Conversation between my mom and me… again.
Mom: “How’s the diet going?”
Me: “It’s not a di…”
Mom: “..et, I know. Anyway, how is it going?”
Me: “About the same as I was last week when you asked!”
The remaining conversation about the topic was my mom wondering if I “fell off the wagon” because I haven’t lost much recently (this is the reason she didn’t even find out I was losing weight until I had lost over 30 pounds…there are benefits of living a state away). Followed up by the great, wacky diet fad she saw on Dr. Oz (whom she loves, and I hate) that would help me lose some incredible amount in a week. She doesn’t mean to be rude, I know that. It is genuine concern, I know that too. She is one of those people food addicts hate though; the kind of person that can eat ABSOULTE crap and not gain anything (I get my chubby genes from my Dad; he’s a big guy too). If you think I am exaggerating, the last time I visited she ate maybe five bites of her healthy dinner, claimed to be stuffed, and then had two LARGE pieces of cake. Yep, nothing put crap for that woman. (It is also where I learned my fabulous eating habits.)
Two things that I have upgraded to pet peeve status since I have started losing weight; 1) Thinking this is a diet, 2) Sassy remarks disguised as non-sassy remarks about how fast or slow I am losing. Let me broaden those two statements. I don’t have anything against diets. They are exceptional for people who need to lose 10-15 pounds for an upcoming event or summer or because all they have to lose is 10-15 pounds. Cleanses, low carb, paleo, prepared frozen foods, shakes…all of these help lose weight, but aren’t designed to be sustainable forever (and yes, I know some would argue that low carb and paleo can be, but I like doughnuts). Weight Watchers, SparkPeople, MyFitnessPal, [insert other journaling website], or just plain pen and paper is simply teaching those who eat too much how to eat less and make better choices. This isn’t dieting folks; this is learning how to eat how our bodies were intended to be fed! This is closely tied in with point 2.
Diets restrict and change how a person eats allowing them to lose a few pounds fast. This causes people to think weight loss should be fast (even those of us doing a calorie restricted program forget its slow going sometimes). So when someone like my mom or Dr. Oz hears that I am only losing 1 pound (+/- 0.5) a week I am suddenly put into a category where I am not talking this serious or I have given up because March has not been kind to my scale. (No seriously, my scale is having a bad month and taking it out on me. It’s telling me I have only lost half a pound this month. It has to be lying to me, I just don’t know why yet.) Outside of having gastric surgery, most experts agree that long term success comes from those who lose only 1-2 pounds a week. It seems like it’s a snail’s pace to look at the weekly totals, but over a year that is 52-104 pounds! People assume if I don’t have a big change that I have given up, or if they see me with a piece of pizza in my hand assume I am binging. To bring the point home; this isn’t a diet, and it’s not cheating if I have points for pizza! (Actually, it’s never cheating if I am ok with a possible weight gain if I go over points.) Everyone can save their backhanded compliments for something else, even those that are given under the guise of concern. (Wow that is bitter, but again upgraded to pet peeve!)
The most surprising thing for people is when I tell them that I am not in this for the weight loss, or at the very least that weight loss isn’t my driving motivator. It is just a very delightful side effect of learning how to eat properly. As I mentioned earlier, my mom did not teach me healthy eating habits. She didn’t do it maliciously, and it wasn’t because she didn’t care. I just grew up in a pre-helicopter, pre-organic/all natural/no sugar era. The 80’s were the last great decade where Kool-Aid and Twinkies reigned supreme in a kid’s diet. I am raising a kid of my own now, and I cannot ignore what we know about childhood eating habits and how they affect the rest of their lives. That is my motivation. I want to break the cycle and I want my son to grow up reaching for an apple instead of a Ding-Dong. (Ok, that is wishful thinking, but if all we have is apples and no Ding-Dongs, I get my wish by default.) So no, I am not on a diet, and yes I am losing slowly. That’s ok, at the finish line I will have skills to take me forward and I will have an improved relationship with food!