My first real dieting effort started the second semester of my freshman year in college. I didn’t follow any specific plan. I did no research and read no books. I just cut out the typical college junk, like beer and midnight pizzas, and started trying to eat less. And I weighed in with my floormate every Monday morning. In 10 weeks I lost 20 pounds. No exercise. But I had to keep eating less and less to keep losing. I don’t remember what led to my first regain following that first loss. But I know that I gained back every single pound plus more.
In the almost three decades since then, I have gone on more diets than I can count or remember. I eventually regained the weight every time, but sometimes I maintained longer than others. Sometimes I was thin for years. Sometimes I was heavy for years. Sometimes the weight pendulum swung back and forth much faster.
Some diets were easier for me than others. Some were healthier than others, based on sound nutritional principles. Some diets were, well, just a bit kooky. I did the Scarsdale Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Carb Addicts Diet, Dr. Oz’s “You on a Diet.” Even a three-day fast I read about in Cosmo. I did Weight Watchers more than once. The first time I reached lifetime status and stupidly stopped going (so I gained back every pound); the subsequent times I never stuck with it very long. And then I discovered the South Beach Diet. Reached my goal. Gained it all back. Reached my goal. Gained some of it back. And here I am on South Beach again today.
So you may ask why I would go back to a diet plan that I have tried (more than) twice before. Because it works for me. And it is really about healthy eating. And it is really not a diet in the sense of a weight loss plan… but a diet in the sense of a “way of eating for life” plan. SB never failed me – I failed SB. As with every other diet I have ever been on, I ended the diet when I reached my goal (or earlier in many cases past) and then I started eating things I used to eat. “Aha,” I said to myself, finally having a much needed epiphany. If I eat what I used to eat I will weigh what I used to weigh.
If you consider my diets of the past, some were clearly not going to do more than result in temporary weight loss. But some were really very sound, proven plans. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that no plan, crazy or sane, was going to get me off my weight roller-coaster unless I made the choice to stop riding and start living. Living a healthy eating lifestyle once and for all. Today, tomorrow, and all the days to come. My eating still has its ups and downs. But they are no longer the yo-yo weight variation of years past. Just the little struggles I am still working to overcome. A pessimist might look at my past and think “give it time, the yo-yo will bounce back.” But the optimist would know that my yo-yo days are over. The optimist would view all my past dieting attempts as learning experiences that all brought me to a better place and better me today. Still a work in progress. But progress is the key word.