A few years back Susan Powter authored a book by that title. Her message was eating fat makes you fat. Many of us got on board and cut the fat in our diet. We thought we’d found the magic bullet. We replaced most of the fat with carbohydrates---not the good ones like real fruit, vegetables and such, but the processed ones. I call them Frankenfoods. Not much of an improvement if you ask me. We thought that as long as it was fat free we could eat without impunity. Based on my own personal experience it was a huge failure in the long term. I’m still recovering from it.
In the interim I’ve learned a thing or two or three about managing my weight, whether I’m trying to lose or maintain. And I use the term weight management instead of diet because of the connotation that a diet is temporary and not long term.
To be successful at managing my weight I must be proactive for the long term. Let me repeat that. To be successful at managing my weight I must be proactive for the long term. It is insane to think I can do any less.
Does that mean that for the rest of my life I must deny myself the food I want? No cookies…no cake…no candy…no pizza…no ice cream….no tacos…you get the idea. No ---that is not what I’m saying. Being proactive for the long term is not: “I must deny myself the food I want for the rest of my life.
What, then is it? I had a light bulb moment last fall. I knew from previous experience that once the diet ends, if something else doesn’t begin I’ll gain the weight back, lifestyle changes notwithstanding. Those changes were made permanently for me. Skim milk instead of fat. Baking instead of frying. Fat free spread, fat free mayo, fat free salad dressing instead of full fat. I could go on but you get the idea.
What I discovered is this: I was simply eating too much food! That’s right…too much food. In terms of caloric intake I was exceeding my “feed” limit. When it dawned on me that as long as I stayed in the range of calories I needed to maintain the weight I desired, I could pretty much eat any kind of food I wanted. Mind you, I could not eat as much of it as I wanted. But I could eat more than I did on most diet plans and still lose weight.
To arrive at my “feed” limit I determined how many calories it would take to maintain my desired weight. Daily averaging that amount of calories would allow me to eat my way down to my desired weight from my current weight. And once arriving there, there would be nothing to change. And doing an average per day opposed to a set limit per day allows me to eat more on days that I'm hungrier. I find that there are days when 1200 calories satisfy me...other days I need 1800. The average for those two days is 1500 calories, well within my personal feed limit of 1600 calories.
As long as I am proactive and monitor my food intake, I can eat without impunity. Let me repeat myself because this is key: as long as I am proactive and monitor my food intake, I can eat without impunity. This means keeping track of what I put into my body and adjusting accordingly. Such a simple concept.
I wish I’d figured this out years ago. I imagine all those “naturally” slim people did so early on or it just comes natural to them. For me, I say better late than never. Although I’ve wondered why all the diet plans and programs I’ve tried never provided this piece of the puzzle. Perhaps they were afraid I’d never need them again. And you know what. I don’t. The diet insanity stops here.