The summer I turned 16, I worked part-time at my local McDonalds. One look at me confirmed that I endorsed the products I bagged for my customers. I filled my polyester uniform with 30 extra pounds of fat culled from a diet of cheeseburgers, French fries, and deep-fried pies. I looked greasy and bloated - and I didn't feel so great, either.
A few years later, after eating my way through college on quick meals of 59-cent tacos and giant cups of soda, I grew tired of feeling tired. I looked five years older than my actual age, and my pants always felt tight. When the button on my newest pair of jeans dug into my stomach, I drew a line in the mental sand and vowed not to buy the next larger size. It was time for a diet.
I came of age when Weight Watchers had just begun to take hold, and no one had heard of Jenny Craig or Dr. Oz. My diet pre-dated the Internet, so I used common sense to come up with three basic rules I'd follow to lose weight:
No red meat
No fried food
One glance at my list confirmed fast-food
was off limits. One hamburger violated all of the rules, so I refused to bite. Instead of grabbing meals on the go, I began to plan. I made smart, simple choices: plain tuna with half a bagel; fruit; baked chicken; yogurt; fresh vegetables. I spent more time planning and preparing meals, but the lost time resulted in lost pounds. I traded speed for quality - and it paid off.
After a year of following my plan, I'd shed 30 pounds and dropped three clothing sizes. I had energy and strength, and I hadn't needed to count calories, fat grams or carbs. Even better, I'd lost my taste for fast-food. I hadn't expected this; I assumed once I lost the weight, I'd want to indulge in a burger or taco. But my body disagreed. When I ate fast-food, it tasted oily and fake, and I simply didn't want it.
Now, three decades later, I'll give into the occasional craving for fast-food, but I always choose the kid's portion and I always feel greasy when I'm done. I'd rather stick to my simple rules and stay away from drive-thrus and continue to feel - and look - better than I did when I was 16.…