When I was at the dentist today getting a teeth cleaning (talk about an example of self-care that I SO do not enjoy) I saw a commercial for a weight loss program offering this promise:
"Join now and lose twenty pounds for twenty dollars!"
I haven't had cable television in my home for the past few years, and today this ad reinforced why I don't miss it at all. Without it, I am able to shelter myself from these intrusive messages to some extent, at least while I'm at home.
It makes me angry. It's dishonest. It sucks people in with a false promise of inexpensive, permanent weight loss. It preys on people's insecurities with the goal of increasing profits and not improving health.
Most importantly, it doesn't work. Not for the vast majority of people. Think of your own experiences. How many times have you lost and regained (or watched someone else lose and regain) the same twenty pounds? How many times have we watched Oprah lose and regain the same 20 or 30 or 40 pounds over the last thirty years?
And how do we know for sure that losing twenty pounds is the best thing for us? Do we know for sure that it will improve our health, even if we are one of the rare few who manages to sustain that weight loss over time (hopefully beating the odds even further and not developing disordered eating symptoms doing so?)
How will our health be affected if we lose and regain the twenty pounds over and over? Will we be worse off than if we'd just made peace the the twenty pounds in the first place? The answer is most definitely yes.
If we bought a beautiful sweater and it fell apart in the wash a few months later, and we bought another sweater from the same brand that did the same thing, would we continue to buy from this brand? Would we try a different style or a different colour of sweater from that same brand hoping the outcome would be different? If they continued to fall apart, would we continue for years and years buying different sweaters from that same brand? Would we buy a new washing machine, hoping that this would solve the problem? Would we criticize ourselves for not being careful enough, no matter how carefully we followed the washing instructions?
My new online course that I just launched earlier in the month, Unlearning to Eat, costs twenty dollars a month. You can join at anytime throughout the year, and you can also stop at any time if you're not feeling it. It does not come with a seductive promise of a quick fix, a brand new and improved you, or a step-by-step plan to follow on auto-pilot.
Instead, it offers a way off of the losing/regaining twenty pounds (or endless sweater buying) merry-go-round. It offers an opportunity to really understand your own eating habits, patterns, influences, and feelings about food and your body - understand them and re-program them to a kinder and more flexible pattern of thinking. There is no step-by-step plan because this kind of work is not straightforward - it is messy and chaotic and emotionally charged. It is putting one foot in front of the other, taking tiny micro-steps in the direction you want to go, exploring the journey with curiosity and kindness and forgiveness. It is learning to turn away from the quest to be perfect. It is learning to accept, respect and appreciate your body as it is here today. It is learning to find the pleasure in eating that was lost years ago. It is calling a truce with your body, and shifting perspective from weight loss to overall good mental and physical health.
If this calls to you, I invite you to read more. And if it doesn't, I invite you to mute the television or turn the channel when the weight loss ads intrude on your peaceful world.