The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Thursday, December 11, 2003  

Death to the Drama Queen
Learning to make small changes

The 4,000 diets I’ve been on in my life usually started out the same way. “That’s it!” I would proclaim. “I’ve had it!” And fueled by disgust and visions of my future tanned and muscled self, off I would go on some wild adventure in starvation. Everything would change. I would eat foods I don’t like, drink beverages I could barely swallow, take lots of vitamins, supplements, “energy boosters,” stop seeing people, stop socializing. I became hollow-eyed and grumpy, cold and mean.

And I lost some weight.

At some near point, I would be kicked out of this self-imposed hell, either by an event that included some food I really wanted, thus “breaking” my diet, or I would feel too ill to go on, or my family and friends would rebel.

I was a diet drama queen. My world and the people in it were all required to bow to my new way of eating, to adjust, to work around it. I became as fragile as a corseted seventeenth-century socialite. Very high maintenance.

And because I couldn’t sustain that for very long, and no one around me could put up with it for very long, this way of eating never lasted, my weight returned with my old habits, and before long I was looking for the next “cure.”

But I’m working these days to put seventeenth century curatives aside. I know that my problems with weight and inertia are the result of habits of living I’ve developed over many years. With mild changes, slight tweaks, I can form sublte new habits in the way I live my life that will help keep me fit over time.

Forming new habits is the key, I realize to both taking the weight off and keeping it off. With just a few fewer calories each day, a bit more movement, I can do absolutely wondrous things for my health. I’ve been working on these things, but you could pick just two or three to get started, and see how you feel about them.

*Limiting daily desserts and evening snacks to once a week or once a month
*Giving up colas and sodas
*Giving up everything sweetened with anything described as a “syrup”
*Limiting or giving up things made with white flour as the main ingredient
*Eating a cup or two of leafy greens before starting most meals
*Including lightly cooked veggies in most meals
*Eating vegetable soups two or three times a week
*Eating fish two or three times a week
*Snacking on nuts and whole, unprocessed fruits twice a day (frozen is okay)
*Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
*Parking far away and walking in
*Walking to get lunch
*Walking to meetings
*Walking outside part of every day, regardless of the weather
*Exercising during commercials
*Giving up a half hour of T.V. each night to do exercises instead
*Making exercise social, meeting friends and loved ones at the gym, at a yoga class, for a jog, for a game of croquet

The problem with these changes is, they are dull. The effects they have are cumulative and take a long time to show up. It can be weeks before you see any results at all. But after a year, you’re a whole different person. After two years, friends don’t recognize you. And after three, you can’t remember the name of your family doctor.

As I pick up one habit and, with a little elbow grease, rub it well into my grain, I set to work on another. If I fall back on one, I focus on it again. This forming-new-habits stuff is hard work, requires vigilance, takes years.

It’s rewarded with very little fanfare. It’s all very subtle, I warn you. There will be few balloons, gold stars, or congratulations. There’s no On or Off this program. It’s a gradual ramping up toward living longer while feeling good enough to want to.

Remember these guys?
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posted by Julie |
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