- Diet & Weight Loss
How to Be Thin
An Attempt to Answer the Question, How Do I Stay Thin
This isn't one of those pages written about some weight loss product or some recommended diet. It isn't a page even written by a physician or nutritionist. It's merely a page written by a person who has been asked repeatedly over her lifetime, how do you stay thin?
I hestitate to even put all of this in writing because I've never wanted to be perceived as someone who thinks snobbishly that being thin is some great achievement, something that sets me apart in some way; certainly not something that makes me better. I also don't confuse healthy with thin, but do feel at some point, too much weight, just like not enough, is not healthy. But the right weight may vary based on an individual's build and so forth.
However, I decided that it might be useful for me to think about my life and my habits which might influence my ability to stay thin, and then put them in writing for anyone who is interested. So, here we go, this is how I stay thin. Hopefully, I haven't missed anything too critical.
A Few Key Points About Me
Well, first off, I guess I should say something about my size. I am a 50 year old female. I'm not a young person so that's proof that all of those dire warnings I got years ago, telling me that I would get fat when I got older, were untrue. As of this week, when I was at the doctor's office, I am still 5'5" and weigh 112 lbs. Whether this is good or bad, it's what is, and my doctor seems pleased with it.
I also want to assure you that my relative thinness does not seem to be due to heredity. While it's true that my mother is quite thin, I don't appear to share many physical characteristics with her. Perhaps some type of DNA testing or something could say for sure, but that's the way it appears. In addition, most of my other relatives are not thin, in fact I would say obesity is very common in my family in general.
I neither starve myself and go around hungry nor do I eat everything and anything I want.
So, perhaps something about my eating habits and lifestyle are the cause of this.
My Eating Habits and Lifestyle
Ok, as I sit down and think, this is how I would describe my primary eating habits/lifestyle which might contribute to how I manage to be thin.
1. I remain active.
No, I am not athletic, but I am, and always have been, active. By this, I simply mean that pretty much every single day of my life I get an hour or more of physical activity. I walk at lunch time and again in the evening with my husband. Or perhaps we bicycle. Yes, we walk even in freezing temperatures in the winter, providing we dress appropriately. Swimming, playing tennis, hiking, ice skating, cross country skiing, and other activities are things we do occasionally. These types of things are the focus of our leisure time. We don't watch all that much TV.
I sometimes "work out" with weights, a treadmill, or stair master but I would say over the course of my life time, the general activities above, done without the idea of "working out", are my mainstay. I enjoy them, therefore I have no problem sticking to it.
I also tend to have more movement in general than many of my co-workers and family when I'm around them. I fidget at my desk, wiggling my leg or feet while they're content to sit still. I tend to drive to the far end of a parking lot to park in an available spot and then walk all the way into the store. I don't wait a minute or two for another car closer in to leave and open up a spot nearer the door so that I don't have to walk. I take the stairs rather than the elevator. Waiting is more painful to me that walking or exerting myself. I tend to move quickly in general. Even when cleaning the house, I'm moving pretty briskly.
2. There are only a few foods I avoid.
Probably 90% of what I drink is water. I sometimes have an orange juice or a V8 Peach Mango drink but pop or soda is reserved for when I have pizza or a burger. I don't drink beer. I avoid drinking my calories in other words.
In general I avoid what I will call diet foods. They rarely taste good, and seldom satisfy me. Now, sometimes I will have something low cal, but it's definitely not the norm. I would prefer to eat less and enjoy it more. Furthermore, I don't like consuming all of those artificial ingredients, such as sugar substitutes, that are used to give such foods more flavor.
I avoid junk foods like potato chips and cookies. I rarely buy them at the grocery. (I said rarely, not never) If they aren't in the house, I can't eat them. Instead I may eat a handful of peanuts and dried cherries or perhaps a graham cracker.
3. I seem to eat less meat than average.
I eat meat, I'm not a vegetarian, but I have noticed that I tend to eat a lot less meat than many people I know. I'm definitely estimating, but I probably eat 3-4 ounces of meat per day on average, as I don't eat meat every day. I don't know if this helps me to be thin, but it's what I do.
4. I eat more early in the day.
It became really evident to me as a young adult that I could eat just about anything, if I ate early. At one point I was driving to people's homes to provide care and was on the road all day from 7:00 a.m until after 9:00 p.m. My diet was horrible. I would get a huge fast food breakfast then a huge fast food lunch, and then a candy bar or chips around 2:00 between visits. After that nothing, but I was consuming around 3,000 calories per day and had trouble keeping on weight.
I certainly don't eat like that now, but I do tend to eat 70%-75% of my calories before 2:30 and supper is not my largest meal most days. Not snacking after supper is also key I think. I do any snacking earlier in the day. It's a pattern my body has apparently become used to as I'm seldom hungry after dinner. The one thing I never do is eat at night. If I wake up and feel hungry, I just refuse to get up and eat. I wait until breakfast. If I put it off for 10-15 mintues, the drive to eat goes away. I don't know if this contributes to being thin, but it's what I do.
5. There are other things I don't do.
I don't skip meals, ever.
I don't avoid food groups. I don't care what anyone says, I won't eliminate an entire food group from my diet. Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are supposed to be part of the diet in my eyes. Of course, they should be balanced properly but I don't feel any of them should be eliminated.
I don't refuse to enjoy a "luxury" now and then. Yes I enjoy a good dessert or a big juicy burger once in a while. I just make sure I know that's not what I should have every day.
6. I eat at home.
I eat most of my meals at home. It can be tempting when leaving work to stop and get something fast, but I know I'll eat better at home. Fewer calories, and more healthy options are in my own kitchen. We do go out to eat weekly, and really enjoy it, but it's not a daily routine. I also learned to pack my own lunch so that I would eat the right things as well.
7. I don't always eat everything I want.
There may be a very few, rare individuals who can literally eat anything, and in large quantities without gaining weight. I'm not one of them. If I put on 3 or 4 pounds as evidenced by a tight waistband, then I start skipping dessert, or cutting down my portions a bit. I deal with it right away. I would think it's a lot less painful to skip a few bites of food at each meal than to make huge changes when you have 30 or more pounds to lose.
I watch my portions. At home, I make sure I don't go back for seconds. I'm not good about going around hungry, but I've found I can make adjustments in my portions that don't leave me hungry and yet help cut down calories. Therefore, I just make it a point to leave a couple of bites of food on my plate at the end of each meal if I feel I need to cut back. Portion control has been especially necessary in restaurants. When they have lunch size or half size portions that's what I get. If I get a huge plate of something, then I simply draw a line in the middle, eat half and have them box up the other half for later. Of course, my husband and I have also been known to split a meal which works well too. It seems that when I eat a bit less over time, I gradually begin wanting less. It works best if I do this in a small way, versus making a drastic cut.
When I do overeat, that's all that it is. I recall in college, dieting friends would fall off the wagon so to speak. They would over eat at a meal, and then stop their diet because they had failed. To me, it's a one time occurrence, so what? Don't beat yourself up, just start the next day fresh.
8. There are some things I tend to eat more often.
As I said above, I tend to drink water most of the time, rather than other things. I don't like diet drinks for their artificial ingredients either.
In addition, I tend to eat fresh fruits and vegetables more than frozen and certainly far more than canned. I seem to also eat more soup than the average person, I particularly enjoy vegetable soups. Again, whether or not this helps me stay thin, I don't know, but it's something I've noticed.
The other thing that I tend to do is make my own meals more or less from scratch. I almost never buy prepackaged meals or those that you just add an ingredient or two to complete them. I have no idea if this has a positive influence weight wise, but it's what I do.
Well, that's it, for what it's worth. Hopefully, it at least provides some insight for those who ask me "How do you stay thin?"