Body Time 2 – ‘Diets Don’t Work’

As January progressed, the main focus I held for my health was going on a diet to lose weight.  I also had decided that sugar was the main culprit for the added state of imbalance I was experiencing. My husband who also experiences problems from excess weight decided to join me and together we chose the South Beach Diet.  We stuck to it pretty stringently for about 7 weeks with good success – 18lb loss for me and 22lbs for Mike.  However, once spring break and a trip to Florida came around we found it difficult to keep our dedication to the diet on the trip and regain it once we returned. No big surprise there, since this is my usual experience with diets. I am one of the many who have tired a countless number of diets, countless times. Again this year I discovered a truth that I already knew – diets just don’t work – most of the time they are just a big set up for failure. This is especially true when you have a lot of weight to lose. Of course, this also is not new; there have been a large number of books out for years on this very subject.  We are now all familiar with the idea that losing weight is about making permanent lifestyle changes.  However, often making these changes is a complex issue and there is more to the story than just making the surface changes – we must work on a deeper level. Recently I read in the introduction to Marianne Williamson’s new book, ‘A Course In Weight Loss’, an excellent and somewhat brief description to this complex issue:

“Because the mechanisms that affect our health are so dynamic, when we work on a deeper level. We’re likely to feel so much better, so quickly, that it reframes the reasons for change…..What’s sustainable are joy, pleasure, freedom and love.  Even more than being healthy and losing weight, most people want to be free and in control.  Because of this diets don’t work.  Diets are about what you can’t have and what you must do.  If you go on a diet, sooner or later you’re likely to go off a diet… And diets are usually based on fear that something really bad – like a heart attack, a stroke, or cancer – may happen to you otherwise.  Efforts to try to motivate people to change their lifestyles based on fear don’t work, because we don’t want to believe that something really bad will ever happen to us, so we don’t think about it.  Fear is not a sustainable motivator…..Even people who have had heart attacks usually change for only a few weeks before they go back to their old patterns of living and eating.  The language of behavioral change often has a moralistic quality to it that turns off a lot of people (like ‘cheating’ on a diet).  It is a small step from thinking of foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to seeing yourself as a ‘good person’ or a ‘bad person’ if you eat these, and this creates downward spirals in a vicious cycle…  (Remember, ‘Don’t eat the apple’ didn’t’ work, and that was God talking..)  And willpower is just another way of saying you’re forcing yourself to do something; and pressuring yourself to do something is not sustainable.  Again, what is sustainable are love, joy, pleasure and freedom….”

However, in March – after vacation – I wasn’t thinking about it much. I was still in the diet mentality again. After all I had only gained 3 pounds back – I was sure I would find my willpower again. I certainly knew I didn’t want to return to the state I was in just after Christmas.


2 responses to “Body Time 2 – ‘Diets Don’t Work’

  1. Peggy I so agree with you on this subject. As a woman who became quite heavy in my 50’s I understand your struggle. Even once the weight is gone, very often there is a real fear that it will return, sort of sneek up on you. I beleive this is due to the fact that one is not realy sure how we got in that condition in the first place. I often refer to Louise L. Hay’s book, You can heal your life. The bottom lines for obesity is the need for protection. “FEAR” Often we turn to comfort foods when we are in this state of mind, and mindlessly eat. Other times it’s fear that we just cann’t make it to the goal. (what’s the use attitude) When a person is largely over wieght, even 10 pounds barley shows up. Leaving the wieght loss total seem like an unfathonable ocean to cross. And there is always the physical limitations of bad health brought on by years of fear. Leaving you living in a easy chair, wheezing just to cross a room. And the every day task of going to the grocery store ends up a challange that may take an entire day, leaving you exhausted and set up for another day in the chair. Any change in habit will be difficult, as is any true change you make in your life. I truly believe that finding the basis for that fear would be the most long lasting. In recognizing that base, you can gain the strength to make the changes nessisary to become the hole, happy human that God ment you to be. Im’ not taking about Model thin, I’m speaking about meeting or coming close to the Doctor recomended weights. So often I hear over weight persons use the example; my Doctor said diets were no good, you lose the weight and the minuet you get off you just regain it back! But did they realy say that? I doubt it. What they are saying is the gimicks don’t realy work, sensible eating does, combined with moderate exersize. This is where the problem lays. It takes work to wear off the calories we have stored. (body fat) That is all obesity is, over stored energy for the body. And yes when we were young most of us could eat what ever we wanted, and rest when we wanted, because we were very active. We got up early in the morning to go to school. We walked to and from the buss. We walked to and from our classes in school. Often we participated in Physical Education and/ or sports after school. We actually played outside, wich ment ride bikes, climbed trees and walked long distances to get down the street to our friends. Our youthful exuberance kept us moving all the time. As adults we may have to get to work on time, but mom is not there to provide meals. We often grab items on the run. We stop at pizza places and burger joints because we have over extended our busy lives and haven’t time to prepare a meal. Often we have gone far too long with out feeding our bodies. Then we are faced with blood sugar droping. In this state it is extreamly easy to over eat. In fact your hole body is screaming at you to stuff your face full. In fact, it inturpets what is happening as “you are in starvation” So even if you haven’t eatten hardly any food, your body will not let go of the stored fat! It is trying to defend itself. (keep your organs functioning) So eating small, unprossesed foods like raw fruits and vegtables in between the three meals a day (that we were taught to eat) will stablize your blood sugar, fill you up and keep you from attacking the plate of cookies tempting you at work or when you return home from work/school. By all means don’t villanize chocolate cake, everyone loves something sweet. God made us that way, we love fruit, it’s sweet. So while you are triming down, how about a banana sliced and dipped in melted chocolate ?(80% coco) I recomend doing some soul serching as to your fear factor in your life. Most of our hang-ups we aquired at a young age. Life and age has just contributed a few more to them. This may be a good subject for a womens group or retreat. As a fellow srinking woman, I’m sure game for one!

  2. Great Suggestion Vickie, In fact that is just where ‘A Course in Weight Loss’ leads to next – going deeper into our issues and looking at them with love. I have experience this and am sure you have too – when we replace the fear and perceived failure with love, respect and hope we are transformed and healed. We stop struggling with ourselves and very naturally begin taking care of ourselves in healthier ways. A retreat would be great fun! I will give it some serious thought!

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