One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

What does dieting mean to you?

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Question of the week

My concept of a "diet" has changed drastically over the years. I used to think I could "diet" myself down to a certain size by eating something specific or nothing at all and then all would be right with the world. I’d exude confidence. I’d always be happy and all my other problems would… just… fade… away…

I was delusional.

Really. I was. I approached the whole concept of dieting wrong. While trying things like the Grapefruit diet, the Negative Calorie diet, and even fasting all I had on my mind was "I want to be thin. I need to be thin. I want to look like that. I want to wear that." It was never about health. It was never about how I felt or what it would actually do to me or my body.

So when those quick fix diets didn’t deliver. What did I do? I moved to even more extremes popping xenadrine and at one point even getting a prescription for phentermine. I would have done anything to be THIN. Anything.

I’m not proud of it. But I’m also not ashamed. Everyone learns and grows. Life is a journey. We all look back in our pasts with a thought or two about how we would do something differently if we had the chance. It’s human nature. But when we lay everything out on the table it’s those experiences that make us who were are today.

I believe it was Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers who says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach mastery of a field. Well, based on my rough math estimates I clocked a little over 60,000 hours of dieting*. Seriously, I’m not joking.

After the pill popping stage I discovered Atkins and low carbing. More dieting. Then *drum roll please* I got pregnant! You guys who have read my story know this. Pregnancy was my ‘slap in the face’. It was the ‘you are so much more then your body shape!!’ wake up call that I needed. How could I teach my little guy how to be healthy if I was the poster child for yo-yo dieters anonymous. Even more importantly, how could I hate the body I was in when it gave and sustained such a beautiful life?

Yup, that was the moment my definition of "diet" changed forever. "Dieting" to me now means making the best choices I can make. It means nourishing my body, staying active, having fun and forgiving myself for the indiscretions that are bound to happen. It means eating more "good" then "bad." It means living and eating consciously, being creative in the kitchen and trying new things. Dieting to me is living the healthiest I can with what I have and throwing all excuses out the window.

So… What does dieting mean to you?

*Based loosely on waking hours between the ages of 15 and 29. I’m not kidding… I dieting almost exclusively during that time and all I did was get fatter and fatter. Or should I say unhealthier and unhealthier.




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Discussion

There are 19 comments so far.

    Blake

    February 17, 2009

    I’m with you on your definition. It’s about making good choices and creating good habits. Eating a treat every now and again won’t hurt us if we have created good eating and physical activity habits. Thanks for sharing!

    Emily

    February 17, 2009

    I was constantly up and down with my weight until I saw my wedding photos. Then I was just REALLY down. I bawled. I looked huge (to me) at 170 pounds on my 5’2″. The most disturbing thing was that I didn’t FEEL how I LOOKED. I FELT pretty. And then when I saw myself — REALLY saw myself — I only saw fat. I wanted to make a change – a big change.

    I worked my way from 170 down to 140 where I stayed until I joined Weight Watchers with my mom. Then, I became obsessed. Less weight was never enough weight, and I wanted to be 120 pounds so bad, I could almost taste it. I got down to 130, but I still saw the girl in the wedding dress. Then my body waged war on itself. I started gaining weight and didn’t stop until I hit 150, much to my dismay.

    I’m trying to figure it out again on my own. I finally started appreciating the inner me which has helped me appreciate the outer me. I’m not in a hurry this time. I want to feel good inside. I want to feel strong outside. I want to know that I’m not filling myself with yucky foods that weigh you down instead of fuel your fire. I want to look back and be proud of myself.

    This road never stops feeling long or daunting. Counting your points/calories never gets easier. Every day is still a struggle. I’ve learned to love exercise, but it’s still hard to make myself do it. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Every drop of sweat, every “grilled, not fried” – when you feel good inside, it’s worth the effort, and I feel like through healthier food and self respect, I’ve got the strength to change what’s on the outside.

    Sheila | Live Well 360°

    February 17, 2009

    The concept of dieting has changed quite a bit for me as well. It is funny how so many of us women have a very similar story, as mine falls right in parallel with yours (no babies yet though). ;-)

    To me the word “dieting” means a short term lowering of calories producing a deficit so that I expend more calories than I take in. It is something that I fully comprehend now. I understand the process, aka the formula, and I have learned how to use it correctly, rather than abuse it.

    Most of all, dieting is something that no longer controls me. I control it, and if I am in a deficit for a period of time, I have learned to love my body just as it is, that day, and every step of the way, because I know that health and vitality is ultimately my #1 priority. And that I am already full with both.

    Sheila

    Melissa

    February 17, 2009

    I think I’m a freak. The only time I ever tried to lose weight was through WW, and I was a total “loser” — lost 35 lbs in 8 months with nary an effort. I just watched what I ate, exercised diligently, and learned to make better choices. That was 5 yrs ago this April when I joined. Now I have gained back 10-12 from my lightest maintainable weight and am unhappy here. I wish I had that mojo I had back in the beginning. When I didn’t view it as “dieting” but rather a way of living. This IS how I live now; but even so … it’s a lot harder to lose when you’re not really overweight — but likewise aren’t at your comfortable goal weight, either. Sigh …. we’re planning on starting a family in the next year or two, so I imagine my whole outlook on my body will change … you give me hope!

    Diana (Soap & Chocolate)

    February 17, 2009

    Dieting to me is never using the word diet and never thinking of myself as on one. It has taken some getting used to, but I habitually eat healthy and work out now and feel great. I was never technically overweight, but a developing interest in nutrition fueled my motivation to clean up my act for real and for good and be the best version of myself possible. Now that I’m at a point where I barely have to think about it (except when I’m lured into temptation) in terms of daily habits, I know that I’m virtually set for life, which at this rate should be good and long. :)

    sassyaztec

    February 17, 2009

    Die with a T. really. Dieting is horrible. I hate the word. I view what I am doing now (WW) as more of a “lifestyle change”. I know, lame marketing words (I’m a PR girl, what do you expect?) But really it’s about making healthier choices and living a better life.

    Alison

    February 17, 2009

    That’s a great post. I’ve recently learned that happiness is not a result of getting what I want. It’s like chasing the wind. I have spent years trying to find peace through buying stuff (kitchen gadgets, then baby stuff, then cloth diapers, then fabric, then yarn, then eye shadow ROFL). It is a futile attempt to achieve peace or happiness. The fact is, we will never be happy if we try to achieve it by buying stuff, or even aligning things in our life so that it seems perfect.

    The fact is, things will not always go my way. I need to find peace from within myself and I can only do that by deciding to be peaceful (and my personal belief is that I can achieve that via God).

    Anyways, it’s funny how we, humans do stuff to try to achieve personal fulfillment and happiness by doing stuff and buying stuff isn’t it?

    I do find happier inside when I’m achieving what I want with my eating and exercise. Dieting to me is the necessary means to sanity! When I’m not in control, I feel like a loser. I know, cognitively that I don’t look any different after 2 days of bingeing, but I FEEL awful about myself. Then when I get back on that horse and spend day after day following my plan and exercising (especially when I try something new in either arena), then I feel good about myself.

    I reached goal last April/May and have been juggling an extra 5 pounds ever since. I’m working internally right now to find more peace and happiness and need to come to a personal agreement with myself on how I will procede forward in this dieting adventure. I want to release the guilt, and find a place where I am happy, satisfied, in control, and enjoying life, all at the same time.

    justrun

    February 17, 2009

    I couldn’t have said it better. It’s about health now. Yes, I still have those moments of wanting thin and skinny for other reasons, and I still deal with the disconnect in my head between health and food choices, but now it makes so much more sense. I will not punish my body for the things my brain can’t get right just yet.

    Berni

    February 17, 2009

    Dieting is now a distant thing of the past for me. Today I look after myself, do what I need to do to be happy, healthy and strong. Gone are the diet days of deprivation induced madness with a touch of depression. Dieting is a sad sad state of being, that I hope I never ever revisit.

    Carrie

    February 17, 2009

    I have a very similiar history to yours. Crazy diets (the watermelon diet) and any new pill that came on the market. All the while consistently gaining. It wasn’t until my little guy was 13 months old that I realized something needed to change. He is my driving force. I refuse to teach him the bad habits that I learned growing up. I agree this is a “lifestyle change”, and I can already see the change in him. At 16 months he tries to drink as much water as I do! LOL! Even though the weight is not coming off quickly, for the first time in a long time I feel good about the choices I am making. I never want to go back to desperation dieting again!

    Laura Jane

    February 17, 2009

    Great question. It’s funny how many different ideas people get when they hear the word “dieting.” In general, I try to avoid the word “diet.” I know it sounds cliche and the latest buzzword is “lifestyle change.” But that phrase is cliche for a reason – it’s so true – that’s really what it should be about. To me “dieting” or “lifestyle change” is about focusing on eating healthy, never throwing in the towel, never giving up, making the best choices possible. I try to focus more on improving my habits rather than just losing the pounds.

    EmmaElizabeth

    February 18, 2009

    4 years ago was when my eating/body image started to control my life. I was in the worst place in my life and it was something I could control or rather couldn’t. I suppose I should mention I also tried diet pills when I was 17. I never “dieted” for the most part. But every minute of the day was consumed with food and what I looked like. It was an OBSESSION. It’s weird to say I had an obsession but never dieted. As I got my sh*t together- the obsession faded, however I was still fat. I tried WW on my own, eventually joined WW online and most recently tried mtgs. None of it worked. I’ve never looked at diets as a diet, but did look at WW as a diet. Am I just weird? lol. I do Behavioral Counseling (for a place I would LOVE to plug because- well it’s my job- and I could mention all my resources!) now mostly working with people focusing on weight mgmt. It’s soooo hard for me to even fathom things being a “diet” and all the craziness that goes with it. It’s a lifestyle change! Granted WW is alot like that and making it a lifestyle habit, but really….. idk… I was talking to a client tonight and she went on and on how WW didn’t work for her and she couldn’t find the word for it, but she’s like “it’s like a…. a….” I interrupted her and said “Job?” “Yes! Exactly! It’s like a job!” She didn’t have any kids or things standing in her way, but it consumed her life trying to follow everything. (Much like my experience with it) As I’m rambling on here- it’s about lifestyle. It’s about incorporating small changes that become everyday habit and then adding more and more. Yes we can still have a Big Mac, but not everyday. Yes we can have a ‘bad’ meal, but not every meal. It’s not about making extremes or completely cutting out something. That’ll make you want it even more. Soooo bottom line- “dieting” to me is having a goal, but making the behavioral changes to get there. :) Prior to age 22, diet meant drastically cutting out everything “good” to eat (junk!).

    Joanne

    February 18, 2009

    I hate the change that the word diet has undergone from its original meaning of the food that one consumed over the course of a day/month/year, whatever, to its contemporary meaning of what a person eats in order to lose weight. That’s why it really irritates me when I make healthy choices while eating out and others still ask me, “why, are you on a diet”. My parents do this all the time and I have to remind them, my eating is not a “diet” in its most modern form, but a lifestyle change. And as such, I make healthy choices all the time, not to lose weight anymore but so that I can feel the best that I can. I tend to like this terminology better because if its life, then there’s no mess ups or falling off the wagon which make more sense with something temporary like a “diet”. So I guess to me, dieting or a healthy lifestyle (as I like to call my diet) is just a matter of making good, informed, nutritious choices 99 percent of the time and allowing myself a little wiggle room the other 1 percent.

    SMK

    February 18, 2009

    You know, even though I am on WW and counting points, I don’t really think of myself as ‘being on a diet’. That phrase has always had such a temporary meaning to me. AND what I have been doing for the last year is in no way temporary.

    I realized that I wasn’t ‘dieting’ yesterday at work. We received a free BBQ lunch from our company. I went down to the cafeteria with everyone else. We had a choice of Shredded Chicken, Beef or Pork on a white or wheat bun. I got chicken on the wheat bun and a bag of Sun Chips and a diet coke. I ate the entire sandwich and some of the chips before I was starting to get that ‘full feeling’ I try to avoid.

    After eating, I overheard one coworker ask another if he was going to get the free lunch and the coworker said that he couldn’t because he was on a diet. I thought to myself, ‘I’m on a diet too but I still had the free lunch’

    That made me re-evaluate whether I really considered myself to be on a diet. I don’t think I am. I honestly think I have made some permanent lifestyle changes. Sure I still have relapses into my old behaviors but I don’t think I will ever let it get to the point it was at before. Plus, I feel better than I have in years so I must be doing something right.

    SMK

    February 18, 2009

    Oh and to add on…I didn’t feel bad about eating that chicken sandwich or the chips. In fact, I was glad I eaten it when I was at my spinning class later that afternoon because I had enough fuel to get my through the class.

    I had been having problems getting through the past few classes because I hadn’t eaten enough for lunch.

    Mark Salinas

    February 18, 2009

    Absolutely about ones lifestyle, keeping active, wise choices(mostly :) ) and accepting the fact that we are human will help avoid compulsiveness. My take anyway! Very good! thanks for sharing!

    Sabrina

    February 20, 2009

    Thanks for posing more food for thought…Each time you do I learn a little more about myself…

    Diet for me??? I did it all, low carb, fasting, odd combo’s of food…etc. I got to my highest (somewhere over 300 lbs.) and was considering gastric bypass. My mom had it done in the 80’s when it was in it’s infancy. The things I most remembered were her throwing up each and every time she ate and it didn’t matter what she ate. I didn’t want to do that…I take pride in the fact that I have only thrown up twice in the last 10 years!!! I hate it, and I’m sorry to share it…but it makes my point. I decided in secret to follow WW thru my friends books. Never been to a meeting but I follow the plan, albeit the older one ;). Somewhere near the 50 lb. lost spot I got pregnant. The most beneficial thing my obgyn said to me…”you DON’T have to eat for two, eat what you feel your body needs and it will take care of your baby. You won’t hurt the baby, it will take what it needs before even you get it!”

    To me I don’t look at my “diet” as a “diet”, to me it’s a 4 letter word…NASTY!!! It’s a lifestyle change…

    Carole Hicks

    February 22, 2009

    Roni. Thanks for posting that lovely photo. After seeing that, I now am feeling pretty good about myself!

    Carole Hicks

    February 22, 2009

    oops. Sorry. I just posted a reply about the big hairy ape here. Wrong post, wrong place. Anyone reading this who hasn’t seen the pic will wonder what in the heck I’m talking about!! :-)