How did I become a diet success after decades of obesity? Why did it take so long, what was I doing in the meantime, and why don’t I recommend the program I did to everyone?
Here’s what I did: I failed at weight loss. A LOT. The last diet method I tried was the silver bullet that did the trick for me and my individual needs. Not necessarily for you, not for many other people, but for me it was exactly the information and presentation I needed to solve my weight problems. That’s why it was the last one.
But before I found it I tried about a dozen other ways that didn’t work for me. Starting at the age of 13 I’ve been on just about every diet program out there. I failed at all of them. I tried NutriSystem, just starving myself, Think Light!, The Zone, Body for Life, veganism, Weight Watchers, and about a hundred other unnamed crazy ideas. I failed at every single one of them. Sometimes I was able to lose 5-10 pounds which quickly returned, sometimes I actually gained weight.
The thing I needed most was the ability to keep track in a scientific, mathematical, no-nonsense method. For me, being able to count calories in and out put the power in my hands to control my weight. That’s not necessarily an approach that appeals to everyone, and I recognize that. The process of finding the method that meshes with your personality isn’t always straightforward.
I think what’s really important to realize, and that I didn’t realize until it was too late to help me at the time, is that just because a particular program didn’t work for me doesn’t make me a failure. It always felt like it, every time a new program failed me, but stepping back and evaluating from where I am now, I needed to try each of those different methods so I could eliminate them, move on and try a different approach until I found the silver bullet for my particular personality and circumstances.
I remember being so frustrated after failing at Weight Watchers because I was unable to control my portions or choices adequately, and thinking “Why can’t I just find a diet that tells me exactly what to eat? I don’t want choices, I want to know exactly what to eat to lose weight! If I could find a program that just gave me my food for the day, I would follow it religiously. Just tell me what to eat, I obviously don’t know!”
I was so frustrated with all the diet marketing telling me, “You can eat whatever you want and still lose weight.” Because I couldn’t, I’d tried eating whatever I wanted and I grew morbidly obese. So clearly whatever I wanted to eat was not a sure-fire method for losing weight. And I knew it. I knew I was not a good candidate for a program which gave me control over my food choices, I’d proven to myself throughout my whole life that the choices I made unaided weren’t healthy, I was ready to surrender control to somebody who knew what to do, and that’s why the program that finally worked for me was a good fit for me.
Most people aren’t in this same boat. Most people probably just want to lose a few pounds to fit back into their skinny jeans, or get a little more physically fit. Most people want to lose weight while eating their favorite foods and still enjoying a social life. I needed a more comprehensive, behavior-modification program, and I finally found it. But it took a long time and many attempts, plus lots and lots of failures.
So, am I a failure because I gained weight on Body for Life? Am I a failure because I couldn’t lose weight on Weight Watchers? Do I think everyone should do a medically-monitored meal replacement program because it changed my life?
No. I wasn’t a success because the only way to succeed is to use the program I used, I was a success because I kept trying until I found the silver bullet that worked for me, my personality and circumstances.
Do I think Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, The Zone and Atkins are worthless because they didn’t work for me? Absolutely not. I try to look at it like I look at past relationships – unless I’ve been actively damaged by the interaction then it’s no harm, no foul. Each one taught me something useful – I learned that it wasn’t the one for me, enabling me to rule it out and keep looking. Each one put me a step closer to finding the way that worked for me. And that is why there are so many ways to learn weight management – everybody needs something different.