The Anti-Diet Age

by Anne Bennett on August 9, 2017

The word diet has become a four-letter word.

According to the cover story in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Losing It: Life in the diet-age when you’re not supposed to try to lose weight because there’s not supposed to be any shame in not being skinny unless of course you’re fat, we are all suffering from the same malaise: “diet fatigue.”

The new mantra of overweight people who want to shed pounds is: “Yes, I want to eat healthy. No, I’m not on a diet.” People now say they want to pursue “wellness.” They want to “go on a cleanse”  and “eat clean,” which means they want to lose weight but they don’t want to use the word “diet.” Same goal, different words.

The covers of women’s magazines no longer use buzz-phrases like, “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days.” They now say: Be your healthiest and Get fit! Be strong and proud!

Why the change of focus? Diets don’t work. Americans are more overweight than ever. But they have become weary of the same-old, same-old: going on a diet, losing some weight and then gaining it all back, plus some, once they go off the diet. It begs the obvious question: “Is a diet successful if it stops being successful once you’re done with it?”

The Weight Watchers company is figured prominently in the article. WW realized long ago that although their plan worked while members followed the program, it backfired as soon as they returned to their old lifestyles. Focusing on just the number on the scale worked only while members attended meetings where they were weighed in. A new approach was needed in order to get long-term positive results.

Oprah was brought on-board with her powerful message of body acceptance. However, she modified her message when she realized that accepting your overweight self may be putting your body at physical risk. Oprah admitted in the article that when she weighed 200 pounds, her heart had to “pump, pump, pump, pump” and that’s too much work for the heart — it causes high blood pressure. Her weight also put her at risk for diabetes. Accepting yourself, then, must mean something more than accepting your overweight body. It must also mean respecting your body enough to take care of it. Eating healthy food is an integral part of the process. A new holistic Weight Watchers program that centers on our overall health and wellbeing accompanied Oprah’s participation, and thus far it’s been much more successful in sustainable weight loss.

Truth be known, it’s all about the tough-love saying that’s been going around WW meetings: Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. Maintaining weight is hard. Choose your hard.


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