When Ramani Durvasula’s young daughter became ill, she took stock of her life and realized that her daughter’s condition may be out of her control, but her personal health was not. As a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, Ramani was in tune to why she was overweight, she just needed a new perspective. By adopting some “old school,” habits, Ramani lost 81 pounds.
As the mother of four children, Ramani noticed the creeping-on of weight over the years. She attributed it to less activity, not being mindful of what she ate and the common pitfall, emotional eating. “I used food as a one stop shop – lover, friend, numbing agent, celebration tool, kleenex – just about everything,” she said.
Like many women, Ramani thought she knew what she weighed but after a frustrating night preparing for a date with her husband, she began to wonder. “I knew I had put on a little weight, but figured I should be able to toss on some oversized garments my mom brought me back from India,” she explained. “I put these big tent clothes on and dress after dress ripped. I was mortified, sad and confused. I stepped on a scale – assuming I would weigh in at about 160 pounds. I stepped on and it registered 202 pounds.”
After Ramani realized her weight had gotten away from her, she switched gears and got into what she calls, “old school mode.” In the book that chronicles her weight loss, “You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life,” she writes about refusing to go on a typical diet. She started her weight loss journey knowing a few truths, that moving more, eating less and banishing the childhood lesson of plate-cleaning would lead to success.
I jumped over to the dirty plate club and learned to listen to my body instead of listening to my plate.
As she worked toward her weight loss goal, Ramani began to notice small ways she could control not only her intake, but what she was intaking. She used bread plates to monitor her portions, had waiters take away her plate when she was done, stayed hydrated, and cleaned all the junk food out of her cupboards, among other changes. She also made exercise an integral part of her daily routine, just as important as brushing her teeth.
Ramani says her biggest struggle is the fact that she simply loves food. ” I use food to reward, soothe, celebrate – you name it,” she admitted. “Learning to find other ways to scratch that itch still plagues me after all these years.” Now, she’s listening to her body and the cues it gives her saying, “It takes a lot less food than I ever thought to feel full.”
Today Ramani’s goal is maintaining her weight without “getting crazy,” and helping her clients learn to listen to their own bodies. Ramani’s advice to others: “Know your trigger foods, times, people, situations – and strive to eat mindfully at those times. And love your body – if you hate your body and the way you look – you aren’t going to take good care of it.”