I came across a post recently by Christie about falling off the wagon. She’s an intuitive eating coach. She recently went on a binge, eating her feelings, and struggling with her intuitive eating vs. dieting outlook. It’s worth a read. And it inspired me to write this post.
Spending a good chunk of my younger years obese, eventually tipping the scales at 250+ pounds, I was done. I had body pain, I was developing diabetes and I had high blood pressure that made me dizzy. There were YEARS that lead up to that moment that I hated myself. I hated my body. I was at war with my body. I want to torture my body for being fat. It was time. Time for a change. Time to lose 110 pounds.
But the realization that helped me stay on track was that I WAS NOT GOING ON A DIET. I never once uttered the words “I’m on a diet.” I changed my lifestyle. I changed my life. I think if people STOPPED using the word “diet” they would be much more successful in their weight loss journey. There is nothing wrong with losing weight to be healthy and happy. But it shouldn’t be a diet. Diet implies it’s a short term fix for a lifetime problem.
Losing weight should be a long-term goal, a lifestyle change.
My lifestyle has changed completely from “the old days.” The old days were me on the couch with a carton of ice cream, or eating an entire pizza by myself.
The new days? I count my calories that I eat, I follow the 90/10 Rule, I enjoy exercise and fitness, I rarely spend much time on that couch anymore and I’m happier for it.
I never think of myself as in “losing” mode anymore. I’m maintaining what I’ve lost in a healthy, balanced way and if a few more pounds disappear, so be it.
Enjoy your food.
2011 has been an interesting year for me food-wise: I’m eating a simpler diet, a Caveman Diet if you will, of simple, unprocessed foods. We started a garden and most meals come from that garden. Simple. Organic. Homemade. I’m learning to cook and trying new recipes.
But like I mentioned above, I follow the 90/10 Rule. I eat healthy, stay within my calories 90% of the time and 10% of the time I splurge and I don’t beat myself up for it. It all balances out because of the exercise I do. I’m definitely not perfect and I’ve had many, many “slip ups” but every day is a new day to make better choices.
I’ve learned tricks to enjoy my food without breaking the calorie bank. When Michael and I go to restaurants we sometimes split entrees. I’ll order a salad instead of fries. If we get dessert we ALWAYS split it–I can’t eat it all by myself.
Do what works.
There’s no perfect plan for everyone. Do what works for you. If counting calories works, do it. If points are easier to manage, do that. If Intuitive Eating works, do it. It doesn’t matter as long as you are accountable to yourself, or if you need it–other people.
Intuitive Eating does not work for me. The reason? Because as a former obese person, intuitively I want to overeat all the time. I have to be very careful about that. I tried intuitive eating for almost a year after reaching goal weight. Eating Intuitively, not counting calories and adding medication to the mix = 15 pounds packed on in 10 months.
Weight Watchers wouldn’t work for me because I don’t want to go to a meeting. I don’t want to weigh in with a group. One of the things I hated about school was the actual process of going to class. I loved learning, I was a good student with good grades, but hated the process. WW meetings felt just like that. No thanks. (Same reason I hate going to fitness classes like yoga.)
Think of food as Fuel.
Think of food as fuel for a machine. Remember Susan Powter? She was a diet-guru in the 90’s that I mainly ignored but I remember she had a good message: think of your body as a car. You’re going on a road trip and you need to fill the tank with gas to get your car moving down the road. You have to have enough fuel in the car to do so, and you have to refuel when the tank gets low. The body is the same way.
I’ve noticed this “food as fuel” phenomenon with the long training rides I’ve been doing. Finding the perfect food pre-ride and post-ride, as well as during the ride, has been a challenge but it makes a difference when I eat “junk.”
Great post! These are all things I strive to do. I don’t always succeed, but I try! I like to think of my “diet” as the food I put in my mouth every day or a plan I have for eating healthfully. But not as something temporary! As you said, it’s a lifestyle change. Some days are easier than others, but the 90-10 rule works for me, as long as I follow it!
Thank you for the shout out though, I do have to say, I don’t believe I fell off the wagon. i don’t believe there is a such a thing as a wagon. Also, as I say in my post, I wasn’t binging, either.
I just had a HUGE epiphany! I have a tendency to eat to *prevent* hunger rather than wait until I’m actually hungry before I eat. I had a sudden picture in my mind related to the idea that food is fuel for my body just like gasoline is fuel for a car. So, if I were to do to my car what I do to my body I would drive my car to the gas station with the tank 7/8 full then pump in 15 gallons of gas. The gas would run all over the ground, damage the environment and the water table, cost me money and be a huge fire hazard. I would NEVER do something so stupid with my car…shouldn’t I be treating my body at least as well as my car, if not much better.
Hey Lisa, yeah I tend to “prevent” hunger too! I love your analogy! Great job!
I do not like the word diet at all! It automatically makes me feel like I am suffering somehow.
But, most importantly, I had to post a comment because HOLY CRAP you look phenomenal in that “after” photo. Seriously. Check out your guns! You look great!
Yes! Dieting makes me feel like I’m punishing my body. Same reason I disagree with “binge days” or “cheat days.” That implies I’m denying myself food the other 6 days of the week.
Thanks! That “After” photo was taken last month.
Great post! The first 70 pounds I lost I was on a diet. Over the past 3 years I have been working on my insides. You know the girl that is still fat! Over that time I lost 10 more pounds and shifted to a different kind of thinking. This is a life style. Not a diet. A diet ends. After a diet you go back to what you were doing before. If I did that I would gain back those 80 pounds. Now it is about being healthy. For me that includes calorie counting, exercise and ice cream! When all of those things are in the correct proportion I feel the best. I have recently worked hard at cutting out all processed foods. I have been successful for the most part. The food is better and I am more satisfied when I eat real food. I love that you have a garden and eat most of your meals from it!
Congratulations on losing 70. And I am glad to see your lifestyle includes ice cream! 😀 It’s all part of life. We can’t restrict EVERYTHING all the time and stay sane. 🙂
Beth @ Beth's Journey
Great post, Lisa! I completely agree – you can’t take drastic measures to lose wieght and then go back to your old way of living and expect it to stay off. That happened to me when I was on Atkins. Sure I lost weight, and fast, but as soon as I started eating a normal diet again including bread, I gained it ALL back. That’s why I love Weight Watchers – it really is a lifestyle change!
Yes! WW is the one “program” that I think is good! If I had to do it all over again and needed support, I’d do WW.
I never said I was on a diet when I was actively on WW. Now a year out, it seems much more like a diet. I was restricting calories, buying low fat/non fat foods (even if they were processed), writing every thing I ate down, and staying within my points. I got pretty obsessed with food and eating too. Those are not things I do while maintaining, and I’d be loathe to go back to it unless I felt I needed it… and my pants didn’t close.
You make a good point. I was technically on a diet because I was eating diet food. But that was because I didn’t know HOW to eat. I didn’t know portions or how to limit my portions. I had to retrain myself and learn all that stuff. The processed “diet” food helped that a lot.
I really like your statement “Intuitive Eating does not work for me. The reason? Because as a former obese person, intuitively I want to overeat all the time. I have to be very careful about that.”
That is so true for me, too. My intuitive point is that of a overeater, not of a restrictor. I am not bad or wrong or flawed because it does not work for me. I am honest and willing to do what DOES work for me and admit that intuitive eating is not my answer.
I appreciate all your sharing and experience.
I think for formerly obese people, intuitive eating is a dangerous slope. And what works for some people may not work for all!