybe not. i'll never know because everyone is different. everyone has different metabolisms, different tastes, different body and food issues. when i'm not trying to lose weight, i gain weight. up and down, up and down. it's annoying but maybe i'm just programmed that way.

i've finished reading gone with the wind (tragic), and started a new book, thin is the new happy by valerie frankel. i'm only about a quarter into it, and what she is writing about really hits home for me. i started gaining weight when i hit puberty, and my mother did a lot of things to "help" me lose weight. i remember eating dry toast and clementines at lunch when everyone else had delicious looking french fries from the school cafeteria. yes, i did lose weight. yes, i instantly felt better about myself. but why? acceptance obviously. not only did my mother praise me, but friends did, teachers, even women who worked in clothing stores would compliment my mother on the shape of my legs. and hearing this i felt like a bazillion dollars. i don't blame my mother, because we are all just part of this womanly cycle of self-loathing. we can try to step out of the mold, but it's going to be very difficult. i can tell myself that i'm never going to mention anything to do with weight/food issues to my children, but if they see me dieting or complaining about my looks, it won't matter. monkey see monkey do. valerie frankel talks about how she has been on a diet for thirty years, since she was 11 years old. me too... me too...

the only thing i can say is that i've learned A LOT about weight maintenance over the last couple of years. for example, having an exercise routine that is part of your lifestyle makes all the difference. changing the staples of your diet does too. things i used to indulge in all time are a once-in-a-while occurrence, and i'm fine with that. one of my favourite techniques is telling myself that tomorrow is a new day. i want the pastry at starbucks, but it will be there tomorrow if i want it that badly and can't get it out of my mind. i'm not really depriving myself because i probably didn't want it anyway. the same can be said about those supermarket chocolate bars! has anyone noticed they aren't really as good as you remember them being? i guess i'm fine with losing and gaining the same five pounds over and over again as well, if it means i can enjoy myself when it really matters (holidays, celebrations, random fun times).

what do you think? are you on a forever diet too?


Anonymous said...

omg i am the exact same as you except instead of 5 pounds it is always 20. can't be good for my overall health in the long run. i am so getting this book.

Carolyn said...

I think the Forever Diet can simply be called Life. Who doesn't want to be the perfect size 6? (or has society now changed it to a 2?)

I've been maintaining roughly the same weight now for about 1 1/2 years. I lead a pretty healthy life and if I never lose another pound and stay this exact weight forever, well I wouldn't be upset with that. But it certainly doesn't mean that I wouldn't eat chocolate bars for breakfast if I thought I could do it and still maintain my current weight AND physical fitness level. Plain and simple, I'd rather have Nibs than broccoli. I don't think that will ever change but I realize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and that my body NEEDS these healthy foods.

I'm sure I'll be bloggin about the same old weight issues 30 years from now!

Bi0nicw0man said...

I'll just say "ditto" cuz sister we are on the same page.

Sarah said...

I completely and totally relate to you here. I've been on a diet as long as I can remember... and I agree with you too that "maintenance" is actually a whole lot more like "eat like a piggy for a while and then go on a diet to re-lose the 5 lbs".

It sucks and its exhausting and frustrating at the same time. I would love to 'escape' from the mindset - or even better train myself out of it!

fittingbackin said...

What a great post! I've found my diet is more like do nothing for 2 years... put on 15 pounds in the process then work it off and feel better than ever... then after 6 months or so I start gaining again/doing nothin again and then It's back on and i'm back in the gym. I hope this time I can remember how good it feels to be healthy and exercising (on a forever diet i think) so I won't fall of the wagon (again). I think that in order to be the size I want to be, it's always going to take work. I think the trick is finding ways, recipes, workouts that don't make it feel like work - that make it fun. I dunno though - I JUST hit my weight loss goal and am beginning maintenance. THe first thing I did was weigh 3 pounds heavier. Sigh.

Randi said...

I think maintenance works for people who've never had to lose weight. (aside from maybe baby weight or something). If you struggle with your weight, there's a reason you got overweight in the first place. Your self regulation is a little off.

Also, I think people have weights that there body likes to be at. It can still be healthy and have a little chub on the middle (aka me) which is probably where I would like to settle when I'm "old" and have kids and stuff. But for now when I'm young and want to strut in a bikini, I struggle to attain something my body doesn't want.

SeaBreeze said...

I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to maintenance. I am crossing my fingers that I can get by with swimming and upper body weights for the next few months.

Thanks for all the book ideas. I just put a bunch on hold at the library because of your recommendations. :)

Fatinah said...

oy! I could have written this post - except my 5 pounds are 10.....I cried the day I realized I would be a Weight Watcher for the rest of my life. I can't self regulate.

Julie said...

Hi, I've been reading your blog for a little while. It's great; I don't know why I haven't commented until now. Anyway, I so relate. Like you, I weigh less than I did a few years ago, and I've been able to maintain it. Although my body has changed, my mindset hasn't changed much at all when it comes to food. I still think about food just as much, if not more. The difference between now and when I was heavier is that I now have to forcibly keep track of everything I eat, count calories, ration it all out... it's annoying and exhausting, especially since among my family, friends, and acquaintances, I seem to be the only person who does anything like this (or who admits to it, anyway). I wish I too could just eat something without having to think of how many calories or points it has and how many I've already had today, but I've been so regimented for so long that I don't really know how to allow myself that much freedom, and I wonder what would really happen if I did.

Crystal said...

Yep, I am sooo on a forever diet. The bad thing is my forever diet is sub-par right now. self-loathing is definitely a part of the equation and, as much as I'd like to get rid of it, I think it's just something that's been programmed to stay. Or maybe the next 10 pounds lost will rid me of that nagging voice?

Points Princess said...

Great post!

Yup. I feel the exact same. Unfortunately I've put back on the 20lbs I've been yo-yoing with for the past 6 years.

But I feel like I'm a Weight Watcher for live...I compare it to an addict. You have to abstain. I will never be skinny enough to be one of those girls who can eat whatever she wants.

And my mind hasn't changed. While there are times I certainly crave and enjoy healthy foods, I wish I could have a real bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, a donut and coffee for a snack, McDonalds for lunch, chips for a snack, and heck, maybe even McDonalds for dinner!

I guess what I'm trying to say is I hear ya, and apparantly so do many others.

Great blog your honesty. It's like reading your thoughs. Love it!

Sara said...

First of all I do think it is normal for a woman's weight to fluctuate w/n 5 lbs, more than that and I'm not too sure.

One thing I think is key (and it worked for me for 2 years, then I don't know what happened) is the idea of compensation. You eat a big lunch so you have a smaller dinner. You eat a lot one day so you compensate with a healthier day the next. Which is what you are doing. But the idea of compensation is very different then I overate so now I need to diet. Anyways, it is the whole French Woman don't get Fat idea and I loved it. Wish I comfortable enough with my body to really be able to adopt it.