An article on Page 1 of today’s Active Style section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette immediately made me think of my very first column that ran across the bottom of the very first edition of the section’s predecessor, which was called “Health & Fitness.”
The article today is about whether skipping breakfast is a “good weight-loss strategy.” My column stated that diets don’t work and told how I saw the light after years of skewed thinking on the subject.
If you go on a diet, you go off a diet. Most people return to their previous eating habits and all that was lost is lost – i.e., gained back. That’s what I wrote in 1999? 2000? Whenever.
It’s still true, at least for me. You have to change your eating and exercise habits, which I did after watching Daddy die an excruciating death caused by colon cancer when he was 48 and I was 26.
And you have to stick with your changed habits forever.
For me it was about health – I’d been slim since losing my baby fat, as in pregnancy weight and full-faced youthful roundness (and was actually skinny, after the stress of my father’s 18-month illness and death).
At some point I threw our scale out and focused on eating healthy food in amounts that satisfied me, but also eating whatever I wanted in those smaller amounts. Beating cancer, while looking good, of course (I’m still a product of the mid-century South), was the real goal.
I remember well – and this speaks volumes about eating, girls and appearance, at least in our household and many others of the ’60s and ’70s – an episode of That Girl, one of my favorite TV shows when I was 11 and 12, in which Marlo Thomas’ character, Ann Marie, describes her daily weight regimen.
I’m paraphrasing (I can’t find the clip), but it was something like, “Every morning I weigh. If my weight is [some crazy low number like 104 – which I might have weighed at 11 or 12], I have breakfast. If I weigh [1-pound heavier], I skip breakfast.”
Is it pathological that I remember that so well? Maybe.
Back to the article today – sort of – which spurred this train of thought. Breakfast played a large part in my change of habits. I’d stopped eating in the mornings when Mother stopped forcing me, sometime in my teens. I also thought I was fat as an adolescent (which I wasn’t, as you’ve seen in old pics if you’re a regular reader) and danced around an eating disorder in my late teens.
But in my later 20s I started eating breakfast almost every day – unless I’m not hungry at all or know I’ll be eating a huge early meal, like on a holiday. It all evens out.
For years it was high-fiber cereal with yogurt, but a few years back I realized I needed more fat in my diet – yes, we need some – and switched to Daddy’s go-to favorite breakfast (my version, anyway): crunchy peanut butter and raisins on whole-grain toast.
I fold it over into a little sandwich so I can walk around the house or work the crossword puzzle while I eat it – or take it with me and eat in the car if I’m running late.
And I eat some good dark chocolate every day.
EVERY day, unless something is bad wrong with me. I also remember well advice from former Arkansas Governor and Senator David Pryor’s mother that every meal, even breakfast, should end with a piece of chocolate. (Or something like that. Again, I’m paraphrasing.)
Oh, and in all honesty, I weigh daily on our Wii Fit. If my weight is up a pound or two, I figure it will go down. If it stays up for two or three days, I automatically eat a bit less and/or exercise more. But I don’t diet.
Because that doesn’t work.