I’ve been on a diet since 1982. Really.
As I embark on this journey to a smaller me, I thought I’d take a long glance back at the times I’d been here before.
What follows is an abridged look at my life, as told through the diets I’ve been on — at least, the ones I can remember. The dates are approximate and the memories are hazy and salad-fueled.
Charting this, I realize how much my life has, in fact, been touched by my weight, my body, my dieting and my choices. I’m not yet in the “let’s analyze all this” phase, but those who cannot learn from history yada yada…
1979-1980: Discovered Mom’s tattered copy of Adele Davis’ health paperback "Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit." The first time I remember thinking about making healthier dietary choices; something better than pop tarts and pancakes. At school, a cadre of mean girls teased me for being overweight. But when I look back at pictures of myself, I look like a pretty normal, dorky, tall kid.
1982: Weight Watchers #1 First foray into organized dieting. I attended a meeting in Philadelphia at 15, accompanied by my mom. I’m really not sure whose idea it was. All I remember is the looming stainless steel scale and a line of old ladies behind a folding table scribbling down my weight in a pocket-sized booklet. Not much has changed. I weighed about 145.
1983 Many of the diary entries as a kid and teen detail stuff I was eating — sometimes that was all I wrote. “Today: pancakes, ham sandwich, Toast-chee crackers.” One entry in 1983 begins with the fact that “I’ve got to diet!!” as well as a note to watch “Video Rock" to try and perfect my Michael Jackson moves. I was up to 155
1987 or so In college I pinned a reminder “mantra” my bulletin board that just said, “I’ll have a salad.” I talked about losing weight all the time, but I don’t remember going on a diet in college. Just lots and lots of refillable Diet Cokes at Roy Rogers.
1993 Cindy Crawford and I joined forces. Every morning at 8 a.m. I’d workout to her VHS tape. Filmed on NYC rooftops, with a vaguely cool soundtrack (Primal Scream and the Smithereens), Cindy showed basic moves like pushups and crunches all while her Romanian celebrity trainer Radu counted reps off camera. It was actually a decent, no frills workout. Here’s a clip.
1994: Weight Watchers #2 10 lbs down, but wrecked by a 10-day family trip to Switzerland, up to 200 lbs. Can you say Spaetzle?
1995: Herbalife Oddly, the single best, last time I lost weight. I lost 30 lbs (from 200 to 170) by drinking two grainy milkshakes a day with one meal and a host of supplements. There’s something to be said about not deliberating over your next meal . But I’m here to tell you, once you’re let loose back on real food, you tend to overdo. Goodbye pyramid scheme, hello Nutella.
1997: Andrew Weil’s 8 Weeks to Optimum Health In an effort to be more “holistic,” my housemate and I followed the beard-y New Age guru’s plan for fish oil, saunas and advice to “buy yourself some flowers every week.” And of course that solved everything.
1997: The Trainer Perhaps a subconscious effort to make things easier on myself, I started dating my personal trainer. He created a signature breakfast for me made of egg beaters and pesto and got me into Zone bars on a regular basis. The Zone was the 40:30:30 diet (the ratio of calories you should get from carbs, proteins and fats, respectively). Naturally, because of this guy, I worked out, like, four times a week and was in possibly the best shape of my life. Needless to say, neither the guy or the workouts stuck.
1999: The Zone Kept the diet, broke up with the guy.
2000: Weight Watchers, #3 The thing I remember most about this go-round was a zealous leader who, in leading a discussion about “favorite naughty snacks,” shared that he’d once disappeared into a closet at a party “with an entire wheel of brie.”
2002: Zone Diet Delivery Now living in New York City, tried this early version of an at-home delivery service. There’s something magical about waking up and having fresh food on your doorstep. But like the shakes: easy but not realistic for the long haul.
2003: Carbwatchers Don’t remember how I found these guys, but they were a little brother and sister duo with an office on Broadway filled with shakes “Keto Bars” and other Atkins-like, reconstituted food.
2003: Dr. Diet Saw an endocrinologist. She took all my blood work and handed me a slew of pills. Did it for about a week. I’m not a pill girl.
2004: Started dating a chef. Oops.
2005: Every diet imaginable all at once. Began a new job as the editorial director of AOL Diet & Fitness. I figured, if this wouldn’t do it… Also, the day after I started my new job discovered chef was cheating on me… with six other women… at once. Talk about indulgence.
2005: The 3-Hour Diet Delivery Jorge Cruise was one of our health coaches at AOL, so I tried his diet. The food arrived in giant styrofoam coolers. My cat spent more time hiding in the cooler than I did.
2006: South Beach Diet I now worked at EverydayHealth.com where they also ran the South Beach Diet site. One of the better, more balanced diets I’ve ever been on. But still, I didn’t stick to it.
2007: Weight Watchers #4 Now at Time Inc., I joined a coworker who was going to regular meetings. I went once.
2008: Love Diet Married an architect. The man who loves me, hips and all. All 245 lbs of me.
2009: Weight Watchers #5 A motto my husband and I have: “Every day is not a celebration.” Because we both like to indulge. So in an effort to combat that, I attempted to do this with my husband in Brooklyn. It made me feel great to do this with my husband. But we both dropped out.
2010: Weight Watchers #6 Let’s take a moment here and explore why Weight Watchers is a recurring theme: By all accounts it is one of the most practical, lifestyle-focused, supportive approaches to weight loss around. Plenty of people have lost weight via WW and kept it off. (Jennifer Hudson Holy Shit Girl!) I know I should like it. But let’s face it, it just never worked for me. Ever since that day in Philadelphia it’s felt like a depressing place to be.
2011: The Four-Hour Body My husband just said the other day, “Remember when you would get up and make eggs and beans every morning?” Yeah, that was Tim Ferris’ brilliant idea. I did love the idea of a “cheat day” once a week. In fact, my friend Nathan, who got me into this diet, would text me food porn pictures on his cheat day, usually something like waffles with whipped cream or sheets of praline. Nuff said.
2012: The Fresh Diet Cheesecake was part of this diet. What? WHAT! But overall meh food and they screwed up my delivery twice.
2013: Here we are, back in the saddle again. However, I honestly feel like my mindset is different. My knees hurt and at 263 lbs, I’m fed up. Is this finally rock bottom? I’m hoping to learn from my mistakes. So many diets, so little follow-through.
I’ll note my progress here and hopefully, by letting you readers in on the process, you’ll keep me honest.
Share your own diet histories below, won’t you?