On Monday my local newspaper ran the following opinion piece. I hope the link to the article is still open and that you’ll take a moment to read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
I emailed the author, Dr. Anshel and told him my story. He wrote the most wonderful, encouraging response. Then he told me that basically, he stands by his pessimism. I didn’t write him to change his mind. Sadly I agree with him. Here are a few reasons why:
- When people ask me how I’ve lost weight I tell them, “I eat clean, I exercise A LOT, and I work on the emotional issues I used to binge over.” I’m often met with disappointed looks because I didn’t share a big ol’ magical secret to easy weight loss.
- Each year I witness the January surge at my local Y. By Valentine’s Day the crowds are gone.
- Withdrawal. People like me who are addicted to certain substances (for me, sugar and white flour products) will go through withdrawal when eliminating them from the diet. In my experience the first three days are horrific and the first 30 days are no fun. I don’t think the subject of withdrawal is discussed often enough. Sugar addicts simply must be prepared for this.
- We are a pill-popping society. I wish drug companies didn’t advertise on television. Lay people who don’t know the first thing about pharmacology go running to their doctors screaming for the “purple pill.” (Note: I’m 100% in favor of taking prescription drugs when they are needed. But I am convinced that as a society, we are over-medicated.)
- It’s a part of our human nature to avoid discomfort. A new exercise program can be uncomfortable in the beginning. I almost threw up the first time I took a Boot Camp class. Believe me, I was uncomfortable!
- People are impatient. “If I can’t lose weight like a Biggest Loser contestant, I might as well eat the pizza. All of it.” It’s taken me a year and a half to lose 79.5 pounds. That’s slow, people. But it takes what it takes.
I don’t know why things finally “clicked” for me. I take that back. I finally realized that I can’t diet. Yes, I’m following the South Beach Diet but I view it as a food plan…not a diet. There is a difference. I have to work on my various “isms” and for me disordered eating is an ism. I only have a daily reprieve from it. I view each day of abstinence as a precious gift.
Dr. Anshel and I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong for being pessimistic. I’m one of the lucky ones. I “got it” before my unhealthy lifestyle “got me.” But again, I only have a daily reprieve.
I’m interested in your feedback, especially my fellow Tennesseans. Our state is one of the nation’s most obese. Can we turn things around? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?