Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Pizza" postscript

After reading the awesome comments on my last post, I realized that I want to add a couple more things.

First, that this is obviously my personal experience, and I definitely do not want to detract from the weight loss efforts of all the men and women who struggle with obesity.  I am so inspired by watching people fight to get healthy.  I don't think anyone really took my post the wrong way, anyway, cause you guys are awesome, but I figured I should say that!

Second, since I've opened up this whole can of worms, I guess I might as well outline my personal "diet" philosophy a little more fully.

- Any diet that involves extreme restriction and self-deprivation is doomed to fail.  It creates too much tension, so at some point you are bound to snap back.  It's not sustainable.

- Cutting out entire food groups leads people to completely bizarre conclusions, such as "oh I can't have that little glass of orange juice, it has sugar in it."  What!?  It's just oranges!  Fruit is good for you!!  (If it's medical, like celiacs or something, then ok, I can understand.)  There is an entire industry devoted to ripping you off by convincing you that one or another vital food group - protein, carb, or fat, the 3 components of a balanced diet - is making you fat.  Did you realize that before the "low carb diet craze" there was a "high carb diet craze," but our actual knowledge of food science hasn't really changed at all in that time?  It's insane.  As one of my comments pointed out, now "trans-fats" are bad for you but "lard" is in.  What?!  It makes my head hurt.

- If you don't eat the food that you are craving, you will go nuts.  So indulge your cravings, but go for quality over quantity.  If you are dying for chocolate, go and have a little square of delicious dark chocolate and enjoy the heck out of it, instead of agonizing for weeks and then having a million-calorie mediocre-tasting fast-food chocolate shake.

-  Enjoy your food.  Invent recipes.  Cook something delicious that you've never tried.  The better it tastes, the more satisfying it will be.

- Enjoy your body NOW.  This is the real heart of the matter.  And of course it's the hardest part, and it's going to be a different process for everyone.  But I just... I don't think it's ever okay to postpone your happiness, even though we all do it all the time.  "If only I had a boyfriend...", "if only I could get promoted...", "if only I could lose 10 pounds..." - NO.  Enough excuses.*  Fuck that.  Feel better NOW.  It is okay to still have goals for the future, but don't fool yourself into thinking, "well I'm not happy yet, but once I lose 10 pounds I will be."  If you can be happy now, if you can really like yourself, then it will be easier to do good things for yourself and you will actually lose weight, if you need to.

Believe it or not, self-respect can be a much more powerful and effective motivator than self-loathing.  It will get you to your goals without destroying you in the process.

And now I think the postscript might be longer than the first post, so I'm gonna cut myself off.

* To bring in the yoga connection, even Bikram says this.  He says this ALL THE TIME.  "You always think you are too fat, too skinny, too sick, too old, too young, too lazy, too busy, too poor - you always look for an excuse.  That is called lack of self-realization."  

** One more thing.  It totally makes me cringe that I am about to recommend a self-help book *shudder!!!* but "When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair" by Geneen Roth is one of the best books I've ever read about food and our relationships to it.  It had a pretty big influence on me.


hannahjustbreathe said...

I've always wanted to read that book! Must add it to my list for my next trip to the bookstore.

Weight, diet, health, exercise. What "works" for each is so specific to every single person on this planet. After YEARS of pounding fake pavement on a treadmill and YEARS of slipping into a Speedo and YEARS of trying to diet and YEARS of wishing I looked different, weighed less, curved less, filled less space, I've finally and fully embraced me as me, my body as my body, and learned to take care of it lovingly, carefully, dutifully. I may not strut down the sidewalk in a model's body, but I am far healthier and happier in my skin than ever before. And I credit a HUGE amount of that acceptance to Bikram yoga.

Seriously, this topic just may be my next blog post. Well done, J., on starting an important and fascinating discussion.

thedancingj said...

Awesome. That is SO great to hear. It really is an accomplishment, you know? I'm really glad you are enjoying this discussion and I can't wait to hear more of your thoughts and insights!

And yes, it is a pretty amazing little book. Definitely worth picking up and lending around.

Ellen in Hawaii said...

I will also have to add this to my reading list. ;))

First, I must say that Bikram Yoga has been a lifesaver for me. It is helping me get back in touch with my body. It is helping me tackle the issues that caused me to gain the weight in the first place and keep it on for so long. I *know* that as long as I keep showing up in the studio and putting in my best effort, the weight *will* come off.

I think that part of the problem with losing weight and keeping it off - at least for me - is the notion that pervades our culture that it is somehow supposed to be easy. There is no magic pill or potion or exercise contraption. I need to get over it already. I've got to stop wishing that I could eat whatever I like and not exercise and still get down to a size 8. That's not my reality and it never will be.

Thanks again for opening up the discussion.

thedancingj said...

Ellen - TOTALLY. And boy do I know what you're talking about, always wishing for some miracle drug that would just make everything easy. It's not easy. You do have to struggle hard. Everyone has to struggle with something. Plato said this, I think: "Be kind to everyone you meet, for they are fighting a hard battle."

Thanks for your AWESOME contributions to this dialogue. Your perspective really opened things up and is hugely appreciated. I'm learning so much all the time. :)

webmamma5000 said...

Dahlink, just wait until menopause when you suddenly become hungry all the time and your body starts to morph on it's own. All these little diet changes stop working and you've got to mean it when it comes to losing weight. I'm watching all my friends balloon 20 pounds and when yoga wasn't enough for me to lose weight I had to hit the regular gym for a spell to get it off!

The wonderful thing--and the hard thing--about yoga is that with the balancing your body just adjusts itself to your wieght. To seriously lose weight your body has to be out of balance to an extent to be allowing a continued deficit of calories-to-energy-expended.

That said, yoga is really great at helping even out the hormonal swings and dealing with the insomnia. It is also the bomb when it comes to stretching out so that weightlifting and aerobics don't create tears and injuries. And for MAINTAINING weight once you're there.

Maybe if you keep up with the yoga and eating well you'll never have the indignity I did of suffering through embarrassing menopausal weight gain.

thedancingj said...

I will absolutelyl take your word for it!! Nothing trumps experience! :) I am still a couple decades away from that experience, not gonna lie. Though I must say, I saw Emmy today and she is looking very svelte in her black leotard at 80+ and can kick anyone's butt, so that gives me lots of optimism for life after menopause.