Non-Dieting Advice From Anne Lamott

Because it wasn’t good for me, over 30 years ago I stopped dieting. Eventually I learned how to focus on my own decision-making regarding healthy eating and exercise versus following somebody else’s plan devised to produce somebody else’s weight loss. In other words, the idea of non-dieting was born.

Periodically, though, when my pants get too tight at the waistline, my mind automatically revisits the dieting notion. Like a recovering alcoholic who sometimes wonders if he or she can ever drink again, or like Oprah, I sometimes wonder what’s really so bad about following something like Weight Watchers, at least to get a good kick start.

But that would be wrong. For me. What I really need is support, from myself and from others who get it, to persevere with the non-dieting approach that’s been so much healthier for me.

And without even looking, just at the right moment I found it, my first fix, a viral post written by Anne Lamott that supports the non-dieting philosophy.

It turns out Lamott, one of my favorite authors, has been reissuing the same year-end Anti-Diet on Facebook at least a few years running. Addressing would-be January 1st dieters, Lamott says, “I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, ‘Oh, that’s great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?'”

Because, of course, that’s what happens to most successful dieters. Years ago it happened to me repeatedly, in fact. Noted nutrition counselor and advocate of “intuitive eating” Evelyn Tribole agrees: “Dieting increases your risk of gaining MORE weight.”

As Lamott reports, “Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: ‘Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?’ Here is what’s true: diets make you fat. 95% of the time, we gain it back, plus 5 lbs.”

Below, more selected quotes from Lamott pertinent to non-dieting:

…Can you put away your tight pants? Wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, with random thoughts about my butt.

By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor’s care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won’t work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five…

It’s really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It’s okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Unfortunately, it’s yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It’s within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it’s true.

…(Y)ou crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone.

Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems. Doing a three minute meditation every day will change your life. And naps are nice…

In summary and in addition, improve your relationships with food and your body your way. And when you decide to move your body, do something you enjoy, something you’ll keep doing because you want to.

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