“Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.” ― Margaret Mitchell
“The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Baby Boomer Cyndi Lauper probably sang it best, “Girls just want to have fun.” If she had added “And boys just want to have even more fun,” she could have been speaking for our entire generation. Accusing a Boomer of being “no fun” is practically the most offensive thing you could say to us (the worst is to call us old). I imagine those who reach centenarian age will still be horrified at the thought of being either.
Secretly many of us believe we invented the entire concept of fun. Our parents’ generation, after all, wasn’t exactly a barrel of giggles. They had survived Depression childhoods and several wars, and were as a whole, disciplined, hard-working, and believed in sacrificing for the future. In contrast, we were free, impulsive, unrestrained, and above all, fun! Despite enduring our own war and many serious issues, as a group we are known for having idyllic childhoods, being allowed to play more than work, always enjoying more than our share of attention due to our sheer numbers, all of which left us with a core belief that self-indulgence is our birthright. A part of us will always think of ourselves as we were in our twenties, even though we’re now at an age when our grandmothers were content to settle into their rocking chairs.
While this mindset is a good thing in that it helps us stay engaged in the world, it can be challenging for our bodies, which are no longer cooperating the way they once did. Most of us have come to terms with this sobering fact, opting to gradually replace our obsessive running habits and high impact aerobics classes with daily walks and yoga sessions. We’ve given up multitasking round the clock, and if we want to stay up to all hours, we take a nap beforehand.
However, we absolutely draw the line at being viewed as stuffy and stodgy and horror of horrors, someone who doesn’t know how to have a good time. Even though that is often what taking care of one’s self looks like to our friends and families.
If you stick with your exercise program, you’ll be accused of “being a perfectionist.” If you eat healthy at a social gathering, you’ll be told you’re “being too restrictive,” and if you don’t drink alcohol, well then you are absolutely, hands down, unquestionably “no fun anymore.” Which, again, is about as bad as it gets.
But at the risk of being preachy, “a real drag,” and possibly getting some unfavorable comments to this post, IMHO nothing can throw a wrench into a body’s weight loss efforts quite like booze. I have seen it happen over, and over again with friends, not to mention myself. I venture to say that the old Weight Watchers program worked best before alcohol was “legal.” Choosing to drink while you’re trying to lose weight simply doesn’t work. Your intentions may be pure, but alcohol will derail your best efforts and before you know it, you’re cryin’ in your beer (and later your milkshake), whining that you just can’t lose weight anymore.
Well, duh… that’s because you went to that party and drank five glasses of wine or ten beers, made a beeline for the cheese puffs and artichoke dip, and then went home and cleaned out the fridge. If by some miracle you skipped the food, (and hopefully took a cab), and went straight home to bed, you’ll still want to eat everything in sight all the next day. And even if you get back on track immediately and deprive yourself of scarfing down all the greasy junk food you’re craving, eventually, your indiscretion will show up on the scale. If not the next day, the day after, or the one after that. When it comes to succeeding at weight loss, I’m here to tell you from experience, alcohol is not your friend.
Speaking personally, I eventually decided my life was just better without alcohol, but even if you are able to drink sensibly and enjoy doing so, leave that to maintenance. During the weight loss phase, drinking only makes things harder.
Indulging in sugar is also a recipe for disaster, even in small quantities. In years past, I would decide to forgo alcohol and start popping caramels, which made me feel even crazier than drinking. I would be nervous and hungry and crave more, and more, and more sugar. Then I would come crashing down and just feel tired and cranky. Before you knew it I’d be drinking and eating uncontrollably again. Sugar, flour, and alcohol made me miserable for years and once I finally figured that out, and eliminated them, life got so much easier. But that’s me. You don’t have to give up these items forever, but letting them go while you are in the process of losing weight will greatly enhance your chances of succeeding.
As I mentioned in a previous post, it is not impossible to lose weight after 60, even if you have a small amount of weight to lose, like I did. But it is challenging. It calls for being diligent in your efforts and meticulous sticking with your food plan. When we were young, we might have been able to drink like fish and eat like pigs when partying with friends, and never gain a pound, or perhaps gain a few and lose them in a matter of days. I sometimes even lost weight after a night of over-imbibing. Ah, youth. No wonder we all long to stay there. But even though we may still think of ourselves forever as beautiful Farrah and young John Travolta, the reality is we’re more in the category of the Golden Girls and Grumpy Old Men. We can’t keep up with those Bay Watch beauties and hunks running on the beach anymore, so there is no use trying.
The next time friends and family push the treacherous trio (flour, sugar, and alcohol) at you, using the “you’re no fun” weapon to weaken your will, do not give in! Just respond with a simple “no thank you,” or tell them you’re taking a short break if you think that would go over better. Then just pour a glass of sparkling water, and engage in an interesting conversation. Keep practicing and it will get easier. Before you know it, you’ll be at your goal, starting the maintenance phase, wherein you can make a decision about how you want to eat and drink going forward. Although I will tell you maintaining your weight is pretty much like losing it. Thinking, and acting otherwise will just get you fat again. But more on that in another post.
The truth is nobody really cares what you eat or drink, and being able to fit into your favorite jeans will leave you so much happier than a night of debauchery. Some things never change.
Do you have some effective tips for handling social situations while trying to lose weight, or just eat clean? If so, would love to read ‘em, so please comment below.