One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

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What diets have you tried?

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Question of the week I’m trying to get back on a regular schedule with the Question of the Week. I love getting insight and opinions from everyone and it keeps me on task with my blogging goals.

The questions normally get inspired by something that happened to me that day or a thought that popped in my head during my morning shower (YES I am that blog obsessed, ok. You KNOW this) but sometimes I have a hard time coming up with them. That’s when I ask What IS the question of the week? (feel free to keep commenting on that post)

Well, I was looking back at all the questions and I realized there were still some I never got to. Like the VERY FIRST ONE! Michelle asked

What are some of the other “diets” you have tried? What are the pros and cons of those plans?

I think part of me skipped over this question when it was first asked because I didn’t want to talk about diets anymore. This is going to sound like one giant Weight Watchers commercial but once I started going to meetings and learning how to balance my food intake by counting points there was no need to try other diets anymore.

I’m not saying that this is or will be true for everyone who tries Weight Watchers because it’s not. I know many repeat Weight Watcher offenders. But it worked for me. I was constantly falling into the perfection trap with every other diets I tried. If I didn’t follow the plan, any plan, perfectly then all bets were off and I was stuffing my face. I talk about this in my Stateless dieting post.

With Weight Watchers there was something that clicked for me with the idea of points. Nothing was off limits so theoretically I couldn’t "break" my diet. Unless I went over points and I rarely did. What can I say? I’m a balance-your-check-book kind of gal. Give me a budget and I’ll follow it. That’s how I’m wired.

Ok, enough about what worked because I did try MANY diets that didn’t. Let me see…

Fasting
Yes.. I thought by fasting I would lose weight. Which I guess would be true IF I could actually do it. But what would normally happen is I’d get hungry, grouchy, mad and then order a pizza after a few hours. So yea.. that didn’t work for me. Plus, who wants to fast?!?
The Grapefruit Diet
Yea.. remember this one? Eat a grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice before each meal and the acid in the fruit will help you burn more calories or something. What a crock. All I did was eat a grapefruit before my overstuffed sub. Eat a grapefruit before 5 slices of pizza. Eat a grapefruit before bacon double cheeseburger. yea.. this one didn’t work for me either.
The Negative Calorie Diet
Another oldie but goodie. The idea here is to only eat foods that your body expels more calories digesting then they really are. I lasted about day before I was sick of celery then it was back to mozzarella sticks and nachos. Total fail.
The Zone
Oh how I remember being SO excited when this book came out. I thought it was going to be the answer to all my prayers. Simply eat according to the formula and the weight will just fall off. Well that all but lasted 2 days for me before it became too much work. I actually think this diet has merit I just couldn’t stick to it long term to ever find out. Too complicated for me.
Zenadrine/Phentermine and a host of other diet pills
I admit it. I popped pills thinking they would help me lose weight. I experienced everything from butterflies to rapid heart rates. I was desperate, people. THAT desperate. They would work for a short time and then, surprise surprise, the weight would come right back. I never learned anything by trying the quick fix. Not to mention how unhealthy it was.
Atkins
Out of all my prior attempt at weight loss this is the one I had the most success with. I was able to lose over 40lbs but there was only one problem. I dreaded every food decision. Every restaurant. Every dinner with the family. I worried so much about consuming a carb it effected my life. As soon as I started to eat "normal" again I gained everything back. Like the Zone, I think Atkins helps a lot of people, but it just wasn’t for me long term.
Calorie Restriction
I did just try to reduce what I ate tons of time. Too many times to count, actually. Without fail I’d last a few days restricting calories before completely binging because of one thing or another (i.e. going out with friends, having a cookie, wanting a beer, getting depressed I was still fat, seeing a skinny girl, you name it, it caused me to eat.)

Ok, I’m done confessing all my dieting missteps. Now it’s your turn….

What are some diets you tried? What are the pros and cons of those plans? What did or didn’t work for you?



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Discussion

There are 36 comments so far.

    jamie

    February 16, 2010

    the cabbage soup diet….yuck….made the soup…ate one bite…it went out the back door…lol

    fasting…no breakfast..limited lunch…ill jamie

    weight watchers..lost 50 pounds…gained 50 pounds…now back…and lost 30 pound…I like ww better than anything

    Lauren @ Eater not a runner

    February 16, 2010

    I’ve tried the serious calorie restricting before, or even fasting. Those last about 8 hrs for me max!

    Paleo Dan

    February 16, 2010

    My name might give it away, but I follow the paleo/primal lifestyle. The diet is, essentially, all about eating natural foods that our bodies have evolved to utilize. My variation of the diet is high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb. While I don’t actively count calories or carbs, the times where I did trqck my foods, I hit very close to my target ratios of 70-20-10 (fat-protein-carbs) and total calories. Done properly the diet will self-regulate which, while q big surprise to me at the beginning, has made losing weight less of a challenge than ever before.

    Cynthia (It All Changes)

    February 16, 2010

    I’ve done diet pills, calorie counting, fasting, and I even ended up with an eating disorder from laxative abuse. Calorie counting worked and then I lost the rest with WW. I still do WW now that I’m at goal.

    Michelle Wanamaker

    February 16, 2010

    I actually am 38 and never really dieted before. I was an active teenager and never had any serious issues. I would look at myself and think I could probably lose a couple pounds but never actually would give up bigmacs or pizza. So activity was key. Then college, ’21’, marriage, and kids. Serious weight gain. About 50 lbs over 10 years, 30 in the last 5. I never thiought I would have the will power to do it. Then my sisters (3) all went on WW and did great. I thougth if they can do it, I should be able to do it. I never went to a meeting or signed up on line. I just followed along with their books and improvised. Along with activity (key for me) I lost 35 lbs in about 6 months and kept most of it off for 1.5 years.

    Michelle Wanamaker

    February 16, 2010

    Roni, you have been a big piece of my success. Thank you.

    Courtney

    February 16, 2010

    In addition to the ones already mentioned, I also did Jenny Craig and South Beach.

    Jenny Craig was a total disaster. The food was really expensive, not that good and you still had to go to the grocery store for the fresh stuff. Impossible to eat out on that plan too. The one good thing I remember from that was a demonstration near Thanksgiving one year. They took a clean Lean Cuisine type pan and piled in tablespoon after tablespoon of Crisco to illustrate how much fat is in a typical American Thanksgiving dinner. Never forgot it–still think of it. I think I lost a few pounds but the diet was way too much trouble over all.

    I originally tried SBD the first time in the early 2000s when the diet first came out. They’ve now updated and significantly changed it with the Supercharged version. I am following that right now and having some good success. I have PCOS so it’s better for me to be on a low-carb plan.

    I have also done WW several times and, inevitably, can’t get to the meetings and then fall off the wagon with journaling. But overall, I think they are a very easy to understand, wholesome program.

    rollercoaster

    February 16, 2010

    I love your list! I tried the mayo clinic diet, that SUCKED. I was so angry that I couldn’t eat what I wanted. The theory was losing weight by food combinations. I also tried Atkins and it made me sick to my stomach. After a while all I wanted was the lettuce, I didn’t even want dressing LOL! I had success but couldn’t stick with it. I also tried weight watchers and it also worked a little but I couldn’t stick with it. I have now gone the route of normal eating which digs into the psychological side of dieting, overeating and weight. I am kind of binge-y so this is helping me learn to manage my emotions which in turn helps me keep the eating-when-not-hungry in check. Great question!

    WaistingTime

    February 16, 2010

    I fasted for three days in college based on a Cosmo article! And did the grapefruit diet. Scarsdale. Cabbage soup. I reached goal with WW but didn’t keep going and gained it back. Now on try number 3 with South Beach. It works for me but I also don’t stick to it after goal. This time I will!

    liz

    February 16, 2010

    oh this post and the comments make me feel better; i’m not alone in the searcing for something that works for me. let’s see.. calorie counting, atkins, calorie counting again (lost 80 lbs that time and kept it off for 7 years), then gained it all back, calorie counting and yo-yo’d about 25 lbs for a while, now i’m doing weight watchers. and my motto this time is slow and steady wins the race!

    Arlene

    February 17, 2010

    I’ve tried pretty much everything (except fasting. Never wanted to starve myself like that.) I followed Nutrisystem with my mom while I was still in high school, when you still went to a center to weigh in and ate things made with packets.

    Then college happened, and, being an overachiever, I gained the Freshman 50. I continued eating badly when I got out of school, until I finally decided to give Atkins a try.

    Loved the low-carb thing and lost 110 pounds in two years (100 of it the first year). I didn’t agonize … found it extraordinarily easy to avoid bread, toss buns to the dogs and eat lots of deviled eggs, bacon and cheese.

    But then I met the Boyfriend, who’s a carbosaurus, and started regaining the weight. I tried watching what I ate again with no more success. Finally, I decided to give WW a try.

    I’ve lost about 50 pounds (with 20 more to go), but lately I’ve been struggling. A lot. Had to give up my WW membership because I can’t afford it at present, and I seem to have lost the will to follow the plan, too, even though I should be perfectly capable of doing it on my own after two years.

    Cory

    February 17, 2010

    Well, I tried pills once. But I suck at remembering to take a pill every day. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

    I did one of those random church weight loss things once. I did lose a little weight. But honestly, the only time anyone ever commented that it looked like I had lost some weight, was AFTER a 5-10 gain in a few weeks. Very odd.

    Weight Watchers works for me, when I actually do it. I go to weigh in every week. However, it doesn’t really work if I don’t exercise and I eat everything in sight. So I’m working again on getting those habits in line because I lost 20 lbs on WW when I was about 22.

    And, like others, I’ve looked at other diets. Such as the blood type one. But they always seem like so much work and restriction.

    Kim K @ 12 Month Marathon

    February 17, 2010

    Oh my goodness, I’ve done Atkins, too, and I totally get the dread of food decisions.

    But now that I’m training for a half marathon, that’d never work, so I’m just trying to stick with whole foods and staying at a reasonable calorie level.

    All Women Stalker

    February 17, 2010

    The only diet I’ve ever been in, which lasted for a couple of years, is the 500 Calories A Day Diet. This was back when I was anorexic. I’m not proud of myself but I am proud to say I’ve overcome and am overcoming everyday.

    Pip

    February 17, 2010

    Weight Watchers worked for me to a certain point, then exercise took me the rest of the way. I ended up four kilos lighter than my Weight Watchers goal, and very pleased with my success!

    In my early twenties I lost a lot of weight food combining. It was no wonder really. On a typical day I would eat nothing but fruit till mid-day. Lunch would be some form of carb (e.g. a bread roll or potato) with some salad, dinner would be a protein (usually a chicken breast) with salad. It was a very restrictive diet and not necessarily healthy. I would have a serving of fries from McDonalds and be happy because that was a serving of carbs! No nutritional value whatsoever.

    Natalie

    February 17, 2010

    I have had varying success with WW going back to my late teens (now 36)but have also tried other UK slimming clubs. A few years ago I undertook the Lighterlife diet. I’m not sure if you have this in the US, but basically it is 450 low carb cals per day from shakes, soups and bars and 4 litres of water per day. Promise is to lose minimum of 14lbs a month but this diet made me very ill and I think also messed up my metabolism for about a year afterwards.
    Since January 09 I have been changed diet each time I get bored. I acknowledged that I get bored easily and decided to try this approach. Started with WW, then Slimming World and I am currently following a calorie controlled, low fat (under 5%) diet.
    I really do think it is just about finding the right diet for yourself, rather than a one size fits all approach.

    Borboleta

    February 17, 2010

    Hey, Roni, I wrote a really LONG answer to your question and got a bit sidetracked, but it is on my blog if you care to have a look…….
    Gosh, this has me all washed up!!

    Big hugs to you!

    John

    February 17, 2010

    Atkins is the only official diet I’ve tried and I had a similar experience, although I loved every minute of being on the diet. I wish I could explain why I stopped because I can’t, but of course I gained it all back too.

    Heather

    February 17, 2010

    Slimfast – the shakes taste bad, and I was hungry all the time even when I religiously followed the snack plans and ate lots of lean proteins.

    Atkins – this one was a HUGE problem for me. I was sick of turkey burgers by the end of the first week, and to this day I have a problem with the bacon wrapped burgers that I ate. I tried this diet for six weeks, and I was an ANGEL about it and did everything perfectly. In that six weeks, I gained six pounds and lost zero inches. For me and my body, and diet where I can eat bacon and heavy cream until I pass out but skim milk and an apple are not okay is just ridiculous. Besides, I was so mean on that diet that my husband actually asked me to stop doing it so that he would like me again. So apparently I need carbs.

    Weight Watchers – this is what works for me. I did it the first time before I got married, and I lost 50 pounds. Then I told myself that I didn’t need to follow the plan anymore because I was used to it, and I totally went off of counting or measuring. I slowly got worse and worse until I gained everything back. Right before I got pregnant with my daughter, I went back to WW and lost 30 pounds. Then I found out I was pregnant and became the girl who uses pregnancy as an excuse to eat everything. I gained 44 pounds during the pregnancy and was back to my highest weight before I knew it. Now I am back to WW again, for the last time.

    Nina

    February 17, 2010

    Well, there were some attempts with fasting and some teas/pills, but all very harmless teas and pills, and I didn’t even like them. Then there were some bouts of bulimia and I realised that eating wasn’t as much of a problem for me, but that I had some severe emotional issues that caused me to eat unhealthily. I am still working on them and luckily I did not get into bulimia that deep because I realized what the problem was.

    Roni’s blog helps me a lot because it just shows what it takes to lose and keep weight, and that losing weight isn’t the core issue, but a change of mindset and of lifestyle. I especially love the “Note to Self”-blog as it shows those little rollercoaster moments you never read in any success story.

    What really worked/and again works for me is Julia Havey’s book “Awaken the Diet Within”/The Vice-Busting Diet (for those who are not that much into personal stories) because she is a really great motivator, and tries to change your thinking about food and lifestyle. Her program just works, as it did for herself when she lost 130 lbs., changes your whole life and is easy to do if you set your mind to do it. It is easy because it takes you on a journey to yourself at your very best if you let it happen. Just don’t see it as a temporary diet and be willing to put a little effort into it. She does not do your work for you, but it is a lot easier to do it with her advice.

    Together with Roni and Julia I am positive that I will get back on track and that I will finally make it this time. Weight Watchers also is a great program because it teaches you about food in an easy, doable way. But it isn’t enough for me as I constantly fight with the points number. Either I want to stay way under it, or I get angry and stubborn and just do not want to care about it. It’s the same with stepping on the scale. I don’t know what it is with me and numbers, we have a very emotional relationship. ;)

    Katie

    February 17, 2010

    Worst diet ever was the master cleanse. I still want to vomit if I smell cayenne, lemon juice, or maple syrup! I also did WW, but I would just manipulate my points to eat fast food or junk and still stay under my limit. So, I lost weight, but still didn’t feel healthy. Now I just eat whole foods and hardly any processed foods at all. I really believe all of the corn and soy based processed foods is what has contributed to our society’s obesity. I usually go easy on myself once a week and give into a food craving.

    Angela

    February 17, 2010

    Uh, tried them all! Atkins, Southbeach, weightwatchers, jenny craig, lemon juice cleanse…blah, blah, blah. Never again!

    Carolyn

    February 17, 2010

    Before Weight Watchers, I did one of those weight loss clinics. That was actually back in high school. While I know it wasn’t the healthiest thing for me (pills and shakes) my mom was really trying to figure out how to help me (I had gotten upset one day and was crying and started throwing the food in the refrigerator away). I lost close to 50 lbs. I gained about 20 back in college and then another 10 or so when I moved up north after college.

    I lost 30 lbs. on Weight Watchers. While I no longer follow the program (I don’t want to be chained to counting points forever) I credit it with getting me back on track. Now I’m learning how to get down to and maintain a healthy weight without obsessing. Only about 10 more lbs. to go!

    Mattison

    February 17, 2010

    Hey Roni! I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending or anything, but isn’t Weight Watchers essentially calorie restriction? Or when you say calorie restriction, do you mean eating like 800 calories a day? I’m just wondering because I thought WW was designed to teach portion control and reduced calorie intake.

    roni

    February 17, 2010

    Mattison – Essentially.. sure it is. And I’m of the camp that the only way to lose weight is by reducing calories but the approach of counting points helped me accomplish that verses ohh I’ll just try to eat less (a lot less). And yes when I tried to restrict calories on my own I was in the extreme (500-800 cals a day)

    And I don’t think you are being condescending at all. A diet is diet and WW definitely falls into that category. It just has an approach that taught me how to balance my food intake without going to extremes. Again, that is not true for everyone and I get that.

    I agree with Natalie it’s about finding what works for you.

    Agnes

    February 17, 2010

    That’s a good question! We all have our war stories. Here are mine:

    Sugar Busters – like Atkins and South Beach in many ways. Carbs are the enemy. Lost about 10 lbs but could not stick with it.
    South Beach – lost about 20 pounds but soon was dreaming about french bread. I felt too restricted.
    Herbalife – took like 20 herbal pills a day. Did it in high school and lost 20 lbs. Learned nothing and gained it all back!
    Metabalife – Got the shakes and quit!
    Seattle Sutton – Lost 25 pounds but got sick of the food big time! Plus it was expensive.
    Nutrisystem – Food was HORRIBLE! Sent it all back…they do have a good refund policy though.
    Cabbage Soup Diet – Weird diet with different food groups on differnt days, first fruit then veggies then bananas. Plus tons of cabbage soup. It was so weird.
    Mayo Clinic Diet (fake Internet version) – eggs & bacon for breatfast, salad for lunch and steak for dinner. Couldn’t stay on it (big surprise).
    Weight Watchers – Joined over 10 times in person and another 10 online. The first time I joined was way before the Points System. I lost 75 lbs but quite 10 lbs from goal. Could never duplicate the success again. I love WW but I can not get down with the whole points and counting. Doesn’t work for me.

    Wow, that’s quite a list! Somtimes I’m amazed that our bodies put up with these assults! But after all these years I have finally found peace. I am eating healthy. Lean protein, tons of veggies, fruit, whole grains and staying active. I have cut out the “bad carbs”. I started in January of this year and have lost 15 lbs so far. I feel great and for once I believe I can do this! Thanks, Roni, you are an inspiration!

    Aimee

    February 17, 2010

    I was talking to a lady at work the other day and said, I feel like I’ve been on a diet for the past ten years. The most effective for me has been Weight Watchers. That is the current program I am “following.” I say that in quotes because I don’t follow it, I just pay them money, weigh in, and usually spend the meeting trying to get my little boy (16 months old) to stay quiet. At the meetings, I’m not really listening, I’m more worried about keeping him settled so that other folks can enjoy and we won’t be a burden. The next day, I have vowed to track, but that hasn’t happened for weeks. Or, I’ll track a day or two, then kind of like when Roni was on calorie restriction, I’ll give up because I went out to eat or had a cupcake. To echo what you guys have said, Weight Watchers works- when you follow the program. I keep searching for why I am continually failing myself when it comes to WW.

    Jessica

    February 17, 2010

    Atkins worked for me the first few times I did it. The last time I attempted it, it made me physically ill. Throwing up, etc. Yet, I ate a pizza and felt 100000% times better. That is the appeal of WW. Nothing is officially ‘off limits’, but you will pay a certain ‘price’.

    LG

    February 17, 2010

    I tried the Zone once. The restriction of it made me binge.

    By looking at all of these comments, I would agree that diets don’t work! But then, the main goal of the diet industry isn’t weight loss, it’s profit. Ho hum.

    What has helped me to maintain a weight I am very happy with for the past 9 years was counseling for food issues and reading books by Geneen Roth, as well as the books Overcoming Overeating and When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. There are others but these were very helpful for me.

    Shannon

    February 17, 2010

    What haven’t I tried? My mother had me reading my first diet book when I was 10. Oh, baggage :)

    The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet – Not as bad as Atkins because you could have one “Normal” meal a day.

    Weight Watchers – I’ve probably tried 6 times in my life, sometimes in meetings, sometimes on my own. I became OBSESSED with points.

    Atkins – oh, what was I thinking?? The only good thing was that it made me realize my migraines were sugar-induced.

    South Beach Diet – I kept this book because I think the chapters about how our blood reacts to food were very helpful.

    Some crazy diet my mother got in a chain letter. All I remember is that it involved beets.

    Weigh Down Workshop – crazy Christian-based guilt inducing cult. Eating those brownies is like telling God you hate him! But it was my first introduction to intuitive eating, and I’m thankful for that.

    “The Eat Clean Diet” by Tosco Reno – great principles, but I couldn’t keep up with the planning and preparing.

    The most effective for me is to just count calorie and try to create a weekly calorie deficit. I have an app on my phone that makes it easy to calculate :)

    jodi

    February 17, 2010

    I have been on various renditions of WW throughout the years and did fairly well each time… I also did LA Weightloss, before they went bankrupt, and absolutely hated it – I was always hungry and didn’t lose weight… I’ve also done Atkins and am starting South Beach after I have foot surgery… I want to get off my addiction to bad carbs and sugar and feel this is a good nudge for me… =)

    Kim

    February 17, 2010

    Atkins & South Beach, lost with both, but too restrictive with the carbs. I gained back all the weight lost, plus a few.

    6 Week Body Makeover – The hubs and I did this one together, both lost weight, (he more than I of course) but this was way too restrictive – no salt, no processed anything – I spent all my time cooking, weighing and portioning out food for the both of us, because you have to “feed” every two hours! The worst part was NO Alcohol – at all – period! The only good part of this was it paved the way for WW for me – I have lost 30 lbs on WW and have kept it off for over three years (well, 25 of it anyway – I play with 5-6 lbs.)

    Christie

    February 17, 2010

    Starving. Only eating (insert food here – tried many of these). Weight watchers. South Beach. Curves. Counting calories. Bowflex diet. Special K diet. Best Life Diet. Atkins. Eating what you want and working out a lot. Slimfast. Those are the only ones I can think of right now.

    Laura Jane

    February 17, 2010

    I think it my be faster to answer what diet I haven’t tried! I never did the negative calorie thing (because I hate raw veggies) or the grapefruit diet (can’t stand grapefruit). But let’s see, what I have done:

    Atkins – lasted a few days, but I was starving because I’m really not a fan of most meat and a lot of fats and other things you can have on that diet – plus totally couldn’t live in the real world

    South Beach – too hard to make it work in the real world

    Slim Fast – so, so hungry – shakes or bars DO NOT fill me up, lasted a couple days

    Special K diet – even have a “before” picture where a friend and I decided to do it together, never even got to the “after” – cereal doesn’t fill me up

    Complete Fasting (water only) for three solid weeks – Lost about 20 pounds, didn’t actually gain them back for quite a while, learned a lot, interesting experience, glad I did it, but wouldn’t do it again now

    Jenny Craig – way too expensive for the food and not a bit better than Lean Cuisines or Smart Ones which are better – also didn’t like my “counselor”

    Weight Watchers – joined 2 or 3 times, was fairly successful. Would definitely recommend to friends. It’s just a different form of calorie counting, but I actually found straight calorie counting to be easier (and cheaper)

    Calorie Counting and Exercise – This is my go-to weight loss method, and it NEVER fails! Don’t always stick to it, though. Basically use the weight watcher’s principles here. I strive for about 1200-1500 calories a day when I’m working out regularly, with a few extra now and then.

    Emily

    February 24, 2010

    Ugh, this is so sad!

    Atkins, South Beach, calorie restricting, fasting, purging, cabbage soup, Weight Watchers. Oh, and veganism, which I really agree with (and mostly stick to now) but definitely started for the wrong reasons.

    So much failure and emotional mess.

    Alison

    January 4, 2011

    Only Weight Watchers. And it works!