Ditch the Diet...Be the Diet

I am an emotional eater. When I experience any emotion, I eat. I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am sad. I eat when I am bored, I eat when I am excited. Bottom line, I like to eat. It is just that simple. I am not one of those people a therapist can help to solve my food issues. I had to figure it out myself.

For all those with weight issues who have not figured it out yet, do not despair. It took me over 50 years, and I am here to help save many the time and effort by sharing what I have learned throughout my journey to fitness and health.

I have been one of those yo yo dieters since my teens. I was always that person who did not love exercise but once I got on a roll, I went all in. When I turned 16 and dating life was beginning, I felt I had to lose weight because who would want a fat girl? This twisted mentality is most likely the reason why I failed then and failed throughout my life. The biggest mistake you can make in life is changing for ANYONE other than yourself. Seems like a concept that should be easy to grasp yet there are millions out there that still do not get it. An important step towards a healthy lifestyle began when I changed my mindset.

I apologize for going off on a tangent so allow me to return to my story.

To get my 16-year-old self to an “acceptable” weight, I decided starving myself might move things along quickly. I was eating under 800 calories and I started jogging. I would jog on the track in the Sephardic Community Center, which overlooked the basketball courts. The view of the cute guys playing basketball inspired me. I also started lifting and a trainer took a liking to me when she saw I was strong, so she started training me. Turns out I was right. I did lose weight quickly and managed to get down to the lowest weight of my life, not including birthweight. Unfortunately, I did not consider the wear and tear my body was suffering since I was not supplying it with the proper nutrients. The injuries started to stack up and eventually I had to stop working out. Since I was not in the gym every night, I was home eating more, and the weight eventually creeped back up.

You would think I would have learned my lesson but nooooo! Name the diet, I tried it. Every single one. Medifast, Optifast, Nutrisystem, and the list goes on. Guess what. They ALL work BUT they are not sustainable. The program that works for many but did not work for me is Weight Watchers. They kept changing the program and it became too confusing for me. I would be planning my meals nonstop and all I thought about was food . No Bueno!

Then came the wake-up call. About a year before I moved to Miami, I received a phone call from my doctor when my blood work came back. My A1C was almost at 7, which is Diabetic, and my cholesterol was high. Heart Disease and Diabetes run heavily in my family. Dialysis and medication were not on my list of things to do so I knew I would have to make changes. I just was not clear on how to do it. I wanted to avoid a future of pill popping to control my sugar levels, so I began to make gradual changes. First thing on the list cut back on was refined sugar. That step alone allowed me to lower my A1C and convince my doctor that I was moving in the right direction, so he would not feel the need to put me on meds. While my sugar came down slightly, my weight did not so further changes would have to be made.

In August 2015, I moved to sunny Miami. Anyone who has ever been to Miami knows, the weather makes it virtually impossible to hide behind clothing. I spoke to a friend who had recently lost quite a bit of weight. She recommended that I read “The Whole 30”, to gain a better understanding of how food made me feel. She was so eager to help me, she sent me the book. The main premise of The Whole 30 is to understand how different foods affect you. How do you feel after eating certain foods? I did not need a therapist to teach me the connection between food and emotions. I needed to figure out how I felt physically after eating certain foods. The Whole 30 plan encourages eating whole, non-processed foods, cutting out dairy, and avoiding sugar substitutes to make the dreaded “sweet tooth” a thing of the past.

I began journaling my food intake. Even while following the Whole 30 program, I was eating too much. Bottom line is the key to weight loss is a calorie deficit. Calories out must exceed calories in. The key to sustaining weight loss is permanent change of lifestyle which is why there is no cookie cutter solution. You must search to find what works for you. This is exactly why reading The Whole 30 was life changing for me. The food journaling helped me acknowledge that I was eating too much and helped me recognize that certain foods opened my appetite. I realized that refined sugar is heroin, plain and simple, as is anything that converts into sugar. Trust me when I tell you that I can down an entire bowl of pasta and still be hungry. I can eat an entire Challah bread in a sitting. On the other hand, when I choose a nutritional meal consisting of whole foods such as protein and vegetables, I feel satisfied.

It all seems great right? It is just So easy to just make these changes? Not so fast. This is all easier said than done. Breaking the sugar habit is breaking an addiction. It is not easy to give up processed carbs which is why we have an obesity epidemic in this country. The Whole 30 plan was not sustainable for me since I could not give up cheese. There was just no way I could ever do it and I recognized that. I had to take what I learned from reading The Whole 30 and make some adjustments. I started hearing more and more about Keto. Keto is somewhat like the well-known Atkins diet with some differences.


By drastically lowering my carb intake, I found my cravings for sugar steadily declining. This does not happen overnight. The way to get through the first few weeks is to EAT EAT EAT. Make yourself a juicy steak with vegetable FRIED, that is right I said fried and eat until you are full. It will happen sooner than you think since you are now eating whole, satisfying foods. Healthy fat also keeps you satiated so bring on the Avocados! Do not worry about weight loss in the beginning. Your main concern is breaking the sugar addiction. Once you achieve that goal you can start watching your calorie intake.


Now that I had broken the sugar addiction, I had to create the aforementioned calorie deficit. As I have said repeatedly, I like to eat. To achieve a calorie deficit, I needed to figure out how to not only eat the right foods, but also eat less of them. I met a trainer who had lost over 100 lbs. on his own. (Frank Vilas @healthpatriot on IG) He introduced me to Intermittent Fasting. There are many benefits to Intermittent Fasting (IF), but for me it worked flawlessly to lower by food intake because I would now have less hours of the day to eat. Since I am not a huge breakfast person, and I do not think about food that much when working, "IF" and me were a match made in heaven. Oddly enough, my dad has been fasting for over 50 years. Thank G-d, he is healthy, his numbers are good, and he still fits into the same suit he wore on his wedding! Always knew my dad was a smart guy!

At 54, I am now 8 lbs. away from my goal weight. My Diabetes is in check. I feel stronger than ever, and I am happy. I have maintained this weight for over 3 years, give or take 2-3 lbs. For me Intermittent Fasting coupled with a low carb diet was the ticket to maintaining a healthy weight. Working out helps keep everything tight and in the right place. I look and feel better today than I had in my 30s, so age is not an excuse to let yourself go. I have a lot to say about fitness as well, as I do about most things!


The moral of my story: Just say NO to dieting. Diets DO NOT work. You must adapt an eating plan that is sustainable for LIFE, not the few months you need to take off the desired weight. The fact remains that 95% of all dieters will regain their weight within 5 years. (Grodstein, F., Levine, R., Spencer, T., Colditz, G. A., &Stampfer, M. J. (1996). Three-year follow-up of participants in a commercial weight loss program: Can you keep it off? Archives of Internal Medicine 156(12), 1302.)

I hope that sharing my experience will help someone out there. Gedale Fenster said it best. Picture what your future will look like if you DO NOT make lifestyle changes to get healthy. I envisioned Dialysis in my future and that was enough to light that fire under my ass that led me to where I am today. If you have any questions or need advice I am here to help. My life experience is my PHD!

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