A lot of people think of the word "diet" and grimace, and I really can't blame them. It starts with "die," right? Surely anything that starts that way can't bring any joy to life. Truly, the idea of giving up so many of the things we love is daunting, and it is one reason why so many people will not start a healthier eating program. Instead of focusing on what they will gain in losing pounds, they choose to focus on what they will lose (which, ironically, are many of the things that made them gain in the first place). We don't want to lose the things that made us gain so that we can gain the benefits of loss. How's that for a confusing play on words?
I'm one of those people. At the beginning of this quest, the one thing that made the first step so hard was bidding farewell to some things. I no longer buy sugar; I use only stevia or Splenda/sucralose. I no longer buy oil of any kind; I use only cooking spray and that yummy butter spray stuff that comes in the blue bottle. I no longer eat fast food, except on very rare special occasions, and even then, I keep a list in my car of what things are within a reasonable calorie range on those menus. (Can you believe there are 779 calories in one Taco Bell Beef Fiesta Taco "Salad"? Seriously! You really would have to run for the border; in fact, you'd need to walk 204 minutes to burn off those 779 calories of so-called salad). I no longer buy real candy bars; I have to settle for Skinny Cow or one of those tiny miniatures when a magnesium deficiency or Aunt Flo demands chocolate. So, yes, there are things you have to give up to go on a weight loss journey, and no one wants to hear that.
Surprisingly, though, there are many things people assume have to be given up, when they really don't. Some can be eaten in smaller portions, used as treats or snacks, or just modified so they take up a little less room on your Nutrition Tracker and give you a little more room in your jeans. Sometimes it's a matter of training yourself to eat alternatives and substitutes, varieties with lower/no sugar or fat. For me, the main thing I refused to give up was Coffee, a lifelong love affair I simply cannot walk away from. Sure, some dieticians and nutritionists would call this a fatal attraction, because Coffee is not necessarily the epitome of a healthy obsession, but I am telling you now that if I had to turn my back on Coffee, my backside would still be a whole lot bigger, because I would not have been able to go on this quest if that was the cost.
I consider Coffee my boyfriend. Why not? He's been far more significant and consistent than most so-called significant others in my life! We meet every day, sometimes twice a day. He's there to greet me in the morning, every morning, without fail. He's always warm (hot, even), he's often sweet, and he gives me this crazy boost of energy. Just being with him makes me feel like I can wake up and conquer the world. He seems to be everywhere I go, whether I'm getting gas or walking around the mall or even at church. He really doesn't demand much, except for an occasional couple dollars and a little of my time. Sure, he's a little fickle, as I spy Coffee having interludes with many others all the time, but he's so irresistible that I am willing to forgive him for those indiscretions. Coffee is my boyfriend, and he's just so hot I could never, ever give him up. I'm with him so much that I've taken to telling the doctor my blood type is "caffeine positive."
I am a bit of a writer, and I come from a family that has been in the biz of herbs/supplements/natural and alternative healing methods for over forty years. I used to work for them, researching and writing newsletters, pamphlets, brochures, etc. about how food and nutrition affect our health, so I know Coffee isn't necessarily the best friend when it comes to weight loss. While he does give me energy, he also does some nasty things. He impedes digestion, and I know those flutters I feel in my stomach from him aren't always just a case of puppy love. Spending too much time with Coffee has my head spinning and my thoughts racing, and sometimes he keeps me up at night, which isn't conducive to weight loss. If I ask him to visit without his caffeination, it isn't much better, because that only means he's slathered in pesticides, which is something we really don't need. I'm no expert, but I did write a piece a few years ago called "Good to the Last Drop? Maybe Not for Dieters," so I feel a bit two-faced carrying on with this love affair, but I spend twenty ounces' worth of enamored rendezvous with Coffee every day, and I've still taken off a huge 167.4 pounds (at last weigh-in). I'm thinking my passion for Coffee won't deter me from losing that last 7 pounds of flesh, and when I do hit that goal, Coffee will be the first one to join me in the celebration. Heck, I might even invite his equally hot cousin, Latte. Maybe I'll have a threesome and invite Espresso too.
So what's my point? You don't have to give up EVERYthing. If you go into a weight loss journey thinking everything you love is going to be taken from you, you will immediately defeat yourself. Whatever your culinary love affair is, there is probably some sort of substitute or modification you can make so you don't feel that emptiness of lost love. The key is being accountable for it; my interludes with Coffee cost me about 25 calories, creamer and all. We all know from those very annoying commercials that Oprah's love affair is with Bread, but mine is with Coffee, and I have no intention of ending my relationship with him. In fact, I think he's in my kitchen right now, and boy do I love it when he wears his hazelnut cologne!