"I stopped dieting -- and lost weight"

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Lisa Marr changes her diet mindset

Lisa Marr, 37, part-time clinical social worker

Larchmont, New York Married; four children, ages 10, 9, 7 and 3 Stats: 5'6", 127 pounds

An avid exerciser, Lisa describes herself as aware of-and cautious about-every bite. "I'm very careful, for instance, about breads and pastas," she says. "And if I start feeling heavy, then I start counting everything: calories, fat and carbs." In college, Lisa weighed 25 pounds more than she does now, and she still can't shake the fear that her weight might balloon again one day. And yet, after years of self-denial, Lisa is ready to chuck it all and rediscover her natural appetite.

Week 1

I almost felt like chickening out at first, and I confess that I tried to lose weight before the month started, just so things didn't get out of hand. But I'm eager to let go of my old thinking and perhaps undo some of my weird habits with food.

Right away, I have noticed that there are days when I wake up not even thinking about what I'm going to eat, which is unusual for me. And on the other end, I'm not as hungry at night. My husband has noticed that I'm not bringing cereal or cookies (formerly my only starchy indulgences) to bed. Suddenly, I also feel okay about having macaroni and cheese with the kids at dinner.

Weeks 2 and 3

I'd always imagined that if I let myself eat whatever I wanted, I'd have bagels and cream cheese, and, sure enough, I do. One day I ate a bagel and a half! I've also indulged in buttered popcorn at the movies, bread with butter or olive oil -- previously a no-no-and appetizers like chicken wings with sour cream. I usually have fish for dinner, which I do enjoy, but now I'm also eating steak on occasion and loving it.

One real surprise: When I was going out to dinner with friends one night, I didn't count calories earlier in the day to make room for it. I ate a bagel and tuna salad for lunch, and at the restaurant I had an appetizer, a veal dish and dessert. I think nothing of grabbing a handful of potato chips if they're on the table, or getting a muffin from the cappuccino place. I used to beat up on myself if I ate forbidden things, thinking I was being a pig, but not now. I just ask myself: Am I hungry? What do I feel like eating?

Week 4

There was a day this week during which I definitely felt like I was fat and was not very hungry. I was honestly in the mood for vegetable soup at lunch and a salad and chicken for dinner, so that's what I had. I wonder if this is the normal way our bodies and minds work to maintain a healthy weight.


I gained two and a half pounds. I wasn't thrilled about that, but I knew it was water weight (I'm at that point in my cycle), which will go away. In all, I think this break from obsessive dieting has opened up a new direction for me. I can trust myself to eat well without feeling guilty. I want to enjoy different kinds of foods and not deny myself things like meat and pasta. This month has made me feel I can live without the diet mind-set.

Continued on page 3:  Mary Behm frees herself of cravings


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