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Some People Never Learn

I’ve gone on many diets in my life.  Mostly what I’ve lost — on each and every one — is money.  So, why did I decide to try another?

This latest — and hopefully last — diet, has taught me quite a bit about myself and my healthy eating needs, so it has by no means been a waste.  And the book they gave me is quite good.  I am enjoying the class and talking to the other people.  Basically, I am not even having a problem with the diet — except:

I spent a part of my life homeless.  There were periods where I would go three to five days without adequate food.  Most days there were frozen apples still hanging off a tree down the road.  One had to eat them at just the right moment — still frozen enough to chew, but thawed enough not to break teeth.

During my homeless time pretty much all I thought about was food.  I was constantly hungry and I worried 24/7 about my next meal.  Even after I was no longer homeless or hungry, that obsession stayed with me.  I didn’t even recognize it until a few years ago.  At that point I started reprogramming my food thinking.

I do not have to clean my plate. I know where my next meal is coming from.  I do not have to over-eat.  I know where my next meal is coming from.  I do not have to worry about getting my fair share of everything.   I know where my next meal is coming from.  Just because there is food in front of me, I am not obliged to eat — especially if I’m not hungry.  I know where my next meal is coming from.

Last August it all finally clicked.  My eating patterns changed.  My food stress left.  Poof — gone.  I thanked God for the miracle and watched the scales roll back.  The weight was coming off at two to three pounds per week without effort. I found myself wondering what would happen if I applied myself — so I joined Curves.   The weight started coming off at three to five pounds per week.

So I decided to take the Curves Weightloss challenge.  They didn’t advertise it as a diet.  They said it was a class on healthy eating habits — which it is, but it comes with a 6 week prescribed diet.  Suddenly I am back to thinking of food 24/7.  I am weighing, measuring, recording — eating certain foods in certain amounts at certain times …

And even though there is plenty of food and I am not going hungry, I am constantly hungry — because I can’t set the thought of food aside and go on with my day.  I am headed once again for obsession mode — worse, doing things their way, I lost only 1 pound this week.  Losing one pound is better then gaining one, but it is not the kind of progress I was making pre-diet.

I will keep and use their book.  I will attend their class.  I will exercise — but I am going back to eating what I want, when I want, in reasonable portions.  I am no longer going to record every bite that goes into my mouth, or plan for my meals days in advance.  I will listen to my body and feed it when it needs fed — what seems tasty and right at the time.

Check back this time next week to see if my way puts me back where I should be.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Quilly

    I will say a prayer that you find the best way to lose the weight. Your friends are proud of you and what you’ve been doing.

    Now that I made my last comment for 6 March, 2007 my wrist and I are going to toddle off to bed.

    Blessings for a wonderful day tomorrow.

  2. Wow, what a wonderful post. Very inspirational and it is enlightening to read that you are so intune with your body and what you need and the eating habits that you have identified you had. I struggle with this myself and know that with any diet I attempt I am going to overload on everything that I have denied myself as soon as I lose the weight, which then pushes it back up to what it was (and more) in the first place.

    I watched an Oprah episode a couple of months ago and she said that all a diet gives you is 3-5 extra pounds (well approximately, my memory isn’t photographic :p) . This really stuck in my mind and is so clearly what happens with me.

    I just need to find the motivation to exercise daily and also the mindset to only eat when I am hungry…rather than out of habit, emotionally, cause I am bored….etc.

    I hope going back to your way sees you get the results you have been getting so far 😀

    Jen (Australia)

  3. Wow Quilly,

    That was a tough post to read.
    When I was 14 I left the place my mother called home for us, but tsill being a minor I wasnæt allowed to live on my own. I got accepted in a really good school in the South of Germany, and the child agency found a family I could stay with there. That family was really mean, nasty adn to this day I have no clue why they did what they did. One of the problems was food, I was a growing teenager and always hungry. They had two fridges in their home, one for themselves and tehir own kids and one for us. There was a huge difference between those fridges, believe you me. Long story short, after I left (19 years old) and settled somewhere in the North of Germany, my main focus became food, I dived into it and my day focused aorund it…I gained a bit…not too much, I have always been rather tiny…but still, to this day I know what it feels liek to be hungry, starving for more than just nourishmnent.
    All I can say is to go your own way, it might not work or it might, it´s still your own way!

    and on a totally other note, remember that you started to work out, you body is changing fat into muscles, which can weigh quite a bit and tehrefore donæt bring teh scale down as much as it used to.

    many hugs, Minka

  4. Thanks for sharing something that I’m sure was very difficult for you to share. It’s sometimes hard to retrain our brains. I think now that you’ve found something that works, you should stick with it. Everyone loses weight for different reasons because everyone gains weight for different reasons. So phooey on their diet plan!

    If you ever need support, a diet buddy, or just someone to send a smile in your direction, you know where to find me. Not to speak for everyone, but I’m sure I speak for everyone. 😉

  5. GOOD FOR YOUUUUUU!!!!! YAY! Our Curves doesn’t offer that challenge anymore — that’s why we started the Boot Camp challenge! On the Boot Camp everyone used whatever “diet” they chose… we just concentrated on the exercise part — which IS Curves specialty…. I’m very proud of you Quilly – both for recognizing the problem IMMEDIATELY and for refusing to be sucked into it! HIGH 5’s!!!

  6. Oh…. I meant to tell you — I never actually made it to be homeless… Thank God! … but I went through a time of extreeeeeeeme poverty… maybe I’ll blog about that one day… but I just wanted you to know — I definitely understand where you’re coming from…

  7. For once, Oprah got it right. Diet programs exist to feed the stock options of the CEOs of the companies peddling them. Which works beautifully, because practically all of the people who try them wind up heavier than they were. But you know this. You also know that hunger is no way to live.

    Diet foods, I think, are as dangerous as low-nicotine cigarettes. They leave you hungry, you wind up eating more of them, and wind up going the opposite direction from the intent, and being more miserable in the process.

    You found the only long-lasting path to weight loss. May you stick with it.


  8. Bill — thanks for the prayers and encouragement. Take care of your hand and stop making it work so late!

    Jen — that’s why I allow myself anything I want. I just take small portions. If I have a desert I eat it with a fancy rosewood handled, baby spoon — it forces me to eat slower. And, when I take the small portion, I remind myself that there is always more, if I should need it.

    Minka — my step-mother did the same thing with me when I was a teen — and even after the doctor told her she was starving me, she continued to limit how much food I was allowed. Luckily, I had a job and could buy at least one decent meal a day (decent portion wise, not nutrition wise).

    Brig — thank you. I am hoping that since I am not following a diet, support won’t be necessary, but it sure is nice to know I have friends who care about my trials and traumas.

    Melli — I lived in a tent in Montana in the winter time. Cold and hunger are two things I have not handled well since. I have pretty much managed to work through most of my food issues, but the slightest chill and I am back in that tent thinking I will never be warm again.

    That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger — heh?

    OC — I’ve been on a lot of diets and helped fatten the accounts of many execs. No more. I’ve quit looking for a miracle, and instead found what seems to be a solution. Moderation, water intake, and exercise. Your support of my choices means more then I could ever explain. :*

  9. I hate to say what makes me feel better under food stress. A cheeseburger always helps keep my chins up.

  10. Quilly, it’s really hard to get over a certain way of thinking when it comes to food…most of the time it’s very hard for an overweight person to change their eating habits and lose weight, and it’s hard for someone that had a problem such as anorexia or bulimia to give that up and eat normally again (of course, in all three cases there is many times other psychological issues…). It’s really nice to see that you do have a grasp on what you need for your body and was able to rewire your brain after going from never having enough, to having enough food.

  11. I’ve never been homeless, but Pap and I cruised the “extreme poverty” lane for many years in our youth. The power of the mind is an awesome thing, if you can get your head wrapped around almost anything you can do it. This was a good post, practical advice for anyone trying to lose weight because diets don’t work in the long term ever.

  12. Doug — two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun? Or: double, double cheese, cheese burger, burger, please?

    Silver: you’re right. I was homeless for less then a year, and it has taken me 20 times that long to recognize I had a problem and get a handle on it.

    Kat — I think I may share some other dieting wisdom I learned in a future post. That “getting your head wrapped around it” is the real key. Losing weight doesn’t take will power. It takes realization.

  13. Quilly-Sister, great insight into your body/mind needs/wants. I’m proud of you and happy for you! You go, girl!

  14. “Brig — thank you. I am hoping that since I am not following a diet, support won’t be necessary, but it sure is nice to know I have friends who care about my trials and traumas.”

    That’s fine and dandy, but support doesn’t just mean a diet. 😉

  15. Never having been hungry or homeless or deprived of anything I needed to survive, I can’t relate to your hardships, but I can certainly empathize with your need to shed those extra pounds. Though I’ve never been considered overweight, at those times when I need to lose a few extra pounds just to keep the old body functioning, I found that just giving up that extra glass of wine at dinner and the late evening adult beverage does wonders for my wasteline. Alcohol has so many empty calories and imbibing encourages snacking while drinking. While I may not be as much fun to be around while I abstain, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing something good for myself. Other than abstinence, the only other advise I can give from my own experience is to eat modest portions and exercize,excersize, exercize. Good luck.

  16. Jackie — thanks, I am pretty dang proud of me.

    Brig — in that case, send money. I’ll email my address. 😀

    Bob — since I have perhaps two alcoholic drinks in a year, giving them up is not a hardship, and likely won’t won’t change my personality. Thanks for the advice though.

  17. I hope everything works when you shift back. I have been on many diets. I always did well at the start but there always came that time when I was hungry. It was like a bounce effect. So I hope you can go back and it works.

  18. Dr. John — my way works. It worked 20 pounds worth any sacrifice or hardship on my part. Then I tried their diet and it worked, but with lots of sacrifice and resentment. It is the sacrifice and resentment that leads to failure. Eat what you want, but eat slow and eat less. Few of us need the amount of food we actually eat.

  19. Good for you Quilly! Diets always fail for the simple reason that eventually you go back to bad habits. If you can loose while eating healthy food and not feeling hungry then you’ve found the holy grail of healthy weightloss!

    Trust me on this, I relearned what food was and how to eat it when I was 29 and lost 80lbs of fat in the months/years that followed.

    Eventually when you do get down to loosing 1lb per week, don’t fret it. By then (1) you’ll be skinny, and (2) the slower you loose weight the more likely it will stay off.

    When I recently started back to the gym for 6 weeks my body weight stayed the same. I lost 10 lbs of fat and (re)gained 10 pounds of muscle. 🙂

  20. Polona — OC told me to ditch the diet week one, but it took me two more weeks to listen to him.

    Morgan — I am liking the gym not so much for the weight loss, but the mobility. I sprinted up the driveway and jumped the steps on my porch. I used to hang on to the rail and drag myself up those steps.

    I won’t try to tell anybody I am eating only healthy food, but the other day at the fast food place when I ordered fries, I tossed half of them in the trash on the way to the table. I can’t eat what isn’t there.

  21. Quilly, you have led a hard, but amazing life. You must be a very strong woman to not only come through your experiences uncrushed, but also continue to have the strength to help others.

  22. Good for you! The Curves I belong to doesn’t do the challenge. I’ve always wished it did. I bought the book on my own last year and started to read it, but then never finished. You’ve made me want to dig it out and start over.

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