Dieting Secrets of the Yo-Yo Sisterhood (Part 1)
Since I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember, each new year brings a resolve to FINALLY take off the excess weight and “get healthy.” To prove how dedicated I have been to this goal, I have bookcases filled with books on nutrition, exercise, various diets and personal growth topics.
I have not personally tried ALL of the diets. But I can assure you of two things. First off, every diet will work for some people for a while. Having been a founding member of the “Yo-Yo Sisterhood”, I have proven beyond a doubt that there is NO single diet that results in permanent healthy weight loss for everyone. Secondly, just because a diet results in weight loss does NOT make it a healthy choice. As I told a physician friend who commented that it was “good” that a mutual friend had lost weight on a very unhealthy plan that involved NO fruits or veggies, it is possible to lose a lot of weight by cutting off your leg, but that does not make it a “good” loss.
I was an unhappy fat child.
I was born in 1951. Mom’s well-intentioned but totally ignorant Ob-Gyn discouraged her from breastfeeding me. Man-made infant formula was more “scientific”. It was “new and improved” over what had preserved the human race for thousands of years. It ruined my life.
The multiple food allergies, eczema, and a compromised immune system that resulted from substandard nutrition set the stage for a kidney infection when I was three years old.”Fortunately”, new antibiotics were available. And I was given one after another as I developed allergies to all of them. That was followed by a year of steroids.
By the time I was five I had had two near fatal anaphylactic reactions to antibiotics and was pronounced “disgustingly fat” by my rail-thin pediatrician. She put me on an 800 calorie diet which my mother legalistically maintained. When six months later I had lost only 2 pounds, she verbally assaulted my mother and accused her, not only of NOT following the diet strictly, but also of lying about it. Mom fired her.
Between the steroids and antibiotics my immune system was in serious trouble The bad bacteria that had replaced the good ones set me up for tooth decay despite good oral hygiene and a low sugar diet.Unfortunately, my parents had “great health insurance” which included dental benefits. Add toxic fluoride treatments and mercury amalgams to my problems, and you have a recipe for hypothyroidism.
Counting calories, fat grams, and carbohydrate grams made me excel at addition, but it didn’t make a noticeable difference in my weight. It did make me terrified of eating anything “fattening”.
The summer after high school I tried Dr. Stillman’s Quick Weight Loss Diet” (high protein. very low fat, no carbs and buckets of water) and I did lose weight—about 30 pounds— but I also lost a lot of hair and further insulted my already damaged metabolism.
During four years of college and the first two years of medical school I was able to maintain my weight by skipping meals and eating a very limited diet of black coffee, low fat cottage cheese and canned pineapple. I got mono, lost more hair and became clinically depressed—but at least I wasn’t as fat as I had been before!
Marriage, internship and a surprise pregnancy followed. My OB doc constantly harangued me about my weight. I ignored him. I had begun to realize that what I ate was important to my developing baby and I was determined to eat as healthfully as possible regardless of the number on the scale. Although I gained nearly 40 pounds I was able to lose all of it plus ten pounds by the time James was ten months old.
Over the next 10 years I birthed three more children. My weight yo-yo’d back and forth between “overweight” and clinically obese. It was increasingly difficult to shed the “pregnancy pounds” with each pregnancy until after my daughter’s birth in 1989, it became impossible.( I am the only person I know who actually gained weight on Weight Watchers’ famous “Lactation Program”.)
I did Weight Watchers multiple times without success despite measuring every morsel of food and following “the plan” to the legalistic letter. (Sorry, Oprah!)
I tried Atkins only briefly because eating all that nasty meat made me sick. Likewise for the highly touted “paleo lifestyle”.
Over the years I’ve tried low-fat, no-fat, low-carb, no-carb, paleo, vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, and intermittent fasting. (Oh, and I lost $400 and a good bit more of my hair on Nutri Systems in the late ’80’s!)
I tried exercise, too. Joining Curves and briskly walking miles and miles while drinking gallons of water did nothing to reduce my numbers on the scale. If anything, it made my lack of appetite even worse, aggravated my plantar fasciitis, and made me feel like the “walking dead”.
I kept waiting for that exercise-induced euphoria…I’m still waiting.
I’m still fat.
Unfortunately, reading diet books and trying the different surefire methods of “reducing” have not rendered me svelte, or fit. It has made me feel like a failure.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that dieting makes people fat.
BUT! Along the way I have learned so much. If you are discouraged and tired of struggling, I have good news…Stay tuned for my next post in which I will share what I have learned through my decades of trial and (mostly) error. There is hope! Help is on the way!