Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why is this so hard?

Like some 65% of all Americans, I fall into the "overweight" category - yes, I'll admit that out loud. And like the vast majority of people in this category, I have struggled, dieted, and fought over and over to get back to "normal". Why, then, do I continue to fail?

I've struggled with my weight for many years. Even in high school - when anorexia was chic, SlimFast was the breakfast of choice, and I was physically active several hours each day (sports, PE, etc) - I was flirting with the upper limit of that normal range. When I left for college, and swapped field hockey for hours in the lab, the weight started to pile on. Granted, my meals then consisted of mac & cheese, raman noodles, and ice cream - I won't claim to have made all the right decisions.

Still, in the years since college, I've learned many things. Out-negotiating a car dealer. Maintaining a home with luck and Lowes. Using a cookbook, and even making yummy meals from my imagination. The days of microwave cheap are over.

And I happen to think I'm an intelligent, strong person. I've earned an advanced degree in physics. I've weathered some pretty big 'storms' in life. I exercise self-restraint all the time, saving money for trips and getting up for work even when tired. I know all the right things I need to do when it comes to nutrition - lots of veggies, lots of fruit, less meat, avoid restaurants and fast food - and I try to exercise 3 or more times a week.

So with all that going for me...why am I not thinner? Is the dieting industry part of the problem? Meal replacement shakes and bars aren't real food. Counting calories or points or whatever the latest "magic number" is only leads to mild OCD. Every "diet", every "weight loss strategy" revolves around an obsession with food - how much you eat, what you eat, when you eat, and how you workout to counter what you ate. With that much thought and energy centered around food, how can you not be hungry and stressed out - and want something to eat to make you feel better?!

I wish I knew what the answer was. Why can't we just eat - good food, REAL food, nutritious food. Eat soup with dinner because you like the taste, not because you think the liquid will fill you up. Have a salad for the delicious crunch of lettuce, not for the low-calorie aspect. Is there a way to reach that place again? To eat when hungry, stop when full, enjoy - but not too much - the taste, and move on with the rest of your day?

I don't know. What I do know, is that I'm done with dieting. It's never done me any good - it just makes me more stressed, more hungry, and more grumpy. If that means I'll never reach that magical 'normal' number again, so be it - at least I'll be happy.