Friday, April 24, 2009

What is a diet?

195 pounds
A few people have asked me how I can lose weight without dieting.  I suppose the first thing I should do in order to answer this question is explain what the word "diet" means to me. From my way of thinking, a diet is, first and foremost, something you do temporarily. Unlike a permanent lifestyle change, a diet has a definite beginning and a definite end. . . 

Before the diet, you eat as much as you can because you know you're about to start the grueling process of protracted self-denial. 

Come to think of it, a diet is not that different from the Christian celebration of Lent: people decide to give up something they love for a set period of time, and because they know they'll be depriving themselves of a cherished food or activity for an extended period, they gorge themselves on it before the fast begins.    

During the diet, you deny yourself food in order to reduce your daily caloric intake. There are several problems with this, and one of them is that people often deny themselves healthy foods if they are too high-calorie or not part of the prescribed plan. 

I'll never forget watching my mother-in-law do this once when she was enrolled in Weight Watchers: she took out a banana, cut it in two, and ate only half of the measly thing. When I asked her why she didn't eat the whole banana, she said that it was "too many points." Too many points?! A banana?! For God's sake, it's a piece of fruit!!! I firmly believe that there should be NO limit on the amount of fruits and vegetables people allow themselves to eat, and any "diet" that tells you to cut back on them is, by definition, unhealthy.

And, finally. . .

• After the diet is done, you exact revenge: you are so angry about denying yourself food for so long that you go on an uncontrolled gluttonous rampage through every refrigerator, restaurant, and snack aisle within one hundred square miles. 

That was me after our wedding day (and the only diet of my life). I still remember the gloriously decadent food we ate on our honeymoon, and after we got back, I think I spent the next six months subsisting solely on a disastrous cocktail of soda, chips, and dip. (Okay, this is an exaggeration, but you get the idea.) And if you've read the rest of my blog, you already know that my vengeance caused the single worst weight gain of my life: I picked up thirty-three pounds in six months. 

So I guess it must be pretty obvious by now why I'm opposed to diets.

More soon on how I can lose weight without dieting.  

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