I know the dieting drill. Find a trendy new diet, go to the grocery store, buy food that tastes like cardboard, then hunker down with a lonely little bag of mini-carrots and wait for the pounds to melt away. Perhaps, even half-heartedly, start a new exercise program.
I’m shaking my own head at this scenario because I already know the outcome. Before long (translation: one week later) I will succumb to the ways of my past, and in an inevitable moment of weakness or hunger (or boredom or self-sabotage), I’ll devour an entire row of Oreo cookies, while chastising myself for such a lack of self-discipline. I’ll polish the last one off, succumb to guilt, and proclaim that it stops there, no more cookies, no more anything. Vegetables and tree bark starting first thing in the morning.
And so it goes. The road to gradual weight gain is paved with good intentions.
It’s a struggle because, like most other women, there once was a time I didn’t have to worry about every calorie I consumed. I remember the kind of diet I followed when I was a size 7, and it confounds me. Breakfast didn’t happen unless I was staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s (and then it was mandatory – usually something along the lines of buttery, mini-bacon and cheese sandwiches made on the wood stove), lunch was a bag of Roast Chicken chips and a milk, and supper was usually something like poutine from Parker’s in St. Peter’s, or a big bowl of hamburger casserole with cheese. At night I would watch David Letterman and eat ketchup chips and dip into Grandpa’s Butterscotch Ripple ice cream.
And all that was fine way back then, junk food, carbs and cheese were my jam. Now these foods represent the devil himself, never to be metabolized, making themselves comfortable in the hip area of my pants.
But what’s a girl to do? The longer a woman waits to lose weight, the harder it is to lose, is what the world would have me believe. So with me staring down the pipe at the big 4-0, I figure it’s better to get it together now than procrastinate any longer and make the journey that much harder.
The whole “new year, new me” thing was never going to fly with me, though. I know myself too well, I know the extent of my willpower, my busy schedule, and all the other things that lend themselves very well to a life of take-out. I had to find a diet that allowed foods I love, that didn’t require me to consume foods I don’t like, and that wouldn’t require everyone’s life to revolve around “Mom’s diet.” A tall order, I know.
It’s fair to say that my list of diet requirements is the reason I have put on so much weight in the first place. I love a good meal, and it makes me happy to eat good food. With friends and co-workers, conversation always ends up being about food – where we’ve eaten, what we had, recipes we saw, meals we’ve prepared. Without fail, food makes its way into every conversation. A night out always involves a meal. It’s in the fabric of our friendship, and that will never change, nor do I want it to. That’s a huge reason why a super restrictive diet will never be something to which I will commit.
Another challenge for me is a busy home life. I know everyone has a lot going on and effort is required to make good food choices, I get that. It’s the nights when I work all day, leave work to go watch my son’s basketball game, leave directly from there to go to hockey practice, and get home at 8:30 p.m. – those are the nights when preparing and eating a healthy meal are tough. Where? When? In the driver’s seat of the car?
Add to that the days we’re away for sports – many weekends we’re gone from 9 a.m. on a Saturday until 9 p.m. Dieting is extremely difficult on days like that, just from a logistics standpoint.
If these all sound like excuses, it’s because they are. I have accepted that food preparation and good planning have to figure prominently into any diet plan I try, but I have also accepted that if I’m not willing to make the same sacrifices as other, more loyal dieters, I’ll have to be happy with a weekly 2-pound loss instead of a weekly 5-pound loss. That’s the price I’m willing to pay to make living my life a priority over a quick, significant weight loss.
Is it the right way? Who knows. A little realistic effort is better than none at all, I think.