Yes, I'm dieting. Why is this an issue?

I've been on a diet for close to 4 months now. In that time I've lost 32.7 pounds (dropping from 221 pounds down to 188.3). This post is a direct response to the general criticisms and misconceptions associated with the dietary choices I've been making. Ok, well I guess that isn't entirely true. I mean, I know the worst offenders will never read this post, so I guess it can't truly act as a direct response. I guess instead just consider it an expression of my frustration and a defense of what I've been doing for the last few months.

Misconception #1: I am anorexic and/or starving myself: This simply isn't the case. According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, the recommended body weight for a 27-year-old male of my height is between 186 pounds and 191. If you ask the North American Association for the Study of Obesity the same question, they'd say 179 pounds. Either way you slice it, my weight is pretty much right on target for where I should be (now that i've been dieting for a few months).

Even more importantly though, is the fact that I AM EATING. Before I started my diet I rarely ever ate breakfast. Now, however, ask part of my diet I make sure to eat three meals a day. Furthermore, my diet is NOT about portion control. In fact, I often feel more full from one of my "diet dinners" than I probably would have getting a combo meal from the closest fast food joint. I eat a generous amount of food, I've just eliminated high calorie items from my diet, avoid all the "Extras" (like chips & salsa, rolls, breadsticks, etc.) from my meals, and only drink tea/coffee/mineral water every day. Ok, I throw in the occasional beer too, I'm only human.

That's literally it though, I'm not starving myself. I just eat healthier, never snack, and only cook by grilling, baking, steaming, or boiling (all methods that don't require oil or butter).

Misconception #2: There are foods I CANNOT have: If I reject something you offer me it's because I DON'T WANT it. Apparently it's become a big deal for me to reject any food that is offered to me. Now I will admit, I am very strict with my diet. In fact, some people might call me a "Diet Nazi". However, I'm not following a real plan or some guideline. I don't have a trainer telling me what to do. I don't have a health-nut girlfriend keeping me on a tight leash and telling me what I'm allowed to eat. I'm simply choosing what to eat, when to eat it, and logging the calories consumed in the iPhone app (LoseIt!). As a rule of thumb, I only eat as part of a meal, and I only eat things that I can log into my phone.

If you offer me some of your chips, I'm going to say no. It's nothing agains you or your generous offer to share what you have with me. It's also not because I CANNOT have what you're eating. It's because I simply DO NOT WANT those chips. The "sacrifice" of not having those chips now is well worth the "benefit" seeing the weight come off over time.

Misconception #3: Me dieting in some way harms other people: Now this one I just can't quite get. I was out to eat with a friend recently and I asked her how her food was. She said it was good and asked me if I wanted a bite...

Well, I said "no thanks"... She asked if it was because of my diet... I said "yes"... She questioned why I couldn't even have "just a tiny little bite"... I said "I could, I just don't want to"... and yada, yada, yada...

To make a long story short, the conversation pretty much went down hill from there. Yes, on the one hand having a little bite wasn't going to "hurt" me or anything, but I didn't want it. I have made a personal decision to be on a diet, I'm already out at a restaurant consuming more calories than I'd normally consume for dinner, and I didn't want to bother attempting to mathematically compute the calories in one spoonful of her soup. Why was that such a big deal? Why didn't my "no thanks" result in an "all right" or even a playful "it's yummy, you're missing out". It isn't like NOT taking a bite of her food is offensive in some way. Or is that just some social norm that I never picked up on?

[aside] If you're reading this and you're the friend of mine who I was having dinner with, sorry I used you as an example. Rest assured that you're not the inspiration of this post, just an easy illustration. [/aside]

And let me quickly state, I'm not like that vegetarian person you know who asks "do you know how that cow is killed?" every time you try to take a bite of your hamburger. I don't sit there and comment on how terribly unhealthy the entree is that someone else ordered. I just keep it to myself. If someone asks I will comment that I selected my item because it was the healthiest thing on the menu, but I'd never try to make someone else feel guilty for ordering something less healthy (and lets be honest, likely way better tasting) than what I ordered. So why is my diet such a big deal?

Misconception #4: I'm missing out on a bunch of "stuff" my body needs: Ok, you know what? Maybe I am. But since I've begun my diet I've started taking a daily multivitamin, flax seed, and calcium. Furthermore, each of my meals is structured to feature one of the major food groups, so [theoretically] by the end of the day I've covered all my bases. All that being said, if I'm still missing out on something important, I'm likely still better off than I was on my previous steady diet of beer, sausages, beer, steaks, beer, sushi, beer... and uh... carne asada burritos (of which the latter is the only one I truly miss).

[aside] I don't miss the beer because I didn't actually give it up. I just drink it less often now [/aside]

Bonus: It's all about taking control: So there you have it, my replies to the 4 biggest misconceptions about my dieting. However, if you're still not convinced that it's "ok" for me do be doing it, I have one more thing to share with you. If the absence of negatives isn't enough of a positive for you, there is one huge reason I keep so strictly to my diet. Of all the things that make up my world, my weight and diet are some of the only things I have complete control over. When I make the "sacrifice" of not finishing off half a Costco pizza and six beers for dinner three nights a week, it doesn't seem like such a sacrifice when I start the next week off 2 pounds lighter. Likewise, when I'm spending $10 on a new belt instead of $30 on a larger pair of pants, it's extremely rewarding.

Honestly, I don't remember the last time I made a sacrifice that seemed 100% worth the effort. Yet, when you combine the genuine results I've seen with the satisfaction of knowing my will power is stronger than a California Burrito from Pacific Taco, my diet seems incredibly rewarding. Really, the only downside of it at all is the reaction I've received from SOME people ("some" is emphasized to acknowledge that not everyone has responded negatively, not to emphasize any one individual person). So I ask you, reader. If you've made it this far, please just be supportive. It will be better for both of us.

posted by Christopher Schnese