How I Spent My Life Dieting
My Twenty-Year War Against Ten Pounds
This is a small story about my private, ten-year-long war.
A short time ago, I won't say exactly when, I got interested in losing a few pounds. I think I had always been interested in it, more or less, since I was about four . . . but for some reason, at some point, I just decided to get serious about it.
At first, no problem. It's simple: just skip a meal here or there, give up a dessert or two, tough it through a few hunger pangs.
OK . . . but not perfect. Time to step it up.
I put together my own little diets. Take helping of this instead of that; a few more of these than those. A few more hunger pangs, lost a few pounds. It was working . . . but I knew I could do better.
I hear an expert on tv, and realized I'm just an amateur. Ouch.
Time to get serious. I hit the underground diet culture.
Calories. It's all about calories.
Simple formula: more calories going out than coming in. More going out than coming in, it's simple profit. Basic economics of the body. Like a golf game, the lower your score, the better. Calories, the keystone of diet, of health, of life.
Counting calories became automatic. I got good at it. Plug the numbers in, crunch, out pops the total. I am a human adding machine. My fifth-grade math teach would be been proud.
How many calories in one bag of Doritos Light? How many did I burn in the workout? Drink a little, eat a little, numbers silently revolving in my head all the while.
The exercise started. First, a trip or two to the gym. No problem. Exercise bike, treadmill.
Infomercials. Came across another expert. He disagreed with the last one. Hm.
I realized, of course, it's not really calories, it's fat grams. Move over, calorie-counter, here comes something meatier. Now we're plugging grams into the number-cruncher.
I will do this.
Jog. Sweat. Weeks go by. Stepclimb. Exercise.
Cut: all sweets, sodas, caffeine. No more.
But of course, I soon saw the light: it's not fat grams, it's polyunsaturated fat. Of course.
No more proteins and refined sugars. I spend much more time in front of the mirror. Salvation is something physical.
OK, wait a minute, it's carbs. High-protein, high-fat is in, carbs are out. Gave them up. Results. OK, but not perfect yet.
Cholesterol. It's all cholesterol. Cholesterol is the root of all evil, the cause of all suffering in the world
. . . of course, by this time, I am an expert. Anyone who mentioned food, diet, or any key-word like "cholesterol" or even "grams," I became a human bulldog. I respect only the thin.
Whole grain pasta is OK. Soy products and fish, OK. Egg yolks, not OK. White bread is for other people.
Weightlifting, rowing, aerobics, kickboxing.
Many more experts. They all disagree.
Yoga, tai-chi, breathing exercises, more kickboxing. Tofu. I eat tofu.
Soup diets. Ingredients regimented down to the spoonful. Measure them out, religiously. Maybe I saw too many Barbie commercials.
Cut: alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine. Add: herbs, wheat grass.
Carbohydrates are evil.
The money I spent on diet books. The time I spent reading them, talking about them, arguing about them, following them.
Those people are eating refined sugar. Those poor, poor people.
A new diet pill. Burns fat while you sleep, they say. Money-back guarantee, they say.
Thigh-masters. Gut-crunchers. Roids, maybe? A new pill. Another new pill. What was that 800-number? Where's my credit card?
No eating after 8pm. Small breakfast. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. But not too big.
I now chew through gurus-of-the-week like a piranha. Every one I see knows nothing. I am well on my way to being the guru.
I am obsessed. My friends and I talk for hours about diet plans. My life revolves around meals. I wake up in the morning, my first thought, "What am I eating today?"
Salvation is not a matter of the confession booth, it's a matter of cholesterol intake. My life, my happiness, is measured by the fat-content of my skin.
The good life consists of the perfect diet, the perfect exercise, perfectly followed. Happiness, ultimate happiness, will be that final "click," when I know, without a doubt, that I am physically perfect.
At some point - I don't know how, I don't know why, I just know it happened: I woke up.
I can't explain what happened, I have no words for it, and I have no formula for it that anyone else could follow. I try to wrap words around it, but really, that only confuses things more. Something just snapped.
I realized what was happening. I had spent my life dieting. I had spent my life completely consumed with . . . whatever. Health, food, fitness, exercise, whatever. You know what they say about good intentions.
It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. No one can convince me that it does matter, because I know. I know.
When I see the diet guru-of-the-week now, I change the channel.
When I hear people talking about their diets, I lose interest. Not that important. Just not that important. They look down on me. I don't care. It would be nice if I could help them stop the suffering I know they're going through, because I used to be like them. They don't want it, so, I just go about my life. I am clean.
I am not going to write a self-help bestseller-of-the-week about this.
My life is simple now. I eat fruits and vegetables and ice cream. When I look back on the years and years I spent obsessed, it's like a bad dream. A bad dream I've woken up from.
The biggest thing is, I just don't think about it. Food is about two percent of my life right now. It used to be ninety-eight. There are exercises for the body, and exercises for the soul. Both have their places. The important part is to keep it in perspective, and let the important things be important, and let the unimportant things be, well, not important.
Dogs drink out of the toilet. They drink out of puddles in the street, they eat what they find laying in the yard, they lick dirty children who play in mud. And seems like, dogs are a lot more healthy than we are. Hmm.
When I try to explain this to people, especially I used to be like, they just look at me funny. They think I'm naive. They think I can't hack it, I've just given in to the temptations of food, or I just haven't seen the light of their way of thinking. To be honest, I don't mind.
I now consider myself content and fulfilled - at least on the diet-and-food plane of existence. I look out into the world and see plenty of other suffering souls, suffering the way I used to. I've tried talking to them, especially early on. I still try to offer a few words, give a little humble counsel here and there. But on the whole, they want no part of it. They are determined.
But I, I have no worries. I am content.
"Attention to health
is the greatest hindrance to life."
"Spending Your Life Dieting"
OK, so there may be more than a few of us who "spend our lives dieting." - or, at least, a good part of our lives.
But the nagging feeling seems to be that instead of spending all this time and energy worrying about dieting, that we should be doing something else with our lives.
But what, exactly?
After all, if we're not here on the planet to just diet, then why are we here?
Dieting, Exercise, Calorie-Counting and ThighMasters . . . Aren't "IT"
Many people nowadays diet and exercise religiously. In fact, it might even be accurate to say that for these folks, dieting and exercising, for all practical purposes - IS their "religion."
(Note: this doesn't mean a person has to actually deliberately say "exercising is my religion" for it to be true. What this phrase refers to is what you care about most deeply, what you "worship," what you "pray" about, what you "meditate" on, etc).
So why does this happen? How can people get so wrapped up in this quest to lose ten pounds?
Well, one answer could be that most of the time, we're just not completely, totally happy. And we think that the reason why we're not happy is because we just haven't lost those ten or twenty pounds. Once we lose those, then we'll be happy (this is how the thinking goes).
Another answer might be that however difficult dieting and exercising might be, they are still manageable - we can get our hands and minds around them, so to speak - which is a lot better than dealing and wrestling with other, bigger problems that we can't get our hands and minds around.
At any rate, we at LiveReal hope we can help to some degree, at least in some areas like figuring out which diet works and how to lose weight and others, so then we can move on to bigger and better things - for example, going from focusing all the resources we have on our body, to also giving some attention to our heart, mind, and soul . . .