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If You Are Trying To Lose Weight, Stop Doing This

What really worked for me.

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Abbey Lossing
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I went through puberty the summer I turned 12. My “string bean” legs were replaced with thighs and wide hips. I went from wearing a training bra to trying on large, tan underwire bras to try to hide my DD breasts.

For the longest time I’d weigh myself every morning, and the scale told me I was 75 pounds. That summer ended, and I was 140 pounds. All my girlfriends were still thin and wispy, and then there was me. I felt big, clunky, curvy and out of place.

I was tall and not really overweight, but I was so aware of my size and how everyone thought I was older than I was.

My weight continued to creep when my height stopped. I loved food, though. It was comforting to me, and I enjoyed baking with my family. My appetite was huge, and I loved trying new foods. I looked forward to every meal, and often made meals and snacks for my younger sisters — something that gave me great pleasure.

I decided one day after seeing my reflection in the mirror before getting in the shower that I wanted to lose weight. I literally didn’t recognize myself and knew I wanted to be more active and healthy.

That was in the ’80s, a time when every magazine and diet had you depriving yourself, measuring everything and cutting out certain foods. I did all of those things and lost about 10 pounds. And I was miserable.

Fast forward to my mid-30s. I had continued the cycle so many times I lost count. My weight would creep up, and I’d swear off sugar, fat or entire food groups — thinking maybe this would be the time it would stick.

I once went five years without having things like brownies or cake. Instead, I’d try to fill myself up with things like rice cakes, fat-free cookies and candy. I was heavier than ever.

Meat was out for a while, too. That just made me angry and craving it even more. Then, there was the “cutting out all the carbs” phase that left me having dreams about pasta and bread — something I never thought I loved until I gave it up. I felt weak, groggy and shaky. I was moody. Every time I decided to give something up because I heard it made you gain weight, it would backfire.

I’d be able to do it for a bit and get results, yes. However, in the long run I would want the very food I gave up. It became such a valued item that when I would give in and have it, I couldn’t stop.

There were cycles of self-hate. I felt weak because I had sworn off a certain food, but then I’d have it and think I wasn’t strong and didn’t have willpower. The truth is that when I stopped swearing off certain foods and allowing myself to have them, I wanted them less. Doing that one thing was such a huge stress reliever that I think I lost 5 pounds just by giving myself grace and not limiting myself.

I find when I want a piece of cake, I have it. And you know what? I crave it less because I haven’t put so much pressure on myself to stay strong and deny myself. It’s not off limits, which actually makes it less desirable.

Of course, there are other things I did, too: I had to make sure I was full and satisfied after every meal (that means eating protein, healthy fat and fiber). I stopped measuring food and never count anything like calories or fat grams.

I refuse to give up food I love. I’ve found that even now as I have a healthier relationship with food, if I do something such as eat an unplanned ice cream cone and tell myself I am going to skimp the next day to make up for it, I end up eating even more — whether I’m hungry or not. It doesn’t work.

Eat everything you love in moderation — without giving it up or punishing yourself when you have it. Remember that if you are hungry and feel deprived all the time, that cannot be sustained. You have to be satisfied if you are going to stick to a certain eating lifestyle, and that means having your favorite comforting foods some of the time and adding in lots of healthy ones, too. You really can have it all.