Thursday, January 19, 2012

Deprivation as a virtue?

I have to admit I was hesitant to give details about what I am doing to lose weight this time, for fear of seeming like I am eating "too much," even though I have been losing weight. It made me wonder if, for some people, the real point of dieting is the deprivation itself, and not the weight loss.

At Christmas, my mother-in-law complimented my sister-in-law on her weight loss, and without barely pausing for a "thank you," launched into a story of how she put herself on a 1,000-calorie diet after her first child was born, and spent years following it even when she got into long-distance biking until she finally got sick and had to start allowing herself more calories.  It seemed like she wanted to be commended on her self-control. It is fairly impressive to be able to control yourself that strictly, but also potentially dangerous (as evidenced by the getting sick part).

I don't think most people are that good at self-control, they just don't like the idea of a high number of calories. It seems that to many people, having an appetite is unfeminine. I know I have told the story here before about the woman in my Weight Watchers meeting who was complaining that her points allowance of 22 was "too much." I was genuinely curious when I asked, "So how many points do you typically have per day?" She said, "I don't know, I don't keep track." Anyone who is not tracking really has no idea what is "too much" and what is the right amount.  It's easy for a lot of calories to sneak in without seeming like a lot of food.  Sweetened beverages, alcohol, condiments, salad dressings, etc., can all be real foolers.  Somehow everything at restaurants has double the calories of a similar item cooked at home.  That's why just keeping an accurate food diary can be a weight-loss technique: I know I have changed some of my habits once I saw the impact that they were making on my numbers.

I definitely will make other adjustments as I go through this plan -- if I stop seeing results, I will definitely cut back further. I'm deliberately taking this slow because I want fat loss, not weight (water, lean tissue) loss.  One pound to one-and-a-half pounds a week is perfect, to me. I want to lose the right way this time around, and not just lose quickly to gain quickly again.  I also want to avoid that "Who is that person in the mirror?" feeling I had last time. Losing slowly will give my brain time to adjust.


  1. Anonymous2:55 PM

    Losing slowly will also give your body time to adjust. I lost 79 pounds in 80 weeks. I walk 5 days a week and take 4 yoga classes and the combo of the slow weight loss and exercising has enabled my body to adjust to it's new size. I don't have that "excess skin" look that people get. I also felt great during the whole process. Slow and steady gets you there!

  2. My husband is the king of stoicism, he totally thinks depriving yourself is the way to go. I respectfully disagree, and think you're on the right track. I see from your Twitter updates that you shoveled snow! I'm a little jealous.

  3. I think that often dieters don't eat enough, and that deprivation leads to falling off the wagon fairly quickly. Or once the weight is lost, it is quickly regained once the diet is over, due to rebound from too rigid of a plan. You're doing great--keep it up!

  4. " It seems that to many people, having an appetite is unfeminine."

    I SO agree! And I agree that the act of deprivation can be a source of pride for some. Slow is definitely the way to fact, I've come to the conclusion that slow, with long plateaus, is even better. The plateau is where your brain catches up to your body and where your body adjusts itself in order to get ready to lose more, but of course, no one likes to have a plateau. It's dreaded even. And it's where many start to regain...


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07