Diets are based on scarcity, restriction, and deprivation. They talk about accountability to some authority that isn't your own. They want you to spend your life counting, recording, writing it all down. It's all about the numbers, the scales, weighing and measuring, counting steps, counting calories, counting the minutes until you die...
Is this really the way I want to live?
I seem to exist in two states: dieting and waiting to diet. Dieting doesn't last very long, I admit. A few weeks. Months at most. I certainly haven't ever done it long enough to call it a "way of life" or a "lifestyle." Most of my time has been spent dreading the upcoming diet, shoving all those "forbidden" foods into my mouth I know I can't have when I'm dieting, and hoping that I'll get some fabled call from the governor at the last moment, saving me from
I've done all sorts of "diets." I've paid lots of money to be weighed and measured, to weigh and measure my food, to listen to skinny folks who used to be fat talk about how they did it, one celery stick at a time. I've eaten loads of processed crap that didn't taste much better than the box they came in. Eventually, even Twiggy would get sick of miniature portions of freeze dried broccoli and salisbury steak.
I know what a "diet" is, I know what it feels like, I know what it looks like. I know what waiting to diet feels like - the sense of impending doom, the voracious journey toward restriction, the guilt and denial and avoidance. Is there a middle ground somewhere, or am I looking for the fairy tale? Is there a yellow brick road I'm missing?
This morning I watched Valerie Bertinelli get all choked up on my television and tell me that for the first time, she was going to wake up on New Year's day and not make a resolution to lose weight - because she already had. "That could be you next year!" she tearfully insisted. "So call now!" (And while you're at it, will someone please drop a house on Jenny Craig?) I thought, hmmm... I wonder if Valerie's going to be fat again next January, or if she's going to keep up with the whole "diet" thing? Is she going to still be eating red boxes full of fake food next year? And come to think of it... why is it we never see Jenny Craig? Is it because she got fat again, I wonder, after years of depriving herself?
Not to pick on Jenny. She doesn't corner the market on diets or anything - (not that she doesn't want to.) She's got lots of competition from Florine, Suzanne Somers (and whatever happened to poor Susan Powter who wanted us to all stop the insanity by signing on to her version of it? Did she get fat again? No, wait, I wiki-ed her... she's still around!) Jillian Michaels, and Denise Austin. And not to be outdone by the women, there are endless rows of doctors - from Atkins to Ornish - out there pimping their programs, too. And let's not forget Ho-prah's protege, Bob Greene, doing his thang. And poor Richard Simmons - one of the few I think who are truly sincere. And don't forget all those programs not necessarily associated with a face, like Medifast, Nutrisystem, Slimfast, South Beach, the Cavemen... etc. etc. etc.
A diet is a diet is a diet is a diet...
Unless it claims it isn't?
That rationalization works... until you fall off the wagon and you're not doing the program anymore. I was reading Cranky Fitness yesterday, who referred to Sarah and Weetabix at Elastic Waist debating about Weight Watchers' new claim that they're "not a diet."
I'm sorry, that must be my bad ear, what did you say?
Weight Watchers isn't a diet?
And George Bush isn't an idiot...
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck - it's a big, fat duck.
Do you know how many people I know who have joined Weight Watchers and lost weight... and then gone off it and gained it back... and joined again and lost weight... and gone off it and gained it back...? Lather, rinse, repeat. This isn't a permanent solution any more than the others. It's designed to do one thing, and one thing only: make a profit. That's the bottom line with any of these diets. In fact, I'd venture to say WW makes a majority of its profit from re-joiners, not first time members. I could be wrong - but I bet I'm not.
I'm tired of diets... even those that claim they aren't what they really are. I don't want to buy or eat another box of crappy, overpriced, processed food. Why should I trust some outer authority to tell me what to do, how to do it, and what quantities I'm allowed to do it in? How is that any different than the rest of the sheeple yo-yo-ing up and down the diet scale and paying big bucks for the privilege?
I want to wipe the slate completely clean and start from scratch. Is there a deprogramming program for the diet programs we've been fed over the years? How do I get out of this maze of dead ends? Can I click my heels together and say "There's no place like home?"
Have I had the power all along, Dorothy?
Because when you let go of the idea of relying on someone else's authority... you have nothing but your own. Now that's some serious responsibility. And some serious independence.