Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Change My Lifestyle? Are you Kidding Me?

Dear Madame Elle,

Do you realize that if you break up the words in your name in between different letters, you get a really funny sounding name? Like this: Mad Am Eel Le.

Wait, that wasn't what I was writing about. I just noticed it when I was typing your name.

Here's what I want to ask: I've been dieting for years now, have read about every diet book that has ever been published, and have lost hundreds of pounds, most of which I've gained back again. So the new trend in diet advice is to tell you to "Change your lifestyle!" 

Which I just can't do any more. I've changed my lifestyle many times in my life, which is how I got to this point. What do I have to do? Move to some other country? Stop socializing with people who eat? What?!?


Frustrated and Still Zaftig

Dear Frustrated,

Madame L feels your pain. She too has read far more diet books than have ever helped her. It's like an addiction in itself, isn't it! 

Of course you gain back weight that you lost by starving yourself, because you can't kep doing that to yourself. You have to lose weight in a way that will let you keep it off. So that's why the nutritionists and diet-book writers tell you to change your lifestyle.

Madame L agrees that this idea, or command, "Change Your Lifestyle!" is intimidating. She suggests that you may be able to change one element for now which will help. 

For example, what if you do stop socializing with people --- wait for it --- who at the moment are eating fast-and-carb-laden meals or big desserts. So you might avoid the All You Can Eat buffets, the desserts at the Death By Chocolate ice cream parlors, and so on. You can still be friends, but get together to do other things. But you've already done that, haven't you?

Another example might be changing your exercise routine. (Because Madame L is pretty sure you're doing plenty of exercise, right?) So try exercising at a different time of the day, breaking your exercise sessions into smaller periods of time throughout the day, doing different exercises on different days so you don't get bored or exercise the same muscles all the time while missing others. And you've already done that, haven't you!
Another example, which has helped Madame L, would be changing your mealtime routines at home. If you've been accustomed to sitting around a table laden with lots of yummy and attractive food while chatting, and if you notice that when you do that you eat more than you would otherwise, you might try clearing the table after everyone has had first helpings, and moving to the living room to chat. If you've already done that, think of some other ways of minimizing the time you spend being tempted by foods.

Another example which has worked for Madame L is ridding the house of tempting  foods. Madame L used to keep chocolate candy on hand just in case she might need it for visitors, only to find that she was eating it herself. Her rule for herself now is to keep chocolate out of the house. 

And this brings up another pitfall for frequent dieters: Madame L read some diet book that suggested that depriving yourself was bad and developing self-control in the face of temptation was good, so that's why she started keeping chocolate around. She eventually realized that even if that tactic worked for that diet-book writer, it was a disaster for herself.

Another tactic that has worked for many people is recording everything you eat. And this really is a big change in lifestyle. You have to discipline yourself to do it. It helps to just write down the foods and amounts, without worrying about counting the calories, so you don't end up feeling guilty and then eating sweets to make yourself feel better, bringing on more guilt, leading to stopping your efforts, and so on.

So, Madame L's advice is to change one element of your lifestyle for now. Try it for 3 weeks. Is it something you can maintain? Is it helping or is it counterproductive? If it seems to help and you think you can add on another new lifestyle change, go for it. 

In this way you may experience a gradual change leading to healthier habits and permanent weight loss. No drastic change required, and lots of love and taking care of yourself.

If any of you Dear Readers have additional suggestions, please comment here or by writing an email message to Madame L at ellemadame [at] gmail [dot] com.

Good luck,

Madame L

1 comment:

Pricklypear said...

I just heard about this website that's good if you (1) like the idea of doing something for 21 days to get in the habit of it and (2) check your email every day for checkpoints.
I haven't tried it myself, I can't decide what my goal should be :)