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Chicago mom finally says no more dieting

I was a habitual dieter from 1995-2009. If you do the math, that’s 14 years that went like this: Dieting. Restriction. Success. Lose 5. Gain 7. Failure.

Soon after I graduated college in 1995, I became fixated on dieting, exercising and losing weight. I started with Weight Watchers and graduated to Phen-Phen until it was taken off the market. People started identifying me as a dieter.

Worst of all, whatever I lost came back – and then some.

In 2000, due to a prescription medication, my weight skyrocketed. I literally gained 30 pounds in three months. For someone who has dealt with anxiety, especially anxiety about weight, this was my worst nightmare come true. I thought I was “heavy” when I really wasn’t-and then I really, really was.

I tried working with dietitians. I tried weight-loss prescription medication and Weight Watchers again. In 2003, at my highest weight, I got pregnant. After my first child was born, I lost all the baby weight and then some. But losing the weight was a challenge after my second baby.

I was on Weight Watchers at five weeks postpartum. Five weeks. I wasn’t sleeping more than two hours at a time, but I was back on the diet train.

While on maternity leave, I visited a Chinese medicine doctor in Chinatown. Then I met with an alternative medicine doctor several months later. Her advice: Go wheat free, dairy free, gluten free, corn free and sugar free. Clean eating. I “did” that for eight months.

Then the weight loss came to a halt. Again I got frustrated.

I visited a dietitian, Kim Shapira, in Los Angeles while visiting my parents. I was upset. Lost. Trapped.

Shapira helped me get on the right path. We talked almost every week. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t on an official diet. We peeled back the layers of how and why I ended up with diet and food issues.

Somehow, I regressed. Back to Weight Watchers, then Jenny Craig for a six-week body makeover, and back to Shapira, who recommended I read When Food is Love by Geneen Roth.

It was life changing.

It was my story.

It made me think about these things: Was I eating to live or living to eat? Why was food and dieting defining me? How would my dieting affect my children? Why was I constantly disappointed with the way I looked even when I looked good? Because of that disappointment, did my weight gain become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

In the book, Roth suggests a life of healthy eating but non-dieting. As I was reading this book, I thought to myself, “How can I not diet?”

But I did it. I quit dieting in November 2009. Not only did I do it for me, I did it for my family.

I don’t want my children to grow up in a home where dieting and food deprivation is a focal point of our conversations. I have a daughter, and the last thing I want is for her to have food issues. I want her to see value in healthy choices while enjoying a once-in-a-while family outing to the ice cream parlor. It is my responsibility as a parent to lead her on a good path.

I am learning that there are so many things to worry about as a parent and as a woman. But I won’t be worrying about the latest and greatest diet any time soon.

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