“We kindly remind you that calories are for eating not counting.” ~ from the bottom of a restaurant menu in Oslo.
Dieting doesn’t work. The entire existence of the dieting industry is a testament to that. Take Weight Watchers for example. Weight Watchers has built a multi-million dollar business on the understanding that while you follow their programs you will lose weight, but once you stop with the strict points counting, and the weekly weigh-ins, and the meetings, you will be unable to sustain your ideal weight. So, soon you’ll be back once again, paying them once again, because, well, it worked for you last time didn’t it?
Well, actually, no, it didn’t.
If it had worked you’d never need to go on another diet again.
Dieting the way most people do it is just a money-making scam. This is because the entire mindset of ‘being on a diet’ is counterproductive to maintaining your desired weight.
This is because while they’re ‘on a diet’ the only thing that most people are able to think about for any length of time is food.
They think about the food they can have, and planning their meals to make sure they’re in keeping with the diet plan. They think of all the foods that they’d like to eat but can’t because they’re dieting.
They feel guilty about the brownie that they ate because someone at work baked it for them. It would have but rude not to eat it, but at the same time they feel weak for not sticking to the programme.
They think about how much they really want to be able to eat the thing that their friend is having but can’t because they’re dieting.
And so on.
You might as well admit to it, I know I’m not the only one.
When I listen to the women at work, who spend most of their lives on diet plans, I notice that it also dominates their conversation. They’re always talking about what food they’ve been eating, comparing notes on different dieting regimes, considering what adjustments they should make in their eating patterns for having ‘slipped up’ and eaten a cupcake over the weekend.
And all the while they’re talking about food, they’re thinking about food.
And all the time they’re thinking about food, they’re making their bodies want more food.
They’re just setting themselves up for failure.
There’s only one sure-fire way that I’ve found to stick to an eating pattern that allows you to either lose weight or maintain your figure at a size 6, 8, 10, 12* or whatever your ideal is. And that’s to stop thinking about food.
That’s it. That’s all there is too it.
Just don’t think about food.
Just go out and get on with doing something else instead.
And make sure you walk there if it’s at all possible. That’s where reducing your carbon footprint comes in.
For most of my twenties I ate like a horse and a pig combined. I didn’t give a second’s thought to calories or nutritional values. I lived on a diet composed mainly of pasta and pancakes. And I was tiny.
I was also incredibly active. I spent most of my time studying or working. And when I wasn’t doing that I was out and about socialising, travelling, partying, shopping, campaigning, volunteering. I always had something else to be doing.
And while I was absorbed in being busy it never occurred to me to start thinking about cake. Which would only have led to me wanting cake, and then eating cake, and then wanting more cake.
This all changed early last year when I suffered a back injury. I couldn’t stand up to be able cook, so I relied on Domino’s to feed me. At the same time I had to cut down on my activities, and started taking taxis everywhere instead of walking as I would usually have done.
Having all this spare time on my hands didn’t suit me. I need to be doing something. I annoy even myself when I’m bored. But there isn’t really anything to do when you’re immobilised but eat.
So that’s what I did.
And I gained a lot of weight that I’ve been trying to get rid of ever since.
Not because I’m particularly bothered by it, I just thought it would be a whole lot cheaper than having to having to replace all the clothes I no longer fit into.
Now, in my defence, my failure in this endeavour does owe a lot to the mirtazapine that I’ve been taking for most of this year, which has the annoying side effect of making me incredibly hungry most of the time.
But dieting just made me spend even more time thinking about food. It’s completely counter productive.
So if you’re looking to lose some weight my advice instead is this – get busy.
Find yourself a cause, or a hobby, or an interest.
Take a class or offer to coach a kids sports team. Join a book club, take up wine tasting, or teach yourself to play a musical instrument. Start a campaign to raise money for a local cause, start working on your novel, or learn about quantum physics. Go out running, go travelling, or go and sit with some old people in hospital.Visit some art galleries, watch a football match, catch up with some friends. Sign up to a ballroom dancing class, or one on sign language, or painting. Become a part time cake decorator, furniture restorer, or graphic designer.
Do anything that doesn’t have to do with dieting.
And then walk everywhere that isn’t going to take you more than 30-35 minutes to get to.
And, that’s it. You’ll never need go on another diet again.
*I’ve been all of them, also a size 4, and sizes 14 and 16.