Weighty Matters

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Food Plan vs Diet

on November 16, 2013

You might have noticed that I rarely call what I’m doing dieting. That’s deliberate. I hate thinking of being on a diet so I try to keep my brain trained on following a healthy food plan which, right now, is also intended to be a losing plan. But not a diet. 🙂

Why, you might ask, am I so resistant to a simple word? I admit that there are a lot of negative memories and experiences infused in that simple four letter word. When I think of a diet, I automatically think of every single extreme, desperate, or even crazy thing that I tried over the years. Many of these were medically supervised, thank God, or I could be dead.

I can’t remember if my first structured commercial diet was Weight Watchers, or if it was the fat camp that I went to when I was 11. Here’s all that I’ll say about fat camp — it knocked off the pounds and we were definitely physically active, so it wasn’t a bad experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn enough to transition the benefits to my every day life for very long.

What I remember most about Weight Watchers was Mom driving me to the weekly classes, hating the weigh-ins, and Mom also buying some of the foods. (This was long before WW had their full lines in grocery stores.) I also remember being forced to eat tuna, which I hate. I don’t like any seafood. The only way I could choke it down was if I drowned the taste in mustard. Still, Weight Watchers is not a horrible, extreme diet to follow. Even back then it was well thought out.

So, those were the least extreme diets in my life. Now let’s get to the other end of the spectrum. In college, some doctor released the first liquid protein diet. My father checked it out and I believe it was a sign of how desperate my folks were for me to get healthy that he ever greenlighted me for it. Mom took me to the first appointment. Basically, all I took into my system for months was this viscous red, godawfultasting protein liquid. Not very much of it at that. It’s a wonder I never passed out, but I lost weight. My body fed itself on its stored fat. I took the train into NYC from school every week for a check up and to get my new supply of liquid. I was deep in ketosis, had to constantly guard against bad breath, and emotionally miserable. I can’t remember how long I stayed on this diet — maybe six months? — but I never did reach goal weight. Of course, as soon as I stopped and began eating, I put the weight right back on.

Next on the extreme scale, was one that earns its ranking for weirdness and unproven methodology. A local doctor claimed that shots of human placenta would accelerate weight loss. I don’t remember now if that was before or after my Dad’s death. I know I was an adult and Mom went with me the first time for moral support. I can’t even remember what the eating guidelines were for this program. The doctor was definitely on the creepy side. I didn’t last long with this effort.

The most successful diet I went on, prior to the weight loss surgery effort and my current success, was another one that focused primarily on protein. Nine ounces of protein a day and a cup of salad a day. No starches, no fruit at all. I ate so much chicken that year, I’m surprised that I didn’t cluck upon waking. I lost 103 pounds. Because this was another extreme plan, I went to the clinic three times a week for monitoring and also attended the weekly discussion class.

Sprinkled among the years were more attempts with Weight Watchers and forays into other popular plans like Optifast and other similar ones. I was a yo-yo dieter for sure. In 1996-1997, I consulted a nutritionist and had decent success, helped by one of the popular “diet” drugs. That drug was later pulled from the market because of it possibly causing heart problems.

After that, except for a couple more Weight Watchers online attempts, I really didn’t have any big loss successes until I decided to do the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. One could say that my current food plan is pretty extreme, but it doesn’t seem crazy. I eat enough and it’s well balanced. There just isn’t much to it. Honestly, I think I eat healthier now than I have ever, and not just in terms of quantity. I really do make an effort to eat lower fat and less sugar. I don’t eat a lot of junk starches. Fast food restaurants, which were once staples in my weekly eating, are now places I drive by instead of drive-through.

It’s almost two years since I had the surgery. Two years where I have either steadily lost weight or, when I’ve plateaued, at least maintained the weight loss. This is a record for me in terms of time. It’s been a terrific confidence boost too. I grow less scared that I’ll ultimately screw up again with every day that I soldier on. I still want to lose the remaining pounds. When I do, I don’t yet know what the maintenance food plan will look like. However, I feel really strong and positive that I can incorporate this one for life.

4 responses to “Food Plan vs Diet

  1. Hope says:

    Food plans are so much better than diets. Especially because most of us think of diets as things that we eventually stop doing. :p

  2. stopsugarcoatingit says:

    I think it’s great that you’re using “food plan” instead of diet. Diets are just traps for binges, a trap I fell into over and over again. It’s great to hear that you are doing better and are pleased with your lifestyle changes– which ultimately is the only way to make lasting change!

  3. Skye says:

    I am so sorry that you have felt the need to endure such weird and extreme diets in your life, and especially that your parents sent you to “fat camp” when you were 11. Overall health effects aside, it can’t have been good for your mental or emotional health!

    It’s good to see you so pleased with your gastric surgery, your health plan, your overall physical health, and your new lifestyle. I, too, believe that this is truly a life-changing experience for you and that you will be able to maintain these changes for life.

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