I’ve tried to diet, but I’m not good at denying myself. For 23 years I haven’t taken a shower without someone knocking at the door with a question that can’t wait another two minutes—so yes, I’m going to eat that cookie.
My mind and my body have an agreement. I dole out positive reinforcement treats to my body throughout the day, and it gets me out of bed in the morning.
There are so many theories, so many methods for dieting, and I’ve danced with them all and sent them home happy.
I’ve heard to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” I pretty much eat breakfast, lunch, mid-morning snacks and mid-afternoon happy hours like an exiled prince, and dinners like a freaking emperor. So, to use a more accurate comparison, I have the diet of a sumo wrestler. I nibble and nosh throughout the day, and I eat the heaviest, most caloric food in the last two hours before I go to bed, so that all of the calories can join hands and turn into layers of fat overnight.
I’ve heard to limit yourself to one sweet thing a week. I tried that and end up making myself a weekly dessert the size of a Hawaiian island.
I’ve heard to count calories. The problem with this method is that I am an unscrupulous cheater. I will not count the spoons full of ice cream that I eat, straight from the box, or the brownies that are stuck to the side of the pan that I have to pry out and consume before putting together a tray for the class party, or the melted peanut butter-chocolate power bar that I find between the minivan seats while I’m waiting in the carpool line. I only count lettuce and rice cakes. So, no matter how much I actually eat during the day, my calorie count always amounts to roughly 235.
I’ve heard to eat six mini-meals a day. My mini-meals turn into one constant land-cruise buffet. There might as well be an ice sculpture of a swan on my kitchen counter, right beside the uneaten fries and the container of Boy Scout popcorn.
I’ve heard about the Starbucks diet—that one woman lost 85 pounds by eating exclusively at Starbucks. I have been pretty close to doing that diet myself, but the pumpkin bread and cake pops kept winning out over the oatmeal.
The frustrating thing for me is that it wasn’t always this way. Despite giving birth to four children, despite the fact that two of them were born at the same time, despite the fact that my body weight increased by half during that twins pregnancy, I always managed to return to my normal weight and jeans size, and maintain it steadily.
Not true now. I have had another birthday and there are squatters at my belly. The pounds—about 10 of them—have settled along my mid-section and are making plans to retire there. I don’t want to take them with me when I finally, one day, become an empty nester. I want to leave them in the basement along with the boxes of kindergarten artwork.
My mother has stayed slim and trim well into her senior years, and when asked how she does it, her standard reply is, “I eat whatever I want and I never exercise.”
I’ve tried that method too, but it doesn’t seem to work as well for me. I’ve decided that the only thing left for me to do is follow another piece of mom’s advice…to stand up straight and suck in my stomach.