Diets are blasting messages more than usual this time of year making for such confusion on what to do to get back into shape. So many promises are made, such as, if you do this or you do you’ll drop ten pounds in two weeks or fifty pounds thirty days only to find none of the suggestions are working for you.
Perhaps it’s because diets don’t work. What does work is changing your relationship with food, exercise and overall healthy lifestyle.
Mary, a fairly new patient, bolted through the waiting room sprinting to my office like she was running a 10 K marathon. Breathless, she plopped down sinking deep into the nutmeg brown couch, perspiration trickling down her face, announcing, “I’m starting a 500 calorie diet to get rid of this weight once and for all!,” as she grabbed a fist full of fat from her expanded waist. As I listened to Mary promise with such conviction on how she would lose her weight—that she owned the “secret” to drop weight quickly, I felt Mary’s pain and urgency. Not only do I understand Mary, I lived her desperation—starting and ending every fad diet imaginable for over 30 years of my life.
I promised to lose the weight—that I had the quick weight loss secret. One hundred pounds heavier after a series of diets brought me to my knees begging for a transformation.
When I explain to patients what’s really going on with desperate dieting, followed by binge eating, I often see a twinkle in their eye as they nod, bobbing their head like a dolphin dancing on the ocean top delighted real direction is coming.
Mary is a food addict.
As she begins to “get it” she has an Oprah “light bulb moment!” realizing that her up and down weight loss is not her fault, but rather from years of dieting and addictive eating.
Today, especially the first weeks of January, promises of food restriction, clamping teeth shut, determined to eat 500 calories a day, is a recipe for disaster.
Let’s be clear: There’s no such diet or trick or secret as losing 20, 40, 60 or whatever number of pounds you want to lose in a few short weeks and or months. Mary’s 500 calorie diet sets her up for quick weight loss followed by quick weight gain. I know, been there done that a million times.
Let’s start with four points:
When I was in the food I promised I would stop. I too vowed to lose the weight and never binge again.
I meant it!
Once I dropped some weight and started looking good I fell deep into a binge. It wasn’t until I realized I had to let go of the addictive foods I became free of the obsessions and cravings.
It’s not a question of will power but rather of letting go of an addiction to specific foods. As simple as it sounds it worked. My weight corrected and I am free of cravings.
Many patients I work with also are free from cravings and have returned to their normal weight. I wish I could say they all followed my path, but truth be told, many are on the same ride as Mary, believing there’s a quick fix often losing only to gain more weight than what they started with.
Successful patients have a clear understanding it’s a process and that it takes time if they want to enter long-term success. Eat balanced meals one day at a time is the ticket to recovery. Although I did not hear specific talk about spiritual recovery, Mary is beginning to echo thoughts regarding some Higher Force to carry her through the process. She grasps it’s not about the food, nor is it about the weight, it’s an addiction to food. It is about turning to a physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery.
Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.