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Friday, July 29, 2011

The big, fat lie.

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?                

18 comments:

Samantha said...

*stands up and cheers*

Amen! It IS a big fat lie. I've always known that the best way isn't to cut out x,y, or z.. just cut down (which is where I was failing). You say this so excellently! I applaud you and hope everyone reads this and takes it to heart!

Theresa aka Tessie Rose said...

Great post!!!

Amanda said...

*clapping* fabulous post!!

I agree 100% moderation. I eat anything I want to just small portions! That is why I wanted the band!!!

Thank you for my message on my blog today! I guess I am frustrated because I am not even losing ONE lb a week! Notta! It'll catch up. I just need to remember that this is a ride and I am working hard and I need to relax!

Robyn's Nest said...

Great blog and the truth!! I was always one that as soon as I made one 'bad choice' all bets were off. Not anymore. I don't beat myself up and I just keep doing what works regardless. I am in a much happier place now.

Beth Ann said...

Great post and spot on! My problem is kicking the bad habits I have maintained for over 30 years. One step at a time! :)

Ronnie said...

Great post! I think I'm finally getting the hang of all this myself.

Silverhairedgoddess said...

Fantastic post - everything said so very true !!

Sandy Lee said...

The last sentence got me--I'd start eating and just keep going. I know the band is there which makes me now think about the amount. It truly is about serving size. It's was just our serving size was too distorted. I watch my skinny friends and they drink regular pop, eat desserts with cream and butter, BUT they don't do that every day and every meal. And they exercise. Not over the top but they are active. There is some sort of stop in their brains which we are missing or doesn't show.

Great post. This'll get blog land talking up a storm.

Stacey said...

Great post, definitely thought provoking!

Bandita Senorita said...

Wonderful post!

JRD said...

I agree with everything you have written, Amanda. What a lovely, thoughtful post. You articulated everything I'm hoping my band journey will be. Lovely.

Lyla said...

I'm giving you the slow clap that accompanies the big closing motivational speech in movies. This is exactly right. You're a smart gal, Amanda.

Dani said...

Yeh go Amanda-its that all or nothing mentality(that I have )that gets people into trouble.You're so right-look how your skinny friends are eating and the answer is there!Great post:)

~Lisa~ said...

What do I think?? I KNOW you've hit the nail on the head with this post!! Once again you've not failed to educate me, inspire me and make me want to rise up and give you a forceful "AMEN"!! Thank you for this!!

Sarah said...

Great post Amanda. I know you've been talking about this for a very long time, and I'm glad you keep putting it out there. I hope that when a newbie stumbles across your blog that they will really take these posts to heart.

greenie said...

Excellent post! So true. I have a daughter who is now a teenager. She's watched me struggle w my weight her whole life and has had her own struggles. I try to never use the word "diet" and focus on "eating healthy" and "moderation." She's really got her weight and exercise under control and she understands it will be a lifelong lifestyle.

MandaPanda said...

I don't disagree but I think moderation is difficult for those of us who have struggled with our weight. For instance, I try to follow the 80/20 rule. If I'm "good" 80% of the time, I think I will lose weight and be healthy. The problem is I've lived so long doing the oppose - being "bad" 80% of the time that it's a difficult trend to reverse. I think I start feeling like I'm failing when I can feel myself slipping back into the old ratio. Also, I think we NEED to diet in the beginning in order to make moderation a habit since we obviously aren't coming by it naturally. Just my 2 cents.

Cat said...

(Another late comment, I was on Vacation)
Seriously - you are exactly why I know I am going to succeed on this journey to a more healthful me. Because of reading your blog from beginning to current, I have read your attitudes about "diets" and "bad" foods and your key of moderation in all things. I strive very hard to rarely (dare I say never?) say I ate a "bad" food. I try to say "less healthful choice" or something like that. I strive to never think of foods as bad or good. I try to always think in moderation and you know what? This last five days I was on vacation and truly enjoyed myself. I didn't count a single calorie or gram of protein and I know I made healthful choices (and a few not so healthful ones) but overall I enjoyed a vacation of moderation and enjoyment. Thank you Amanda.