As a yo-yo dieter who has lost and regained the same 20 pounds a half-dozen times or so, I can probably recite the 411 on every diet plan you've ever heard of, including all the ones that preach how I need to change my lifestyle, not just count my calories for a while. I get it. I also get that knowledge and action frequently live miles apart, if you get my drift.
But I do have a new beef with diet plans since I crossed the middle-age bridge and now sit squarely in my 60s: Most of them try, but they just haven't kept pace with my life.
They have taken a totally wrong approach: They are busy trying to "age" with me while I'd much rather they try and "stay young" with me.
Take Weight Watchers for example (and for the record, I love the plan and have been a Weight Watchers devotee since my early 40s when my metabolism first went seriously AWOL). A while ago, Weight Watchers set up a separate community forum room for people in their 60s. On the day I visited it, they were talking about needlepoint, knitting and playing word games. I high-tailed it out of there and resisted the urge to suggest that my fellow fatties might burn more calories if they moved something besides their fingers. (That would be mean; WW discourages meanness.)
I remember back in the day going to a diet club meeting and feeling similarly out of place, although for other reasons. I was a size 10 hoping to be a size 6 again and every other woman in the room was clinically obese. What we had in common was that we all wanted to lose weight, yet the gap in how much we needed to lose made us unable to support one another effectively. They saw my dieting as a frivolous whim born from vanity and were unsympathetic to my struggles with losing "the final 10" while they were trying to shed pounds by the hundreds. Fair enough. Truth is, I wasn't eager to listen to them either.
Now, I want to find some like-minded 60-somethings to diet with. I need the support of women who see themselves in a contemporary mirror, who are still doing what they did their whole lives except maybe doing it now with bunions and bad knees. I want to diet with people who also felt insulted when AARP solicited their membership on their 50th birthdays and who also check the "never" box when pollsters ask them when they think they'll move to a retirement community.
We aren't shuffle-boarders or bingo-players and we are more likely to be playing Words With Friends online than Mah Jongg with the girls on Wednesdays. We are a new kind of 60-something and we need a new kind of diet plan that we fits our lifestyle, not our mothers'.
So far -- and I'm not in the habit of making product endorsements but this is a free app -- I'm finding true happiness with MyFitnessPal. Why? Because I live and breath by my cell phone, which means that MyFitnessPal app is never far from my hand. It lets me scan in the bar code for the food I'm eating and automatically enters it into my food diary. It analyzes my food and tells me where I'm shorting myself vitamin-wise and suggests what I can do about it. It lets me multi-add food for speed and ease. I'm counting calories, monitoring my sodium intake, watching my cholesterol -- and I can do it easily, intuitively and stop and answer a text without losing my place.
Best of all, MyFitnessPal lets me form my own little social network of like-minded friends. We post our weight-loss victories to a news feed and can offer words of encouragement and advice to each other. There's a place to store and share recipes; I made kale chips last night.
To each his own, but in my dieting and my life, I'd rather rock than be in the rocking chair. I don't see myself as old, don't feel old, and don't want to be in the company of people who whine about getting old.
I'm in this body for the long run -- which is to say I expect to follow the family genetics and live well into my 90s -- and I'd like to do so with good health, a strong heart and bones that don't turn to mush. And for that to happen, I need to knock off a few pounds and surround myself with people who aren't going quietly into that dark night of aging. I'm not chasing youth; I'm resisting aging -- worlds apart. And I wish more diet plans understood that.