The Super Bowl has come and gone. Outside of being the end of the American Football season, The Super Bowl and that other diet vexation, Girl Scout cookies, show up just about the time New Year’s Resolutions, taken in a champagne haze only about a month before, amount to nothing but a half kept food journal. The results are never encouraging. You’re still hiding from the scale in your gym/bathroom/doctor’s office. Those size 10 skinny jeans are just as hopeless as they were the day after Christmas.
Like most Americans, I am overweight. This is a combination of age, genetics, lifestyle and years of tension producing office work. I am addicted to food. As a diet professional once explained to me, you have to be addicted to food, you need to eat to live. You just don’t need to eat as much
I’m not unusual. A trainwreck of unsuccessful diets punctuates my past; Weight Watchers, special doctor weight loss programs, the Dukan Diet, the South Beach diet, the I will get into this dress by so and so’s wedding diet, the all veggie/no dairy/no sugar diet, the metabolic diet – you name it.
I have nothing against most of these programs except that they oversell the results and undersell the work. I lasted about a week on the low carb/high protein, no sugar, South Beach, Dukan, veggie, no dairy diets. These came to me in books full of inspirational blurbs, followed by a small section on how to follow the plan and a suspiciously large section of recipes. Turns out, in order to lose weight you actually have to cook.
The doctor plan diets work, for a while. These involve a high protein diet combined with weekly weigh-ins/sessions with a ‘counselor’ and some sort of prescription stimulant. The stimulant causes you to lose weight by suppressing your appetite, i.e. not eating = weight loss. The eating plan is supposed to teach you how to eat properly so that you either continue to lose weight or you maintain a healthy weight. These programs are very expensive. The counselors, who are not physicians or even nutritionists, may give you 15 minutes or so of face time, take your blood pressure, weigh you and ask how your week was. If you’ve gained weight, your week was of course lousy. Instead of taking time to find out why you overate or overdrank, they glance at their watch and leave it up to you. You, ashamed that you can’t lose weight even when you’re on drugs, keep your mouth shut and slink out of the office, next week’s prescription in hand.
Weight Watchers, which I have tried four times now, is a great lifestyle plan but still a hard slog. The selling point is that you can eat anything you want, in very small portions, ‘small’ being the operative word. WW uses a point system, accessed through an app on your phone. These seem like a lot of points until you start living with them and then you find out you’re always hungry. Most women get 26 points per day. Men get anywhere from 40 to 60 points a day and have a much better success rate. You get about 30 points extra per week to use for splurges; the women invariably use all of these, the men don’t. Look at it this way, a meal equals about seven points. Three meals equals 21 points. That leaves five points for things like a four-ounce glass of wine (four points) or ice cream (you’ll be into your splurge points).
There’s always a lot of cheating on diets. It’s human; the first thing you think when you go on a diet is how much and when you can cheat. You start thinking if you overeat/overdrink say on Friday night, by Thursday morning weigh-in you’ll have gotten back on track. I lost a lot of weight on the doctor diet, no weight on Weight Watchers or any of the other bestseller diets. Cumulatively, however, I’ve gained weight. I now weigh 20 pounds more than I did when I started this diet go ’round ten years ago.
Last year my husband lost 40 pounds by giving up drinking, sticking to a balanced diet and not eating a lot of snacks. No doctor, no program, no points. This year, it’s my turn. I gave up drinking in January, the first step. Wish me luck.