Tag Archives: yo-yo dieting

Another year of yo yo dieting?

Feb MSM

My latest column in the February Issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

What’s the most commonly broken New Year’s resolution? You guessed it – LOSE WEIGHT. You start out with the best intentions, but along the way, something always goes wrong…

After emerging, bulging and gassy, from the egg-nog-spiked holiday season, with a veritable cheese ball lodged in your ever-expanding gut, you decide, enough is enough. You resolve to lose that 10 pounds ONCE AND FOR ALL. And this time, you’re going to do it right.

BEST LAID PLANS

At first, your new regimen feels almost pleasurable. As the scale’s needle begins to drop, you start bragging to fellow milspouses about how many veggies you’ve been eating and the new classes you’ve tried at the base gym.

Everything is looking up, until you glance at the calendar. You made it through the playoffs without so much as a drop of queso passing your lips, but the Super Bowl is coming. Eating a salad on Super Bowl Sunday would be nothing short of sacrilege, and besides, you’ve learned how to eat sensible portions, right?

The morning after the Super Bowl, your stomach is still sloshing with a mixture of half-chewed chicken wings, chili, sausage dip, beer, and about four thousand Peanut M&Ms. Guilt and self-loathing send you into a week-long tailspin of binge eating.

One night, while polishing off a can of Pringles, you notice that the calendar on the refrigerator indicates that Lent is coming. Religion aside, you realize that this is your lifeline to get back on track, and make a promise to give up junk food until Easter.

Aside from sneaking a few morsels from the heart-shaped box of chocolates your husband sent you for Valentine’s Day, you keep to your promise and begin to envision yourself looking trim when he comes home from deployment.

Just when you think one of your rolls has disappeared, Easter creeps up on you. How can you stay on track when you’re surrounded by pastel miniatures of every candy you’ve ever loved? It’s entrapment!

Feeling guilty about the plateful of ham and scalloped potatoes you had for Easter dinner, you give up and shamelessly pilfer candy from your kids’ baskets after they’ve gone to bed. The sugar coma drags you down to rock bottom again, until the calendar offers the next lifeline to climb back out of the abyss.

AND SO IT GOES….

This yo-yo diet cycle continues throughout the year, bottoming out through the guacamole of Cinco de Mayo, the ice cream of Independence Day, the potato salad of Labor Day, the candy extravaganza of Halloween, the gravy-smothered Thanksgiving, and the seasonal smorgasbord of the winter holidays.

Before you know it, it’s the New Year, and you’ve got another cheese ball lodged in your gut.

Are we too weak to overcome our calendars? As long as peanut butter cups come in heart, egg, pumpkin, and tree shapes, are we doomed to fail? Should we just resign ourselves to muffin tops and lunch lady arms for the rest of our lives?

No! The fit people I know enjoy a big slice of wedding cake, or wings on game day, and don’t give it another thought. But when many of us indulge, we plunge into a crevasse of guilt that is too hard to climb out of.

So then, the key to preventing the calendar from sabotaging our weight and fitness goals is to banish guilt forever! Don’t hate yourself for breaking your resolutions. It’s OK to fall off the wagon every once in a while, because you’re in the driver’s seat.

Just climb right back on, stay on course, and resolve to never look back.

4 Milspouse Diet tips that actually work!

  • There are no forbidden fruits. Unless you have a food-related health condition such as diabetes or celiac disease, don’t think of any foods as off limits, because you’re setting yourself up for guilt if you violate your self-imposed prohibitions.
  • Concentrate on eating healthily, not on eating less. Keeping track of fruits, veggies, water and protein will keep you from obsessing about too many carbs or calories.
  • Cut yourself a break with that slice of cake.  Know ahead of time that you’ll indulge on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, holidays and homecomings. Enjoy yourself and don’t think about it too much.
  • Sidestep the splurge. Just because you had a little ice cream, doesn’t mean you should eat the whole pint. Skipping exercise one day doesn’t justify the couch potato Olympics the rest of the week. Don’t get sucked into the binge mentality – keep moving forward!
Don't forget to look for my March column, where I'll explain why I CAN'T WAIT for my next military move!

Don’t forget to look for my March column, where I’ll explain why I CAN’T WAIT for ANOTHER military move!

If you liked this post, remember to vote for Meat & Potatoes of Life as a Top 25 Funny Moms blog on Circle of Moms – only two days left to vote! 

I’m chunky and I know it

While some may beg to differ, let me go out on a limb here and state that I’ve never been that overweight. However, I’ve never really been thin, either. I’ve always hovered in that middle ground affectionately known as “chunky.”

Although “chunky” is a term used by nice people trying to avoid the more offensive descriptor “fat” – let’s face it — there’s really nothing good about being called “chunky.” Considering the root word, it essentially means that one has a body abundant with chunks, and who would want that?

Decades of yo-yo dieting have failed to realize my lifelong dream of being thin. A couple years ago in frustration, I tried to change my way of thinking. As much as I’ve winced at the sight of bulbous bellies bulging brazenly over bikini bottoms, I’ve always been jealous of overweight people who think they are hot. They have found the key to true happiness – loving oneself as is.

Despite a valiant effort on my part to re-characterize my excess poundage as desirably “Rubenesque,” my effort has been futile. I just haven’t been able to love my lunch lady arms, my ever-present double chin, the back fat that pooches over my triple-hook bra, my dimpled gut that wobbles with the slightest motion, and my armpit chicken fat.

A month ago, I decided that a compromise was in order.

I made a modest goal to lose ten pounds (preferably before I have to go on a July beach vacation with my lean brother and his naturally thin family, where I will undoubtedly be photographed wearing a bathing suit.) In the interest of equitable compromise, I would gladly agree that, if I could lose merely ten pounds, I would be totally comfortable with my fortysomething body. Sounds reasonable, right?

Having set a realistic bargain, I needed to decide upon the method. I knew that portion control and exercise were the smartest weight loss strategies, but why do all that work when there are so many dunce-proof fad diets out there that promise the thrill of drastic temporary weight loss in a few short weeks?

Sure, if I were Oprah Winfrey, I’d order my staff to serve up gourmet diet meals in my mansion in between sessions with my personal trainer in my fully equipped home gym. And if Weight Watchers paid me a couple mil like Jennifer Hudson, losing pounds would be a piece of cake – rice cake that is.

But nobody is inspiring me with piles of money or gourmet meals. I have to make my own cabbage soup, peel my own grapefruit, and stir my own powdered diet shake. And I have exactly seven dollars and forty-three cents in my wallet.

Furthermore, with my hectic lifestyle, I needed something easy, so I picked one of those diets where one can eat simple meals, like pork rinds dipped in mayonnaise, hamburgers dripping in bacon fat, and blocks of cream cheese.

A couple of weeks into the diet, I was five pounds of toxin-flushing water weight down, and other than extreme constipation and debilitating fatigue, I felt fabulous.

However, during week three, the needle on my scale wouldn’t budge. I ate more eggs than Cool Hand Luke, but the only thing I was losing was motivation. Without the stimulus of weight loss, I just couldn’t take it anymore. In a frantic binge of epic proportions, I raided the kids’ lunchbox treats. Before the night was through, I had eaten 24 cookies. Yup. Twenty-four.

Bloated and guilt-ridden, I contemplated my dietary fate over coffee the next morning. Why is it so hard to lose a few lousy pounds? I thought. I’m not asking to be hot, sexy or even mildly attractive. I just want FIVE MORE POUNDS. Is that so much to ask?

Just then, a drop of coffee dribbled from my lip, down my chin, just missed my ample bust, and landed squarely upon my gut. Bulls-eye. I realized that life is a lot like my gut – despite its frequent ups and downs, at least I can always count on it to be there when I get up in the morning.

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The Agony of Dieting Defeat

One week of Lent and I’m already spent. It seems like just yesterday I was struggling with my New Years diet, then I was stuffing super bowl food in my face, followed by the obligatory splurge of Fat Tuesday, and now I’m expected to deprive myself of some desirable food item until Easter, when I will likely attempt to consume a pound each of ham, scalloped potatoes and chocolate in one sitting.

 For yo-yo dieters like me, the cycle of self-sacrifice and reward doesn’t start the day after Fat Tuesday.  Religious and secular holidays provide a year-long timeline for our dysfunctional habits. But this year, I can’t hack it anymore.  Enough is enough. 

 “Don’t ever underestimate the rewards of yoyo dieting, “ my brother-in-law recently warned when I told him of my plan to finally quit a 30 year battle with 15 excess pounds. “Nothing feels as good as losing a few pounds, so why would you ever want to deprive yourself of this pleasure?”

He has a point, but at age 43, dropping those few pounds seems more difficult than chewing my own arm off. Could it be that I’ve lost faith after years of watching myself fail on every diet? Or could it be that, at my age, I’ll never look good in a bikini no matter how much weight I lose? Gravity, birthing three large babies, and breast-feeding has taken its toll. For my middle-aged body, losing weight is akin to removing potatoes from an old burlap sack. Not pretty.

Or could it be that the laws of nature are written in stone, dictating that the human “animal” in all of us will slow down, hunt less, gather less? Our metabolism will gradually decelerate and our aging bodies will more efficiently store every calorie of every meal. 

But the animal in each of us no longer eats a meager diet of roots, berries and an occasional saber tooth steak. Today, humans have a never-ending supply of tasty treats our cave-dwelling ancestors never imagined. Guacamole. Egg rolls. Lasagna. Doughnuts. Nature’s innocent wisdom has inadvertently dictated that today’s human gets old and fat. Oh, joy.

 Realizing this, do I prolong the futile battle to banish my bulge? There must be a better way. A way to stop the Binge-Gain-Guilt-Deprive-Fail-Surrender-Binge Again routine that I know so well. It just doesn’t work. 

According to pop psychology, true contentment requires “loving” oneself as is – bumps, bulges, jiggles and all. But females like me who grew up in families with “weight issues” are doomed to a life of warped body image and preoccupation with diet. Satisfaction with myself seems impossible, but worth a try.

On a recent shopping trip, I experimented with this silly “self love.” Bearing all under the fluorescent lights of a dressing room has always been intolerable, so I routinely make the mistake of buying things off the rack without trying them on. This holds particularly true for bras, and I had a drawer full of ill-fitting ones to prove it. 

 But a couple weeks ago in the lingerie department of a local store, I decided to abandon my grab-and-go methods and actually find something that fit. This necessarily involved staring myself down in a mirror under harsh lights, and I was ready for the challenge. What I discovered was that once I cram my mammories, back fat, and those puffy little armpit chicken fat thingies I’ll never get rid of into a bra, I’m actually a full cup size bigger than I previously thought. The benefit of facing myself in the dressing room mirror was that I acquired new bras that actually fit, and I looked pretty damned good in them. Who knew?

Do I now spend hours staring lovingly at myself in the mirror with a renewed sense of positive body image? Not even close. Nevertheless, I am encouraged that a little bit of realism and acceptance goes a long way in ending a deeply ingrained pattern of self-deprecation and yoyo dieting. 

 So this year, I am trying something new and revolutionary. I will eat when I am hungry. I will banish guilt. I will look at myself in the mirror. I will relax. I will be normal.

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