Weight loss isn't easy, though it is pretty simple

November 15, 1998|By Susan Reimer

SINCE MOST OF YOU have failed to notice, I thought I would take this opportunity to mention that I have lost 10 pounds.

My doctor noticed. During a recent office visit, she expressed her satisfaction and said, "Would you puh-leeze write something about this?"

She wants me to write about how I did it. About how it was not easy, but it was simple: Cut calories, watch out for fat and exercise more. She wants me to say that it is a slow and unremarkable process; a pound a week is top speed for weight loss.

"But I don't want people to know I care," I said. "I'm ashamed that I care. I have a daughter. I am sending negative messages if I care. I am a bad role model if I care."

My doctor screwed up her face in dismissal and said, "You are supposed to care. It is healthy to care. Tell people what you did. Tell them it can be done."

So here goes.

I got where I was believing the pasta lie.

I ate garbage-can lids full of the stuff, believing the low-fat part but conveniently ignoring the high-calorie part. You can get in the same trouble with bagels, and by believing that eating

Chinese food is like being a vegetarian.

Wrong.

I low-fatted myself up a couple of dress sizes before I had to admit that "loose" was not a fashion statement, but camouflage.

I dabbled in a number of weight-loss regimes - Weight-Watchers, meatlessness, no carbohydrates before noon. I bought books and watched infomercials. I exercised more.

I drank water until my back teeth floated. Nothing worked. I actually gained.

Everyone needs an incentive to lose weight, and I finally found mine - money. My health club sponsored a weight-loss contest. Pay $15, lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks and split the pot with everyone else who is successful.

Hey, works for me.

From years of obsessing about weight loss, I knew the simple truth: The only way to do it is to eat less and burn more.

I consulted the charts in "The Choose to Lose Diet," by Dr. Ron Goor and Nancy Goor and aimed for 1,700 calories a day, 250 of them from fat, and three times a week at the gym.

The toughest part was the 250 fat calories. When you realize that each tablespoon of dressing contains about half your daily allowance, you see salad in a whole new light. Salad is a diet trap, like pasta.

Count fat calories for a while and you learn that these food traps are everywhere. Fruits and vegetables are your friends, but guacamole will blow up your diet like a grenade.

Sadly, you learn that pizza, fast food and desserts are part of your past. Happily, you learn that wine has no fat calories. You learn to hoard your fat calories for special occasions.

Men can lose 10 pounds by cutting out the second doughnut at breakfast, but it is much tougher for women. For us, losing weight is as slow and imperceptible as planing wood. There is no easy answer and no quick method. You can go many days before the scale delivers even modest good news.

But if you write down what you eat and add up the calories and fat calories, it will work. It did for me. I lost my 10 pounds.

I am not the woman in stretch pants on the ski slopes of Colorado whom I see in my honeymoon pictures. And numbers on the scale that horrified me three years ago are looking good right now. But I have had two kids and I am pushing 50, so I will take what I can get.

And pulling on 6-year-old blue jeans feels like heaven.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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