Losing weight must be one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. And one of the biggest problems with losing weight is all the conflicting advice, along with all the pills, potions and gadgets that are ‘guaranteed’ to do it, quickly and easily. Yeah. Not so much.
My mother was a ‘Monday morning dieter’. And it was always something different. Nutritional shakes, exercise gadgets, strange eating plans from photocopied sheets, you name it. And the weight would come off, and go back on, and come off…
It seemed obvious to me that when you stop dieting, exercising or whatever, the weight comes back.
My real (slightly hysterical) motivation came more than two years ago when I found out I would have to have a hysterectomy. (Ever wondered where the word ‘hysterical’ comes from?) A neighbour when I was still in primary school had a dachshund, just about as broad as she was long, who would just sit around and wheeze. The owner’s comment was ‘Oh, she’s been spayed’. I had this image of me just sitting around. Wheezing.
I didn’t always have a weight problem. It just sort of snuck up on me, after three pregnancies and advancing years. To add to my problems, I’m short. Not small. Short. Around 5’ not-very-much. I tried the Garfield line for a number of years (I’m not overweight, I’m undertall) but it wasn’t working. I was nearly 40 pounds more than I had been in my energetic, horseback riding, school days.
I had the operation, waited until I had the OK from my doctor and started exercising. I wasn’t going to show my face at a gym (went there once – never again) and found a programme that promised fitness in less than 15 minutes a day. I figured I could guarantee that much time.
At the same time I started keeping a food diary. I’m not a big eater, but I had never realised before that I’m a big nibbler! And most of the time I was doing something else as well, and hardly noticing what I was packing away. I made a couple of ground rules.
1. Not doing anything else while I was eating – no reading or watching TV.
2. Eat more slowly, and consciously enjoy my food.
3. Don’t be afraid to leave food! (This was quite a biggie – ‘don’t waste food’ had been drummed into me) I just keep telling myself ‘I am not a dustbin. Eating food I don’t want is much worse than throwing it away’.
And it began to work.
Not all at once, and not quickly, but the weight started to come off steadily at around a pound a week. There were weeks that nothing happened, but the exercising was a habit by then, and since the exercises were simple and didn’t require equipment, I could do them any place, any time. As I got fitter, I could do more, although I am still nowhere near the hour-a-day they seem to be recommending at the moment. I figure 20 minutes you do do is much better than the hour you don’t.
I hadn’t any ‘Thou shalt never ever in your life touch _____ (insert temptation) again’ rules. So I don’t deny myself chocolate, I just buy a small slab instead of a big one and eat it slowly. I don’t keep a stash. Have one small slice of cake instead of two big ones. I wasn’t going to be the person sitting in the corner nibbling a lettuce leaf while everyone else was enjoying trifle.
I found what worked for me and stuck to it – mostly. I’m not perfect. I’m also not the ‘recommended’ weight for my height. But I lost around 30 pounds and can live with what I’m doing.