Friday, July 31, 2009

Something You Can Live With Forever

Pardon the pun, but I'd like to weigh in with some further reflexions on the "maintenance as weight-loss" approach.

As an IEIT (intuitive eater in training), I tend to be very introspective about my eating style. I feel quite comfortable with the foods I eat. I know that I'm just not that into junk food to have to worry and I also know that sweets do not satisfy me when I'm hungry. The result is that I lean toward a large variety of healthy foods, ranging from proteins to carbs and and everything in-between. I do try to tweek my fruit and vegetable intake upwards, but generally, I eat what I feel like eating when mealtime comes around.

I do not eat with abandon, however. I'm always trying to be sensitive to the little signals telling me when to eat and in particular, when to stop. There's still more than a bit of a struggle between my stomach's usually quite clear message that I've had enough and my brain's needling suggestion that a lovely little dessert might be in order. I'm learning to get around this by occasionally eating just a tad less of the main meal and leaving just a little room for a treat. Let's say a 5-10% reduction on part 1 to give part 2 a little satisfaction. I also try to choose my treats carefully. A bit of cheesecake from the Sweet Gallery* (the purveyor of totally wonderful desserts right at the corner of my street) is a total joy, a pop-tart--meh, I can do without.

I like to think that I am learning to eat normally. Paul McKenna would call it "eating like a naturally thin person". Will I ever make it all the way there until it is so ingrained that I don't even consciously think about it? That would be awesome, but I'm not holding my breath.

We have all had to make some significant changes to our eating patterns to embark on this journey. Probably the number one reason why people gain weight back (and let's face it, 95% of people gain it all back and more) is because they think they can go back to the old way of eating once the weight is off. Intellectually, we all know that you can't go back, but my question is, are you already preparing for your new life once the weight is off? If your approach is "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead", can you operate on full diet-mode for the rest of your life?

I remember feeling very worried when I dieted in the past that I could never find the sweet spot of maintenance. It was up or down and it scared me just as much in the down phase as in the up phase. I'm glad to say that I feel much more comfortable (albeit sometimes impatient, I admit) with my my "slowly but surely" approach, which relies on weight maintenance rather than weight loss techniques. I believe it will serve me well in the long run.

No matter what you're doing to lose weight, think about the future and ask yourself if what you're doing now (even if it's super successful at taking the pounds off) is something that you can live with forever. It might be worthwhile introducing more "forever" into what you're doing today.

* Strangely enough, in the nine years we've lived down the street from the Sweet Gallery, I've only had dessert there two or three times! It's certainly one of the best dessert places in town.


  1. It's a shame that intuitive eating doesn't come more intuitively for most of us. I'm like you, learning to listen to my body and make sensible choices about my diet. It's a lesson I wish I'd learned a looooong time ago...

    Excellent post.

  2. It took me ten years of struggling with obesity before I finally did learn to eat intuitively. I lost 150 pounds and have kept it off 12 years. I tell you that as an encouragment!

    It's so good to be thinking about all of this.

  3. Excellent post....very, very good. I'm trying to learn to shape my eating patterns towards what I'll do for the rest of my life....which means I need to lay off some of the turkey burger and egg whites, and add in a little more of the other stuff and learn to eat in the correct portion sizes. There's a lot to lean and a lot of practice to get it all right. :)

  4. Great post. Wonderfully written. I knew that in order to have real success I had to make lifetime changes---not just changes to lose weight---changes to live by and embrace the rest of my life. It's not a chore or a big problem. I still eat...but like a normal person, not like an animal---Oh my old habits were sooooo bad.

    Thank you for this wonderful blog posting, thank you very much!

    My best

  5. Learning to listen to your body is great since our body is the one that really know how much it needs. Great post!

  6. This is why I'm not obsessed with goals, the scale, the buffet I ate last night, or the salad I'm eating today to compensate. When I stop losing weight, I'll be where I'll be, but I can't see my lifestyle changing any time soon. This is just how it's going to be from now on. There will be bad days (like yesterday), possibly bad weeks, and the day may come where I have to cut back on exercise, but hopefully I would also have less appetite, eat less food. I will never be done, this is how it's going to be. But I'm comfortable, and I like that I can still eat cake and fried chicken, just not too often..