"I stopped dieting -- and lost weight"

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Mary Behm frees herself of cravings

Mary Behm, 42, attorney

Albuquerque, New Mexico Married; three children, ages 18, 13 and 8 Stats: 5'2", 134 pounds

Mary, short and small-boned, has always struggled with her weight, but this is the heaviest she's been in years. "It's a combination of reaching my forties and starting a new job that gave me less time to work out and be careful about what I ate," she says. "I tend to either be really good or exactly the opposite."

Week 1

Instead of being obsessed with eating the right thing, I've been obsessed with being able to eat anything! It took me forever to decide what to have for breakfast the first day. I ended up making scrambled eggs with Cheddar cheese and salsa.

At first, I felt panicky that I would gain weight this month. But I'm finding that I'm eating more the way I did when I was thinner; that is, moderately and healthfully. For instance, I love to bake, but I never do it when I'm trying to lose weight because I'd lose control and gorge. This week, however, I baked low-fat brownies and enjoyed them without feeling I might down half a batch at one sitting.

I've been eating sandwiches and even fajitas for lunch. Before, that would have seemed indulgent. I love chocolate, but in the past if I let myself, I'd eat half a bag. This month, I've been perfectly satisfied with two or three Hershey's Kisses or a handful of Junior Mints.

Weeks 2 and 3

I'm tempted to try on skirts that were a little tight before, as a sneaky way of measuring without stepping on the scale. Interestingly, though, when I went clothes shopping, I found myself wanting to buy things that fit, rather than outfits a size too small in hopes that I'd be able to wear them eventually.

On the other hand, junk foods aren't as appealing anymore. One Sunday, after starting the day with a cinnamon roll, I felt tired. I've been eating more oatmeal, bean burritos and pasta salads, and grazing on fruit and crackers. It's as though I've freed myself from craving the indulgences.

Week 4

I've been more motivated to exercise and eat right just to feel better. I've been really wanting to eat fruit; again, not to lose weight, but because my body desires it.


I lost one pound! This experiment has shown me that denying myself certain foods was only making me binge. Now I plan to stick with healthy foods that I really enjoy. I think I'll be a much more sensible eater, but I'll still eat chocolate! --Michelle Stacey

Michelle Stacey is the author of Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food (Touchstone Books, 1995).


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