Sunday, July 10, 2011
Crazy Diets of My Past, or How NOT to Lose Weight
When I was a young sprout, I tried some crazy diets. I invented one of the diets when I worked in the complaint department of the Chicago Tribune (by the way, it literally made me sick to hear nothing but complaints directed at ME all day, five days a week), and the file-room girls working there talked about dieting and fat girls every day. Whenever I went to the file room, I got very self-conscious about my body even though I weighed just 138 pounds, which I would be more than happy to weigh now. My co-workers told me I was chubby; one of them was a young woman who must have weighed 40 pounds more than I did. I stood 5’ 6 1/2” and had large bones—6 ½ “ wrists and hands that were man-sized. I was NOT chubby—I know now. I was built. I was comfortable in a size 12 dress; I don’t know what size that compares with in current clothing sizes.
My crazy diet at that time, was to eat only one orange or one apple a day and drink water only. I dread to think what that did to my health. I did lose weight, though. I lost 19 pounds in 9 days. I got so weak I actually fainted. But being young and stupid, I stuck to the diet until I felt too weak to continue. I got sick the first time I had a normal meal. I had no money for new clothes, so I wore my size 12 clothing, to the derision of my co-workers. I never went on THAT diet again. I left that job after two years. I’m an old bean now instead of a young sprout and know better; also, I don’t mind wearing my old clothes no matter what anyone says!
Since that time, I’ve been on at least a dozen diets, but none that I had to pay extra money to be on. I always ate my own food. All but one of them have been calorie-counting diets. The one that wasn’t a calorie-counting diet worked well, and I lost 60 pounds in about seven months. After a year or so at my new weight, I stopped weighing myself, began pigging out at buffets again, and gained 70 pounds. The other 11 diets included one in which I restricted myself to 1000 calories a day. It was very tough going, particularly figuring out how to get most of my nutrients, so I supplemented that diet with multiple vitamins. To get my fiber, I ate much whole grain food and raw foods. I lost weight very quickly; once again I lost 60 pounds. When I got down to my goal weight, I stopped restricting myself to 1000 calories a day, and did well gradually building up to 2000 calories a day. However, my appetite was reanimated after long restriction, and after a time I returned to my previous high weight. So it went with every diet—lose weight, look and feel good for a time, then gradually gain it all back plus a few pounds. I finally reached my highest weight in February of 2011.
This means I must continue to count my calories. One way I make that as easy as possible on myself is by keeping the supplies I need near at hand in the kitchen, where most of my eating is done, and all of my cooking. The supplies on my kitchen table include my calorie-counting book, a calendar with space at each date for taking notes, a pad of paper, all the papers from previous days’ food and calorie intake (I frequently refer to them for information and review), a solar calculator, pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpener, and white-out. I take a pad of paper and a pencil with me to restaurants so I can keep an accurate a count of food intake as possible. Without having those supplies on hand, it would be too much of a hassle to look for them whenever I noted my calorie intake. At this point in my weight-loss history I find that I must note the calories or I just won’t continue to lose weight. When I reach my goal, I’ll still need to continue keeping track of the calories, maybe for my lifetime.
Another way to ease the complications of dieting is to grocery shop very carefully. The first stop is the produce department. Select a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to consume daily. Try to not be without them in your refrigerator or on your counter, where you can see them. Pick only ripe or nearly ripe fruits instead of unripe, hard, bitter, or damaged ones. They taste awful. If the produce is browning, they are deteriorating, so pass them up. Hard plums and pears? Yuck. Bright yellow bananas? Inedible! Watermelons that don’t sound hollow when knocked on? Not so sweet!
The next best choice would be frozen veggies. Generally, don’t bother with canned veggies, particularly green beans which taste nothing like fresh. Today I ate green beans picked fresh from my garden and you wouldn't even know canned green beans are real after tasting fresh picked. You don’t have to give up flavor just because you’re cutting down on calories. Watch the salt content of soups and other packaged entrees (instant potatoes are dreadfully salty) because the salt makes you retain water and causes other problems. My next entry will be about seasoning foods rather than salting them.
I live with another person who is not dieting, and soon two more people will be living with me. I will be cooking for them too. None of them have Celiac Disease, so I’ll be cooking gluten-containing products for them but not for me. One of them cannot have much salt. I already cut down greatly on salt in my diet, so my cooking is very low salt. If someone wants salt, he will just have to shake it out!