The idea of returning to the skinniness of my pre-middle-aged physique is still something that lingers in the back of my mind. I realize that such extreme weight loss is an unrealistic fantasy and that it poses serious medical and health risks.
Meantime, my latest imaginary scenario requires me to move to a deserted island and live off the native flora. How I’m going to find an island that has sustainable amounts of healthy fruits and vegetables and variety that is not already inhabited is the conundrum. My Scandinavian ancestry is not enough to take on a Viking-like voyage in search of an idyllic Polynesian island such as that made by Thor Heyerdahl on his rag-tag raft the Kon Tiki, even though we now have GPS and Google Maps. Any personal relocating effort will have to remain a pipe-dream because of various practical considerations.
The more realistic goal is to gradually work towards obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight rather than returning to the underweight status of my younger years. The keyword in this line of thinking is “work”.
The work will be in finding the happy medium between starvation and indulgence then maintaining it. Efforts in the past caused metabolism quirks, sleep problems, obsessive thoughts about food, simultaneous sensations of feeling spaced out and grouchiness. In other words, unbearable levels of constant suffering. It was difficult to effectively live my life.
Accompanying the dieting-quit-dieting cycle was weight rebound. Like millions of other people. When I cannot tolerate the diet anymore, the weight comes back with some added “bonus” weight. This ratcheting effect is unpleasant and unhealthy. The rebound effect is something I do not wish to repeat.
People go on diets because we either consider ourselves overweight or actually fit the medical guidelines of being overweight. There is usually some emotional cost that goes along with this situation that includes damaged self-esteem. Oftentimes people believe being overweight requires discipline and punishment.
Extreme dieting results in real feelings of deprivation through excessive calorie cutbacks. Then the unbearable misery of constant hunger settles in until the dieter cannot stand it any longer. The craving causes us to cheat or binge. Eventually, we come to our senses and realize the self-defeating nature of our weight-loss behavior.
This is Healthy Weight Week. Now is the time to become aware of the meaning of healthy weight. It’s important to remember that healthy weight varies from person to person. Healthy weight factors in body type, height, body composition, and bone density. Different body compositions and types require different approaches towards weight control. There is no such thing as one technique fits all.
Most dieters have unrealistic goals of weight loss–such as my wish to have the skinny body of my youth. Such goals cause us much anguish and frustration. We end up with further unhealthy eating habits. The thinking behind Healthy Weight Week is to help us learn to accept ourselves as we are and to set realistic, attainable weight goals.
This is the time to write down what techniques worked in the past along with the behaviors and techniques that did not work or caused us to bail out of our diets.
There are the tried and true programs that include moderate, sensible exercise. We need to engage in physical exercise to fit our health levels and temperament–not too little and not too much. It’s helpful to find physical activities that are enjoyable so exercise won’t be an ordeal.
It’s back to basics regarding food choices. Experts tell us to cut way back on processed foods and replace them with fruits and veggies. It’s also a good idea to eat our meals more mindfully. When we pay attention to the act of eating, we’re better able to stop eating when we’re full. When we’re distracted by media or mental chatter, our eating process goes into autopilot so we eat beyond fullness.
As with any changes in diet and exercise, it’s important to consult your physician to assess your health and risk levels before making any changes.
My take-away regarding Healthy Weight Week is that we can change the way we perceive ourselves and that we can discover sustainable weight loss techniques. We can cultivate these techniques into healthy habits so maintaining healthy weight becomes a reality.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center and was a columnist for The Huffington Post, Mark Hyman. “My advice is to give up stevia, aspartame, sucralose, sugar alcohols like xylitol and malitol, and all of the other heavily-used and marketed sweeteners unless you want to slow down your metabolism, gain weight, and become an addict.”