When I weighed more than 300 pounds (and even after I’d lost half of that), I obsessed about losing weight. I tried every kind of diet, and I was, I admit, totally obnoxious about it.
If you’re dead set on dieting, I hope that reading about the five kinds of annoying dieter I've been will keep you from making some of the mistakes I made. It might even prevent your friends and family from "forgetting" to invite you to dinner.
The Calorie Cop
I went to lunch with my boss and a few co-workers during one of my many spells on a calorie-restriction diet. Mindful of staying under my daily caloric limit, I halfheartedly ordered a simple salad. When everyone else’s food arrived, I guesstimated how many calories were in each entree, and announced the number with an exasperated eye roll. Why? Because if I wasn't going to enjoy my lunch, I sure as hell didn't want them to.
Arguably one of my healthiest dieting exploits, eating "clean" didn’t prevent me from being a jerk. Everything I ate had to be organic, minimally processed, and free of additives or preservatives.
That was all well and good. What sucked was that whenever I visited my parents, I gave them grief for eating the "prepared, pre-packaged trash" they were getting from the supermarket. These were busy, blue-collar workers making ends meet in a working-class neighborhood (read: no farmers markets).
As it turns out, eating clean didn’t help me lose weight on its own; slamming locally sourced, whole-grain muffins kept me just as heavy as I was when downing boxes of chemical-saturated Ding Dongs.
The Lazy Slow Foodie
Back in the early 2000s, I decided my daily fast food habit was what was preventing me from getting to a more comfortable weight. I made a simple commitment not to eat food from any fast food restaurants, under any circumstances. But I lacked the motivation and forethought to pack myself a lunch. On long road trips, I’d be in the back seat whining that we needed to take yet another 20-minute detour so I could do a run through the local grocery store.
Keep in mind that this was before we had Siri to direct us to the nearest Whole Foods. We had to look at maps! On paper! And ask strangers for directions! It was wild. And a giant pain in the ass.
The Smoothie Operator
During one of my more grandiose dieting spells, I started every day with a gigantic glass of ground-up produce suspended in a semi-fluid protein matrix (aka a green smoothie). When I was out with friends, I just couldn’t help asking, "How many servings of veggies do you eat in a day? I get in 20 before I even leave the house!"
Note to self: Trying to make other people feel badly about how or what they eat is no way to feel better about what or how you're eating. Meanwhile, want to guess who has a dusty $200 juicer on a shelf in her basement?
The Thin One
After I lost 150 pounds in 2003, I started to gain my weight back. One night, I was meeting a friend for dinner who was overweight and pissed about it.
I weighed myself before I left the house. I’d put on five pounds. Later, when we were sitting at "our" restaurant, she ordered our go-to dish. I ordered a salad.
"Seriously?" she said.
"Girl, I’m on a diet." I replied, without even a smidgen of self-awareness or consideration. Just thinking about it now makes my stomach churn. Understandably, she wadded up her napkin and threw it at my head. I’m just grateful we weren’t eating at a bowling alley.
Now that I’ve maintained a healthy weight for more than a decade, I know that weight isn’t the problem, and that diets aren’t the solution. But as a personal trainer who works with women like I once was, I also know that old ideas die hard.
If you’re still trying to lose weight by dieting, here’s my advice: Do your best to eat nourishing foods in nourishing ways. And if eating better is making you nuts, don’t be a dick to the people around you. Get yourself some support. Preferably from someone who’s been where you are and gotten to where you want to be -- happily.
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Kelly Coffey is a trainer and writer who knows the types, believe her. Follow her on Facebook, or come to her free online workshop, "Why We Sabotage Ourselves (with Food) (and What We Can Do About It)."