By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer
I took an instant liking to the woman in the back of the room. We were all sitting around talking about how we will eat at the slightest provocation.
"My hip hurt," the woman deadpanned, referring to her chronic arthritis condition. "So I ate three cookies." She shot me a guilty look, grinned, and then we all laughed.
This was the Christmas luncheon for Take Off Pounds Sensibly, the Kailua chapter in an international weight-loss network that had invited their kindred spirit from the newspaper out for a meal (a sensible one, naturally).
The group had wanted to hear about my "struggles," which were the same as theirs. Eat when youre hungry, eat when youre bored. When youre happy, sad, angry and, as my friend would say, in pain.
That, of course, is the problem.
Food becomes a response to emotions, good or bad, and there are lots of them floating around during the holidays.
Think of that statement as one of relief that the holidays are over, not as an excuse for failure to make my Christmas weight-loss deadline.
Besides, my friend in the back said, Orthodox Catholics celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6, giving me more time.
At that moment I doubted Id make even that extended deadline - and I didnt - but you just gotta love that kind of inventive thinking.
Was this a case of bad timing, this dieting-over-the-holidays business? Yes and no. When I plotted out how much time I needed to lose 20 pounds, not much margin was left for error.
And there were a few errors. Things didnt go too badly, but there were enough detours into Christmas bounty and away from the workout schedule to keep the last five pounds on. And Im reminded: When it comes to getting gift shopping done, the season passes in a flash; where food is concerned, it seems to last forever.
Some of those eats were even worth the extra three weeks itll probably take to make the poundage goal. (Chocolate sauce laced with Grand Marnier? Are you kidding?) But there were those ordinary slips a stress-eater makes with non-yuletide snacks, not to mention a few cookies we baked that never made it into someones gift box. Couldve lived without those.
Not finished yet
Although today ends this experiment with public dieting, I still plan to make that goal weight and Ill send you a brief note in the Ohana section when I do. If you dont hear from me by the end of the month, send me an e-mail (email@example.com). A gentle little kick can work wonders.
I am a pretty happy camper, having dropped 15 on this project, added to the 10 pounds Id lost before my colleague, the effervescent and ever-slim Catherine Toth, talked me into doing this column. Nothing helps you hang in there like feeling better about yourself.
One of the women in the TOPS group told us over lunch that she cant really share in this euphoria. Shed never have embarked on her diet at all had her doctor not ordered her to do so.
"People tell me, Oh, you must feel so much better! " she said. "They tell me I look better. But I never really felt bad about my weight, and I dont feel any different now."
Two thoughts ran through my mind. One was: It must be nice to feel none of that typical female anxiety over weight problems. Most of us are whipped into a kind of neurosis over it.
And the other: Ive got to make an effort to congratulate her, and other people on this mission. When youre doing this under doctors orders, you need some kind of encouragement to get you through.
Mutual support vital
These women made a great group (there are a few guys, too, though they were unable to attend the luncheon). Theres a bond that has kept them together for several years, and the mutual support is what you need to stay focused.
I learned that one through experience. My weight started to creep up when I quit checking in regularly with Lyte, the group that I joined five years ago and that has urged me to return. I think Id better admit that I need to go back this month.
The TOPS ladies gave me a parting gift: a recipe book for guilt-free desserts (can there be such things?). So Im armed.
And I need every tool I can get. The holidays may be over, but my birthday looms. There will be cake.
Vicki Viotti can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
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