How One ADDer Battled the Bulge - and Won!

And the research that reveals why losing weight is especially hard for adults and children with ADHD.

Battling the Bulge, Part 2

More important than eating less is the fact that I am eating better. I eliminated most of the pound-packing foods from my diet and replaced it with food that provides better nutrition and less waste — or waist, as the case may be. I started dieting in late October and have since lost about 25 pounds (it turns out that starting a diet right before the holiday season is not such a great idea.) Still, it's a daily effort to "just say no" to Taco Bell.

Like many adults with ADHD, I am also under treatment for depression. This is significant because I've found that my eating tends to cycle with my depression. Knowing this has helped me control it. I have to decide if I am eating because I'm hungry, because I'm depressed or simply because it's there.

Tips — for tipping the scale in your favor

  • Be realistic. You didn't put on 20, 30 or 100 extra pounds overnight. It takes time to reverse the effects of years of over eating and inactivity. Talk with your doctor about what is a realistic weight loss goal for you.
  • Make changes you can live with. Crash diets or weight loss gimmicks often produce a boomerang effect that can leave you weighing more than you did when you started. Try to see your weight loss as part of a larger plan to improve your overall physical and mental health. A sustained weight change requires sustained changes in both your diet and your behavior. Are you really willing to live on nothing but grapefruit and poached eggs for the rest of your life? If not — and who would? — then you need to make changes in your diet that you can maintain over time.
  • Learn about nutrition. Become an informed food consumer, rather then a grazer that eats without thinking. Research on weight loss shows that dieters who understand the importance of good nutrition are more likely to lose weight, and less likely to regain it.
  • Don't try to be perfect. People with ADHD tend to be easily frustrated. This is just as true when you're trying to lose weight as it is for anything else. Accept the fact that you are going to occasionally slip up. If you come out of a stupor only to find a fork full of chocolate cake in your mouth, don't panic. Just put the fork down. Above all, don't let a setback make you give up. Aim to improve your eating habits gradually.
  • Keep a log. I didn't realize how much or how often I was eating until I began to write down everything I consumed during the day. You may want to include the number of calories or carbohydrates that each item contains, but don't get hung up on numbers. Instead think of these numbers as point totals in a game that you intend to win.
  • Enlist the support of friends. Two months ago, I made a bet with two friends. We each wrote down our target weight — mine is 175 — and put $100 down. The first person to hit the target gets the money. The financial motivation is encouraging. The support that comes from knowing that there are at least two other people suffering right along with me is even more encouraging.
  • Exercise. It's a simple equation: Energy Consumed - Energy Burned = Weight. Consuming energy (calories and carbohydrates) without burning it off is like continuing to fill your car's gas tank without ever turning on the motor. Eventually the tank will overflow. If it didn't spill out of the top, the tank would eventually burst.

If you've been sedentary for some time, like, say if you're a professional writer who lives behind a computer, you will need to gradually rebuild muscle tone, flexibility and stamina. Walking is a great exercise. As you lose weight, you'll be able to go for longer walks.

  • Don't give up. Visualize yourself at your desired weight. Pick out some clothes that are only one size smaller and use them as a short-term goal. I've gone from a 42-inch waist to a 38. I'm proud of that! I enjoyed buying these pants! I would be feeling much less encouraged — and would probably look pretty stupid in the process - if I had waited until I had reached my goal of a 32 inch waist before buying any new pants.

I raise my glass (of water) and wish all of us a happier and healthier new year!

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