Tempting Shortcuts

Twice, I’ve undergone rapid weight loss through a liquid diet program at a hospital-based clinic. The first time, I lost almost 70 pounds; the second, closer to 60. Each time, I gained it back within about 18 months. Ugh.

The program itself is not as hard as you might imagine. You adapt very quickly to drinking four 200-calorie beverages and drinking gallons of water, and while the program does allow for some free foods to help you cope (sugar-free jello and pickles), and offers some creative ways to spice up your shakes, I found that the monotony didn’t trouble me at all.

The deep shame of having to join the program a second time? Having to sit in front of the doctor to admit that I’d failed reduced me to tears. I suspect many people cry. He wasn’t shaming at all—I did that to myself.

The problem for me was that in the intoxication (and it is stunningly intoxicating to lose that much weight so quickly) and excitement of being thinner, I turned away from all offers of long-term support. In this particular program, once you transitioned from all-beverage to some or all food, you could keep coming back for weekly meetings, weigh-ins, lectures on nutrition, and peer support. And, since you weren’t buying the beverage or seeing the doctor, it was free. I kind of think you didn’t even have to pay for parking.

But I didn’t keep attending, because I was busy, or didn’t want to go, or wanted to eat cake, because thin people should be able to reward themselves with cake now and then. And now and now and now. And BAM, back where I started.

I got an email this morning from my favorite spa. The owner recently lost weight using some homeopathic supplement—along with a radical shift to extremely healthy eating, but of course, I see the email and am deeply tempted at the notion of a potion that can cure my ills.

I’ve got to do this the hard way this time. Instead of jump-starting with a medically-monitored 800-calorie starvation diet, I am starting with eating real food, but only about 1,400 calories’ worth per day. I am starting with exercise, something you can’t actually do very effectively when you are starving (and the program recommends you don’t, because dipping below 800 would cause you to gain weight). I am starting with the things that will have to become a daily part of my life in order for me not just to lose weight, but to live with less weight.

Live with less weight.

That sounds really wonderful. I’ve already done that with my career, shifting from working for The Man to working for My Own Self, and I live with much less weight and much more joy because of that. I need to bring that ethos into the physical part of my world.

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