So last week I made a list of things that make me stabby in the world of weight and eating issues. This week, some things I think make a lot more sense.
I am emphatically in favor of the following:
- Personal responsibility. In a "what goes in my mouth is 100% my business" way. Not in a gross Ayn Rand or "The Secret" kind of way. And not in a way that pretends we don't live in a world with broken food culture and a not-great food supply. In a "no one can do this for me" way.
- Real talk. For example:
- Facing facts about where the extra weight is coming from. (It’s what we’re EATING.)
- Not pretending that we can eat whatever we want and stay skinny, like that unicorn next door. If we're prone to weight gain, our choices about "addictive" kinds of foods are 1. little or 2. none. (Very different choices. For very different people.)
- Not kidding ourselves about how uncomfortable it is to break a habit. Being braced for uncomfortable.
- Going straight at it. I work with a lot of women who want to lose weight so they can …
Working your body, because exercise makes your body happy. Consider: weight ≠ physique ≠ body composition ≠ performance or capability. We often think that when we lose weight, we’ll be fit and toned and have cute knees and perky breasts and a high-and-mighty booty. Mmmmm … maybe! But probably there will still be work to do. Because weight loss is a result of not doing something - not eating too much of the wrong things. Physique is a result of actively doing something, which is working your body.
- wear what they love, not just what’s big enough
- "show Them" at a reunion or wedding
- feel good sitting on the beach (on Maui, why not?)
- feel good getting naked
- find a lover - or a better lover
- be rich, travel to Paris, wear expensive lingerie, and go to the opera
- or just ride around town in cute jeans on a cute bike with a baguette in the basket
Nothing wrong with any of that - except it might not happen magically, as a result of weight loss. What happens as a result of weight loss is that our bodies and our clothes get smaller. Which is, not gonna lie, often a good result. But it’s not the same as a ticket to Paris. Which you can start working on right now, while you lose some weight.
- Working your body, because exercise makes your body happy. Consider: weight ≠ physique ≠ body composition ≠ performance or capability. We often think that when we lose weight, we’ll be fit and toned and have cute knees and perky breasts and a high-and-mighty booty. Mmmmm … maybe! But probably there will still be work to do. Because weight loss is a result of not doing something - not eating too much of the wrong things. Physique is a result of actively doing something, which is working your body.
NB: Exercise doesn't do much to move the needle on the scale. But it works miracles for mood, and that can make all the difference for getting control of your eating.
- Doing it now. Tomorrow is the most popular time to start something. But the only potent time is now.
- No set amount of time to break a habit. It can happen instantly. I work with plenty of people who meet with me once, get started right away, and never binge again, The End.
- Addition over subtraction. It is just so much easier to focus on what you want than what you don't want. So much easier to bring good things into your diet, your day and your life than it is to 86 the bad things. Examples: Try adding more protein or fat instead of eliminating carbs. Try adding more walks instead of swearing off Netflix. Try dressing to please yourself today instead of eliminating 80% of your closet this weekend. This is a very simple reorientation with huge payoffs. And a lot of us get it backwards.
- Taking control of your personal food supply. A lot of our food is engineered for profit, not for health or even pleasure. A lot of our food isn't even food, really. Yes, there's something wrong with everything, and there aren't any true miracle foods, and we're all going to die. But some foods really are more healthy. Single-ingredient foods are always going to be better for your body than foods with 40 ingredients.
- Sovereignty. I’ve been doing this a while and have some pretty good guesses about what will happen if you do [X]. My job is to recommend what I think is your best course of action. You get to take my suggestions - or not! People vary, and you have to test things out for yourself.
- Dignity, self-respect, ease, flexibility, adaptability, invisibility, sustainability and a very light touch: All the reasons why I love the Riley method for overcoming overeating, as I wrote to you recently.
- Fat. Fat is not a disease process, or a bunch of useless waste matter we haven’t been able to flush yet. Fat is an active, vital part of us. We need it in our diets, on our bodies, and for our brains. A lack of fat is incompatible with the Good Life.
- Feminism. My feminism might not be everyone's feminism. But it's pretty solid, and it's very compatible with taking care of our bodies and our health.
Women’s bodies. They don’t matter much in our culture; not in the ways I would like to see. But they really matter to me.
Also: Pleasure, beauty, love, friendship, family, surprises, food, wine, dressing up, lingerie, lazy Sundays, beach walks, PARIS OF COURSE, London too, early church music, knitting, cheese plates, coffee in bed, Buffy and Veronica, reading every book titled How the Frenchwoman Does [Thing], using the good china, The Magicians, critical thinking, young adult fiction, Spoon, village life, bow blouses, the American Himalayan Foundation's Stop Girl Trafficking program, my alma mater (Wellesley), and those shrimp crackers that look like puffy little pink discs.