Years ago, a reader told me that they admired me because I had stuck with my low-carb diet even though it had not given me the body of my dreams. Surely you’re familiar with the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I don’t care if you’re a praying person or not, nor to whom you pray if you are. But there is something important here.
Growing Up OverweightWhen I was a kid, I desperately wanted to look like my Skipper doll. (Is Skipper still around? She was Barbie’s little sister.) I wanted to look like the girls in the magazines. I wanted clothes to fit me the way they fit Skipper, the way they fit the models in Young Miss and Tiger Beat (yes, I am that old).
They never did, and I never did. I could grow my hair to look more like Skipper’s, and I could even lose weight – I was on Weight Watchers starting at age eleven. But the hip clothes just didn’t look so hip on my body. I went straight from having the body of a child to having the body of a matron; I never had a gamine phase.
Flash forward twenty-five years or so, to a size 20 Dana discovering low carb. The pounds fell off, my body shrunk, I got down to a size 12. But so many cool clothes still didn’t look on me the way they looked on many other women. Fortunately, as an adult I understood why.
Here are the jokes: I’m built like a fire hydrant. Blessedly, I am a considerably smaller fire hydrant than I used to be. But I could go through a famine and I would not come out willowy; I would come out an emaciated fire hydrant.
I take after my father, and through him, my Grandma Helen. I’m short and stocky. My waist is ridiculously short – I can touch both my bottom rib and the top of my hipbone with one fingertip. I have a barrel-shaped ribcage and short arms. I have a sizable rack (that’s where Grandma comes in). I have the classic “apple body” that comes with metabolic syndrome; even when I was a size 20 my butt and thighs weren’t that big; fat goes to my gut.
The things we can change and the things we cannot.
I could and did change my diet, my mental and physical health, my size. I learned to dress to flatter the body I have. But my skeleton? That sucker is literally graven in stone. There’s no changing it.
So there it is: my low-carb diet cannot give me the body of my dreams. Nor can exercise. Hell, radical surgery couldn’t do it, and pain, risk, and expense aside, at sixty-three it seems beside the point.
Should I give up? Since I’m approaching my twenty-seventh Lowcarbiversary, obviously I think not. I have changed what I could, and as I age I will only fight harder to maintain my health. I have accepted what I cannot change.
But what about the wisdom to know the difference? I know from experience that I could get down to a size 10 if I Fat-Fasted two to three days per week; I’ve done it. Got stellar bloodwork, too. But it accords ill with writing cookbooks, except Fat Fast cookbooks, of course, and I don’t care to change careers. I also suspect that if I gave up my couple of glasses of dry red wine in the evenings I would drop another ten pounds or so. Ask me if it’s worth it to me. Those are things I could change but have decided not to.
Low-Carb Serenity Prayer
So what can and can’t change? A low carb diet/weight loss cannot, for instance, save a faltering relationship, or if it can it’s a relationship that really needed to die in the first place. But can mental stability from better nutrition make you a happier person and thus improve relationships that are already solid? Yes, yes it can. It can also give you the confidence and energy to insist on better treatment or to walk.
Can losing weight save your career? Depends on the career, but unless you’re a plus-sized model it sure can’t hurt. (And in the fashion world “plus-sized” modeling starts at size 12 anyway <eyeroll>.)
Eating right, which for so many of us means avoiding carbage, can make you slimmer, healthier, happier, more energetic, and more confident. That has been enough for me. I urge you to let it be enough for you.
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