Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Several members of my family were life-long dieters, and their letters really show it. They discuss the number of calories in every type of food, crazy new fad diets (that are now 40 years old and long since disproved), their eternal battle with the scale, details of their exercise regimens, etc. I’ve read it all, and been deeply saddened.
Just as a side note, I’m guilty of this obsession, too. My first diary, begun at the tender age of 8, has entries about food and exercise plans, and expresses my hatred for my chubby cheeks and tummy. Looking back now, I think it’s so sad—I was just a kid! I should’ve been writing about school and friends, and playing outside rather than doing sit-ups secretly in my bedroom.
What have I learned from these letters and photos?
1) Diets don’t work.
If you restrict calories too much, your body goes into starvation mode. Your metabolism slows, because your body is tricked into thinking that food is scarce, and it must store any incoming calories as fat. When you “cheat” (or just go back to normal, healthy eating habits), your body stores this food as fat. So you go up a size and cry and start over again on another crash diet. (Ok, I didn’t learn this from letters—I already knew the science behind it. I just saw the cycle documented in the letters, over and over again)
2) There’s more to life than size.
While I’m all for being a healthy weight, I think it’s even more important to have a healthy attitude towards weight. Obsessing about weight has never made anybody happy (look at Karen Carpenter, Kate Moss, Carnie Wilson, etc.). Enjoying life and love and food has made a lot of people happy (i.e. anybody in Italy, Paula Deen, my Great-Grandma Trout, etc.).
3) Some guys like their women "plump"...
like my grandpa. When his wife was worried about dieting and losing baby weight, he told her she should eat whatever she wants--"Don't worry, I like you plump, the way you were when I met you." That glimpse into my grandpa's taste in women grossed me out, but I also thought it was nice that he didn't pressure her.
4)...while some guys are just jerks.
When a certain family member who shall remain nameless was dating her future husband, she wrote to her family, "he's been teasing me about being fat, so I'm going on a diet." I wanted to reach back in time and wring her neck. If a guy teases you about being fat, dump him. He's bad news.
Perfect segue into the next big topic...