By Paula Derrow
My name is Paula, and I’m a shameless seeker of pleasure. (Well, as shameless as a nice Jewish girl raised with a healthy dose of guilt and possessed of limited funds can be.) My sheets have a thread count somewhere north of 650, and I enjoy the pleasures of life, well, a lot. I also like wine, chocolate and ice cream, sometimes all at the same time.
Given my pleasure-loving ways, it’s not too shocking that I’ve struggled with my weight over the years. Dieting, after all, is about saying no. Most human beings don’t like to say no. We can do it for only so long before we snap, then start saying yes, yes, yes! to fettuccine Alfredo and curly fries, margaritas and milk shakes. All that yessing leads—or at least it led me—to extra pounds, self-recrimination and fruitless dieting.
Confession: I have a long history of bingeing and yo-yo dieting. From age 14 to my mid-20s, I shot up to Protected content on my 5-foot-3 frame, got down to Protected content about five minutes) and repeated the cycle again. And again. Then, when I was 24, at a doctor’s urging, I joined a gym and discovered that I liked exercising. Eventually, I dropped about 35 pounds, ending up at a weight of Protected content shy of my 30th birthday. Yet, as the years passed (I’m now 47), I put nearly all of those pounds back on, and early last year made a discovery that shocked me. One morning, when my boyfriend, Randy, stepped on the bathroom scale, I peeked at the number: 146. My weight: 159! “I can’t believe you weigh less than me,” I wailed. My honey professed to love my curves, but I wanted to feel dainty, not as if I would crush him if I hugged him too hard. I was tired of being chubby, tired of having a tough time finding cute clothes in my size Protected content , most of all, tired of feeling guilty about food. I needed a weight loss plan for pleasure junkies, one that not only allowed but encouraged desserts and dinners out. I needed a plan that was all about what I could eat, not what I couldn’t.
Except there was no plan like that to be found. In fact, the words pleasure and diet didn’t even seem to exist in the same sentence. But as the articles director at SELF, I knew I had resources. I told my colleagues in our nutrition department that I needed to work with a few experts who wouldn’t stress me out, force me to meticulously track calories or give me long lists of foods to avoid. With these pros’ help, I would create a new kind of eating plan, one that didn’t feel like deprivation but like a happy life, rich in delicious food, friendships and pleasurable experiences.
I already had one expert in my “entourage.” After my scale humiliation with Randy, I had hired an adorable trainer, Rusty Ede. Being coached by a 27-year-old with big blue eyes and a sleepy smile was pure pleasure. I started exercising four or five times a week, more consistently than I had in years. Soon, I could do 15 push-ups at a pop and trot rather than trudge up the subway stairs. I dropped 7 pounds—though not without also suffering through a few bouts of starvation (not pleasurable!).
Check out Protected content for lots of information on foods, weight loss plans, etc.