6-pound Lament

I wonder what combination of tricks will help me lose weight this time?

I know Weight Watchers works if I just do it. In the morning I have good intentions and I’m determined to succeed, to once and for all lose the 6 pounds that stand between my clothes fitting comfortably and not. Disappear my Buddha belly. By evening, I am ready to sabotage the die-ette and eat some crackers (1 point), a piece of cheese (2 points) or a Dove ice cream mini (3 points).

Whenever I diet, I am setting myself outside my normal eating patterns and entering the Land of Crave and Denial, a place I’m sure to sneak out of or completely bust out of eventually.

Because I know I’m going to want what I can’t have, I’ve ruled out other diets like Atkins, Paleo, etc. There’s no way I’ll succeed by banishing whole categories of food – bread, pasta, sugar, fat, which in my mind equal toast with butter, pasta with anything, sugar in my coffee, ice cream, dark chocolate, salty nuts, potato chips, and anything fried.

I don’t want to diet, and yet . . . there’s this shelf of a belly, the same six pounds I’ve gained and lost for 30 years. Which is stupid. Why do six pounds or a piece of cheese matter?

There’s a body positivity movement afoot to accept your weight and quit worrying about a perfect shape. I admire the young women who feel sexy and at ease in their own bodies and proudly disregard their muffin tops and big thighs. But I am of a different generation, one that was taught from a tiny age to aspire to a perfect figure. Anything less than that and you are made to feel like a less valuable person. Which is also stupid. But I can’t get it out of my head, can’t stop mentally shaving off the extra pounds to see my perfect shape, or more realistically, my pretty good shape.

It’s not that I’m huge. I weight 20 pounds more than when I married and looked good objectively (or is that as an object . . . something set on this earth for other people to look at?)

I’m trim, but not thin. My extra weight isn’t a health issue. For now. But I dislike how I look. I wish I looked different. I’m not aspiring to lose 20 pounds. Just six so my clothes fit better. So far, I’ve avoided buying larger sizes. That’s the line I won’t cross. But if I gain any more weight, I’ll have to.

Besides eating a lot of fish, salad, fresh fruit, chicken breasts, veggies and walking for at least 45 minutes every day, I have all kinds of tricks like—

  • Every day, I can have a planned cheat, like one sweet thing a day—a cookie or a Dove ice cream mini.
  • I don’t eat low-cal chocolate or cheese. They’re a waste of calories and I’m only going to eat more of them until I have the real thing. Instead, I eat small amounts of the good stuff—like one Dove dark chocolate Promise, not five. It really does satisfy my chocolate crave.
  • Have a 4 o’clock snack – a little hummus or a small piece of cheese and 2 or 3 crackers to tide me over until dinner.
  • Drink some ice water or herbal tea at night instead of a mojito, a beer, or a glass of rioja.
  • When the chip crave overwhelms me, I eat and enjoy a 1 oz. bag of chips fromSuperAmerica. A setback, yes, but better than a big bag of chips.

All of that works until it doesn’t. Until I don’t want to do it anymore. Until I crave more salt and sweet. Until abstinence sounds too pathetic and silly. Really? I can’t have a cookie? I really have to feel bad about caprese salad with creamy fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil, and good olive oil?

Which is why I have those six pounds to lose. Again. Which is stupid.

An excellent article, “Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner inspired me to reflect on my uneasy relationship with my weight. I highly recommend it.

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Resigning as MVP of the Eating Team

Screen shot 2013-01-01 at 8.21.20 PMI like the idea of a New Year and New Year’s resolutions. I want to believe that change is possible.

Achievable improvement has lots of appeal. So at very least, I’ll lose the weight I gained as a MVP on the Eating Team (Best All-Around Consumption – entrées, sweets, snacks, and alcohol). Nothing but fruits, vegetables and low-fat healthy everything from now until at least March.

But seriously, in a perverse way, I enjoy being virtuous . . . for a little while. I’ll obsessively calculate my Weight Watcher points (but I’ll spare you the details). I’ll be pleased when I no longer need to cram myself into my jeans and disguise my newly acquired spare tire with big sweaters.

I have other loftier goals—to be more generous, to be more tolerant, to think before I speak, to improve my writing. But I regularly make those resolutions and then backslide, so I’m realistic about the resolutions—I recognize that all I’m likely to accomplish is incremental improvements.

I have also learned that any time I’m dissatisfied with how I’m spending my days, I need to recalibrate—I can’t wait until another New Year rolls around. Taking stock and making resolutions is an ongoing process for me.

At heart, I’m an optimist. Lodged in my belief that I can change is a belief that the world can change, too. I’m hopeful about America—despite the political stupidity and individual selfishness that is rampant in our culture. I still believe Americans collectively strive to be better than we have been, and at very least, we will make incremental improvements in 2013.

But for right now, I’m focused on eating a juicy tangerine—a change I can control.