Friday, November 18, 2011
As I approach my 3rd anniversary of permanently removing 85lbs from my body, I am thinking about all of the rules I have broken in the weight loss and maintenance game. You know the ones I’m talking about: do this and this and this and for heaven’s sake stop doing THAT. Those rules. You can find them embedded in the dogma of every legitimate weight loss program on the planet with a few crazies ( such as eat grapefruit only on Mondays and never during a full moon) upping the ante in the rule business.
I used to be a real stickler for the rules. I was a textbook dieter. I knew the point count, calorie count and glycemic index for every food in my local supermarket. Unfortunately, those rules didn’t always work for me – that’s evidenced by the 20 or so lbs I lost and regained over and over and over again.
Figuring out what worked for me was essential in making the permanent lifestyle changes I needed to be thin, fit and healthy. So – here’s my list of my top 5 weight loss myths:
1) Drink 8 glasses of water. Per day. Hmmm, I have to admit there are many weeks when I don’t get 8 full glasses of water into me. I hate the stuff. I’m rarely thirsty, feel gross with fluid sloshing around in my stomach and make enough trips to the bathroom as it is thank you. Yes, my urine is the right colour and my electrolytes are within normal range; both of these tell me I’m hydrated. To top it off, current research is also busting the 64 fluid ounces of water daily requirement. So – it’s #1 on the list for me.
2) All foods can be enjoyed in moderation. HUH. I’ve written about this before. There are many, many foods I can’t eat in moderation. Period. If there were a box of 100 cal potato chip snack packs in the house and I ate one, the entire box would be gone within an hour and I’d be up at the corner store buying more. Moderation for me is a huge myth. I have an enormous list of NO foods and I simply do not eat them. Ever.
3) Mix up your exercise routine or you’ll get bored. Here’s the problem with this rule for me: I’m already bored of exercise before I start. It doesn’t matter what the routine is, I don’t want to do it anyway. I dread going out for my run and have felt that way before every run (more than 600) for the last 6 years. I just force myself to do it because I’d rather have it done for the day than worry about where I’m going to put it into the rest of my day. I’m not an athlete – I’m a couch potato. If I had to think about mixing up my exercise routine I’d probably be paralysed by choice and not getting any exercise at all. I lace up my shoes, open my front door and turn right at the end of my driveway. I return an hour and 10 km later. That’s it.
4) Don’t eat after 6pm. Seriously? I’d be up at 4 am scouring the kitchen for something to eat. I’ve been known to take food to bed with me for heaven’s sake. I do some of my best eating around 8 pm – fruit, crackers, a few almonds, some dried cherries. I graze all day long, just like I used to; I just eat better things now. Stopping at 6pm means going to bed hungry – didn’t your mother use that as a punishment? Mine too!
5) Track everything you eat. Okay – I am a fan of tracking – it is a disciplined approach to gaining knowledge about your eating and its consequences. But not everything. I refuse to track carrots or apples or steamed beans or my giant bowl of romaine lettuce. I’ve eaten at least a 100 half pints of raspberries since I started this process 8 years ago and nary a one found their way to a tracking sheet. The way I’ve looked at it since day one is I didn’t get fat by eating too many fruits and vegetables. I wanted every calorie allotted to me to come from my problem groups = carbs, proteins and dairy. Leave my rutabaga and carrot mash well enough alone!
So there we have it – I’m a rule breaker but still a huge weight loss winner! To be completely fair, there are many more rules that I do follow – I do get a lot of exercise per week and eat more fruits and vegetables in a day than I used to in a month. I choose whole foods as frequently as possible and avoid processed foods like the plague they are. I eat mindfully and with enjoyment – I’ve stopped thinking about occasional deviations from the plan as “bad”! I get up every morning with a renewed commitment to take care of myself – I embody the one day at a time philosophy.
My point is not to show you that rules are bad. My point is to help you understand that you need to figure out what the rules mean to you and pick the ones that work with you and your lifestyle. There is no magic formula – heck, a grapefruit on Mondays when there’s no full moon might just be the best thing for you. You’re in charge of this process – you must be the one to pick your own rules and bust your own myths!
Lorna the Mythbuster - I wonder if I can get my own TV show now?