"I stopped dieting -- and lost weight"

We asked three women to eat everything they wanted for a month. Not only did they not gain 20 pounds, they also changed their attitudes about food.
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Stop dieting

Most women in this country, no matter what their weight, live in a perpetual purgatory of diet vigilance. We count every calorie, pass up enticing treats and deprive ourselves of entire segments of the food pyramid. But what would happen if we stopped denying ourselves? Would we really feed on nothing but pizza and candy bars? Would we agonize over our indulgences? Would we enjoy meals more? Most of all, would we end up two sizes larger?

To find the answers, we asked three chronic dieters to do the unthinkable: eat whatever they wanted for a full month, in any quantity, without worrying about calories, carbs or fat grams. Also forbidden: weighing themselves. Here are their journals -- and the surprising results.

Lisa Yakomin, 33, part-time writer

Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey Married; three children, ages 6, 4 and 14 months Stats: 5'2", 125 pounds

Lisa describes herself as a serial dieter: Since high school, she's tried almost every diet program once. "I was always looking for 'the answer,'" says Lisa. "Initially, I'd lose some weight, then that would slow down and I'd start getting frustrated, and pretty soon I'd be bingeing. There was no middle ground."

Week 1

It feels really good not to be on a diet. I went to a kids' birthday party this week and was the only woman who helped herself to the make-your-own-sundae bar. (Several of the dads did, too.) Stepping out of my dieting mind-set has made me notice other people's behavior -- like a friend who announced that he was going on Slim-Fast the next day, and then ate a huge dinner.

This week I'm eating breakfast at the same time the kids do, which is usually when I'm hungriest anyway. I used to skip it altogether because I didn't feel right about eating carbs. But now I have a bagel when I want one. And I've had some real pig-outs -- pizza and potato chips for lunch, then later, ladyfingers with whipped cream. I didn't feel guilty after that splurge so much as nauseated. My body is letting me know when it's had enough.

I hadn't realized how much time I spent thinking about food and planning what and when to eat. Until now, I would often eat something healthy, even if it wasn't really what I craved, and then I'd just keep snacking because I wasn't satisfied. Now there are times when I don't even finish a real treat like hot chocolate. That never used to happen.

Weeks 2 and 3

I used to say I'd eat pasta every day if I could, and now I do! Oddly, I don't have negative thoughts about eating things I never allowed myself. I used to start planning my late-night snack while I was still cleaning up from dinner. But since starting my diet rebellion, I've sometimes forgotten about the snack entirely.

There was one moment during the second week when I was dying to step on the scale. It was right before a party -- I had a habit of weighing myself before special events to gauge how much I could safely eat.

Week 4

I've been wondering whether I'm going to pay for all this rich food later. I eat dessert whenever I want to (and sometimes I pass it up because I'm too full, which is pretty unusual for me). I've savored butternut squash ravioli, Chinese dumplings and potato-and-bacon soup. Interestingly, I'm working out a little less, too. Because I'm not going hungry, I have more energy and I feel I'm being more active even if I don't go to the gym.

Results

I lost two pounds! That seems amazing, considering how much I ate. Now I know that strict diets will never work for me. I still want to take off a little more weight, but I'm just going to increase my exercise level, without cutting out the foods I love. The best part is that I feel good about myself because I'm not this dieting person. It doesn't rule my life anymore.

Continued on page 2:  Lisa Marr changes her diet mindset

 

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