The Dieting Saga

August 21, 2008

I started dieting in all earnestness almost four months ago. That’s a long time to sustain a diet, and I’ve naturally slipped back into my usual dieting mode – eating whatever I please and just hoping I somehow lose weight.

Only, this time, it seems to be working.

I hate it when I can’t understand why things happen, but this time, should I be complaining? Really? No, not really. Just wondering aloud.

I think a few things are working for me now, that have never worked the same way before. Due to being homebound, I’m eating homemade food at least 18-19 meals a week (considering 3 meals a day, which is the norm). While working, I used to eat in the office cafeteria at least a couple of times a week, and eat out on weekends quite a bit. And I used to snack on coffee and biscuits from time to time.

I still snack in the early evening hours, but I’m trying to snack less, and on less unhealthy foods. It helps that there’s very little access to unhealthy food, compared to the office environment, where you only have to stroll down to the cafeteria.

My caffeine intake has reduced dramatically of late – it was too closely associated with my nightmarish episode of gastroenteritis to seem very appetizing even now – and my lactose tolerance has improved noticeably, so that I’m now getting quite a regular inflow of dairy products. I’m not sure why that – or either of those, actually – should help me lose weight, though.

I was always one for skipping breakfast, but now I haven’t done that for months, maybe years. And because of that, and also because of the twins having to have their meals at more or less regular intervals, I’m eating my meals at very regular and sensible times during the day. So I’m usually not starved by mealtime, and I’m also not eating meals when I’m not hungry, just because it is mealtime. I think I used to do a lot of both of those when my eating hours were less regular.

And I have managed to switch from eating white rice at every opportunity to eating red rice as much as possible. I don’t like it much, but I’m surviving.

Plus, I’ve managed to keep up at least a modicum of exercise most days of the week, illnesses, travel, and other vagaries of life notwithstanding.

My biggest problem is, and has been for a very long time, perhaps has always been, that food is one of my best friends. If I’m bored, I want food; if I’m stressed, I want food; if I’m depressed, I want food; if I’m happy, I certainly want food – and drink; if I’m reading a book, I want food; if I’m watching TV, I want food; if I’m home alone, I want food; if I’m meeting friends, I want food. Food, in short, is a vital ingredient of every mood and every phase of life. And when I say “food” you know what kind of food I’m talking about, right? Yeah, all that kind of food.

Once you’re reduced to eating only homemade food – and only healthy homemade food at that (an important qualifier, considering that I’m quite capable of cooking up some extremely delicious and extremely unhealthy homemade food) – food no longer serves any of these functions. It’s just food – something to keep you from starving. In fact, once it’s healthy and homemade, I’m not even sure it qualifies as food any more, it’s just stuff, something to chew.

So perhaps, another reason why this is working for me now when it hasn’t many times before, is that the kids are keeping me busy. Too busy to do much about getting to all that sort of food that isn’t stuff, the sort of food that used to be my best friend.

I suppose that’s a good thing.

But, if dieting deprives me of one of my best friends, food, you have to wonder: Why, exactly, am I doing this to myself?

Partly, of course, it’s simply so I can be slim and sexy; there’s that little blue dress I want to be able to fit into again. I want to look young, or at least, not old, as I approach 35 – and not being overweight has a lot to do with that. Plus, to a lesser degree, I want to be healthy; I enjoy tennis and trekking, and both of these activities are so much easier if you are the right weight, not carrying around several kilos extra.

So clich├ęd, isn’t it – wanting to look young and sexy and to be healthy?

But there’s more to it than that.

It has to do with my self-image – with how I see myself, what I see myself becoming, and what I’d like to be. As a stay-at-home mom who’s given up her job/career, I can see my world being centered around my kids to the exclusion of all else. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. But I don’t want to see myself turning into the kind of mom who only thinks of meals, servants, and the cost of groceries, and has no interests outside of home and hearth. The kind of person who never goes anywhere, never does anything, and never has anything to say for herself. That’s the kind of person who is usually way overweight, dresses sloppily, doesn’t spend time or money on herself and doesn’t really give a damn. Ok, that’s a stereotype, but it’s not a stereotype I want to fit into. Ever. Maybe that’s not a bad way to be, that woman might be happy, content… but that’s not who I want to be.

I have always seen myself as an energetic person with too many irons in the fire and always struggling a bit to keep them all going, but managing all right – apart from the occasional crisis. I’m the kind of person who is a little too padded to be slim, a little too dishevelled to be well-groomed, way too casual to be sexy, but way too busy to be fat. I think that’s the way I’ve always been, and that’s the way I’d like to be even as a mom, even as a stay-at-home mom. I don’t see being a SAHM as an excuse to be fat and lazy – I see it as a damn good reason not to be.

So, I’m determined: I’m going to lose weight, or die trying.

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