I am fat. The doctor called it "obese" at my annual checkup, but it's the same thing. I'm not disgusting, but I'm not happy with the size of my body. It isn't a new condition. I've been "growing" steadily for the last 20 years. I don't like it, but until recently, there didn't seem to be much I could do about it.
I have occasionally been successful in losing weight. Once I dropped about 40 pounds in the course of a year. My secret was that I ate only meat, vegetables and fruit. At the end of that year, I looked great, but if I had found a genie in a bottle, my first wish would have been for a cookie. Eventually, I had that cookie, and a great many others. I regained the 40 pounds and added some more to it.
My weight problem has never been the result of lack of exercise, either. I have exercised more or less consistently each week for at least 10 years. I have walked, taken aerobic classes, lifted weights and swum. Currently, I swim about 5 miles a week, and I weigh more than ever.
A while back, something clicked. I absolutely must do something about my weight. I realized that if I were to lose weight, I was going to have to change the way I eat permanently. I didn't really know what to change, but I was pretty sure that it was not going to be a quick fix. My experience with the low-carb diet told me that change had to be permanent, and for it to be permanent, I had to be able to live with the changes. Somewhere, I read a line that spoke to me, and I decided that this would be the cornerstone of my "diet." The idea was simple but profound.
If it isn't delicious, don't eat it.
When I let "diet experts" tell me what to eat, I am letting someone else tell me what to put in my mouth. I can think of about a million things that experts recommend that taste bad. Here's one: rice cakes. Some folks like them. They remind me of eating Styrofoam. It doesn't matter how few calories they have, if I buy them, I will not eat them. They are not delicious, to me, in my mouth. And friends, diet is about what I put in my mouth and how it tastes to me.
I first learned about The Slow Down Diet through an interview with its author, Marc David on the radio. The interview prompted me to buy the book, and my journey began. The book advertises itself as "An 8-Week Breakthrough Program." I have taken much longer with it. Considering the title, this might not be such a bad thing.
David, a nutritionist, claims that fat is more than the result of eating too much. Given that I seldom gorged myself but nevertheless have gained weight consistently for nearly 20 years, I intuitively agreed with his premise. I have only ever bought two diet books. The other advocated a rigorous exercise program and a complex system of exercise equivalents for foods. So if you wanted a bowl of ice cream, you had to increase your exercise to burn the extra calories. I couldn't stick with it. It felt like I was punishing myself for eating, and that felt wrong.
We all have to eat. It is not a failing. It is not something to do penance for. In fact, eating can be quite pleasurable. How many things in your life are absolute necessities that are also pleasurable?
I have been slowly working the principles of Slow Down into my everyday life. Recently, something began telling me that I was getting results, even if they weren't visible on the scale yet. More about that next time.