I admit it, I pack on some pounds over the winter. It’s not hard to do when you are a fan of comfort food and cookies. It happens to me almost every year.
I knew a pragmatist who said there was no use fighting it. “We’re packing on insulation for the winter,” he said. “It’s instinctual. You’ll drop it in the spring.”
And that seems to be true. As the days grow longer (and this year summer’s arrival seemed for a while to have started in March), my taste buds crave salads and fruit. Consuming heavy stews and pasta are as appealing as eating wet concrete. The outdoors beckons. A five-mile walk which had been a painful ordeal becomes just a good stretch of the legs. Sometimes I even run. The extra insulation is melting away painlessly.
But this year, I’d like to push the process along. If I can use that spring momentum to propel me to a truly optimal weight, why not? And that’s led me to look for shortcuts.
Many years ago, I faithfully followed a low-carb diet. It worked. But there were two problems. One, it’s not a diet I would continue forever, which means some of the weight came back, albeit slowly. Second, it’s heavy on meat. For a number of reasons, I prefer to avoid meat.
So what else can I do?
There’s the liquid fast in its many forms. That will not be happening. I enjoy eating too much to give it up entirely.
I recently stumbled across Natural Healing, a book written by chiropractor, nutritionist and local health legend Jack Soltanoff back in 1988. In it, he suggested a two-day-a-week diet of nothing but grapefruit and celery, a combination he claimed would help detoxify the body and enhance weight loss. I bought the grapefruit. Forgot to buy the celery. Haven’t tried it.
An acquaintance who is maintaining a new, slim and styling physique swears by the eat-for-your-blood-type diet. That’s a problem if you don’t know your blood type.
Another friend said, “Raw food. You’ll drop a pound a day. That’s how the models do it.”
I could almost do it. But no Brown Cow maple yogurt? No peanut butter? At all? I don’t think so. Plus how can you possibly lose weight if you can scarf down almonds and walnuts a fistful at a time? They may be healthy, but they are not low-fat.
I went to the one place you can be certain to find authoritative answers to almost any dilemma: the hair salon.
“What’s your best weight-loss plan?” I asked.
I was disappointed to hear rational, reasonable ideas.
What? No maple-syrup and lemon-juice fasts? No cabbage soup? What about the metabolism diet: a cup of black coffee and one water cracker for breakfast? What about the Russian Air Force diet, the bread-and-butter diet, the chicken-soup diet or that golden oldie, the Scarsdale diet?
“Bottom line,” said the salon experts, “you have to cut down what you eat and rev up your metabolism.”
Perhaps I will surrender to common sense. Eating less and eating well is probably the answer.
I am convinced that the correct mental attitude is the key to successful weight loss. When you are determined to drop some pounds, it happens. Without the right attitude, self-sabotage is inevitable.
So far, I’m not tempted by Russian rye, chocolate-chip cookies, maple-walnut ice cream, lasagna with 16 kinds of cheese. Okay, I admit the melted cheese sounds kind of wonderful.
I find myself watching food porn. The show that takes me to diners and dives across the country, showing incredible, fat-laden inventions that look so darned easy to make, is nearly irresistible. But I’m not snacking while I watch it. That’s not cheating, is it?
In my opinion, a Buddhist diet is the answer for me. That doesn’t mean meditating every time I dream about a spoonful of peanut butter. Rather, it’s about paying attention. Buddhism demands mindfulness. Notice what you’re doing. Much of my overeating happens when I’m distracted by watching television, doing email, looking at pictures of puppies, or dreaming over online tours of romantic Italian villas and Caribbean cottages. Even a good book can be enjoyed while snacking; and before I know it, the bag of walnuts is empty, the embarrassingly massive tablespoon of peanut butter gone.
If I pay attention to every bite I take, taste everything as I’m eating it and check in with my body to find out when it’s had enough, I’ll be doing my body a big favor.
But I’m still a bit curious about that grapefruit-and-celery thing. It couldn’t hurt, right?