“So, Are You Going To Stop Dieting, Now?”

I hit my goal weight this weekend – actually, I dropped three pounds below it.  I’m now 172, a weight I haven’t been in probably 14 years.  My pants are 32s and loose, and I might be able to get back into 30s, which I haven’t been able to do since I got married.  I’m stronger, healthier, and fitter than I have ever been in my entire life.  I feel great.  Now, I’m being asked a seemingly innocuous pair of questions fairly often: What Now, and When Do You Get Off Your Diet?

I understand the questions to a degree.  Generally, weight-loss involves setting a goal and then reaching it (hopefully).  The diet industry does a wonderful job of selling us things to “help” us through the process.  There are a ton of websites that are designed to help people lose weight, lots of advice from all sorts of “experts” (I love that term – one that we accept blindly as soon as someone is presented as an “expert” in something, like there are black belts for subjects or something) about how to lose those unwanted pounds.

Surprisingly, though, it doesn’t seem like much attention is paid to life after the goal is reached.  I think a lot of people don’t give it much thought, the actual day-to-day life after the weight loss journey is over.  Many people never reach the end, it’s true, and so continue the battle over and over, for decade onto decade, always fighting those “last ten pounds” with the air of a friendly rivalry.  It’s a tough journey, no doubt.  There are so many obstacles – an injury, illness, or traumatic life-changing event can derail anyone at any time.  The battle over the weight is so all-consuming that the idea of wondering what to do when you reach your goals is more of wishful thinking or fond hopes – going on a cruise wearing brand-new killer clothes, a non-shame-filled trip to the beach, things like that.  Rarely does the thought of what one will do during the everyday work-and-family-filled life when the weight-loss battle is over come into play.

Some people I’ve talked to tell me the things they are going to eat when they reach their goal.  I always take it as a bad sign when someone talks about “rewarding” themselves with a 12-scoop sundae from Friendly’s when they’ve lost the weight.  I always feel like they are going to “reward” themselves right back into the horrible shape that left them upset in the first place.  It’s for that reason that I generally believe that “diets” as we know them won’t work.  A “diet” designed to take you from one weight to another that ends with you going right back to what you ate before the “diet”… well, that’s just a recipe for going right back to the weight you started with.  I’ve been there – done a bunch of diets, including Atkin’s.  I love the Atkin’s diet, did well with it, but always regained the weight after I stopped.  I mean, OF COURSE I did.  It seems pretty logical now.

This time, I didn’t go on a diet.  I tracked everything I ate or drank.  I worked out diligently.  I ate things that I like to eat (oh, sweet delicious cereal, how I love you so), only I made sure that I didn’t eat more than I should.  Lady Aravan and I started cooking more, just so we knew exactly what went into our food and exactly how many calories we were dealing with.  I ate butter, and bacon, and pizza, and cereal, and peanut butter, and cereal, and pancakes, and cereal, and so on.  I did make changes, of course: sweets that weren’t Atkin’s Endulge bars were dropped completely, we generally stopped going out for meals completely (Subway was one exception, although I’ve been to a couple of other restaurants as well, but only ones that post their calories online).  Thing is, I haven’t missed those changes.  Instead, I’ve done things I didn’t know how to do, like make homemade tortillas that led to the single greatest Mexican food experience of my life, all in our humble kitchen.

I try to explain, when I get the questions, that I never went on a diet.  I changed my diet.  For good.  This is my diet from here on out.  Will I occasionally have a donut?  Sure, if I think it’s worth it.  But I don’t see it happening very often.  My workouts will only increase in intensity from here, since I want to keep getting even healthier and stronger and fitter.  What am I going to do now?  The same things that got me here, because I want to be this strong, this healthy, this confident for the rest of my life.  Otherwise, in a couple years I’ll find myself back in exactly the same shape I was, the one that had me looking at the mirror in despair and loathing.  Screw that.

About Alan Edwards

Former cancer caregiver. Husband of the most magical and amazing person who ever lived.

Posted on October 18, 2010, in Kerfluffle and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Man, oh man….I get that question too. I don’t diet at all. I workout every day putting myself in a “pool of sweat”, I will eat what I want. However, I do feel I don’t care for certain foods anymore especially carbs, breads in particular. I have not had fast food at all in almost 7 years, mainly because I worked at a deli part time at one point, and I know how food is prepped and cooked…believe me, you don’t want to know. The people I worked with never washed their hands and smoked while they cooked…and those were the good things. Hell, my kids have never had fast food, but we do enjoy a pizza now and then. I bought them some McD’s chicken strips last year and they would not eat them (the dogs loved them…go figure). Anyway, I think the key is moderation. Eat what you want but be smart about it. I remember reading you talked about the wheat germ protein shakes (or something like that) and thinking, I could never drink that. It is all about what you like. You all sound like fantastic cooks so enjoy it! Don’t deny yourselves, you both work to damn hard to not enjoy a great Mexican dinner.

    Ran across this American Writers & Artists Inc. Contest while doing some editing a few days ago on a site I volunteer at. You should enter:
    Info: http://www.awaionline.com/2010/10/announcing-live-the-writers-life-giveaway/
    Entry form: http://www.awaionline.com/contest/live-the-writers-life/#leave-reply

    Hope you both had fun at Zombie fest and you sold a ton of books.

    • Awesome – thanks for the links! Going to check them out now.

      ZombieFest was fun and weird. Weird in the sense that I am sitting there with a book to sell and sign. Just strange, heh. Sold a dozen or so, which isn’t bad at all.

      And the protein shakes had Metamucil in them…much worse-sounding than wheat germ, heh. But Tasty! I swear! Just a little, uh, thick….

  2. Couldn’t agree more. – I’m still trying to kick this lower back muscle strain by the way – I’ve dropped close to 20 pounds and recently went back home to Florida and saw a bunch of relatives. One of them being my brother who is a police officer said, “Woa! Are you on crack?!”

    But like you said it’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle change. It’s a cliché phrase but your body is a temple. Our society would be better as a whole if we took a moment to realize somethings can’t be handed to you. Believing in yourself will take you 10,000 times further than believing in anything else.

    Saw your introduction post on the writers group by the way. How are you liking it?

    • It’s strange – I haven’t been able to get back on the site since I posted my intro! I can only get to the one forum that has info about what to do if you can’t get back in, but so far none of the fixes have worked. It looks really cool, and I really want to get back in there! Heh. I’ll keep trying – I need to do it when at home, but I tend to spend a lot less time on the computer there.

  3. although personally I prefer to avoid supliments and just eat a
    balanced diet, but that approach is not for everyone. I’m not trying to bulk
    or something like that

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