Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pizza and The Problem with "Deprivation"

I had pizza last night. I love pizza, used to eat it on a fairly regular basis - at least once every couple of weeks. Before this latest weight loss attempt, I viewed dieting through the lens of depravation and sacrifice. I thought that to diet successfully, I would have to deprive myself of some of my favorite foods and sacrifice some of my leisure time to exercise.  I have found that is not the case at all, and it is a very unhelpful way in which to look at health and weight loss / maintenance.  My experience after eating pizza for the first time in quite a while provides an example.  A short time after I finished my second piece of fabulous, cheesy, yummy pizza last night, I started to feel tired, and lazy, I really just did not feel like doing anything at all...I felt lousy - and this was after just two pieces of pieces of pizza.  So, here is my point - I actually deprived myself of the energy that I usually have, and I sacrificed an active, fun evening so that I could enjoy a couple pieces of pizza (and I really did enjoy them) for a few minutes out of my day.  The cost of those few minutes was an evening of feeling sluggish and crappy.

Pizza will never again be a regular part of my diet, particularly given how I felt after I ate it last night, but honestly, I will have it on occasion. This is the case with quite a few of my favorite foods.  However my choosing not to eat these foods whenever I feel like it, or even as a regular "treat" is not really an exercise in temporary deprivation to lose weight.  I am actually making a simple choice - I am choosing not to eat them so that I can enjoy other aspects of my life and, quite frankly, so that I can enjoy a longer life. It is really difficult to express just how much better it feels to eat and live a healthy lifestyle - I have tried to highlight some of these benefits in my "Nothing Tastes Better: Benefits of Weight Loss" posts.

Sure, I could have taken a pill to lower my cholesterol, another to deal with my migraines, eventually, I could have taken medication to deal with the diabetes that was probably inevitable and I could have taken medications to deal with all of the other aches, pains, and complications that were to come with my unhealthy lifestyle and excessive weight. I could have done all of this so that I wouldn't have to "deprive" myself of the fabulous food I so enjoy, and so that I could spend my free time watching movies on the couch.  I would have to deal with the side effects of the medication but hey, I could enjoy my food, right? Of course, I would have been depriving myself of the wonderful energy I have now, I would have been depriving myself of the great, fun, active weekends I have with my husband now, the comfort of traveling, and the renewed confidence I have. Most importantly, I likely would have been depriving myself of not only quality of life but years of life. So, not eating my favorite, unhealthy food is not really depriving myself of that food so much as it is a decision not to deprive myself of the far better things that come with a healthy diet. And making time to exercise is not so much sacrificing my time as it is investing my time in the benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle. Oh, and I have come to the point where I quite enjoy a lot of the activities I do to get exercise, so there is that benefit too.

I was a couch potato in San Diego! That is crazy. Anyone who has been to the beautiful city in which I live can see the insanity in that decision. So, I'm done depriving myself of all of the fun and beautiful activities that this city has to offer, feels great!

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