How many times have I started a diet saying, “This time it’s going to be different. I’m going to lose the weight and THIS time I’m going to keep it off.” Well, I can honestly say that I’ve said that every time I’ve ever gone on a diet, including this time.
So why do I think this time really IS going to be different? Because, for the first time, I’m not on a diet just to lose weight. This time it’s not about the calories; it’s about being and feeling healthy.
On past diets, I followed the philosophy of “in order to lose weight, calories in must be less than calories burned.” Sounds pretty straightforward as far as a weight-loss strategy is concerned, but it allowed for too much wiggle room. I can be very dedicated and strong-willed to my diet-du-jour. In every case that I can remember I did eventually reach my goal weight (only to eventually put it all back on again and then some). However, willpower only works for so long when confronted regularly with circumstances requiring willpower. At some point the sadness or frustration or anxiety or boredom would overpower my dwindling willpower reserves and I’d rationalize that I could eat some [enter yummy calorie-laden food item here] as long as I exercised more to burn off the extra calories I consumed. I was even pretty good about following through with my plan, at least at first, but at some point calories in was not less than or even equal to calories out.
Since learning that my body cannot tolerate much sugar/concentrated fast-release carbohydrates, I have discovered that all the exercise in the world may burn off calories but won’t rid me of the negative physical and mental effects of too many carbs. I know now that if I eat a little bit too much I’ll probably start feeling agitated and possibly irritable and quite possibly a little acid stomach-y. I may or may not have cravings to contend with on the following day. However, if I give in to those cravings or really overindulge I begin to feel really lousy physically, mentally, and emotionally. In other words, I will start to feel as lousy as I used to feel for most of the years of my life. I now know what it feels like to have a body in balance. I like feeling this way. I don’t like feeling like a slave to carbohydrates (not all carbs, just sugar and dense carbs like potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread).
So that’s how I know this time really IS different. Since starting this diet, I’ve “gone off the wagon” twice (not including the occasional indulgence, but only the two really gung-ho carb-o-ramas). During those two episodes, I suffered intense cravings and binge-like behavior several days running (because of a string of “special occasions” and not, thankfully, depression or some other negative reason). But each time I recognized how lousy it all made me feel, so I recommitted to eating healthful foods that work with my body’s chemistry and not against it. Each time that I recommitted I’ve felt so much better Now, I generally try to choose foods for their nutritional content and not based solely on calorie count. I finally understand when people talk about food being fuel for the body. That doesn’t mean that food can’t also taste great and be very satisfying, but that it is nutritious first and foremost.
I finally feel in control of my food as opposed to how I used to feel for so many years of my life. I now appreciate the drug-like effects certain foods can have on me. Even so, I still have the occasional “treat,” but try to limit portions and frequency so as not to trigger cravings or other nasty side effects.
In the past, as many times as I said, “This time is different,” I’d been doing the same as before, but expecting different results stemming from optimism and new-found determination. But optimism and determination eventually disappeared as did my hard-fought weight loss. Now, my relationship with food is so very different from before. This time it’s not about optimism or determination or even willpower. It’s about taking care of me. My mind is no longer at war with my body. Body and mind have joined forces at last. That is how I KNOW this time really is different.
Me at 153 lbs on March 8, 2013.