The internet is lousy with dieting tips, 95% of of it is quack science (I’m talking to you Dr. Oz), the other 5% is useful, but you have to be prepared to tailor it to your own needs. Here is my part of the 5%:
- Have a compelling reason. My sisters and I coincidentally found ourselves trying to lose weight at the same time. One had a knee injury and was losing it to help with healing and the other was battling some pounds that slipped on. I had come face to face with yet another unpleasant reality of perimenopause: the meno-pot. I’m no stranger to extra pounds, having watched them creep on gradually over the last 20 years. But we had a gentlewoman’s agreement about it. The pounds were added very slowly and evenly, and I occasionally cut back to make them appear even more slowly. The meno-pot changed all that. One day I realized the pounds had begun to concentrate in my mid-drift, which I’d heard would happen and didn’t believe it. But worse than that, they were concentrating unevenly. Instead of an even ring around my middle, which I could have gotten used to, the ring has two sloping sand dune–like formations. Staring down at them I noticed the dune on the right side sticks out more. What the hell is that all about, I ask you? Clearly all gentlewomanly agreements were off, and this was war.
- Forget about those stupid lists. “Top 10 ways to cut calories.” One thing that’s on all of them is “Stop drinking regular soda.” I haven’t had regular soda since the early 90s—who the hell drinks regular soda any more anyway? Other useless tidbits: “Use low cal dressing” and “avoid nuts.” Been there, done that. My advice is to avoid these lists. If you are a professional at knowing what you put in your body, these lists will just piss you off and make you reach for a handful of chocolate chip cookies: butter, eggs, sugar and chocolate. Hold the soda, dumbass.
- Be brutal in your calorie count. I was eating healthy (see things I’d given up in #2) but not losing the weight. I knew I needed to get serious about counting calories, even though I’m not a huge fan of counting in general. I had to get ruthless. Know what I found out? I was eating a apple a day as a snack, which can be anywhere from 120 to 150 calories. WTF? The same amount of vegetables has a fraction of the calories. Apple a day, kiss my patooties. I also had to ditch sandwich bread. I’ve been eating whole grain wheat bread for years. Like fruit, it’s good for you, but holy crap the calories! I’m strictly a wrap girl now.
- The lazier eater you are, the better. I can eat the same thing week after week without getting tired of it. This helps keep the calorie counts even. No wondering how a new food stacks up calories-wise with a tried-and-true food. Bonus: If I can eat it out of the bag I bought it in, I’m good to go. The second part of the lazy, is don’t try to be a hero and lose 2 or more pounds a week—that’s too much work. Keep the long view—at 1 pound a week, you’ll get there and you won’t bore your friends to death with your account of everything you can and can’t eat.
- If you have perimenopause, you can ignore your day-to-day weight. I have lost a pound a week for the last four weeks, but not in a steady pattern. Depending on my hormones and how much water I’m retaining, I can gain 2 pounds one day, lose it the next, gain 1 pound and keep it for three days, then lose ½ a pound a day over 4 days. A weekly weigh-in would probably be more accurate, but not nearly as much fun. I should think about bringing this game to Vegas—my house would win every time.
- Technology can help. I like the Web MD food and fitness planner. You put in how much you want to lose overall per week and then it calculates how much you can eat based on how much exercise you’ve done. I don’t entirely trust it—it counts things like grocery shopping and doing laundry as exercise, and allegedly I burn 600 calories sitting at my desk at work for 6 hours. Um, OK if you say so. But at the end of the day, it always says I could eat a bit more—I’m down with that.
- Get moving, but in a way that makes sense to you and you can sustain. I take a train to work and try to make the most out of walking to and from the train. As a concession to #1, I decided to add the gym once a week. Boy, was I excited to learn that you get all the benefits if you push as fast you can in a shorter amount of time. The pushing part kind of stinks, but I love getting it over with faster!
- What goes on during the weekend stays in the weekend. I have a five-day tolerance for eating healthy and low-cal. The other two days, well, I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.