Zen Weight Management

July 17, 2007

Losing weight is hard.

Somehow that fact gets lost or hidden among all the fancy media and diet industry. It’s always “lose weight the easy way” and “isn’t it a shame…” discussions about obesity.

When I have managed to lose weight it is always with enormous effort and focus. Almost an obsession in my life, often crowding out other interests. I have been successful with this approach at multiple periods of my life . A kitchen stocked to the gills with whole foods and fresh fruits & veggies with nary a junk food in site (nor in hiding). A workout schedule that has me at the gym almost every free moment of the week, and sore more days than not. Material to keep me motivated all over the house (books! magazines! websites!). You get the picture.

This approach has worked for me several times to lose a significant amount of weight (see my About Round page).

But this approach is no longer what I want, and it’s no longer compatible with my life. I am not willing to make my weight the center of my life anymore — for good or for bad. That means my diet plan needs to fit my life now, not what I did before, when I made my life fit my diet.

Being healthy is a big priority in my life – definitely in the top 3. Nurturing my marriage and my husband, friendships and other interests are all important to me too. I have a relatively demanding job which most of the time I really like. Losing weight needs to fit into this context now.

Over the past few years, where I have learned to manage my weight within a certain range (although it is higher than I’d like) I’ve still tended to cycle through obsessed and free-for-all periods, instead of a healthy middle ground.

My pursuit of Zen Weight Management began about 9 months ago, after some gentle teasing from my husband (who is very supportive of weight loss efforts, but less supportive of my mono-mania). I was counting every calorie in and out, and frustrated by the slow progress of the scale. I was making myself feel miserable about the process and my results. Slowly, I came to see that the pressure I was putting on myself was crazy. My husband and then later my doctor both made the same suggestion a few weeks apart – to make a few smaller changes and lose a small amount of weight slowly, like 10 pounds a year.

I have never managed my weight this way – but it is incredibly appealing to me now. Cut out the highs (free-for-all eating) and cut out the lows (very strict dieting & crazy gym schedules). I’ve had some experience with this in my 5 year maintenance period for my current weight – I would say I have spent more of my time maintaining than in the gain-lose cycle. There are certain things I just don’t do anymore that have become my rules of eating – I don’t drink my calories (occasional glass of wine excluded), I don’t eat fast food, I don’t eat fried anything, I don’t keep ice cream in the house, I don’t eat dessert every day, I eat lots of fruit & vegetables, etc.

My goal for my upcoming weight loss (in September) is to do it Zen. It will be a big challenge, because the only way I’ve ever done it is Stressed. Just because one approach has worked for me in the past doesn’t mean another approach won’t work in the future, and if my last diet attempt taught me anything, it was that. And if it takes a while? So what.

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