Sequin Gowns & Mermaid Crowns : How NOT to diet: A recent experience

Thursday, April 25, 2019

How NOT to diet: A recent experience

We're about to get super real and down right personal with this post.

Raise your hand if you've ever been victimized by dieting--most of us have, myself included. I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember, which I'm very open about taking about. Not only to share the positive things I've learned, but also the negative--which is what I'm talking about today.

Over the past year, a lot has changed. I changed jobs, started a new shift and also have been dating my now fiancé. Those things can all have a pretty solid effect on your weight.

First off, I went from working in retail, where I stood up and walked around for 8 hours a day to 8 plus hours of sitting on my tucus. That makes a huge difference. I went from being lightly active to basically sedentary all day. Now I try to get up and walk around now and then, but it's no where close to the steps I got in working in retail.

Second, my shift. Even though working in retail can create some crazy hours and a different shift every day, they're all normal working hours. With my new job, I work from 2:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.--the night shift. I went from eating breakfast around 9 or 10 a.m. to about 12:30 or 1 p.m. The other huge thing, I'm still snacking around 1 a.m. and don't typically get to sleep until 2 a.m. That certainly does wonders for one's metabolism.

And finally, being in love. I love love, who doesn't? But in my research, it's totally normal for people to gain weight when in a relationship. There's lots of eating going on and if your partner has bad eating habits, it's common for the other to pick up on that.

Long story short, there are a lot of factors that have personally affected my weight in the past year. And I've gained weight. Working nights has lead to eating out a LOT, a lot of fast food and a lot of late night munching. Oh, and no exercise. For me to get to the gym, I have to go AFTER work-- meaning like, midnight, or super early in the morning, which I quickly figured out does NOT work for me. After working in a high-stress job all day, going to the gym is probably the last thing I feel like doing. So basically, it's been hard for me NOT to gain weight.

Now it's not a lot, but enough that I'm feeling uncomfortable with my body. So here's where we get to today's lesson.

I made the decision to, again, try Jenny Craig. I'd done it twice before; the first time I lost 30 lbs. and the second I also lost. (I don't remember how much because I gained it right back since I was severely depressed...but that's another story for another day.) Either way, I knew the program worked for me, it was convenient and I could lose the 15 or so pounds I'd gained fairly quickly...or so I thought.

The biggest downfall for this program (I'd thought) was the price. But with eating out all the time, it didn't seem to be too big a difference. So I went for it. I signed up and got my two weeks of food.

Now from what I knew from past experience, the Jenny Craig program was good because the foods were good, they were properly portioned and easy to take with me. Plus it was healthy with eating lots of fruits and veggies. Or at least that's how it was.

When I got the food, I was upset for a couple reasons. First, I have a lot of picky preferences and allergies: lactose intolerance, allergic to eggs and pumpkin, and I refused to eat mushrooms, broccoli and sausage. Not TOTALLY unreasonable, right? Well unbeknownst to me, they had changed the program to follow a very specific menu that made it extremely difficult to substitute things. So I just went with it. Then, when I ate my first day of food, I realized the little plastic bowl most of the meals come in was convex. So it made it look like a lot more food, until you actually move it around and realize you could fit the contents in your hands. "How is this enough food," I thought. I'd quickly learn, it wasn't.

So the first week, I stuck to it. But I also didn't eat a lot of the extra fruit and nuts and stuff because I had a bad cold and zero appetite. But I was good and stuck to only eating the JC food. I lost 7 1/2 lbs. Awesome! Maybe not... What I realized was that yes, I lost weight, but it was really not a healthy way to do so. I was basically starving myself. And what made me realize that is that when I went away for 3 days and couldn't eat the JC food, I gained 3 pounds back and I didn't even eat that much. Something just wasn't right here. This wasn't the program I was familiar with, and I was miserable.

I started back up again after traveling and struggled tremendously. Going from eating closer to 2,000 calories a day to 1,500 or less was just too far a gap to fill. I did it the right way this time, eating all the fruits and the salads, and was still so hungry! Believe me, I'm aware that it takes time to kind of fight your way through a little bit of hunger when you first start out, but this felt excessive.

I had been pretty good during the week, and one day I went out to dinner. I tried to pay attention, eating only half of the meal. At the end of the week, I'd lost the 3 pounds I'd gained on vacation.

And that's when it hit me. I had my weekly call, but it wasn't with my usual consultant. And let me tell you, it did NOT go well. I filled her in on my goals and my motivation and what not and then told her how I'd done for the week. And what she told me was pretty upsetting, yet also a wake up call.

In as many words, she basically told me I was NOT allowed to eat regular food or eat out AT ALL while on the program. Mind you, this was during the holidays. She asked me, well, do you want to eat dinner with your family or do you want to lose weight? And I said, "Both." She wasn't amused. "Well, that's not how it works."

Well, how, exactly, is it healthy to be eating only processed foods with tons of preservatives? How am I going to maintain my weight after this program if I'm not allowed to eat normal food at all? I don't understand how that could possibly be a healthy way to lose weight---that's because it's not. Not anymore, at least.

Long story short, the consultant made me feel really guilty and like I should be over the moon to sacrifice so many things I love- just to lose weight. And when I say "things I love," I don't mean french fries and mozzarella sticks. I mean enjoying my dad's cooking, trying new restaurants, traveling. Being on this super strict diet would have kept me from experiencing my life, and that was not what I was looking for.

So, unsurprisingly, I decided to stop the program. Starving yourself, eating food you hate, eating food that's all processed and making yourself miserable is NOT THE WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT.

I've spend a lot of my life trying diets and along the way, I've learned a lot about them and also nutrition. I know how to eat healthy, I know how to lose weight. It's the other factors that I lack- time, motivation and cooking skills lol.

Dieting DOESN'T WORK. If I had continued with that program, I may have lost a ton of weight. But more likely than not, once I stopped, I'd gain it back. And that goes for pretty much any diet program or fad diet.

It just doesn't work. So don't think of it as a "diet." If you don't just want to "drop a few pounds" but want to get healthier, think of it as changing the way you eat. What I found works well for me is "clean eating" and regularly exercising. I focus on eating as much organic as I can, lots of salads and fruit and not a lot of red meat, and pay attention to my calorie intake. Once you've counted calories for a while, you'll train yourself to know how much to eat and what foods. This is a reasonable and maintainable way to eat. Denying yourself food doesn't work. Cutting out an entire food group doesn't work.

I could give tips for days, but I'll save that for a future article.

In summary, nothing is worth putting yourself in misery. There are other ways to lose weight without having to change your whole life to eat a "healthy cupcake" for dessert instead of a real one. (Another thing I don't get about the program. How are iced cinnamon rolls and chocolate muffins healthy breakfast options?!) I will say I feel a bit betrayed. JC is a program that I've sung praises about for years, and now I will tell people to steer clear. Their motivation has changed. It's not about helping people get healthy, it's about making money. And there's never anything good about that motivation.

XO, Briana

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