When I was a kid I remember my mother laughing when people would say they were overweight because of their metabolism. She’d say, “Stop eating and see if your metabolism will still make you overweight.” Nice one, Ma.
Well, it wasn’t so funny to me when I got to be thirteen years old or so and discovered that I couldn’t have three helpings of everything any more because then I wouldn’t be able to fit into my dungarees (that’s what we called them back then).
For the next several decades my weight would go up and down like a yo-yo. I dieted, like everyone else, but I didn’t take it all that seriously, because, I told myself, I’m not really FAT. Unfortunately, that line of reasoning didn’t make me any happier about having to squeeze myself into my clothes and being embarrassed to wear a bathing suit, though.
Back when I was a kid, nearly everybody made fun of heavy people. We didn’t use any euphemisms, we just called them “fat.” Nowadays people aren’t usually as mean as they used to be about obesity, and there are lots of campaigns out there to help overweight people feel good about themselves.
I’m all for whatever makes you happy, but if you really aren’t happy with being overweight, or with your weight fluctuating all the time, then you probably want to try to do something about it. You don’t have to turn yourself into a skinny minny, but if you want to normalize your weight, there’s one way it can’t be done: dieting.
OK, there may be some exceptions to the rule, but in general, most people seem to gain back the weight they lose when they diet. I know I did—every single time. And I also know why I did. It was because I was cutting out certain foods that I really enjoy because they were supposedly “fattening.” Now you know what happens when you deprive yourself of something you really love, right? That’s right. You always go back to eating it, sooner or later.
Since yo-yo weight was an ongoing problem for me, I spent a lot of time thinking about it, trying to come up with a solution. Finally I just started watching myself, observing the way I ate. One of the first things I noticed was that it wasn’t all that different from the way other people ate, as far as I could see. And that’s how I found my solution.
OK, so how do we eat? As members of the human race, most of us eat for reasons other than legitimate hunger. We eat our meals, true, but we also eat when we’re depressed or wildly happy, when we’re in the company of others (just for fun), when we can’t sleep, when we’re bored, when we’re celebrating, when we’re angry…well, you get the picture.
I decided that I would try a new approach. First of all, I would eat only when I felt hungry, when I felt that I really needed to eat. Second, I wouldn’t cut out any of my favorite foods, whether they had been labeled “junk food” or not. Third, it just seemed like a good idea not to eat right before I went to bed. That was it. No dieting, no eliminating foods.
The result? After a few months I noticed that I had lost some weight. And by that time, I was used to not eating when I wasn’t hungry. I won’t say I stuck to that 100%, but I did pretty well with it. Within six months or so it had all become second nature.
Now, nearly ten years later, I’m at my normal weight and have been for years. I never worry about it any more, and I really enjoy my food more than I did when I was eating for the wrong reasons. I also find that I don’t pig out on my favorite treats, like ice cream and chocolate. I eat some, and I’m done. That’s it.
I’ve been so sure that this would work for anyone, that I’ve brought up the subject on several online forums over the years. No one was interested. They would ignore my comments and just keep talking about their diets. I found this mind-boggling to say the least. These forums were full of overweight people dying to find some way to lose weight, but they just weren’t willing to try something different.
Does this make sense to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.