My Life — A History of Diets

In October, I decided I’d had enough. I made some changes, and started on a path to losing weight. It took a while to get in the swing of it and even longer to get back to regular exercise but I’ve lost about ~40 pounds so far, and three dress sizes (and, alas, two cup sizes in my boobs).

It’s been a battle on some days, though, and I’m having a tough time staying on track right now thanks to both a minor leg injury and general malaise (and the stupid ass PMS monster). At times like these it feels like I’ve been dieting for my entire life and that’s not far from wrong. For over thirty years I’ve tried every diet out there, and last year when I decided to start again I was the heaviest I’ve been non-pregnant.

I’ve talked about what I believe is different this time on my own blog, but I’ve found myself thinking about all the idiotic diets I’ve tried and failed. My friend Margit inspired me to do a review of my diets (and I totally failed to credit her initially in this post! Ack!) and since this stretches back into the 70s, also rather hilarious. Seeing my history like that has made me feel more committed than ever. I don’t want to write another post like this in ten years.

So here we go.

  • a little trip down memory lane… 1 of 13
  • Death Chalk, I mean, Protein Powder 2 of 13

    My mother has also struggled with her weight throughout her life, and in 1979 she started doing a liquid diet consisting of protein powder in orange juice three times a day. I decided to go ahead and join her in this at 11 years old.

    By the way, I wasn't fat.

  • Me, 7th Grade, 11 years old 3 of 13

    See? Not even remotely fat.

  • Yogurt Diet 4 of 13

    Okay, it wasn't a diet, so much, as all I ate. I was on the school lunch plan, and I was thrilled when I discovered I could use it to get a yogurt instead of the regular cafeteria slosh, so for about two years in high school I got a Dannon yogurt for lunch. I had an elaborate ritual with it; I hated the lumps so I slooooowly scraped my spoon through the yogurt, eventually reaching the fruit on the bottom. This way I could stretch my meal out. I'd skip breakfast, eat the yogurt, and then eat whatever my mom made for dinner (which tended to be small and dietish as well). I figure I spent those two years eating about 800 calories a day, with some binging in there too. Even so, I considered myself to be chubby.


    Image credit: still from this compilation of 80s commercials.

  • Beer Diet 5 of 13

    Okay, fine. It wasn't really a diet, it was more of a life style. You know, because I'm an alcoholic. From about age 15 to age 23 I drank my weight in beer each day. I also spent my days working as a veterinary technician, which meant I was restraining, lifting, and carrying cats and dogs of all sizes for nine hours a day. This kept me from gaining astronomical amounts of weight, although I was a size 18 by then.

  • The Gym 6 of 13

    I was 22, I think, when I joined my first gym. This picture, by the way, is a stair stepper from the 90s and they were all the rage. I did at least 40 minutes on this every day after work at the animal hospital, then lifted weights, and then went swimming (yes, a gym with a pool!).


    This is when I had my first experience with exercise bulimia. Basically I'd work out until the gym closed, then get dressed and go to the bar and drink tons of calories. The nights I didn't go out (which were few) I'd come home and binge eat. Totally healthy!


    Image Credit: Cesaroni Designs.


  • Jenny Craig 7 of 13

    Tried Jenny Craig in the mid 90's. Guess what? All those tiny meals don't help you lose weight if you go to the bar every night and guzzle 3000 calories of alcohol.


    Image Credit: Still from this old commercial.

  • The Stillman Diet 8 of 13

    One of the first, most popular low carb diets out there. I started it when I was oh, about 28? I'm guessing? I was sober for about a year, I think, when I tried it. I did great for about three weeks, and then I began having god-awful abdominal pain. This got worse and worse until I ended up in the hospital. Apparently, I was causing my intestines to telescope on themselves - hence the pain - because of lack of fiber. Oops. The only thing I remember about this diet (other than the hospital) is the "bread" you made out of all eggs in a loaf pan, sliced into bread slices. God it sucked.


    Image courtesy of Amazon.

  • The Nutritionist: No Sugar, No Flour, Weigh and Measure EVERYTHING 9 of 13

    A woman I met early in sobriety started losing weight rapidly. I finally asked her how she was doing it, and she gave me the name of her nutritionist. I started seeing that nutritionist for $90 a week. She basically gave me a food plan of no sugar, no white flour, and a strictly weighed out amount of food for the day. It took me a while and I ended up adding whole wheat flour back in but then it clicked, and I lost weight. 70 pounds, for the lowest weight I've been in my adult life. I also began hiking regularly with my husband so I was fit as well and I used the help of a recovery group focused on weight loss for support.


    The only flaw in this plan is that by the end of doing it, I was kind of insane. I was maniacal about what I ate, making it nearly impossible for me to do the main sober activiity - eating out - without forcing people to accommodate my special food needs. I became completely obsessed with it. I wasn't happy. So I stopped. And gained back fifty pounds.

  • Weight Watchers 10 of 13

    Oh, yes, the joy of the point slider. I did Weight Watchers for a couple of years. It was early in the digital age so I still had to use a handwritten paper journal for tracking my points, but I could also spend time hanging out in the online forums, which were a god send. I lost about forty pounds, started hitting the gym hard (and being exercise bulimic again), and got back down to a size 14/16. I also ate a lot of weird shit like "pumpkin mousse" which was a can of pumpkin puree mixed with a container of cool whip. And I thought that was yummy. UG.


    Then everything went to hell because I started infertility treatments, and was told right away to stop exercising because my ovaries went into hyperdrive with stimulation and the docs were worried I'd torque them. Yes, torqued ovaries are a thing. Between no exercise and stress eating, I gained all my weight back. Then pregnancies, loss, and another pregnancy well, by the time my daughter was born in 2006, I was back to being full on fat again.


    Image credit: Chickadee Weight Loss.

  • Intuitive Eating 11 of 13

    This wasn't a diet. This was actually rather huge for me; it took me from "disordered eating" to a much more sane relationship with food. Even though I'm currently counting calories, I'm still using many of the things I learned from this plan in how I think about food now. It took a long time to learn to listen to the messages my body was giving me about what I needed to eat; for months all I wanted was Cheetos. So I let myself eat them, and eventually, I learned to tell that my body wasn't saying "cheetos" it was saying "carbohydrates." So I listened. I lost some weight at first, and then just leveled out without gaining.


    Eventually I realized I wanted to actually lose weight, and I needed to do something different.


    Image courtesy of Amazon.

  • Paleo 12 of 13

    Last October, I tried my hand at the hot new thing the Paleo diet. It was kind of similar to my no white sugar or flour diet, but with an interesting way to restrict carbs (instead of low carb). It jumpstarted my weight loss in a huge way. I'm not still fully paleo, but I do tend to keep my carbs lower and paleo-approved. Mostly. It really did help, for sure.


    Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.

  • It’s Working. 13 of 13

    I'm on track, and currently about half way to my first goal. The first picture is from May of 2012, and the picture on the right is from last month. It's really happening.


    Going through this list and memory lane trip has really inspired me to keep going. Thanks for following along at home.

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