“All things are difficult before they are easy.”
— Thomas Fuller
Boomers must be the most experienced generation of dieters in history. I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe our grandparents or parents embarked on all the diets we weight-watching Boomers have tried. If the Guinness Book of World Records has a category for the greatest number of diets attempted and allows whole generations to enter, we’d surely be the winners.
I have personally tried calorie counting, carb counting, Weight Watchers (a gazillion times), Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Atkins, the Cambridge Diet, Slim Fast, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Beverly Hills Diet, the Rice Diet, the Egg and Grapefruit Diet, and the Bananas and Skim Milk Diet, to name all I can remember. For those who didn’t live through their popularity, or just were living their lives rather than dieting, I can assure you these are, or once were, all legitimate diets. In addition, I went on a number of diets published in women’s magazines with names like The 7 Day Busy Woman’s Diet and The Lose 5 lbs in 14 Days Diet, etc. etc. And I tried a few of my own invention — my favorite was the “Beer and M&Ms” diet, which I went on to fit into my bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding. Incredibly, I lost weight on it, even though, as you might imagine, I felt and looked terrible before, during and after. I also became a vegetarian, and later a vegan, but since I became both for ethical reasons rather than to lose weight, I don’t consider them to be “diets.” I was a vegetarian for over 25 years before becoming a vegan about three years ago. I am now a whole foods plant based (WFPB) eater, which is the healthiest version of vegan eating.
Do you have a historical diet list like mine? If you’re a Boomer who’s also been a chronic dieter through the years, I am betting you do. Maybe your experience is the same as mine and you lost a little or a lot of weight on all these diets. In that sense, they worked. But in the end, they all failed because they never kept my weight off. I have to admit it wasn’t all the diets that were at fault (with the exception of the Beer and M&Ms diet). Some of them I could have used to keep the weight off, if I hadn’t been so intent on abandoning them as soon as the weight was lost, and returning to the crappy food and shoddy eating habits that got me fat in the first place.
Today, I am finally ready to release the fat and let go of dieting and the mentality that goes with it, so I can truly enjoy the rest of my life. This is the year I take the weight off with a sensible diet and keep it off for good. I am officially within my five-pound goal range and engaged in what those who follow my food plan (Bright Line Eating) call “the Maintenance Dance.” It’s referred to as a dance because the phase calls for adding food into the weight loss plan, and the result is your weight generally dances around as your body adjusts to the extra food. Each addition calls for patience, as it can take up to two weeks for your weight to go back down to where it was and stabilize. And this is the process for each addition you make. Consequently, it can take quite a while to figure out just how much food your body actually requires to maintain your weight. And patience is not my strong point.
It can be pretty unnerving, especially the weight gaining part. I realize that sounds obsessive. I guess when you have spent your life as a serial dieter, it is hard to trust that the newly gained weight is only temporary. A part of me resists and questions the whole practice. I mean, all those other diets made promises too, and they never came true. How is this one any different? Well, for one, the weight loss phase did work as promised. For another, a lot of people who have gone through the very same maintenance program say it works, and they have the trim, normal-sized bodies to prove it. Those who have some time under their belts don’t obsess about their weight either, which sounds nice. If I could just stay at my own magic number and eat the healthy foods I am now eating, I will be content.
The truth is I have plenty of experience losing weight and gaining it back, but no real experience maintaining my weight. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Now that I am trying to strike the right balance for permanent weight loss, I am finding it more challenging than the weight loss phase. Not only does my weight keep bobbing up and down, but I feel uncomfortably full after each new food addition. Like Thanksgiving full. I am told this too will go away as my body adjusts to the new quantities. I tell myself I must trust in the process, that this old dog doesn’t know everything and can still learn new tricks. I am motivated by my deep desire to get off this crazy diet merry-go-round.
I have found the way, now I must stay the course. Even if I do feel like one of those marathon dancers from the 1930s — dancing to the point of exhaustion just to stay in place, determined to claim the prize I know is mine if I just hang in there.
Have you gone through maintenance and survived? If so, please share your experience in the comments section below.