Here’s the thing about diets: They should really just crawl into a hole and die.
I know that’s harsh. But here’s why. You start out completely pumped. You clear out your cupboards. You go to Barnes & Noble and buy every book written by your latest diet’s guru. You spend a day feeling vastly superior to the people around you who are not following your enlightened diet of eating only foods that existed in the Elizabethean courts/Laura Ingalls Wilder plains/Southeast Asia.
You are committed. You are determined. You will succeed, damn it!
A few days go by. You’re crabby. You’re making your husband crabby. You get hungry and go to the cupboards only to realize you emptied them out a few days ago in preparation for your Sunshine and Air Diet. And then suddenly you remember: Don’t I have an old bag of M&Ms in the pocket of my winter coat?
Next thing you know you have ripped apart your coat closet and are devouring a bag of stale, low-quality candy that you normally would have turned your nose up at.
Then you feel guilty. But feeling guilty about letting yourself down sucks. So you turn on your recent diet’s creator. Maybe you send a strongly worded email or post an anonymous Amazon.com review. And although posting comments such as
The diet was a complete joke and who applied the
author’s spray tan? An orangutan?
make you giggle for a few seconds, you still don’t feel that great about how you look and/or feel. So it’s back to Barnes & Noble. And the cycle continues.
I never ever ever ever ever (x300) want to do that again. And believe, me, I’ve done it.
Diets don’t work. Neither do diets that try to hide themselves under the cloak of “This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” Seriously, you’re not unique with this line. 97% of all diet books start with that sentence. And if you’re making me do crazy stuff that requires insane willpower, then I’m sorry, but yes. You are a diet.
Also, willpower doesn’t work. We aren’t made to spew forth massive quantities of it–in fact, every will-power based decision we make dips into our (shallow) reserve of it. Check out this article, Why Willpower Fails Us. It’s fascinating.
So what is a new mother to do?
I’ve been thinking very hard about this, and through a combination of honest introspection, praying (really), research, and talking with my doc, I’ve come to the following conclusions about me and weight loss:
A. Trying to just “eat healthy” without any structure doesn’t work particularly well for me. It is too easy to justify healthyish foods and get off track.
B. Counting every calorie/point/gram whatever makes me feel obsessive, OCD, and all around miserable.
C. I need to be able to have treats, cook, and enjoy eating out without feeling panicked about “messing up.”
D. Exercise (and not just a leisurely stroll, but the sweaty kind) needs to happen often. Very often.
E. My plan needs to be something I can see myself doing long-term without feeling like I’ve sentenced myself to diet prison.
F. I need to work towards my best body now. Not my body at 18, or when I was a ballerina, or when I was making out with frat boys. Times moves forward people, trying to move backwards only make you unhappy. Also, you married that frat boy, so move on!
G. I want to settle at a weight/size that is easy and natural for me to maintain. In the past I’ve reached low weights that required heroic efforts to maintain, and it is so not worth it. It is also very demoralizing.
H. I want to lose my baby weight ASAP. According to my doctor, many women get stuck with the last 10 lbs. or so, and just keep adding on to it when they have more babies. She said that my body is in weight loss mode right now and that I should really go for it.
So my plan is (drumroll)
Wait, really? But that is totally a diet.
You’re right. And I’ve done Weight Watchers before, with mixed results. I’ll write about that first experience some other time (get excited, it involves a room full of middle aged women playing with puppets), but I have to say, it just feels right to me. I really think it can help me create habits that lead to a healthier lifestyle, and, it fits all of my requirements.
Weight Watchers has two plans, Points Plus, which is its most well-known plan and requires “tracking,” or counting points, and Simply Filling, which takes away most of the math and has you focus on the healthiest foods (and is the plan I have chosen). I have been trying this out for a couple weeks now and will be making my own tweaks to the plan, which I will describe soon (probably tomorrow). So far it has required effort, but nothing that feels like a fad diet of yore. In the meantime, here is my first online weigh in.
I can’t figure out how to turn it the other way, so just go ahead and tilt your laptop on its side. There you go. When the Software Engineer/Frat Boy gets home I will ask him to fix it. It says 162.2 lbs, which means I am 7.2 lbs. away from pre-baby weight! Also, I seriously can’t believe I just posted my weight online. It’s all the fault of that vulnerability book!
In other news, Sam has developed a terrible case of Fake Cough. It’s pretty serious, so if you want to send us flowers or bring us a casserole we’d really appreciate it.
BAD CASE OF FAKE COUGH VIDEO
READER QUESTION: Have you tried any “fad” type diets? What happened when you did?