Saturday, July 4, 2009

Diets Don't Work and neither did the rest of them

Diets Don't Work ... this was the name of one of the 'diets' I followed and gee, it didn't work for me! LOL! But the saying is true. Diets do not work, I have tried enough of them to know!

I think it was around the age or seven or eight that I had started packing on the pounds. I have recently looked back at family photos and yep, I was chubby! I don't really know why I got fat, my mom says I liked to eat and not move which is still very true today. Ha! It was not pleasant being the 'fat kid' in class, I got called all sorts of names from the uninventive 'fatso' to the more creative 'Yank Tank' when our family lived in Australia. I also remember thinking, well, I can't go on a diet because my mom makes all the food! I thought, when I grow up, I will go on a diet.

So I did! In my teens my weight was up and down. Early teens I was overweight probably by 15-20 pounds but I didn't do anything to try and change this. In my later teens I was able to trim down by doing regular excercise in a good physical education programme at high school that featured aerobics and weight training. Being a typical teenage girl, however, I thought I still needed to lose 10 pounds so I tried my first diet recommended to me by a girl I worked with. "You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want as long as you are hungry," she told me as she helped herself to a candy bar from the shelves. It sounded great to me. So I bought the book, Diets Don't Work. The whole premise of this book was based on how thin people eat - they only eat when they are hungry. So, the author explains, if you eat like a thin person, you will be thin! I am sure there must of been more to that book but really, that was the only point I got. And it was very easy to convince myself that I was hungry and needed a candy bar, ice cream, chips, cake, nachos ... I ended up eating complete garbage food when I was actually hungry and missing out on the good, wholesome stuff I should have been having at mealtimes. My mother was not impressed, and when I started to put on weight I decided to give it up.

My weight was up and down a bit over the next five years, but I was eating healthily living at home and making sure I exercised regularly with either aerobics or jogging. In 1990, the year before I moved to New Zealand, I got on a real 'health kick' and ate a very low fat diet and jogged every morning (even in the snow!). I was down to 135 pounds when I moved to NZ in 1991.

It was a huge adjustment moving to New Zealand. I came here to be with my pen-pal, Steve. While we had a wonderful time, I think there was a lot of underlying stress of missing my family, adjusting to a new country, making new friends and not keeping up with my healthy eating and exercise programme.

Over the next 10 years I slowly put on weight. I started suffering from 'hayfever'. My nose would run constantly, and I'd have sneezing fits throughout the day. I went to a naturopath for a different problem and mentioned the 'hayfever'. She showed me a book: the Eat Right 4 Your Type Diet. It was all about eating foods suited to your blood type. One of the benefits of this was possible weight loss. I was intrigued, got my blood typed and started cutting out the 'avoid' foods and eating only the 'neutral' or 'highly beneficial' foods. One of the foods I cut out was wheat. Within a few weeks my 'hayfever' disappeared. Gone. Completely. No more sneezing or runny nose. This was fantastic! I was a convert and still eat to my blood type today. However, I didn't lose any weight.

Weight Watchers came along next in the form of a free points booklet loaned to me by my weight-loss buddy, Carol. Now, this is a system I could follow, I thought! Each food has a number of points allocated to it - the healthier the food, the lower the points. I think I was allowed 22 points per day. But somehow I still managed to eat a lot of garbage. Let's see, an ice cream sundae is only 10 points (I can't remember exactly the number) so that means I can survive on 12 points for the rest of the day. I think because I didn't sign up for the full programme to know how best to use the points system or to be accountable with a weekly weigh-in, this programme wasn't sustainable for me, and I had given it up within just a few weeks. No weight loss either. Surprise.

While in the book store one day, I read the description of a 'carbohydrate addict' on the back cover of the The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet book, it was very similar to their website's The Carbohydrate Addict's Quick Quiz which includes questions such as: After a full breakfast, do you get hungry before it's time for lunch? Do you have a difficult time stopping, once you start to eat starches, snack foods, junk food, or sweets? Do you get unexplainably tired and/or hungry in the afternoon? Have you at times continued eating even though you felt uncomfortably full?

Yes! My answer to all of those questions. I was a Carbohydrate Addict! I bought the book and followed the programme to the letter. That was about 10 years ago, so I am a little hazy on the details. But I just remember eating an extremely low/no-carb diet and having to eat a meal within one hour to keep insulin levels stable. I think I lost about five pounds within the first month or so. I perservered with the diet for almost a year. I had stopped losing weight but was still a good ten pounds overweight. And then I just couldn't do 'no carbs' any more, it wasn't sustainable for me. So I stopped.

I found a new book: The Schwarzbein Principle. It was not low carb. It was not counting points. Step One from their website outlines healthy nutrition:

Never skip a meal again
Eat real, unprocessed foods
Eat balanced meals
Choose a protein as the main nutrient in your meal
Add some healthy fats
Add real carbohydrates
Add nonstarchy vegetables
Eat snacks
Eat solid food
Drink enough water

This to me is a completely sensible and natural way to eat and it works well for many, many people. I changed my eating to follow the points above ... while at the same time, I started doing Body For Life - the exercise programme only.

I carried on meshing these two programmes together for 6 months. I did not lose a pound. I finally gave up on both.

It wasn't until I had my first consult with my nutritionist that I found out WHY these diets weren't working for me. Following The Schwarzbein Principle, I was eating too much fat. Albeit, healthy natural fats but far too much to stimulate weight loss. And no amount of exercise on the Body For Life programme was going to burn it all!

From all the published testimonials, I appreciate that there are plenty of people who have had wonderful success with some of the diets/programmes I've tried. While they weren't successful for me, trying them has been part of the journey, and I have learned a lot from the experiences. Looking back on them now is a reminder of what *really* does work for *me*.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Lisa, I cannot remember you as a before photo look alike. Hmm, all those diets seem like a lot of work to me. I am lucky not having a weight problem but I can see how it can dominate your life. However good on you to persist through so many diets until you found a solution for you. Admirable and I am so pleased your current food habits work so well for you.
    You get 11 points out of 10 from me.