Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Be Happy and Thin- In Moderation

I read recently about a study that showed that people who were happy lived longer than people who were thin.  (Sorry- I can't find the reference right now.) To some people, that may sound like a good excuse to stop the diet and exercise routines, and just have a good time.  My thought was, "Why can't you have both?"  I am sure there are people out there who just naturally have both.  I used to be one of them.
I think I am already a fairly happy person.  I don't let things get to me much.  I want to focus on the getting thin part of the equation.  I have been talking about dieting for a couple of months now, but all kinds of things got in the way of my resolve: vacation, holidays, family gatherings, etc.  Good excuses all, but I could have stuck to my diet better if I had really tried.
So, about that idea of being happy and thin?  My answer is: Moderation.  Many 'How to lose weight ' lists say that cutting out things like soda, fancy coffee drinks, and the like will save you excess calories.  One of my readers posted a comment recently and stated she had lost 10 pounds by cutting out drinking milk.  That is a great way to drop pounds, and fairly easy, especially if you replace whatever it is that you eliminate with something else more healthy.  My problem is, that I already eat healthy, so I don't have much I can cut from my diet.  I recently started to go without my juice in the morning.  I figured that I eat plenty of fruit, so I don't need the nutrients I would get from the juice.  That is a start.

Eating gluten free helps me somewhat, because I can't have cookies, cakes, etc. that always seem to be appearing at work and social events.  Following a gluten free diet does have its hazards, though.  Gluten free bagels, bread, etc., tends to be more calorie rich than the gluten containing equivalents. The answer?  Moderation: eat less of it. That is where the idea of being happy comes into all this.  Instead of depriving yourself of something you really want, eat a smaller portion than you normally would take.  Don't take seconds.  This way, you get to enjoy whatever it is, but you also take in fewer calories than you would have.  Your rate of losing weight will be slower this way than if you were on a strict diet, but most people are more likely to stick to this kind of diet, and be happier than if they were depriving themselves.
This is a situation in which you need to know yourself.  Some people are not able to control how much they eat of something they like, and may need to avoid it altogether.  When I go to a restaurant here in the US, meals are usually huge.  I often take home at least half of my food to eat for another meal.  If you have tried to do this but consistently fail, try asking for a box before you eat, and set aside part of your meal.  If you still can't keep from eating the whole thing, try ordering smaller meals, don't go out to eat so often, or just accept that this is one area you can't control.  Occasional indulgences may be necessary for the 'being happy' part.  Just remember- moderation.
In general, if you take in fewer calories than your body is used to, and/or increase activity, you will ultimately lose weight, though not necessarily rapidly.  (Science is finding that this is not exactly true, but that is a more complex discussion than I can provide here.) Eat what you usually eat, only less of it, especially the unhealthy stuff.  Replace unhealthy foods with more healthy alternatives.
Many people find that having a partner or class makes exercise and dieting easier and more fun.  Take care of your health needs, but don't let this be your main occupation.  Make sure you include ways to enjoy live in your daily routines.  Practice an attitude of gratitude. 
Remember- being thin will not make you a happier person.  You can be overweight and still be both happy and healthy, and you can be thin and be sad and unhealthy.   Weight and happiness are not really related.  The message I am trying to send is that you can work on losing weight without making yourself miserable. Just remember- moderation. 

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