I am a diet veteran. I may not look like it, but I am well acquainted with all of the diets that have been around for ages. Many of them on one typewritten page copied hundreds of times and secretly traded by those who are desperately overweight. I have taken the pills, eaten the tablets, starved myself, prayed my way through hunger pangs, run my legs into the ground, and sucked down the miracle milkshakes. I have paid to be a part of diet programs. I even started a diet club once, which a church member derogatorily referred to as a ‘fat club’ (which he should have been a member of, by the way).
I remember the amazement I felt the first time someone told me that if you read the label and it says ‘0 fat’ you can eat all you want. I remember equal amazement to hear that if you read the label and it says ‘0 carbohydrates’ you can eat all you want. Pretty much if a diet plan contains the words ‘all you want’, I’m in. I ate all the cabbage soup I wanted. Which was one cup.
Most diets work … for approximately two weeks. Do I hear an amen, my brothers and sisters largesse? We are legion, for we are many. We’ve even got our own cable network: FOOD. And we are the new targets (easy to hit, too!). Yes, you can charge us double for our airplane seats, tell us what size big gulp we can buy at 7-eleven, and blame us for the fact that our country’s economy is going to hell in a handbasket. You know, we’re the ones clogging up the E.R. and the hospitals. The poor insurance companies are having to pay out big bucks because we keep needing medical attention, and they pass along these horrendous overages to the skinny customers. Never mind that we’re paying gigantic premiums and doctors are charging outrageous amounts they know the insurance companies won’t pay. All the while that little pill you just swallowed cost $160. But, I digress. The pot smokers are in high regard (at least in a few states), alcoholics have gotten help, plastic surgery addicts have found salvation through Oprah and now all that’s left for the world to fix is fat people.
It’s not that the supersized among us do not know what to do. We know. Knowledge is power, but not as powerful as a cheeseburger. Maybe it’s motivation. But we can’t all go on Biggest Loser and have that skinny chick yell at us (what fat person in America doesn’t want to just sit on her?). Determination seems to be in short supply, and some mighty determined people have lost 50 lbs and found themselves a year later 60 lbs heavier. I’ve done that several times. Once in a while some blessed person beats the odds, overcomes all obstacles and loses weight and keeps it off. They look great and are envied by all. But not followed.
So this week (first of the year) billions of Americans will go on a diet. I notice that none of the fast food chains shut down in January. Just an observation. Therein lies the problem. From experience, let me tell you what is wrong with a diet.
1. A diet is temporary. Nobody who decides to leave out carbs thinks that they are going to do that forever and ever, only savoring a donut when they get to heaven (unless God is like that screaming skinny chick – which I know He is not).
2. A diet says ‘no’ when you want to say ‘yes’. Everybody has to decide what will and will not be a part of their lives (no matter what kind of behavior). When the urge to eat food that we shouldn’t strikes, those ‘no’ objections start sounding like ‘yes’ rationalizations.
3. A diet leads to shame based thinking, because we mostly fail at them. In fact, all of the large people I know have failed at dieting. Thus the term ‘yo-yo dieting’ and why anyone is thinking today about starting a diet tomorrow. Or at least Monday. All diets start on Monday…right?
4. Diets do not address the issues behind overeating. One of the best diet books I never read was called, “It’s not what you’re eating, It’s what’s eating you.” That sticks with me. Several diet books I’ve read deal with the scientific and chemical explanations behind eating. I guess they’ve never been depressed and opened up a case of Oreos.
5. Diets can focus on food you don’t like, don’t have time to prepare, and that no one else in your family will eat. That’s why you’re not already eating those foods. When I read the “allowed” list of some diets, I don’t even know what some of those foods are! Convenience foods that are highly processed and easily accessed are hard to resist. Add to that the chemical additives and gallons of sugar
6. Diets are not ‘one size fits all‘. What works wonders for one person leaves another person wondering where they went wrong. Most of us will never look like that person with almost no clothes showing off their abs of steel on the cover of the latest diet book.
7. A diet is a declaration of war against every social event, every church supper, every get-together a friend’s house, and every hour of every day when the urge for recreational eating strikes.
That seems like a pretty formidable list … but that is just the beginning. Anybody who enters into the process of changing eating patterns has to own up to these and other dieting truths. I should know. I’ve done it a thousand times.
I will be writing some more about this … maybe not every day … or every post … but stay tuned. And take a look below at some of the books available for your Kindle on the subject of weight loss.
Thanks for reading, John.