Are there tyres on your middle? Have you accumulated lard on the midriff? Do you tip dangerously on the weighing scale? Are you dying to be size zero? Are you chanting Dieting? Are you blaming obesity on maverick genes? Are you making the ‘dieting’ mistakes that a million make? Are you making a million dieting mistakes? Well, beware. Dieting, losing weight, can be very tricky. Do not follow textbook rules blindly. First, look at the mistakes.
1. The No-Breakfast Blunder:
If Dieting were to have its own Ten Deadly Sins, the first would be: Skipping breakfast. Are you the one who commits this cardinal sin every morning? Well, you are not the only one, though. There are legions of no-breakfast sinners, who think they can shave some calories with a mere morning cuppa. Ah! The sinners, for they don’t know that eating something within a hour of waking can rev the metabolism by 10%; they skip the fact that breakfast skippers often supersize their next meal. Instead of metabolizing, the body tends to accumulate fat. Moral of the story: Eat breakfast. You’d eat fewer calories throughout the day.
2. Crash Diet:
She was no Winnie the Pooh who downed pots of honey. She was no size zero either. One day, the little fat she looked at the mirror made her cry: Holy cow. Time to diet. She picked the first Crash Diet book and followed it to the last morsel. She skipped meals, shunned carbs, spurned sweets. In two words: crash dieted. Well, she did lose weight, but then the food cravings returned and sooner than she thought, the weight returned with a vengeance. She forgot that the body cannot decipher the difference between famine and crash diet – the metabolism slows down and losing weight becomes a more arduous chore. Condemn the crash diet. It does not work.
3. That High-Cal Cola:
And she thought she had been kind to herself by refusing the dinner invitation. A skipped meal and some saved calories, she patted her back, switched on the television and scrounged the refrigerator for a frugal dinner. She said no to the pastry, ignored the bagel, puckered her nose over the muffin…Then, she pulled out a large coal bottle and guzzled it. She thought she had saved calories. How ignorant! Colas are laden with calories and artificial sweeteners. They are bad for you. Push them out of your diet plan. Even if the cola is in its Diet avatar. Say a big no to empty calories (colas can add 235 calories a day!)
4. To Snack or Not to Snack:
To snack or not to snack? The Prince of Denmark’s ‘to be or not to be’ dilemma pales in comparison to the ‘to snack or not to snack’ question. She skipped two meals but calorie cheated with a bag of crisps. A large breakfast would have counted fewer calories. Snacking invariably is all about junk – fries, chips, crisps, pots of sugar-laden coffee… But before you rap the snack on the back, sneak a healthy snack between meals: small portions of nuts, fruits, sprouts, a banana one day, an apple the other… When the stomach growls, do not raid the vending machine, pull that snack-size baggies out of your tote. It’s healthy and less calorific.
5. Not enough water:
The fat he who drank very little water, was desperate to shed weight. He went to the doc who went rhetorical about the need to drink eight glasses of water every day. The fat he dismissed the doc’s refrain and never took to the prescribed eight glasses of water a day. The fat he never became a thin he, for he knew not that hunger pangs – often, but not always – are just the body screaming for more H2O; he forgot that water is essential for burning calories. If only he had water before a meal, he would have consumed at least 75 calories less. If only he believed in the importance of water, the fat he would have been a thin he by now.
6. Starving before workout:
Heard the story of the dieter who enrolled in a gym, bought a treadmill, took to exercising with a vengeance? But before heading out to the gym, he did not fuel himself with the necessary carbs, proteins, a little fat. He thought exercising on an empty stomach would do him miles of good. Actually, not. For light meals before and after exercise are essential to replenish energy and tone the muscles. Workout, but do not starve.
7. The Wrong diet plan:
She was unhappy with the lard around her midriff. She knew not her body type. She went around soliciting suggestions on the diet plan. The more she asked, the more diet plans fell her way. No carb diet. No protein diet. All protein diet. Only fruit diet. Six meals a day plan. Two large meals a day. No carbs after sunset plan. Of course, each plan came with its set of success stories. She was confused. Then, one day her fave celeb mentioned her fave diet plan on the chat show. The one with the lard around the midriff bought a book, followed the plan without a word from the dietician. Then? The 7th day, fatigue got the better of her, she felt low and fainted. Her mistake: The wrong diet plan for her body type.
8. So, what’s on your plate?
Ever peeped into her dinner plate? No, not to count calories, but just to see what she ladles in for lunch. Mashed potatoes, chicken, white bread, washed down with a cup of black coffee with a dollop of cream topped with chocolate shavings. But where’s the fibre? The protein? Her food is all white, why isn’t there any colour on her lunch plate? Whatever happened to the wholesomeness of food? Purple berries, red tomatoes, lush sprouts, green veggies, blue cheese, brown bread… A frugal only-white meal is not the colour of weight loss. Eat wholesome. Think colours. Embrace fibre. Throw in a mix of carbs, protein and fat. Say no to high-cal beverage.
9. Ah! Those diet supplements:
Once upon a time she ate wholesome meal, walked religiously after dinner, exercised three times a week. Then, work held her back in office, the meal times went haywire, carrots made for fries as snack. Well, you know the rest of the story. Her energy levels dwindled faster than she could blink, she returned home to binge every night and she grew fatter by the day. Stress added too much feel-good carbs on her menu; late nights carved dark circles under her almond eyes. And when she decided to lose weight, she thought diet supplements were the safest bet. Tiny pills, round tablets that would give her the needed nutrients and push away the calories. It certainly did her no good. Not all diet supplements are enemies, but claims made by supplement manufacturers can be false. Be wary of such claims. Eat whole foods. There’s no substitute.
10. Expecting a miracle overnight:
She tipped treacherously on the weighing scale. The extra baggage on her not-so-tall frame was a whopping 25 kilograms. The weight gain juggernaut was rolling dangerously – she needed to shed those extra kilograms. She took to dieting. She took to healthy eating. She took to counting the lost calories. She zealously counted the diet-days on her fingers. On Day 7, she had barely lost a kilogram. On Day 30, 3 kilograms. On Day 45, of the 25 kilograms that she needed to shed, she had only managed 5 kilograms.
On Day 46, she quit dieting. The ‘slow’ weight loss frustrated her. For she was expecting a miracle overnight. Would someone tell her that miracles never happen overnight? There’s a word called Patience.
Preeti Verma Lal