I have struggled with my weight all my life. This is not news to anyone who knows me. Some very well-meaning people in my life have also made this struggle a whole lot worse. I am not going to use this space to talk about that or re-hash the past. What’s done is done. Suffice to say my weight is still an issue, and because of the things in the past I have struggled to take it off and keep it off. There are a lot of emotions attached to weight and weight loss for me, and my number one enemy is the scale.
Over the years I have tried so many diets, too many to even count. I have tried low carb, no carb, low fat, no fat, don’t eat any of this, eat all of that, the grapefruit diet ( I still hate grapefruits), and every other stupid diet you can think of. I’ve tried the programs like Weight Watchers, did I mention I have social anxiety and seriously dislike scales let alone being weighed in front of a group of people. But in every one of them I fail, or as I have figured out, they failed me. They were too restrictive, too controlling, and too rigid. All things I don’t respond well too, just ask my parents. I need flexibility, options, and more importantly I need to be in control.
So I gave up. For years I gave up. I dreaded going to the doctor and being weighed because the scale is not my friend. I hate that number. I hated hearing these well-meaning people in my life commenting on how much better I would feel if I lost the weight and how I would be oh so much healthier. I hated the doctors’ silent disapproving stares when I tried to explain my anxieties and issues around diets and weight loss. I was stuck at an impasse. I knew I needed to lose the weight, but every time I think about weight loss I freak. I get sick to my stomach and I want to cry. It’s that bad. I knew my health was suffering, but what could I do. Then it happened, what I knew was coming for years. My blood work came back that I was diabetic, Type II. I had been borderline diabetic for a few years so it was not a real shock. But it still stung. I did what I do best; I ignored it and hoped it would just go away.
Then recently I got sick, really sick, like I stopped eating sick, which for me is super sick. It turned out to be a simple bladder infection that was easily treatable, but in the course being sick I lost almost 20 pounds. I thought ok, this is it. I can make some changes here and make a difference in my life. BUT, I am going to do it on my terms. So I created my own anti-diet.
It’s pretty simple actually. The first thing I am going to do is get rid of my bathroom scale, yes you heard me, there will be no weighing myself and no tracking of my weight. It’s not like I have actually used it, but its presence has haunted me every time I go in there. My unit of measurement will not be a number on a scale, nor will it be a dress size. I am not doing this to be thinner or to weigh less. I am doing it to be healthier. Instead, every three months I will go to my doctor and have my blood drawn and have my fasting blood sugar panels run. The goal is to bring them down. not by a certain percentage or number, just down. Every 6 months I will have my cholesterol checked; again the goal is for healthier numbers. I will only be weighed when the doctor’s office requests it, and I will ask not to know. I am serious, the scale numbers mess me up in the head. The goal here is just a healthier me, not a skinnier me.
So how am I going to achieve this? Well that part is a little bit trickier. It starts in my head, and it’s something that everyone has to figure out for themselves. First off, I refuse to weigh, measure, or count anything. I will not be documenting every bite I put in my mouth, and nothing will be off-limits. I am making this about choices and moderation. I am going to make a conscious effort to change my relationship with food one bite at a time. It won’t be easy, and I know I will have slip ups, and that’s okay.
You see, food for me is a comfort thing. It’s not just about fuel for the body, it’s fuel for the soul. I need to learn to balance that, and I need to find other things to fill the gaps and holes in myself other than comfort eating. So it starts from within. I need to ask myself each time I am eating; why am I eating? Am I eating because I am hungry, because it tastes good, because I am bored, or because I need something else? If it’s because I am hungry then I need to pay attention to my body and stop when I am full. If it is because it tastes good, like a treat, then I need to allow myself to indulge and eat slow and mindfully so I really enjoy it and then eat less than I used to. If it is for one of the other two reasons then I should look into what else is going on around me and find another way to fill my time or that void, whatever it may be.
Again, without measuring or weighing, I am also making my portions a little smaller than they would have been previously. The key here is I am making the portions smaller than they used to be for me. This means that while I may have used to eaten a cup of something before maybe now I have cut it down to 2/3 of a cup, whereas a typical diet would have cut it back to ½ or even 1/3 of a cup. I find that most diets tend to cut the portions too far back too fast for most people, especially those like me who are very heavy, and we end up feeling like we are starving and miserable. By slowly cutting back my portions and eating just until I feel full, I feel like I am more in control of my food instead of food being in control of me.
The last piece of this is the food itself. I am not only trying to change how I view food, but also the foods that I choose to eat. This is a difficult one because I am probably one of the pickiest eaters you will ever encounter. And this is one of the reasons most diets fail me. Because of their rigidity in what you can and can’t have, and because of what I will and won’t eat my list of acceptable foods was usually pretty short and I would get bored with my menu options really fast. With my anti-diet though nothing is off-limits so I am free to make up my own combinations and menus. I am making a conscious effort to add more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and to eliminate as many prepared foods as possible. It’s all about being mindful of the choices I make each day and each meal. I am also trying to work in more meals so that I am maintaining my energy and blood sugars throughout the day.
Will this work? I don’t know, honestly, but it sure beats doing nothing. And for the first time I feel confident about food choices and not ashamed of what I am doing for myself. In the past going on diets always made me feel ashamed of myself for some reason. This time I feel good, like I am making a positive change in my life, not just a fly by night attempt to shed pounds. Who knows, maybe if it works I will write a book and become a millionaire peddling the next diet fad with my anti-diet, HA! I will just be happy if I can finally change my relationship with food and become a healthier me.
So I am asking all my friends and family who read this to help me out here. If you see me and you see that I am looking better because you think I have lost weight please don't comment on the weight loss. Comment on how much healthier I seem to be. Tell me I look happy. Tell me I look healthy. Tell me anything but I look smaller, or that I have lost weight. Don't tell me you are proud of me because I am not doing it for your approval. I am doing it for me. If you see me eating something you don't think fits in my above philosophy don't comment on it and don't give me any disapproving looks. Maybe I'm having a bad day and I am going to pick myself up later, or maybe I am allowing myself to indulge because I know I have balanced it out earlier or will later. Also, if I say I don't want something or I am done don't push it. No matter how little I have eaten or how good whatever it is tastes. I have to listen to my body now and give it what it needs when it needs it. Don't judge, just let me figure it out. I know you all mean well, and I know you love me, and I need to do this myself. I know this is a lot to ask, and I am asking it anyway. Please. If I have tagged you in this and you think someone else should see it feel free to forward it on to them. I love you all so much, and right now I need to love myself like I never have.