I’ve lived with dieting my whole life. Growing up, my Mom gained and lost the same 40 pounds many times over. She was only 5’1” tall so that was a substantial amount of weight for her. She was also on a low sodium diet for her heart, so watching what we ate was an everyday thing. We loved food, but always ate healthy.
From my twenties to my forties, I got lucky and could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. I had a hyper active thyroid for a while which might have been part of the reason. Anyway, when my husband and I ate our way through France for two weeks, I gave up desserts for a week or two to lose the five pounds I had gained. Those were the days!
In my forties, maybe due to perimenapause, I suddenly put on twenty pounds. I didn’t think anything of it until I tried to lose the weight and couldn’t. For the entire twenty years since then, I’ve been struggling with weight. It may only be 5 to 10 pounds, but for me, it’s a big deal. My metabolic rate seems to hover somewhere around zero. I have to starve to lose weight.
I was thrown out of Weight Watchers. On their lowest level of points, I maintained my weight, but didn’t lose. They refused to ‘allow’ me to go below the minimum calorie count they deemed ‘healthy.’ So I left and tried Jenny Craig. They are much more flexible and I’ve been with them, on and off, for four years.
I love Jenny Craig. Many people don’t like having to buy prepared foods to eat every day. To me, it’s a Godsend. I hate spending the time and energy to shop, plan and cook meals when I can only eat a fraction of what I really want. I hate having to weigh all my food. It feels creepy and obsessive to me. I don’t want to think about food at all.
That’s what Jenny Craig lets me to do – not think about food. The six or so times a day I’m supposed to eat something, I just go to the freezer or cabinet, pick something out and eat it. No worrying about what to eat or how much. I can also snack on vegetables and salsa whenever I want, so I’m a happy camper.
I left Jenny after reaching my goal weight and maintaining it for a full year. Big mistake. I went back to eating regular food, but being careful about what I ate and how much. I still always eat healthy and love fruits and vegetables. Things were fine until my daughter came to visit for Xmas in 2015. I decided it was a bummer to have to ‘diet’ all the time when we were eating out with friends a lot. So I stopped monitoring what I ate for ten days. I didn’t binge, I just didn’t pay attention.
I gained six pounds and you guessed it, I had trouble taking the weight off. Again. In fact, over the next year of self-help ‘dieting’, I managed to gain two pounds. I continued to struggle for more than a year, going down a few pounds, then back up a few. I seemed to always be perpetually dieting but not losing weight.
I recently reached a critical level of frustration. Suddenly, I remembered I didn’t have to go it alone. I could go back to Jenny Craig. Get meals, counseling to get me back on track. I hadn’t even thought about that for the past year. I made an appointment and immediately felt more in control. With the packaged foods, I’ll go back to knowing exactly what I can eat each day. And they add some fiber, or something, to their foods, so I’m actually satisfied eating their small portions. I didn’t mind doing this diet – why didn’t I think to go back to it earlier?
I think the answer is we all suffer from the myth that dieting will be easy. For me, it’s mostly common sense and self-control. I was beating myself up when I couldn’t drop the weight on my own. I should have reached out for help sooner.
I just started Jenny again so I haven’t lost any weight yet. But I feel more in control, less agitated and less obsessed with dieting. I still have to watch what I eat when I go out, but for the most part, I know what I have to do. And, I know I can do it. Just — not necessarily alone.