IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND

IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND

From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

In for a Penny, In for a Pound

Attention to health is life's greatest hindrance.

Plato

They lied to me.

They promised I’d lose ten to thirteen pounds in the first two weeks.

I didn’t lose a single pound.

They said I must have been cheating.

I wasn’t. Not that I haven’t cheated on past diets—you know, a cookie yesterday, a bite (or two) of ice cream today—but not this time. This time I was serious.

I had tried them all. This new one was the latest in a long line of fad diets. Even my doctor lost weight on this diet. It required a strict adherence to a regimen of foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Don’t ask me to explain it—something to do with how quickly carbohydrates break down in digestion. Foods with a high index were to be eliminated for the first two weeks.

Contrary to all my impulses—impulses clearly illustrated by the size of my hips—I followed the diet’s rules. No bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, baked goods—those I could understand. But fruit was also forbidden for the first two weeks. Fruit! What happened to “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Guess it keeps the doctor away, but not the pounds.

So there I was with my GI chart, no flour, no sugar, no fruit, not even certain vegetables with a high GI rating. But water was okay. Lots and lots of water.

It was the longest two weeks of my life. My driving motivation, besides a closetful of clothes that no longer fit, was the promise: ten to thirteen pounds in the first two weeks.

The first three days were easy. I was excited, and this particular diet was novel. After all, who ever heard of a diet that placed fruits (and some vegetables) in the same category as cookies and ice cream? In addition to the change in my eating habits, I also drank eight to ten glasses of water a day and began an exercise routine that included walking around my neighborhood every morning.

Day One: I weighed myself for an official benchmark. Ready to go!

Day Two: no change.

Day Three: still no change.

Well, I thought, I’m less than a quarter of the way through. Maybe my body just needs to adjust.

I drank more water.

Days Four and Five: the arrow on the scale didn’t budge.

I was becoming discouraged. (Becoming? I was in a full-blown state of disappointment.) I did what most people do when they’re on a diet. I talked about it. Actually, it was more whining than talking. What I could eat, what I couldn’t eat. How I sloshed when I walked. Worst of all, how the bathroom scale hated me. The responses were predictable.

“Are you sure you’re not cheating?” (Yes, I’m sure I’m not cheating.)

“It must be water retention.” (Possibly.)

“You’re not exercising enough.” (Probably.)

“That’s terrible. Have a chocolate kiss—you’ll feel better.” (That last one was from my inner child, whom I wisely chose to ignore.)

So I drank more water. Believe it or not, the best way to eliminate water retention is to drink more water. And I exercised more. Walking, bicycling, sit-ups and workout videos.

Days Six and Seven: nothing.

Day Eight: our bathroom scale owes its life to my husband. I had decided to toss it onto the curb with the rest of the household trash, but he convinced me the scale was an innocent bystander in my battle of the bulge. We’ll see.

Day Nine: the arrow on the scale moved—a whole pound! Rejoice! Celebrate! Now, I was sure, the weight loss would begin in earnest. I did a little dance and broke out the celery sticks.

Day Ten: no additional movement, but that’s okay. After all, I had lost a pound. Life was good.

Day Eleven: my mood matched the dark sky. The pound had returned. Why? How? I went back to my friends for advice. The consensus was that the weight was actually added muscle from the increased exercise. “Muscle weighs more than fat.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. How many times have I heard that before? Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt (in an extra-large size). I’m ready for a new destination.

Day Twelve: no change. Well, to be perfectly truthful, there was one change, but not on the scale. As a result of my daily walks around the neighborhood, I had gotten to know my neighbors, and they are really nice people. Who knew?

Day Thirteen: no change.

Day Fourteen: I didn’t bother getting on the scale.

Instead, I dumped the diet book, ignored the well-meaning advice and listened to my own body. It was time to start eating a balanced diet of the foods the Creator designed it to have. Fad diets obviously weren’t the answer, as my most recent experience had proven yet again.

I went shopping. I filled my cart with colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as representatives from each of the other food groups. To add fiber to my diet, “white” was out and “brown” was in, including sugar, flour and even grains such as rice. I avoided processed foods, deciding that my body didn’t need to digest ingredients and chemicals that my brain couldn’t pronounce.

Six months later, I’ve lost over twenty-five pounds. I feel better than I have in years, and I’m ready for the next twenty-five.

And I still have the same scale!

Ava Pennington

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