Even as more and more Americans become obese, our feelings about weight don't seem to budge. If you're heavy, you're still likely to hear intrusive comments. You may still feel ignored by doctors or employers. You may still struggle to fine nice clothes. It doesn't seem to matter if 64 percent of American women are now overweight (one third, "obese"). Worse, the message that weight loss will follow if you'd just eat this or think that only increases the stigma-as we all come to mistakenly believe that weight loss should be easy, a simple matter of choice. As the last "Thin From Within" noted, it's hard to feel good about yourself when the world seems to dislike you. And it's hard to feel good about yourself, in addition, if you try to change and repeatedly fail. People repeatedly "fail" at weight loss for myriad reasons. However, one of those reasons is this very set of negative attitudes.
A Buddhist-inspired saying holds that "what we resist persists". And that acceptance opens the door to change. These ideas meet horrified reactions when it comes to weight: "But it's not healthy!".... "I can't accept it!".... "I don't want to stay like this!"
Let's look at this, though, in practical terms. You want to change some habits, some behaviors, that heartily resist change. Doing so, you may frequently feel hungry and uncomfortable. To stick with and succeed with the new, you'll need to care for yourself in new ways. You might need to find new methods of soothing and calming yourself, or new routines to fill your idle time. You might need to be assertive with others, around diet as well as other matters. You'll need to reward yourself, without food, and prop yourself up when the going gets tough. You'll have to think of your own needs and plan in advance to make sure they're met. Does this sound like something you could do if you were hating yourself? If you were impatient?
Unfortunately, one's self-confidence and sense of worth get battered by negative food and weight attitudes. The very qualities you might need to start on the rocky change process get worn down. If you want to tackle the project of weight loss, the knowledge that you're a capable and deserving person must gain strength. Ideally it can coexist with the knowledge that you would, at the same time, like to make some changes. If there are things about your body or your eating habits that you don't like, in others words, you've got to separate those notions from who you are fundamentally as a person. None of us are perfect. We all struggle, and this particular struggle is an easy one to fall into--given our physical and emotional make-up, and given the food environment in which we live.
Over the years, a strong fat acceptance movement has coalesced. It is, indeed, extremely important for heavy people not to blame and hate themselves, nor to put their lives "on hold" until they lose weight. And those who speak for the acceptance movement are right in pointing out problems with diets-weight loss either doesn't occur or doesn't last for many people. However, disease statistics stand firm-obesity does link to hypertension, diabetes, and other ailments. Health and quality of life usually do improve with fitness and weight loss, even if that loss is modest. The goal of eating more healthfully remains worthy. People don't need to match an ideal chart weight, or to become a size 8, to benefit. Fat acceptance forums rarely leave room for those who, yes, want to feel better about themselves exactly as they are, but also don't want to completely abandon weight loss efforts.
When you talk to people who've kept weight off after years of struggle, their words often reveal that they've indeed reached some balance between self-acceptance and the push for change. Here is Joanne, who was heavy since childhood. She lost over 70 pounds three years ago. "Find what works for you and stick with it. If you get off, get back on." She adds, "I don't care what's going on, or who else is eating what, I know exactly which foods get me going overboard. I go out of my way to make sure I always have what I need with me."
"I get really irritated now," says Patricia, "when people make a big deal over all the weight I've lost. It's as if I wasn't as good before. They have no idea what goes into trying so hard for so many years. This was a tough road. I did it for me."
Nadine says, "I was always a big girl. I'll never be a size 12. But I think I look good, and I feel good. This 170 lbs. works for me. I can maintain it without being crazy. I'll never go back to crazy again."
Dr. Katz’ workbook, Eat Sanely: Get off the Diet Roller Coaster for Good, is available in paperback, or as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, or ipad: www.eatsanely.com/order-the-eat-sanely-weight-loss-workbook