• Thu, May 19 2011

Hunger Games: I Don’t Believe In Dieting

Since I’ve had a child and gotten married, I’ve gained some weight. I’m not going to say exactly how much, but we’ll just say that for the first time in my life, I’m not comfortable with the scale. Previously, up five pounds or down ten, I never really worried about it. Even immediately after my pregnancy, I was happy. Then, through the hurried nights of single motherhood, into the marital bliss that encourages lazy afternoons and lots of home cooking, I packed on more pounds than I ever had before. I’m not unhealthy, but I’m not really happy either.

Even if I finally feel the need to lose weight, I refuse to diet. A friend of mine tried to drag me to her Weight Watcher’s meeting and I cried in the parking lot before she finally let me run away. I don’t just dislike diets, I despise them. To me, diets represent all the things that are terrible about weight issues. Diets make people obsess over every bite they take. They make you deny yourself over and over again. They make me generally unhappy and deprived. Diets make healthy living a chore and a burden. They don’t concentrate on any of the great things about being healthy.

By healthy, I do not mean eating salads for every meal and running on a treadmill every morning. I understand that healthy living can be different for every person. To me, healthy living means incorporating lots of fresh produce into my snacks and meals. It means avoiding food that I don’t cook myself. And most importantly, it means getting active in any way I enjoy. Taking my dogs on longer walks, hiking through a state park with my daughter, kayaking with my husband, these are ways that I enjoy getting active. To me, this is healthy living. And I don’t need any diet plan to make these choices.

Diets are all about restrictions. They are short-term solutions to lifelong issues. If you feel deprived long enough, you’re sure to cave. If you every food is only a calorie count, it all loses its appeal.

I’ve watched many friends and family members succeed with dieting. I’ve watched some of them hate every second. But I’ve watched others work hard to shed unwanted pounds and come away happy, healthy and positive. For anyone who can do that, I’m thrilled! I’m not claiming that every person who diets shares my issues with them. Some people see diets as a legitimate way to lose weight quickly and then transition into a lifestyle that will maintain their desired weight. Yay for those people!

But for me, weight loss will never be that simple. It will never be quick. It will be one day at a time, making healthier choices. Some days I’ll succeed. And some days I’ll eat a second slice of birthday cake or have a third margarita with my friends. Those days won’t be my healthiest days, but I refuse to feel guilty about them. Personally, diets inspire a whole lot of guilt that I’m not prepared to accept.

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  • andrea dunlop

    This is great, wish this attitude would catch on.

    My very last offense was the South Beach diet a few years ago after gaining some weight over one winter. After a couple of days, I realized how much the intense scrutiny of the food I was eating was making me feel way worse about my body and I just thought EFF this, never again.

  • Eileen

    Totally on board with the food plan (especially if you only need to lose a normal amount of weight and not, say 150 pounds), but I just can’t avoid the gym.

  • Abbey

    I wholeheartedly support this theory, and try to lead my healthy lifestyle the same way! There is no need to feel guilty about having an extra piece of cake, or another drink out with friends if it means your happy. I faced a similar predicament with the number on the scale, normally only fluxing +/- 5lbs, I found myself up much more than I was comfortable with about six months ago. I didn’t diet, I simply sought out more fresh produce & delicious recipes to couple with my new grocery list, and took a bit more time to do the things that I love to do outside (rather than watching re-runs of sex & the city on demand). Today, I couldn’t be happier with my weight, body, and lifestyle (that was only improved upon not changed).

    Kudos to you for finding a balance, keep up the hard work day by day, it will pay off in the long run, and you will be happy with the number on the scale once more. Cheers!

  • Arnie

    Yes. Thank you!

    For me, it has always been about being and feeling healthy. I don’t even own a set of scales (other than the ones in the kitchen, which are there for when I make cookies or bread or something else delicious), and don’t want to know exactly how much I weigh. I eat fresh foods, and make pretty much everything from scratch. I love fruit and veges as much as I love ice cream and cake, and don’t need to count calories to know I’m eating reasonably healthily.
    I can’t stand the idea of going to the gym. I’ve never been, and doubt I ever will. I stay active enough by walking places, wrestling with the kids I work with, and playing weekend games of sport with my flatmates. And I enjoy it. Food and being active are things I associate with fun and friends. I don’t like the idea of having two of my most enjoyable things turning into something stressful. I’m healthy, and that’s what’s important.

  • mmmjazz

    This woman is in my head! These are my thoughts exactly!

  • anywheregirl52

    I’ve been a Weight Watcher for years, and I would just encourage people looking to drop a few pounds or remake their eating habits to fit a healthier lifestyle to give it a shot. It’s something you can do casually or do very seriously depending on your needs, and the meetings are so supportive. If you hate the meetings, you can do it online by yourself! But they really do encourage moderation in all things, and have built a system that you really can live by.