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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Dreaded D Word

When I was a child, I frequently witnessed my mom and her friends grimacing as they sipped their Tab soda. It was diet after all. And diet didn't mean tastes good. Diet in the 1970s meant suffering, depriving yourself of what you really wanted, and just generally changing your eating habits drastically. It involved large quantities of iceberg lettuce, coffee, and for an occasional treat, cottage cheese. And it had a beginning and an end. "I'm dieting." "I'm off my diet." "I need to start my diet." These were all frequent phrases in their conversations.

I knew that diet equated to tastes bad (I had sipped my mom's Tab and made the same grimace that she and her friends did), so all she had to do was say something was diet and I steered clear. I remember, as clear as it was yesterday, when on a trip to the neighborhood corner store, mom grabbed a Heath candy bar and told me it was diet. Because of my past experiences, I was sixteen years old before I ever tried one--and that toffee goodness definitely wasn't "diet" food. We still laugh about how she had just wanted a treat all to herself and didn't think her comment would affect me for so long.

In a lot of ways, this word, diet, still gives the impression of suffering, deprivation, or all out starvation required to lose weight. And it's just not like that. It really doesn't have to be. Following Weight Watchers, as I have been since last October, I've relearned how to fuel my body. And, in the process, I haven't deprived myself of anything.

That said, I have learned how to plan for treats--workout more, save my weekly Flex Points, or eat less, or eat MORE zero Points foods to balance it out.

It makes me laugh to see people diet because that's not at all what I'm doing. I really have changed my lifestyle, but I don't feel deprived and I really don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. We all know the carb cutters, the glycemic index people, Jenny Craig followers, LA Slim or whatever it's called people. Most of them are back, "dieting again." I've never tried any of those diets. I know they don't work and my time spent on them will just be wasted.

Those of us with the chubby challenge need a whole new education on eating to be successful. It isn't even necessarily that we've eaten more than your average skinny chick, in fact, for many of us this is just not the case. It's that we were cursed with an efficient metabolism that requires fewer calories to run than the skinny chicks (so, we're better at something anyway!) It never has been that they're just smarter nutritionally or make better choices than we do. Never. Realizing that has been such a great source of peace for me.

So, when I speak with someone who's dieting, I just wonder why. The secret to weight loss really isn't a secret at all, but simply a truth that you have to live every day: eating sensibly and being physically active every day for the rest of your life. That's it in a nutshell. Anything else, any diet with a beginning and end, will not work.

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Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!