By Dietitian Jill Place
I started my private practice 20-plus years ago, sat down, and gained 50 pounds. Now I had struggled with my weight all my life … getting shots of some kind of animal urine in my teens and starving down to a size six for varied and sundry theatre roles, even one where I played the ugly-duckling who metamorphed into the beautiful-swan model. A model only on stage, though, as my thighs always thundered large no matter how much I starved or otherwise abused them.
My diet that time … nasty predigested protein three times a day and nothing else. UGH! But I finally looked GREAT onstage in my size-six hand-painted gown on a pedestal being sung to about how beautiful I looked by the entire company. It’s a moment I’ve never forgotten … and have recalled with joy my entire life.
It Takes So Much More than a Diet
But no matter how small I got, I always felt fat. I’ve probably been on every diet around. I remember chowing down on everything in sight right AFTER my Weight Watcher’s meeting and then starving the rest of the week. And doing the same with at least 6 other girls right after our Saturday weigh-ins at yet another diet doc’s office.
Now, at 75, I’m committed to losing 50 pounds … or 40 pounds … wherever my older body wants to land. And I know from years yoked into that diet harness before I kicked over the traces and cantered away with a hearty hee-haw that dieting success demands the following:
ONE … You need a Powerful Why
Getting the body you were meant to be in, no matter what size you end up (and I can’t wait to see where that is for me) demands a very deep purpose that goes way beyond squeezing into a dress for an occasion. Good ideas might be for your health or emotional well-being. But you’ve got to find the why that’s uniquely you. Instructions about how to do that are in my book, “Gluten-Free in 5 Days”, which you can get here or get the workbook for free by going here.
TWO … Pitch the diet mentality
We’re so brainwashed to believe that, if we just buy the latest super-hit diet book and wave it over our food that we’ll magically lose weight. Or watch that scale like a hawk in the hope that the pounds will go down. I don’t know why we created diets. Perhaps because we felt so out of control with food that we had to put it in little boxes. And relegate our self-worth to a number on the scale.
It’s not about pounds or little boxes. It’s about how comfortable you feel and fitting in the body you were meant to have. That takes some soul-searching, planning, and a whole new take on losing weight. Diets just leave you obsessive, upset, and failing. You can’t lose weight that way. And statistics prove it … 5% or less lose all the weight they want and keep it off. They write books and become celebrities if they’re not already.
The only way I know to lose weight is to take charge of the process yourself and find your own path. Because no one is going to pry the cookie dough out of your hands at 2am … you’re going to have to do that yourself.
THREE … Eat to your hunger
This is the most powerful tool to break you free from dieting. Consider these two ideas … if you’re not in the body you were meant to have, you’re eating for some other reason than hunger. So this might be the time to really check that out. Then you might want to consider the concept of hunger. Can you eat until you’re just satisfied? If not, why not?
Can you get in touch with your REAL hunger? That rumbling in your stomach? It’s not just eating because it’s there, because you’re bored, or to quiet your emotions. And then can you make a promise to yourself that you’re only eat when you’re REALLY hungry and stop before you’re too full? Here’s an easy way to do that. Every time you eat, rate your hunger on a scale of 0 to 10. Start eating at about a 3 or 4 and stop at a 6 or 7 on this scale. It takes some doing, but it IS doable. And it reconnects you with primal urges, which are never wrong about your well-being.
FOUR … It’s not cheating, it’s choice
I HATE it when people tell me that they cheated on their diet. Because you’re giving all your power away to a piece of paper or a book. In reality, you made a CHOICE to eat that thing in that way. So do yourself a favor … take responsibility for what you put into your mouth. Once you take back your power, you’ll feel a lot more ready to make other positive choices. You’ll feel a lot less angst-ridden, guilty, and obsessive too.
FIVE … It’s not just diet …
My personal trainer ex-boyfriend always told me that, “It’s not just diet or not just exercise … to lose weight you have to do both.” I’m not great at exercise. But I DO get that it’s vitally important if I want to lose weight. And even more important if I want to be healthier. We were meant to run across miles of desert like the Masai or Aborigines. We WEREN’T meant to sit long hours in front of computers or TVs. So get movin’!
SIX … Don’t compare yourself to anyone else
NO ONE has the body of a model or an actor. THEY don’t even have those bodies … they’re usually computer generated. And, even if they do, it’s their JOB to look like that. And don’t be roped into cultural demands for slimness … make your own demands on your own body. Mentally thinking “I wish I looked like …” will get you nowhere. Besides, NO ONE else has the body that you have. So it’s time you stop cursing it and start appreciating it.
In considering my new book, “Lose 5 Pounds is 5 Days”, I realize that, once you lose the 5 pounds and begin to feel good about yourself, it’s then time to accept your body … warts and all …accept it with love and caring. Honor it for getting you about and enabling you to perceive all the wonders of the world. THEN you’ll be ready to let go of those pounds. And only then.
SEVEN … Just keep going
Perseverance is the most important thing in losing weight. The down and dirty is that It takes a long time. One to two pounds a week is the safe way, so if you have a lot to lose it may take a year or more. And it’s not always easy. Because you won’t always stick to your plan, even if you made it up yourself. But forgive yourself and move on. It’s not the only way … it’s the right way to lose weight.
Tell me …
What’s your experience with losing weight? What worked? What didn’t? What’s YOUR current plan to lose weight? Is is working?