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.