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It's that Time of Year

December 30, 2016 Barbara Ballinger

Dealing with platters of holiday cookies and candies, an open bar, and dips galore with bowls of chips presents major trouble for my waistline each year. This is one reason I dread the month of December. I try to be good all year, but I find it's not getting any easier to control my weight as I age and my metabolism slows down. 

I've tried all the diets that emerge--the Scarsdale Diet Plan, Cabbage Soup, and Atkins, along with my own creation, The Wedding Diet(TM). This worked well when my younger daughter married five years ago and I wanted to be svelte to walk her down the aisle and dance the night away. Fast forward, and yes I've seen some of those pounds creep back on imperceptibly--with my help, of course. So I'm always on the outlook for another new dietary panacea besides daily exercise at my gym, Pilates, walking 10,000 steps with Fitbit as my sidekick, and some major restraint (no wine during the week and less of anything white ever, which includes--bread, rice, potatoes). 

When I learned about the Buddha's Diet book (Running Press), I jumped at the chance for yet another major effort, and imagined a guide to losing pounds while remaining calm and mindful in a permanent Lotus position. After reading the book more than once, I decided to give it a try for the coming season and beyond. Now I'm sharing with blog readers who want to lose weight and be healthier what the book's authors, Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond, suggest. But the book's subhead says it best: the ancient art of losing weight without losing your mind. 

Here go 10 points I gleaned from it. 

#1. Buddha's teachings were all about moderation, especially cutting down on sugar and carbs, which are addictive. If you need proof, watch the movie Food Inc. 

#2. Buddha suggested not eating at night or at improper times, what scientists call time-restricted feeding. Strive for nine hours a day, but if that seems too restrictive initially, opt for 12, then gradually reduce it to 11, then 10, and then nine. 

#3. Track your weight by weighing yourself daily so you live well and know yourself better and see in numbers how your body responds to food. In addition, you can follow my writing partner's advice of seeing and believing when your jeans are just too tight or that favorite skirt or other pair of pants. You get the drift--can't button or zip them up? Time to forgo some of those carbs and glasses of wine. 

#4. Mindfully eat. Pay attention to what you put in your mouth. First, do not multitask when eating and try to eat at a table in your kitchen or dining room rather than in another room while you do something else--watch TV or work at your computer. Second, choose high-protein snacks, along with some fat, and high-fiber grains that satisfy you rather than leave you craving your next  food fix. 

#5. When all else fails, drink some tea, the new form of whiskey or wine. It fills you up, warms you up, and offers fewer calories. If it reminds you of being sick, time to alter your mindset by trying different kinds. 

#6. Find a middle ground in exercise. There’s no need to be obsessive. However, do not neglect your body, either. Exercise does make you happier too, most times, and it can also calm you down when you're upset. 

#7. Get good sleep without dozing off with your cell phone in hand, and the TV or another blue screen on. Place sleep in the category of an important activity and carve out time for it. 

#8. When you mess up--and most of us do, don't make it worse with food binges. Remember this lesson: the unsettled self can never be sated with food, the authors explain. 

#9. Know that what works for one person doesn't work for everyone else. Life is an experiment, and we have to keep experimenting until we do better, not perfection but better. 

#10. Best of all, remember that eating should be a joy, not a battle. 

This is my holiday gift to myself, a huge effort forward with results to come. I'll let you know how well I'm doing, and please share with me if this sounds appealing and works.




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