Friday, September 30, 2011

The End of Dieting

For the first time in my adult life, I haven't had to worry about losing weight. I feel like this bears repeating, for the first time in my entire adult life, I have not felt any pressure (external or internal) to lose weight.

I remember the first time I went on a diet. I was 12-years-old and I had just gotten home from my first date ever. Of course, it wasn't much of a date at that age--as I recall, we went bike riding and stopped by the Asian grocery store and bought sushi. Anyway, I remember that I got home and walked into the house, still glowing from the good time I had. I was wearing a tight, stretchy red shirt that I liked, when my dad walked into the room, looked pointedly at my bulging stomach and said, "Hmm...what's going on with your weight?"

I never wore that shirt again.

I remember walking upstairs that afternoon with my dad and stepping on the scale, and seeing what was then a very scary number: 150 pounds. As soon as I saw my weight, flashing in red, I started to freak out. I panicked as I realized how much bigger I was than everyone around me. My younger sisters were nine and seven, neither of them even close to 100 pounds. My own mom only weighed 130 pounds. Most of my friends weighed around 100 pounds. At age 12, I realized I was bigger and heavier than most of my family and most of my friends.

I stepped off the scale, completely and utterly horrified. My dad, the scientist and rational thinker, had a plan. He decided to put me on his version of Weight Watchers (my mom had recently lost some weight with the program). He created a spreadsheet with weekly weigh-ins (Tuesday evening) and I started the diet right then and there. I think that the diet basically consisted of fewer snacks and fewer seconds at dinner. It was a fairly reasonable plan. Every Tuesday, I would weigh in, my dad would track my progress (and I lost pretty much every week) and then we'd get pizza for dinner to celebrate. It all worked well for a while.

And then, I started to realize that if I ate less, I'd lose more. I started to skip meals, and then step on the scale, and lose multiple pounds in a week. I remember how proud my dad was of me. Nearly everyone complimented me, and I felt thin for the first time in my life. I had this desire to get to 128 pounds, and I remember trying like crazy to get lower than 134. The only problem: I felt hungry all the time. I remember going to bed hungry and waking up hungry. I remember watching my siblings with envy as they ate the treats I enjoyed, while I forcefully deprived myself. I started to resent the diet.

I don't remember the first time that I binged. But I do remember regularly going into the fridge when my parents weren't looking and taking two yogurts and two chewy bars and eating them quickly in my room before anyone noticed. I remember hiding containers and wrappers under my bed. And surely enough the weight started to creep back on. My dad, the scientist, didn't understand it; my weight gain didn't add up. At first, he truly believed there was something wrong with my metabolism. And then he started to realize that I was sneaking food, which led to our first conflict over my weight--when my mixture of emotions, guilt, shame, anger, made it nearly impossible for me to discuss my weight in an unemotional and non-defensive way.

After that first failed diet, I dieted on and off for my entire time in high school, fluctuating between 155-175 in those four years. After I left home to go to college, I completely rebelled, and as you know, my weight skyrocketed to the morbidly obese category--240 pounds. And then of course, for some reason at age 24, I joined Weight Watchers and, well, you know the rest of the story ;)

And now, at the age of 25, I have finally gotten back to what I feel is a natural weight for me. For the past month, I have not been on any sort of a diet. I haven't thought about points. Instead, my philosophy has been to eat when I'm hungry and (try) to stop eating when I'm full. I weigh myself every morning--to monitor my progress--and do you want to know the absolutely amazing thing? By listening to my body and my hunger signals, I have been able to maintain my weight. I am always somewhere between 149-151 pounds, no matter what I eat or what I do. How could this be? Is it really and truly this easy to maintain one's weight?

All I know is that it feels absolutely amazing to not have to worry about my weight, to be able to enjoy food completely guilt-free, and to be able to step on the scale without any fear of judgment. Somehow, throughout this journey to health, I've learned to trust myself. I am at a natural weight and as long as I live well and listen to my body, I know that I will be able to maintain it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really happy for you!

    I'm working on getting there myself. Right now, I'm just paying attention to my internal signals and how I react.