Think thin

A self-professed yo-yo dieter shares what it takes to lose weight and keep the pounds off.

By RUTH BELOFF
July 12, 2011 17:51
3 minute read.
Apples tape measure

Apples tape measure. (photo credit: Courtesy)

South Beach. Atkins. Scarsdale. Mediterranean. Belly Fat. Cabbage Soup. Beverly Hills. Sugar Busters. Park Avenue. Raw Food. Fit for Life. Slim for Life.

Sound familiar? These are the names of just a few of the hundreds of diets that have been popularized over the years to help people lose weight. It is often said that diets don’t work. In fact, diets do work.

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Any diet will work -- but not for the long term. And that is the key to the whole situation. If a food plan is a “diet” and not a way of life, it may well help you shed the pounds as long as you stick to it, but over time it is ultimately doomed to fail.

The secret, which is no secret at all, is to adopt a healthy, well-balanced attitude toward food and, more importantly, toward oneself. And for many, that is no easy feat.

Having been a yo-yo dieter all my life, I have tried many of the fad diets over the years, and they all worked – for a time.

As long as I stuck to them rigorously.

But once I had lost the pounds, I reverted back to my old eating habits, and back came the weight. Hence, the infernal yo-yo effect.

At one point, after having gotten very sick from one of the regimens, I vowed never to go on a diet again and began to eat in a sane, selective way. I ate when I was hungry; I ate until I was full and not a bite more; and I ate food that I really wanted, not everything offered on a plate just because it was there.

And, without even trying, I began to lose a lot of weight. It was great. But once I started to get slim and people began to compliment me, a trigger went off in my mind and I subconsciously… unconsciously… consciously began to rebuild that wall of excess weight.

Sound familiar? So, as it has often been said, losing weight is not about food at all but about one’s attitude toward oneself. I realized that there is a big difference between saying “I don’t want to be fat” and “I want to be slim.” In the first statement, there are two negative words – “don’t” and “fat.” If you focus solely on those words, a diet will do the job in the short term. But do you really want to be slim? Once you reach your goal, if the positive affirmation “I want to be slim” has not been ingrained, there is nowhere to go but up – on the scale.

Sounds crazy, I know. Who would not want to be slim? Well, that’s where the real work begins. As long as you are on a “diet,” you are working against your own natural appetite and inclinations and are living within a set of restrictions.

How much fun is that and how long can it last? The solution is to take a serious look inside, determine what purpose the excess weight is serving and figure out what emotional need you are using food to fulfill. Again, no easy feat. But as long as you don’t know why you are overeating, you can only continue to do so.

An expert who was on the Oprah show made a very insightful statement. When a woman in the audience said that she was so used to eating all the time that she didn’t know when she was hungry, the expert replied, “When you’re eating to satisfy hunger, you know when your body is full. When you’re eating to feed an emotional need, it’s never enough.”

And Oprah herself once made a comment that was particularly insightful and very revealing. She had lost a lot of weight but then, due to a temporary thyroid problem, she had gained it all back. On one of her shows about weight, she was giving a woman in the audience advice about losing weight.

Realizing that she was sounding like a hypocrite, Oprah caught herself and admitted, “I know what to do; I just don’t want to.”

So that’s the secret. We all know what to do. It’s very simple: eat less and exercise more. We just have to want to.


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