© Original content written by James R. Carlson
My mother was a Weight Watchers counselor for 33 years and I learned some valuable lessons from her. I have not only learned from her how to cook but to understand what healthy eating habits are. Sadly, she passed away last year and I gained 20 pounds; but now I’m back down by 15 pounds with only 5 more pounds to go. She taught many people how to lose weight and to maintain it. For me, weight maintenance is the most important thing. My life has been touched by her wisdom and I’d like to share some of that with you today.
Key in weight management is to live a healthy lifestyle. My mom would tell me that the word ‘diet’ has the word ‘die’ in it and diets usually kill people (figuratively speaking). If you are going to maintain a healthy weight you need to incorporate healthy eating habits into your life-style. How you eat should be a part of your life so that you can be healthy and life to the fullest.
The first thing to keep in mind about your eating habits is to eat a balanced meal every time you eat. Never, never, never eat a fad diet. No carbs only diets, no protein only diets, no veggie only diets; you cannot have a healthy life with an unhealthy diet. Be sure to include all the major food groups in your eating lifestyle. Nutrition is nothing to play with or to skimp on. This was my mom’s first rule.
I would like to add that you should also feel full when you eat. You can add water or a salad to your meal. And a reasonable (small) desert is not out of the question. Your brain should be telling you that you are full and that the meal gave you pleasure. If not, you’re probably not going to stay with your diet.
My mother’s favorite saying was, “It’s not what you eat that matters but how much of it you eat; and how often you eat that much.” You see, you can eat anything you want and maintain your weight. But if you eat 5 pounds of spaghetti a day, you’ll gain weight. But if you eat a few ounces once a week, you’ll maintain your weight. It’s all about portion control.
I like to say that it is all about volume control. How much you put into your mouth is very important. Eat small people portions on your first helping and then eat half on your second helping if you’re still hungry. Skinny people eat skinny portions and fat people eat fat portions. If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do – eat small. And if you are not full still, add a salad or water or even a small desert to your meal. But lower your overall food intake to just enough so that you can hear your stomach say, “I’m full,” and then stop eating. You cannot get fat if you don’t over eat. And if you are fat (be honest) don’t worry about losing it right away; maintain your weight first.
Everyone knows, and my mom also taught, that if you lose weight fast you’ll gain it back fast and be heavier than before. I’m not an advocate of weight loss but of weight maintenance.
People think that they are supposed to be ‘body buff’ just like actors in Hollywood movies. These movies in fact advertise a certain body style that some people think they have to lose weight to achieve. Just look at the billions of dollars spent on Hollywood style makeup (MaxFactor) to achieve the glamour girl face. Having a Hollywood body should not be your goal. The goal should be a healthy life where one maintains their weight and eats healthy.
Keep this in mind. If you practice weight loss only to realize a weight gain in the end, you are practicing ‘dis-equilibrium.’ But, if you practice ‘equilibrium’ you can maintain your weight, which is what you want to do if you lose weight and arrive at your target goal. Sadly, people who practice dis-equilibrium when losing weight to achieve their target weight only gain back the weight they lost (and more) because they never bothered to practice equilibrium and maintain their weight. The first goal for a person with a weight problem is to maintain their weight.
Often, people eat to feed their emotions. Losing my mother is one example. I’ve learned from her the lessons of life to maintain my weight and the problems with losing weight. I have also learned to add a spiritual component to my lifestyle. Praying more and presenting my ‘issues’ to God in prayer helps fill a void in my heart that sometimes I try to fill in my stomach with food. Feeding our emotions is only human but like exercise, prayer is a part of a healthy lifestyle. Try praying more often.
Again, I’m not an advocate of weight loss as it is enough for me in my life to maintain my weight and eat healthy balanced meals. My body size and appearance is not the most important thing in my life. I put God first in my life not my body but even God tells us that exercise has value. However, the best value in life is to live a healthy moral life.
If you must lose weight and you haven’t abused yourself to the point of being hundreds of pounds overweight, try limiting the amount of weight you lose to 5 or 10 pounds a year. Be honest, are you in it for the long haul or for someone’s approval of how you look? Are they that shallow; are you? Looks do not translate into health. In fact, skinny people can overeat and get fat while fat people can eat healthy and slowly lose weight. Keep it simple, make small changes in your diet, your exercise, and your prayer life. Life is for living, not losing weight. Maintain your weight and be healthy.
I thank God for my mother. She was a nursing student in the mid-1940s and wanted to be a dietician. She married before finishing her nursing degree. But after raising her family, she finished her career with Weight Watchers with 33 years of counseling. She truly loved her job helping people. Her wisdom lives on with me and I trust you will learn something from it too.