What I learned from going on a diet

January 2, 2009. D-day. Got on the scale first thing in the morning. AAAHHHHHH!!!! I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Perhaps some of you have felt this way after getting on the scale?  I could not believe the number I was seeing. Boy, had I been in denial!

Now, I am not a big proponent of obsessive scale weighing, because many people equate weight with self worth, and this obsessive pattern can enhance low self esteem, especially in women. But, I do believe it is essential we get on the scale every now and then to know whether our eating habits have resulted in weight gain, weight loss, or no change. Recent research has shown that people who weigh themselves frequently, are less likely to gain weight- and I do know this to be true- as I have friends and clients who never weigh themselves, and then are shocked to find they have gained so much weight!  It’s easy to ignore unhealthy eating when you do not know it’s impact on your weight.

Anyway, it had been awhile for me since I weighed myself, and the number I saw was way out of line! For the first time since my early 20’s, I decided to follow a strict diet regimen. Although I was angry at myself for eating so poorly over the holidays, I also knew that berating myself won’t change anything. Action does.

So, in the month of January I embarked on a low carb “diet”. I lost 6 pounds in one month-  a record amount of weight for me, as usually I can only lose about 2-3 pounds/month.  More importantly, along the way, I learned alot about myself.

I learned:

1-For normal thinking, healthy self-esteem people, a diet can be a great tool to jumpstart your way to healthier eating. I say “healthy self-esteem people”, because dieting can, for many people, be a very self destructive exercise.  Young girls and teens or, people with food addictions, eating disorders, or disordered eating patterns, should never diet.

2- I was eating way too much carbs and ,in particular, doing it without conscious thought. By following a “diet” I realized how often I was reaching for crap even if I was not hungry. I know now that I CAN eat fewer starchy carbs and still have plenty of energy!

3- It is OK to be a bit hungry every now and then. I was always afraid of being hungry- because I was afraid it would lead to over eating eventually. But, there is a big difference between mild hunger and feeling starved. Feeling starved is never good. Never.

4- Using the excuse “I have no time to prepare healthy food” is a cop-out. I am a pretty busy person, but I had fooled myself into thinking I didn’t have time to prepare nice healthy breakfast and lunches. The diet taught me that I do have time!

5-There’s absolutely NO SENSE in going on a diet if you don’t learn something from it. Use the diet as a time for self-reflection. Do I use food for comfort? Am I unconscious when I eat? Am I eating for other reasons than  healthy refueling and as a response to hunger?

This diet really opened my eyes to how far off healthy my nutrition had become. As a mature women in her late 40’s- I approached this diet very differently than I did last time I dieted- at age 24.  I  now have the self-esteem to weigh myself occasionally and, if necessary, change my food intake to adjust my weight to a healthier place!