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Winning the Battle of the Bulge

Ruth Mason

I’m a life member of Weight Watchers, and have been on countless other weight loss plans. Each time I tried a new plan, I lost 20 pounds — only to gain them back. I wanted to get to the root of why I eat when I’m not hungry; why I can’t say no to that extra cookie. I needed help. The Lose It team in Jerusalem became my coaches and cheerleaders. Here’s what worked and what didn’t, as I learned, lost, gained, became frustrated, lost again — and in the process acquired life-changing habits and insight.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 1: 152 pounds

I’m nervous as I walk into the Lose It office, wondering if I’ll be able to stick to whatever regimen the dietitian will give me. I’m sure I’ll have to say goodbye to chocolate, cakes, cashews. I’m already mourning.

After a review of what I eat on a typical day, Chavi Kramer, a charming, red-haired Australian olah, delivers a surprise.

“I want you to increase your carbs — you should be eating five to six servings a day.”

This I didn’t expect. Chavi explains that eating enough food will quicken my metabolism and ensure that I feel satisfied, so I won’t get hit with those unwanted cravings that lead to overeating.

That means I can have a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey when I get home from work. I can have a sandwich for lunch. I’d said goodbye to my last sandwich years ago.

Chavi talks about servings, not calories, another welcome surprise. I get to decide what kind of lean protein, good carb, or healthy fat I have. Vegetables are free. I must drink eight glasses of water a day. I get 700 optional calories a week — a piece of chocolate cake or two scoops of ice cream once a week, or a cookie every night.

Behavior therapist, Linda Holtz, a youthful grandmother of 15, gives me the first of what will become a pile of preprinted index cards with inspiring tips and messages. Reading them daily will help “create new pathways in my brain,” she explains. She also hands me an important card titled “Reasons I Want to Lose Weight” along with a list of possible reasons. I choose the ones that apply to me and write down any others I can think of. Reading this card every day will motivate me, she says.

Linda points out that when we do something wrong, we notice it. But when we do something right, we take it for granted: “The most important part of this program is giving yourself credit for every little thing done right. It makes you feel happy, which makes you want to continue.”

She gives me a little notebook to record whatever I’m doing well, as well as my “sabotaging thoughts.” The going-well reminders are my daily positive reinforcement. Writing down sabotaging thoughts, Linda says, brings them to my awareness — and to our discussions so she can help me deal with them. O-kaaay. I wonder if I can keep this up.

My body mass index (BMI) is calculated at 26.33. Alan Freishtat, musician-turned-certified-personal trainer, tells me my BMI should be under 25 for optimal health. He wants me to walk briskly for 15 minutes twice a day. Twice a day?! Where will I find time?

I leave feeling a bit apprehensive but also excited: I have a chance to do this right with a team who will be supporting me. Instead of getting on the bus at the nearest stop, I take my first, brisk 15-minute walk as soon as I leave.


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