We've all been told throughout our lives that dieting is the solution to our weight woes. Need to lose weight? There's a diet for that. Medical professionals have a plan to recommend. Our friends and family can tell you about the new thing they're doing. There are pills and drinks. Eliminate this food and lose! Eliminate that food and lose! Eat this. Don't eat that. There's low carb, no carb, low fat, no fat. You can count points, exchanges, fat grams, calories. There's the grapefruit diet, the acai berry diet, the belly-fat diet, the paleo diet, the French diet, the Biggest Loser diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Weight Loss Clinic, LA Weight Loss. Does anyone remember Richard Simmon's Deal-A-Meal?
Most of us have been on several diets during our lives. We've lost weight, sometimes lots of weight. But we've always gained it back and usually more. We unequivocally believe the big, fat lie. Statistically we are told that 95% of all dieters will fail to lose the weight and keep it off for one year and nearly 100% will fail to keep it off for five years. We think WE are the problem and that if we could just stick to the diet, we'd finally lose the weight forever. If we quit the diet, it is because we are lacking somehow. We have no will-power, no self-control. We'd rather eat than be thin. We're stupid, ugly, lazy.
Why does no one ever seem to notice that naturally thin people don't diet? They may eat healthfully most of the time, but they don't usually go on a diet. Have you ever gone out to eat with your skinny friends and watched them eat an appetizer, salad with dressing, bread, the entree, drinks AND dessert while you have a dry salad, one drink, an entree without sides or sauce and no dessert?
There is, of course, a difference between following a healthy diet and dieting. Sometimes it is hard for those of us who've bought the big, fat lie to grasp the difference. We are prone to black and white thinking. We label foods as "good" and "bad" and we judge ourselves by extension if we eat them. We become accustomed to food rules and feel out of control when there are no rules. It isn't hard for feeling out of control around food to equate being out of control with food. We hear that diets don't work and we think that means we can just eat whatever we want all the time.
So if diets are the big, fat lie, what's the skinny truth? The truth is that moderation is the answer. Moderation. Balance. Yin and Yang. Sustainability. Moderation in our diets, our work, our lifestyles, our exercise plans, our relationships. It makes sense, really. But apparently moderation doesn't make for very interesting head lines and it doesn't sell diet plans, because we don't hear much about it. And it is hard for those of us who've bought the big, fat lie to believe. A lifetime of black and white thinking is difficult to give up. We remember the times when we were "good". Our diets were squeaky clean and we exercised like maniacs. Isn't that the ideal we should maintain? Nope. Not if we want to lead lives of moderation. Because of course that period of "goodness" was likely followed by an equally spectacular downfall. We ate too much or couldn't work out and all of the sudden all bets were off! If we couldn't be perfect, we would be horrible!
To eat a diet of all things in moderation, you must learn to trust yourself. You must believe that you can eat and enjoy a serving of cookies and not devour the entire bag. This can be a tough skill to master when you've bought the big, fat lie your entire life, but it is worth the effort! Not just because you get to eat a serving of cookies, but because your brain gets to enjoy the benefits of living a life of moderation. And if you slip up, it is okay because moderation teaches us that we cannot beat ourselves up for mistakes as that wouldn't be a very balanced approach! Often when we try to teach ourselves to live in moderation, especially with food, we find ourselves turning to the old diet stand-byes like counting calories because we really do not know what a moderate food plan looks like. And that's okay so long as we understand that it is a temporary tool. For me, my Lap-band was necessary to teach me to live in moderation because I really could not determine what an appropriate serving size of food was. I'd start eating and just keep going, convincing myself that I wasn't eating all that much, really.
The big, fat lie or the skinny truth? What do YOU think?