Every January I join my friends–real and virtual–in the time-honored tradition of refining our eating and exercise habits. (January and September if you’re Jewish.) But the truth is I’m tired of renewing my bi-annual pledge to eliminate the white stuff, add more leafy greens, lift weights, stretch, blah, blah, blah.

Instead of berating myself for not always making the best choices, I’m celebrating how far I’ve come since the 90s–the decade when “diet” was my middle name and Step Aerobics was my idea of a good time.

So with great shame and the pictures to prove it (I’m not posting them, sorry) I present: Ten Things I Believed About Food in the 90s–in other words: Why I Weighed 30 Pounds More in High School and College Than I Do Now. (It’s true.)

1. Frozen yogurt is a suitable meal and snack. Hello calcium! And the more sprinkles the better. It’s all fat-free, baby!

2. A SnackWells cookie is the dessert choice of champions. Snack well–get it!? Go ahead, eat the whole box.

3. Gummy bears, Sour Patch Kids, jelly beans, candy corn, and licorice are better for you than chocolate.

4. Diet soda. Drink it.

5. A smoothie +Ā  a wrap is the ideal meal. A wrap slathered in ranch or Cesar dressing is even better. Because then it’s like a salad.

6. Fat-free cheese = real food. You won’t miss the concept of cheese that melts.

7. Early 90s: Pasta and bagels are low-fat. Therefore, go to town.

8. Late 90s/early 2000s: Pasta and bagels have ruined us. Fill up on hamburgers but toss the bun.

9. Anything Oprah swears by for weight loss is gold. Buy every book on the subject she endorses and highlight entire passages. Pray Bob Greene will become your trainer. (Actually, I still think Bob Greene is very sensible. I’m just too lazy for that much exercise.)

10. A Dairy Queen Butterfinger Blizzard (17 points) + a bag of popcorn (2 points) + an apple (2 points and never touch a 3-point banana–for shame) = a fantastic day on Weight Watchers.

I know I’m not the only one who frantically slurped down the dieting Kool-Aid in the 90s. What did you eat or do in the name of weight loss back in the days before fish oil, whole grains, and power yoga?

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Nina Badzin is a freelance writer, a lead writing instructor at ModernWell in Minneapolis as well as ModernWell's book club director. She reviews 50 books a year on her blog, writes reviews for other sites, and has a friendship advice column at The HerStories Project. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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