Post Diet, “You Will Still Be You”

My middle-aged dieting history is not much different from the carousel horse, up and down. Throughout my youth I ate absolutely anything I wanted. However at the age of 23, a major spinal injury led to my doctor directing me to never again play sports, ride a horse, run, or do anything of the active things I had previously enjoyed, or else I risked permanent paralysis or incontinence. I believed the doctor. Inevitably, I turned 30 years-old and 15 pounds magically appeared on my body; at 35, another 10 pounds. Shortly thereafter, I married a man who loves to cook and I quickly packed on an additional 25 pounds. The weird part was, I didn’t really mind. I was happily married with a great life. When clothes started to feel snug, I bought bigger clothes. All was good until I saw a photograph and did not recognize my body.

That was almost 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve struggled with weight fluctuations due to age, arthritis, decreased physical activity and early onset menopause. Past dieting efforts worked short-term, but not without transforming me into Oscar the Grouch. (My family now prefers I avoid all diets.) Various workout programs have been mildly successful but not without a friend or trainer to help keep me accountable.

I formerly performed with an elite women’s barbershop chorus. In 2012, my friend and I committed to the workout program P90X in order to fit into this costume. I lost 20lbs in 90 days. 2 years later, the costume no longer fit, resulting in my first public breakdown over my weight struggles.

In 2018, our son announced his 2019 wedding. I was determined to fit into a dress just two sizes smaller in the same way I had lost weight to fit into that costume. Two dress sizes was “a very reasonable goal” according to the high-tech weight loss studio near me. I fully committed to their program, worked one-on-one with their trainer, attended every workout, met my training goals every single week, yet over the course of 8 months I did not lose a single pound or drop a single dress size and I gave up. I haven’t tried dieting or committed to any workout programs since.

Like many people, I struggle with stress eating and excessive snacking. My ten pandemic pounds are proof. When I saw the headlines for Sunday’s episode of ‘The Daily‘ podcast, I was highly skeptical it would be a worthwhile listen but I’m happy to say I was wrong. The narrative of Sam Anderson’s struggle with weight loss not only inspired me to write but also motivated me, as Sam suggested, to set reasonable food boundaries for myself such as substituting greek yogurt for ice cream. He also made some observations that spoke to me. First, he said, “diet culture is a fear of death disguised as transformation, but the transformation is a fantasy.” Of course, it’s more complex that that. He explains himself so eloquently. What I gained from the article is I do need to pay more attention to the food that goes into my body and staying active but whether or not I lose two dress sizes, I am still the same person. Instead of giving up on workouts, it’s quite possible I need to accept my appearance has changed. I will probably never be happy with it but this body is mine and I should take care of it the best I can. As Anderson said specifically, “You will still be you.” I found this uplifting and hopeful so today, I started tracking calories, once again.

6 thoughts on “Post Diet, “You Will Still Be You”

Add yours

  1. I hear you, lots of people have struggles with weight no matter what size they are. Good advice though, we have to learn to accept ourselves while we are still working reasonably to make changes to the look and feel of our bodies.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Loved this post! Thanks for sharing your experience. I completely understand how difficult it can get when trying to maintain a healthy diet and for me, being in my mid-50’s, it’s become more apparent on how well I need to monitor what I eat. I can’t eat like how I used to when I was in my 20’s. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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