1. I eat less than I want to eat
2. I exercise more than I want to exercise
As result of these revolutionary, breakthrough secrets, I have lost 10 lbs in 3 months, which comes out to 0.75 lb per week.
Boy do I wish there were a faster and more pleasant way. I see why people spend money on books about crash/fad diets. I see why people claim that “diets don’t work.” They do work, they just suck so much that most people won’t keep grinding along, suffering unpleasantness just to measure progress in ounces.
When I read the book Willpower, about the science of self-discipline, a few months ago, I noted that the authors claimed that weight loss is a much harder category to exercise self-discipline in than other things. After all, look at someone like Oprah Winfrey. She’s had the incredible personal strength to rise from an impoverished childhood in segregated Mississippi to billionaire status. And yet she struggles with her weight. That does not bode well for the rest of us. Indeed, while people can develop a great deal of discipline about exercise, exercise alone is often insufficient for weight loss. Weight loss requires eating less than we want, which requires hunger. And the body reacts to hunger as the existential threat it is. Hunger feels bad, physically and psychologically.
About three months ago, when I noticed that my initial fast postpartum weight loss had stalled at a point 17 lbs north of where I wanted to be, I realized I was going to have to do something about it. So I decided to stop eating after dinner. I eat my dinner, I can have one small sweet thing (like a cookie) and then I’m done.
Of course, if you eat at 7, and go to bed at 11:30, you are probably hungry by bed time. I know I am. For the first few weeks, this idea of going to bed hungry was really difficult for me. It makes me cranky. I struggle to put my night owl children to bed, dealing with various whining and stalling techniques, or the baby’s cries (she gets to eat after dinner — and often wants to eat a lot before sleeping). So there has definitely been some feeling sorry for myself. It’s not enough that I work hard all day at my job, then care for three small kids, often on my own, nurse the baby when she wants it, fight the bedtime battles and then go back to work once they’re down. I have to be hungry, too?
But once you recognize that a certain action will require a lot of discipline, you can be a bit more detached about it. Yes, I’m hungry. Yes, it’s unpleasant, but I’ve survived unpleasant things before, and I’ll eat again in the morning. It also helps to realize that being hungry is a completely self-imposed situation, and I can change it if I want. I’m not hungry because I’m a subsistence farmer in rural India and my crops didn’t come up. I’m not hungry because it’s the end of the month and my paycheck and/or food stamp allotment is exhausted. I am fortunate enough to have a full bank account and a full pantry. Furthermore, no one who might have an opinion on the matter — not my doctor, not my husband — actually cares if I weigh 7 lbs more than my wedding weight. I’m losing these pounds solely for me. And so goes the Gladwyne diet. It doesn’t have the same glamour as the Scarsdale diet or the South Beach diet but it does, you know, work. One consolation is that over time it gets easier as the habit takes. It also gets easier as I see for certain that the scale has moved. That produces its own motivation which was lacking those first few weeks when 0.75 lbs of weight loss per week looked like nothing at all.
Have you ever successfully lost weight? How?
(photo courtesy flickr user puuikibeach)