So many times I read about people trying cleanses or Paleo or Atkins and they’re super into it for about fifteen minutes and then the next thing you know they are pinning recipes for Oreo Pie and are elbow deep into a bag of Doritos in the closet. Let me tell you why.
IT’S NOT SUSTAINABLE.
I’m going to tell you what happened to me. Bear with me, it’s a long one.
After I had my son I weighed about 220 pounds. In one year I lost one hundred of that by simply monitoring portions and working out on the Wii Fit. It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Fast forward five years and I gained twenty four pounds from general laziness and moderate gluttony.
About two years ago I decided I had to lose that twenty pounds and I was told to go on MyFitnessPal. Awesome. I signed up and it said I should be eating 1200 calories if I wanted to lose two pounds per week. Little did I know it says that for everyone. I went into it with such gusto I ate 800 calories because I’m an overachiever and I always strive to be the best. I lost eight pounds in about six weeks living off of 100 calorie snacks and spinach.
Then I took a trip back home to see my family, saw all the local foods I was missing out on, ate ALL of them and gained eight pounds in ten days.
I come home from that trip and get on my trusty old Wii Fit and see the gain and panic – I was doing so good! MFP wasn’t working! I must try something else! In comes Paleo.
I read every book, researched the hell out of every website. Spent tons of money on grass fed beef and Kerrygold butter. I started drinking Bulletproof coffee (blergh) and made meals that my family refused to eat. I read that I shouldn’t count calories now because it’s Paleo and that goes against all things Paleo. If I just “eat clean” the pounds will melt away and I’ll be as fit as a fiddle. Then I found the work around. Paleo desserts that counted as Paleo because there weren’t refined carbs and followed the Paleo guidelines. Paleo fudge, Paleo bread (almond flour – totally Paleo) and every other goody I could get away with. Four weeks later I jumped on a scale, I gained six more pounds.
Clearly, Paleo doesn’t work. All the books are trash, I must find a new way.
Now we have Atkins. Remove all carbs, eat all the bacon and you’re golden. No. I thought I was going to die.
I was barely eating. I had eggs and bacon followed by two squares of dark chocolate with peanut butter and then an Atkins frozen meal that was so paltry I would lick the container the food was in. I would make my son cinnamon toast and weep as I took a moment to smell the bread so I could ride the high of the memories I had with all the carbs. I actually lost five pounds that month but was so weak from the lack of energy I never got off the couch.
Then came the farts. I could not stop farting. I had fart cramps. They smelled like death. I blamed my dog straight up until he died because I felt such shame. I go to a doctor and they tell me it’s gluten. I must get rid of all the gluten. Now I’m gluten free.
In comes all the restaurant menu stalking because I could only eat certain foods and I was back on MFP so I could only eat 1200 calories. I was getting burgers without buns and a side off veggies. I WAS MISERABLE AND I COULDN’T STOP FARTING.
Now we have the GI doctor. After a bunch of tests and an ultrasound it turned out I had done so much extreme dieting I had ruined my gallbladder and I had to have it immediately removed. The doctor said the procedure was going to hurt my appetite and I likely wouldn’t be able to eat for a while. I was allowed gluten again.
Then came the binge. I had one week until my operation and in my mind I’m thinking “I’m going to lose all this weight, he said I won’t be eating” and I found myself at Rite Aid buying bags of Kit Kats and Caramel bars. I sat on my couch while my kids were at school stuffing my face with such gusto and I had no fullness cue. I was eating a half a pizza in one sitting, those pesky Doritos in the pantry and basically anything else I could get in my hands. I had lost the ability to become full.
Next comes the surgery. My doctor was a dirty liar. I had gained ten more pounds from that binge and I never lost my appetite. I was still hungry. It had been one year and I managed to go from a reasonable 129 to a hefty 155. From dieting. I had lost the will to function and I was sure there was something else medically wrong. I went to my PA and she said I need a weight loss clinic.
In comes my dietician. I swear, that woman saved my sanity. She says to me “Eat all the food. Stop depriving yourself. Don’t glamourize it. Pair it with a fruit or a vegetable and get some moderate exercise”. Let me touch on that for a moment. In the year I was starving myself I was also exercising like a mad woman. I did Jillian Michaels workouts, bought a home gym and lifted heavy weights, walked ten miles per day and ended up in a walking boot and finally ended up joining a gym where I managed to workout for three hours a day, eventually doing so much damage I had to have part of my clavicle removed in April. I will say this – I’m bipolar. I tend to take things to the extreme but in doing so have managed to do so many things I have become the most knowledgeable (albeit the worst) dieter on the planet.
This is what ultimately saved me – I got a puppy and I listened to my dietician. I started eating about 1600 calories per day, eating whatever I wanted within the parameters that there was about two starches, one fat and one protein in my diet. I started walking my puppy. If I wanted a burger with a bun I ate it. If I wanted some Nutella I put it on strawberries. If I wanted a mini Snickers I ate it, I just had one. ONE. I happened to have one every day but it was just one. That’s 80 calories. Now I’m sick of Snickers.
Since starting in with my dietician I have lost fifteen pounds and I continue to lose about a half a pound per week. I walk my dog for one hour per day five days a week and check in with my dietician every Saturday to get weighed and talk about my food. I talk about how I felt about my food, my general stress levels and I get meal and snack ideas. Some weeks I go in starving because I will slip and try to cut out a snack but then she reminds me that I was eating the snack before and I was still losing weight.
The moral of the story? STOP DIETING. Seriously. Go see a dietician. They’re covered by insurance 100% about 90% of the time. You don’t have to join a club or count calories or starve yourself. You simply have to eat moderately and move more (but not too much). It’s been about a year since she and I got together and the loss has been slow but I actually get full now. I eat three meals per day and a snack in the evening with an afternoon latte. I don’t feel deprived, my cholesterol is back to normal and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.
I know you struggle with your weight. I see it everywhere. I try to preach the good word of normalized eating but nobody wants to hear it. They want extreme diets and quick fixes. As you can see from this giant post, there is no such thing. Go see a dietician. Simply put, it will change your life. And the less farting is a bonus!