Thursday, November 25, 2010

Diet Nightmares of Thanksgiving Past

Today as I was making turkey soup (one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities) I flashed back to past Thanksgivings when I would deprive myself of foods I loved because I was dieting.

Particularly memorable was the very first Thanksgiving that I made on my own, in my apartment.

I was a sophomore in college and had been cast in a theater production (Boccaccio Rhythm Theater…a bawdy collection of stories based on Boccaccio’s Decameron from the 1350’s…yes, this was a musical based on the era of the Black Plague.) OK, so that’s a long side note, the point was we were required to be present for rehearsals the day before and day after Thanksgiving. Since it was 100 miles each way and I didn’t have a car, there was no way I could go home for Thanksgiving.

Thus my first Thanksgiving away from home, my parents came to see me, and I prepared the full feast. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie (from fresh pumpkins) and a mock mincemeat pie for Dad, his favorite. I don’t remember what else I made, but there was ample food for probably dozens of people even though there were just 4 of us—but that’s part of the Thanksgiving tradition, right?

Sounds like a pretty good memory right? Everything turned out well, to my recollection.

The thing was, I wouldn’t eat a bite of it.

Because I was dieting.

You see, that summer I had gone on the now-infamous “liquid protein diet.” I drank less than 400 calories a day. I was coaching and teaching swimming, so I swam my laps and was in the water pretty much all day long. It worked. I ended up losing over 60 pounds by the time I was done—about 15 more than I should have as a matter of fact.

At the beginning of November that year I weighed in at 110 pounds. I thought I was still fat and I was determined not to gain the weight back. So when I was up to 113 pounds right before Thanksgiving I decided that I wouldn’t eat again until I lost the 3 pounds. This was actually the method the diet prescribed and boy, did I follow it to the letter.

But I couldn’t stick to it. Not for long. This is one of the very real reasons diets don't work. Because I never dealt with the emotional reasons behind my eating, I was destined to ultimately overeat and gain weight.

I’m not saying I’m perfect these days, but I’m sure a lot better! I eat for health and for pleasure…and, yes, sometimes I eat for emotional reasons even though I know that’s not the healthiest choice. Taking of the mantle of perfection has really been liberating for me and allows me to love myself as I am now and allows for me to grow and become even better in the future.

That is something I am extremely grateful for!

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