Leaning toward another change

Green Valley Park in Payson, Arizona. Beautiful place for a walk.

Green Valley Park in Payson, Arizona. Beautiful place for a walk.

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with food choices all summer and into this fall.

On a recent post of mine, after I lamented how it seemed impossible for me to be simultaneously successful in my writing and weight-loss lives my sister-in-law shared a link to a New York Times article that seems to explain why.

Called “The Mental Strain of Making Do with Less,” the article begins with a shocking statement.

DIETS don’t just reduce weight, they can reduce mental capacity. In other words, dieting can make you dumber.

The authors theorize that dieting takes up the brain’s bandwidth, leaving less room for reasoning, thinking and remembering.

Many diets also require constant calculations to determine calorie counts. All this clogs up the brain. Psychologists measure the impact of this clogging on various tasks: logical and spatial reasoning, self-control, problem solving, and absorption and retention of new information. Together these tasks measure “bandwidth,” the resource that underlies all higher-order mental activity. Inevitably, dieters do worse than nondieters on all these tasks; they have less bandwidth. (emphasis mine)

If that’s true, it stands to reason that focusing so much of my attention on writing leaves little room in my head for dieting.

A recent post from Alexandra and Kymberly, the twins behind Fun and Fit, contains this interesting tidbit on what works for losing weight:

Make healthy decisions automatic. As the day progresses, willpower diminishes. Like a muscle, willpower fatigues with a lot of use. Decisions require willpower. So reduce the need to make healthy decisions by setting yourself on autopilot for adding in movement and foods that fuel you.

Yep. In that same post on reducing obesity, they outline for things one expert says don’t work when it comes to losing weight. No. 1 on the list:

restricting calories. Did you fully ingest that tidbit?!! Calorie restriction DOES NOT WORK. Excuse the yelling but this is kind of big.

Big indeed.

Along those same lines, Glenneth from Let’s Talk And Walk tweeted a link to an article that caught my eye: Intuitive Eating: How NOT Dieting is the Key to Losing.

Among the article’s most interesting assertions:

  • If you stop focusing so much on eating less, you’ll actually eat less. It’s a radical notion, but desperate times call for desperate measures. “For most people, diet­ing doesn’t lead to weight loss that lasts,” says Traci Mann, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.
  • Part of what drives you to overeat ice cream or chips is a fixation on the allure of bad foods, says psychoanalyst Carol Munter, a coauthor of Overcoming Overeating. Try to view all foods as being equal. This takes practice, Munter says, so remind your­self of your new mind-set when you catch your­self thinking Brownie equals bad, and grape equals good.
  • … you can’t change how you view food overnight. “It’s a journey,” says Barbara Meyer, PhD, the program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run, a nondieting weight-loss retreat for women. “We’ve had distorted relationships with food for a long time; dieting disconnects you from how food makes your body feel.”

Add these statements to the birthday goal I didn’t reach, and add in the success Ashley has had with her nutritionist’s approach, and I start to wonder if I should rethink my ideas about how to lose weight. Again.

I’ve gone from Atkins to Weight Watchers and back—more than once. I attempted South Beach. I’ve tried a Whole 30/paleo diet, which I found too restrictive and hard to follow. Ditto for the GoFitGals clean-eating plan. I was spending too much time in the kitchen, and resenting every minute because I felt pressured to be promoting my first book, editing book 2 and writing the first draft of book 3.

I still firmly believe that any diet will work, so long as you stick to it. The key is finding the one you can stick to. For the last several months, I’ve had no willpower to stick to any of ’em. But I’m also getting sick of eating so much fast food/junk food. But the minute I think about cutting those things out of my life forever, I have an overwhelming urge to binge on them. (See lack of willpower, above.)

Maybe it’s time to dust off the ol’ Intuitive Eating book and the mantra I came up with when I was working with Jenn:

I can have it all. I want energy and satisfaction.


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