My Inconvenient Truth

Typically, people who start weight-loss diets have a goal in mind, or some sort of reason for changing the way they eat.  For some, it’s health-related: perhaps your blood pressure or cholesterol is high, or you’re at a point where your weight is dangerous for your heart.  For others, there might exist a body-image issue that leads to a specific goal.  Getting rid of excess fat in particular places or reaching a goal weight are common reasons for dieting.  Whatever the case, everyone seems to have a reason.  Except me.

I’ve never been much for master plans.  When I was in college, I grew my hair out until it was all the way down my back.  It just sort of happened.  And then one day, without ever really thinking about it, I walked into a salon and asked the lady to buzz my hair completely off.  The day before I bought my last motorcycle, I had not even considered buying a new bike.  My last guitar was purchased without an ounce of premeditation.  I’ve always been a bit spontaneous. So last week, after finishing my lunch, in the midst of a conversation with some of the guys at work, I tossed my nearly-full Mt. Dew in the garbage can and decided to go on the Atkins diet, basically out of nowhere.

Unlike most people who try to diet, I’ve had little problem staying with the program.  I’ve spent over a week living on chicken breasts, steaks, eggs, bacon, sausage, pork chops, bun-less hamburgers, ham, fish, and even gyro meat, with a small assortment of vegetables along the way.  I’ve abandoned my daily nectar, the aforementioned Mt. Dew, in favor of water and, occasionally, unsweetened tea.  So far, I’ve been surprised by how easily I’ve stuck to the program.

But why am I sticking to the program, again?  I’m overweight, yes, but I’m not ashamed of my weight or my shape, and I encourage anyone to try to find someone my size who is as healthy as I am.  I don’t look in the mirror and beat myself up over my appearance, and I don’t have any target weight or aesthetic goals, like six-pack abs, for instance.  The only thing I could even loosely call a goal is to be a smaller size so it would be easier to find clothing that fits me, but even with regard to that topic, I have a full wardrobe that probably needs thinned out more than I do.

One thing is certain: I miss the convenience of daily life sans diet.  I’ve always been a picky eater, but on any menu, I can always find a number of things I’d like to eat, until now.  I can no longer eat bread, so sandwiches are out, as well as rolls, bread sticks, or any other bread-related pre-meal complements.  I can’t order fries or a baked potato, or any kind of pasta or rice.  No peas, no corn, no carrots.  No fruit.  I can’t get dessert.  I can’t enjoy a beverage other than water or tea.  I used to come home after work and feel drained, so I’d just order either pizza or subs from a great local place and have it delivered.  No pizza.  No subs.

It’s absolutely essential that my desire for the convenience of being able to eat whatever crosses my mind not be confused with a weakness or inability to see this diet through to some undefined end.  I’m not giving up because my convictions aren’t strong enough.  I’m exhausted by the hassle caused by the elimination of about 90% of my meal options.

I’ve never been much of a drinker.  Never been a smoker.  Never been a drug user.  Never been a gambler.  Throughout my life, the one thing I’ve enjoyed has been food.  My biggest issues have always been my affinity for high-sugar beverages like soda pop and my inability to resist absolutely stuffing myself to the gills for every meal.  I truly believe that whatever I would hope to achieve through this diet could probably be accomplished simply by changing those two aspects of my eating.

I do miss Mt. Dew, but I can live without it.  Water isn’t bad once you give it a chance, and ordering one or two chicken wraps instead of four, or one cheeseburger instead of two could be a major game-changer for me.  Having a cookie in the evening for a snack instead of five or six, or a whole sleeve might be huge.  Changes like eating a scoop of ice cream instead of a tub of it, a handful of chips instead of a whole bag, or a bowl of cereal instead of a whole box could be dramatically decreasing my daily caloric intake, along with carb and sugar intake as well.

I understand why people go on extreme diets, but when desired results are reached, the diet usually ends, and then whatever weight has been lost typically returns.  I think if I’m going to change anything about my eating habits for good, it’s going to have to be a change in overall quantity, not a drastic change in the make-up of my diet.  Eating until I’m full is more important than eating until all the food is gone.

Especially considering I don’t have a goal in mind and no concrete reason to start my diet, I think I may abandon Atkins.  The experience of the past nine days has been extremely helpful though, because it gave me the knowledge that if I ever find a good reason to diet, I know I can do it.  I didn’t really have a particular motivation to start my diet, and I don’t have any special reason to stop it either.  I’m discontinuing Atkins the same way I began it: on a whim.

-J

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~ by hamiltonjacobs on April 25, 2013.

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