to Live Light

to Live Light

Why not?
A Companion
On Honesty
A new life


How we get off diets.
We have lost the weight, or at least have gotten a good start on it. We are feeling great. Then at some point we realize that we are, once again, fitting into our old clothes! We step onto the scale, and, aaack! there is that big number again! How is it that this happens? 

Well, of course, we have slipped back into our old habits. We have, over a period of time, eaten our way back to being, as I like to term it, "a whale."

Let me say that the only time I am going to mention actual calorie counts, well ... almost.. is in the following example. This is just for illustration. You will NOT have to count calories in order to maintain your weight!

In order to STOP this cycle, we need to understand it. First of all, let me say that gaining the weight back is NOT inevitable. You CAN and WILL maintain the new lighter you. This is, after all, about Living Light, not just Becoming Light. I will talk first about how we get heavy again. Then I'll talk about how to avoid this pattern in the future.

If it took you more than just a few days to get light, you will not get heavy again in just a few days. Just as every pound that you took off amounts to 3500 calories less in food than you are burning off, every pound that you put on is a result of eating about 3500 more calories than you burn off. 

We have all gone through a scenario like this: On March 1, you weigh 120 and you weigh again on May 1 and you are 140. That means that you have eaten about 70,000 calories more than you have burned, in those two months. This means that above what you need to maintain at 120, you have eaten, per day, an average of an extra 1150 calories a day. Ok.. in English! What does this mean in terms of food?

Here is an example.  During one day in March, in addition to the amount of food that you were eating to maintain your 120 pounds, you might have added a big bowl of ice cream (a cup and a half, or about 8 ounces) for 523 calories*. Additionally, for lunch, you might have had a Big Mac® and a small order of fries (783 calories*), instead of your usual cup of chicken noodle soup with 6 saltine crackers (153 calories*), adding an extra 630 calories. 

Recognizing that you have control over your weight is an important step in maintaining it.

Maintenance Example** Calories  j Weight-Gaining Example Calories
Cereal w/ skim, fruit 300   j Cereal w/ skim, fruit 300
Chicken noodle soup 75   j Big Mac 563
Crackers 78   j Fries 220
Sensible dinner 500   j Sensible dinner 500
2 small Brownies 260   j 2 small Brownies 260
  j Haagen Daz 
Big bowl
TOTAL 1213   j TOTAL 2366
2366 - 1213 = 1153 more calories in Example  j  j

**You may need more or less food than this to maintain your own weight. This is just used as an example, and would represent a maintenance diet for a little person who gets little or no activity.  Click here for a calculator to figure your own caloric needs.

In order to gain twenty pounds in two months, you would have to average this sort of "lapse" every day during those two months. If you eat like the right hand column just every other day, you will gain it back, but it will take four months instead of just two. At 1150 extra calories a day, you will gain a pound every three days. But it is insidious. You may not notice it in the mirror for a couple of weeks. Period. Fact. Irrefutable truth. 

"Eeeek!" you say, "I have to give up ice cream and Big Macs for the rest of my LIFE?" No, no, no, stop that! And you do NOT have to do math or keep a calorie book handy or write down everything that you put in your mouth, either. This is not going to be that difficult. 

As you get control of your diet, you will see that you will get a hold on your body. You will see that when you eat more, you will gain a bit. When you eat less, you will lose a bit. If you eat more for a time but during that time you are also exercising a lot, you may actually drop a pound. Recognizing that you have control over your weight is an important step in maintaining it.

You will want to decide on a weight range that you will stay within. Deciding on an "ideal weight" is ok, but it is unrealistic for you to think that you will always be AT that weight. If you look terrific at 120, you may decide that you want your range to be 118 to 122 or 120 to 124, or 115 to 120.  Wherever you set your range, you must not go outside of it. It is best to be pretty compulsive about this. Otherwise it is easy to say to yourself, "Ok, my weight range is 116-120.. but I look so good at 120, it won't hurt me to be 125." This is ok as long as you are being really honest with yourself. Letting your range creep up just as an excuse to get heavy again is goofy and self-defeating. 

So now you see why it is CRITICAL for your success is that you weigh every day. "But I don't want to be all hung up on my weight; that is what anorexics do!" Yes, it is. And you are going to borrow this tip from them. The difference is that you are using the scale to maintain your weight now, to keep your weight within the narrow bounds that you set for yourself. In this sense, you will not go "off" your "diet". You may eat a little more, if it takes a little more food for you to stop losing weight; you may eat a little less for a day if you find that you are creeping to the top of your range. But in order to keep control of this, you will continue to weigh EVERY DAY. If you insist on whining about not wanting to weigh daily, read more about my philosophy on weighing.

You must also continue to make rational food choices. You do not have to do math or have a calorie book or keep exact track of everything that you eat in order to maintain your weight. You do NOT have to give up Big Macs or ice cream for the rest of your life! You do, however, have to continue to exercise good sense in your food choices. And if you deviate greatly from the plan that got you light in the first place, you will not remain light for long. 

Set yourself a range; make rational food choices; weigh everyday. Any questions?

Coming soon... The Truth about soda pop, diet soda, and fruit juice drinks.

To tell or not to tell

*Calorie counts came from Pennington & Church, Food Values of Portions Commonly Used,  Harper & Row, 1985.

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