Thursday, May 14, 2009

Simplicity Doesn't Sell Without a Magic Feather

When I was a junior in college, I became quite busy with extracurricular activities; specifically, working on the student newspaper. I had a couple or three other things, two, and dated on weekends (no time during the week.)

I had read an article sometime before that said the best way to study was to read for 10 or 20 minutes at a time, for maximum retention of content. By this time, I had finished my core courses and was into my two majors. Still, this was a scary idea. But I was busy. Very busy. So I started doing it.

If I got to class 10 minutes early, I read ahead. If I were waiting for a friend to meet me, I read. After lunch, if I had 15 minutes before my next class, I read. I kept up with all my classes, to my astonishment. The promised retention occurred. I hardly had to review at all before tests, because I remembered the content.

My sorority sisters nagged at me and screamed. "We never see you studying! You are going to flunk!"

We all had observed the phenomenon of the magna cum laude students among us who went out to eat, to the movies, to party during Dead Week, when the rest of us hunkered down. They aced their tests, too.

Because that is what I did. For the first time in my life, I aced every single class. After my first two years of very average grades, my new study habits simply gave me a respectable, not stellar, GPA at graduation. I was happy. And I had had a lot of fun intermingled with the studying.

And not one person who reads this is going to try it because it worked for me.

Which brings me to my recent moderate success. I've written a couple of boring blogs about it, and I am sure they ARE boring. I lost a lot of weight. Pretty much effortlessly. Without lapband surgery. Lapband. Surgery. People! Can you get a grip?
I didn't buy some product. I didn't stick to grapefruit, steak and eggs, or cut out all the fats, or eat only fresh vegetables and fruits, or any other such thing.
And that is what is so boring. I didn't really go on a diet.

The bad news is I did it with portion control. The good news is that I started off with six meals a day. Never got all that hungry. I called it Little Plate, because I used salad plates (no, I didn't measure the portions). I ate what I wanted. If I had a craving for lasagna, for instance, I had a square. But it had to fit on the plate, no stacking, no overhanging. No bread on the side. Everything had to fit on the plate. If I wanted salad with the lasagna--and I do crave my crunchy greens--the slice had to be smaller. And if I were starving 2-3 hours later, I could do it again. Or if I had to have the bread, it had to fit on the plate with the square of lasagna. No stacking. No overhanging the sides.

First couple of weeks, I did have to exercise some self-vigilence and control, but then my body, my stomach, started getting used to the smaller portions. After all, I was eating stuff I liked. Yeah, it helps that I really like salad, fruit and steamed vegetables, because as I began to lose a pound or two a week, my decision to include more of these was, I think, understandable. It was working. Why not do more?

I never weighed more than once a week. Over a year and a half, I lost 70 pounds. Before that, I had lost another 20. I didn't do it all healthily. At some point, I cut down my eating to about two small meals a day because I lost my appetite. Won't make that mistake again. When my appetite came back with conscientious better eating, I gained back a few pounds I am losing again. Sigh. Life is always about balance. But I did NOT grow out of my new wardrobe.

The point is, I'm the one in control, not some drug or some surgeon. In tough financial times, my way to kick the pounds is way cheaper.

I find it interesting that people can get lapband surgery if they are "morbidly obese" despite few current health problems. Yet if the weight loss results in a hanging curtain of abdominal skin over the genitals (old-fashioned medical name for it was "Job's apron"), insurance won't pay for the removal because it's plastic surgery, considered cosmetic, never mind that it has to be swept away to keep from peeing on one's own skin.

No, I don't have that problem, thank goodness.

Like Dumbo, I think, we all want a magic feather to convince us that we can fly. If I told the studying anecdote and said, "But you absolutely have to study for 15 minutes after every meal" it would be more attractive. If I said of Little Plate, "Absolutely every day you have to eat--uh, half a jar of marinated artichoke hearts on a bed of greens, no dressing", the diet would seem more enticing.

Anyway, last night a new friend found out I had lost some weight. She wants to lose some. I told her I would tell her later. And sigh. It's just a nice anecdote to relate over a meal together.

More salad with artichokes?


Julie Murdock said...

For me it's all about portion control, which is critical to long term weight loss. You might take longer than a fad diet, but in the long run you will keep it off. You should try Flavor Magic. I think this product has just come out, since I can’t find it in stores. I ordered it online from since they offer free shipping. It’s definitely a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that product, and it really helps me with daily portion control, while making my cooking easier and tastier. I LOVE THEM. It’s really a nifty idea, and I recommend it if you like cooking at home but are struggling with eating right.

horsndogluvr said...

Ah! You and me, sister. I am steadily losing weight because I am eating less, and exercising more. Period. I eat what I like. My exercises are aimed at two things: regaining strength, and preparing me to ride horses again.

I'm not making lists, or counting calories, or being obsessive about what goes in my mouth. I'm not timing my exercise, or putting it on a schedule. Been there, done that. A few "failures" in a row, and I had an excuse to quit. I'd lose 20 lbs, and gain 30 or 40.

So don't be afraid to tell people your wonderful, simple Small Plate Method. There are more people like thee and me out there, who need to hear that it can be simple and easy!

(Not that it's super easy, mind you - but it's not all complicated by 3000 mickeymouse rules.)

I've lost 15 lbs. Hey, that's 10 percent of what I need to lose! That's a big chunk!