The Magic Pill

dietsecretsAfter the death of my mom in 2010, when I finally resolved myself that I needed to make changes in my lifestyle for my own good health, and the weight I’d been carrying around for so many years finally began to come off – this time I believed (and still do) for good – I found myself getting the same question on nearly a daily basis: “What diet are you on?” Usually the person asking the question was an already thin and perky woman who would then inundate me with the details of her latest diet, or her quest to burn 1000 calories a day, or her meticulous calorie counting, or her struggle to take off six pounds (never 5, never 10 – always some odd single digit number between the two which was completely unfathomable to me who had always had two zeros between me and my “ideal weight” for as long as I can remember).

The truth, though – and I’ve said this before here, but it’s worth saying again: there is no secret. Losing weight, especially as a woman, especially as a woman in my late 30s (and now at 40) is really hard work. It’s a constant battle with my own self-control, a constant push against my desire to stay still and put off exercise for tomorrow (and tomorrow again, and the day after that…). It’s a mental head game that I play with myself from the moment I head down the stairs in the morning til the moment I head back up them at night – and sometimes even after that. There is no magic pill or powder, no magic diet, not even a magic bariatric surgery (because if you think learning to eat right is hard now, ask any post-bariatric surgery patient how it is eating with a figurative gun to their head), nothing that will beat getting your butt moving and learning to make healthy eating choices. I know that thousands of infomercials and lots of pharmaceutical companies would love us all to believe differently, but this is the cold, hard truth – to get to a healthy physical state takes hard work, possibly the hardest work most of us will ever do in our lives.

And yet – when you are suddenly half of the person you once were, everyone wants answers. They want the magic pill.

In the past, on one of my yo-yo downward swings, I would tell people freely what diet I was on, what exciting new “secret” I had stumbled upon that suddenly had me dropping 20 or 30 pounds. But this time was different. Something in me understood that this time was different. That this time had to be private. It was almost as if I was afraid that by sharing my epiphany I would cheapen it…and somehow lose the magic of it. Because the truth is the hard work I was putting in was something magical to me. I’d never experienced freedom from my scale, never before seen my body do what it was able to do. I’d always been the chubby kid, chosen last for every team sport, dreading P.E. days at school and tag on the playground because I was so physically unfit. But now I was running – albeit on a machine – for thirty, forty-five, sixty minutes a day. I was lifting weights and doing situps and planks and squats and dozens of other exercises that I used to watch people do on TV and think, I can’t do that. One day I realized I could actually feel the muscles in my body as I moved, supple and graceful, and I knew I never wanted to lose that sensation of feeling every part of my body respond to whatever I asked of it.

But there was no easy way to explain any of that to someone looking for a quick dietary fix.

Beyond the exercise, the harder thing to explain was my slow evolution toward better eating. Although I credit losing my mom with my finally waking up and realizing I needed to take my own health more seriously, the truth is that I had already evolved my dietary understanding quite a bit by that time. Shortly before my mother’s death, I realized I really am a sugar addict, but more importantly, I realized I had sever my reliance on artificial sweeteners. I learned to like agave and stevia instead. A year previous I’d virtually cut out all processed food, even learning to make my own bread. Before that I’d educated myself on taking in whole grains rather than cutting out carbs all together (Atkins being another fad I had gone through on a yoyo swing). Prior to that (and after the Atkins phase) I’d learned the value of healthy fats over unhealthy fats. So by the time I had my “epiphany,” I knew what to do. I just needed to make myself do it.

I still struggle with all of it. Every single day. But learning to value what’s in the food I eat, learning to understand how it effects me, learning to eat not on a daily I-must-only-eat-these-foods-and-stay-under-this-many-calories basis has helped me to keep the majority of the weight off and enjoy my life at the same time. If you’re reading this now at 300, 400, 500 pounds and thinking, “I don’t have time to do that,” or, “I don’t have the energy to do that,” know that you do. And if you take that time, if you put that energy in now, it will pay off in the long run. If you’re thinking, “But I don’t know how to do that,” then stick with me – I’ll do what I can to help here, and better yet, if you call your doctor I’m betting he or she will help, too. You will finally be on the road to Wellville. And as you take that first step, know this – you won’t be traveling alone.

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Categories: Honesty is Healthy:

Author:Dory Diaz Photography

Dory is a professional wedding and portrait photographer, writer, and social media addict.

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One Comment on “The Magic Pill”

  1. Olga
    March 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    😀 great

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