I just read the updated FB page of one of my cousins, as she feels wonderful having just completed her first week of yet another diet. I know exactly what she’s going through as my first diet was when I was 6 months (yes, you read correctly) of age. My paediatrician told my mother I was too chubby and put me on skim milk. I doubt he realized how much he would be affecting the whole of my life thereafter.
I was on a diet of some type all throughout my childhood, the worst being when my mother took me to the neighbourhood diet doctor. He was treating all the women and subsequently their children by doling out diuretics to help get rid of excess water and amphetamines to curb the appetite. The problems were obvious to anyone who had any sense, as first, you don’t give drugs of this nature to kids, second, once the drugs are no more, the weight loss is no more, and third, he did nothing to address the real issues of why people were overweight in the first place. He didn’t go into any details about making good food choices, nor approximately how many calories we should take in, nor any thoughts about exercise or at the very least, walking. Another mortifying experience was my being about 10 and the only kid at the weekly Weight Watchers meetings.
The worst thing about all this was that once my mother no longer felt like being on a weight loss regime, it was over for us both. So though I was starting to lose some weight and feel a little healthier, truth be told I was a child and had no say. Of course, I could have chosen not to eat all the junk food my mom stocked the fridge and cupboards with or the doughnuts and cakes my grandparents brought each Friday. But I was led into temptation and that far “outweighed” the good feeling I got from the odd compliment I was paid or the fact my clothing was starting to feel loose.
As time marched on, I went from one diet to the next, from those which supplied the food and vitamins to ones which doled out drugs, to ones where I had to show up weekly, some daily, and others which I did on my own. I’ve gone to a hypnotist, to psychiatrists, psychologists, M.D.’s, groups, Overeaters Anonymous where everyone replaced their urge to eat with coffee and cigarettes; you name it, I’ve tried it. Sadly, I’ve lost more money and self-esteem which were permanent losses than permanent weight over the years than I can add up. One therapist (when broken into two syllables, the words read The Rapist) asked why I was there. I said I wanted help with issues I was having a hard time dealing with. He went to his book shelf and began taking books and placing them on his scale. After about 12 or so, he weighed them, and said “you see how many books it takes to weight only a few pounds? You know how many it would take to weigh what you weigh? Go on a diet, you won’t have any problems.”
Another quack was prompting me to do something extremely illegal and unethical, and when I reported him, I was told he was not someone who dealt in the legal system, thus didn’t know what he was telling me to do was illegal. Really? Telling someone to steal isn’t something a university educated man would be aware is illegal and immoral? Wow, talk about getting away with…I won’t say how much latitude so-called professionals are given, but it does boggle the mind. Another quack was enormous and had the same salad on his desk every week when I went to see him. He said he was among the few who were not able to take the drugs he was prescribing, thus he too struggled with weight. Well, if he actually ate the salad he kept on his desk instead of whatever he was obviously eating, he might not have been tipping the scales at 300, and would have set a much better example. Then came the day when those pills were no longer legal, and he prescribed something which was useless, and it wasn’t long till he was completely off the radar. While taking the pills he prescribed, I did lose a lot of weight, but as my then co-worker asked, what happens when there aren’t any more pills? What she fully expected; the weight came back and then some.
Well, one day I was at the closet, crying at the beautiful, small sized clothing I feared I’d never again be able to wear, and not just due to my size but much was no longer age-appropriate for me. I was crying as I put the clothing into garbage bags to be donated, when my husband came to enquire why I was balling my eyes out. I told him and said he had to send me somewhere, like the Radar Institute as I can’t get a handle on my weight. He asked if I wanted his help and I said fine, you feel you can help, I’ll trust you and if (when? I wasn’t very confident) this fails you will then send me to the States.
So I asked what now, and he said another diet will not work…diets don’t work, full stop. He said I must make a lifestyle change and realize I didn’t gain the weight overnight, so it’s fool hardy to expect to lose it overnight. He said not to make any changes, but to write down EVERYTHING I eat for the next week. Well, right there my eyes were opened as I truly hadn’t any idea all which I was eating in a given day.
So after a week, he said he didn’t want to read diary, but I should look for one thing I could change, maybe substitute with something similar but healthier. He also made me realize that it’s not the size of the clothing, or even the number on the scale. It’s my health which is at risk, especially as I was 54 and both my parents were dead at 56. I already had Hypoglycemia, a precursor to Diabetes.
I love cheese, so I began with buying a light cheese, which had much less fat. Well, long story short, it’s now over five years since that day and I’ve maintained my weight and in fact, my goal was 135, but I went down to 113. I found that was too low and I was getting sick a lot, even having passed out twice. So now keep my weight down, and when it starts to escalate, I simply cut back, reduce my portions, but I never kid myself that I’ll again never eat the foods I love. I am not on a diet, I am eating more healthfully and when I want, really want a treat, I have it and just ensure I don’t make it a daily thing.
FYI, I called W.W. and asked them about their recidivism rate, and they said it was 95%. This goes for most people who lose weight; 95% put it back on, and most gain more than they originally lost. It’s crucial that even when I’m eating less healthfully, I still write everything down, as well as my weight, so I can keep things under control.
It’s a life style change, not a diet…diets don’t work. Well, just ask yourself, what happens when you do get to your goal weight? You can’t keep dieting, so what do you do then? You know as well as I do, you start down that rabbit hole again, and yo-yo dieting is very unhealthy. Don’t forget, when you lose weight, you also lose muscle and the one muscle you don’t want to keep making larger and smaller is your heart.
P.S. It also helps to make a list of why you want to lose weight…and why you don’t. There are reasons people feel more comfortable being overweight, so write down everything, and if you truly want to lose weight and keep it off, pin your reasons on the fridge and read it…often!
P.S. I have written a book entitled This Is Not A Diet Book, which I will be offering soon as an e-book. This tells of my journey to my optimal weight, how I’ve kept off over 100 pounds for nearly six years, and much, much more.