No One Ever Makes A New Year’s Resolution Like This

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

No one ever makes a new year’s resolution like this:

“This year I resolve to find a product which will magically turn me thin, and I resolve to buy it.”

No one ever makes a new year’s resolution like this, either:

“This year I will find a magic expert to take over my life and by following them exactly I will lose weight.”

And yet, isn’t that exactly what the media tries to sell us? This morning I heard a television commercial for a national weight loss chain. The final “testimonial” quote from the satisfied customer was “They changed my life without changing the way I live.”

No One Ever Makes A New Year's Resolution Like This
Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

New Year’s Resolution: Think This Over With Me

If all I had to do was write a check, if I didn’t have to do anything whatsoever to change my behavior except write someone a check (because what after all is “the way I live” except my behavior?), and I would become slim and fit and attractive, what would that be worth? How much would you pay for that?

A thousand dollars? Easily. I would gratefully pay anyone a thousand dollars to make me slim, fit, and attractive without asking anything of me in order to accomplish that. You could probably even get your HMO to pay that if you were medically obese and it worked. Think of the money they would save in medical bills on you in the long run. They’d probably pay ten thousand dollars for that!

And if I were wealthy? Say, a superstar athlete’s wife coming off my third pregnancy? Would a hundred grand be too much to spend to keep his eye from wandering on those long road trips?

So, what do you figure the company in these commercials was charging? Forty-nine dollars.

That’s it. Forty-nine dollars. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Why don’t we all just do that? Pay them forty-nine dollars, keep our lives just the same, and become slim?

Well, we all know why. Because it doesn’t work. Even they don’t really mean that they can change our lives without changing anything about the way we live. We have to change how we eat.

I haven’t been to any of this company’s locations, they may even tell us to participate in exercise, and attend their support groups to achieve the weight loss. That sure sounds like changing the way I live to me.

And can we turn on the radio without hearing a disk jockey advertising some product that melts off the weight while we sleep? We can eat whatever we want, quietly glossing over the fact that we aren’t allowed to eat within three hours of bedtime. Are our memories so short that we can’t remember those same disk jockeys claiming the same seventeen pounds lost on a different product the year before?

New Year’s Resolutions: Diet Books and Infomercials

The New Atkins Made Easy
The diet books and infomercials, even for low carb don’t help any. Who hasn’t seen them advertised as working like a miracle, as capable of just melting the pounds away? As though our obesity was our own Wicked Witch of the West and if someone will just think to throw some water on it, it will be destroyed.

Now the truth is, that copious amounts of water are actually quite helpful in the dieting process. And many products really do help, at least a little, especially for some specific physiological conditions.

But I’ve got worse stories to tell. At least at that place you have to come up with forty-nine dollars. At least the pills cost money. But there are too many of us who want our weight loss handed to us on a silver platter, given to us for free.

We read the low carb books. They promise easy results. Or, at least, we gloss over the parts where they hint there might be further complications than what the advertising on the back cover promises. And we get started. We buy two hundred dollars worth of meat and cheese and heavy cream and sugar-free Jell-O, and we’re off.

We’re on a roll. Five pounds comes off the first week. We’ve conquered hunger, we feel we are in control of our destinies. Ketostix testing becomes our most expensive hobby, and we exult in the deep purple. Weight loss is coming to us on a silver platter; finally there is justice in the world.

The next week we lose two pounds. OK, not quite so good, but hey, we’re cool, we can take as slower pace.

Doubt creeps in. If we have been expecting a printed, published diet to be a miracle fix then, well, frankly, losing 2 pounds a week doesn’t seem so miraculous. When we lose nothing at all the next week, it seems downright unfair.

If we expect to find some formula, some exact combination of what foods and supplements to put in our bodies, then we begin to lose faith that we have yet found it. We go in search of a better miracle.

The trouble is that many of us don’t realize that we have to make our own miracles. We’re still looking for it “out there.” We want our weight loss handed to us on a silver platter; something that can be found if we just shop in the right store or find the right expert.

You can see this on any of the Internet low carb lists. Sometime come late January the questions start coming. Who knows if “Instant Washboard Abs” really works? What does everyone think of “Pick a Celebrity’s” latest plan? What can make me lose weight faster and easier?

On a good Internet list the answers start coming, too. In come the hordes of suggestions for this supplement or that. Somewhere in the din of replies someone will ask the questioner to post what they’ve been eating.

I can almost predict the eventual success of the dieter by whether or not, and in what tone they reply to all the responses. Are they most interested in the line of questioning that keeps the solution outside themselves? Or are they willing to look at what work they may need to do?

When I see five, ten, twenty successful long term low carbers give the same advice to the discouraged newcomer, it usually involves changing something about what they eat or how they eat it or how they relate to food on an emotional level in order to succeed. When I see that discouraged newcomer ignore them, then I know what’s coming next. In a few days he or she will ask “Has anybody tried taking “Magic-Fat-Be-Gone? How did it work?”

But you know, I have gotten to where I can almost guess ahead of time who’s going to go down that path.

Do they ask questions, the answers for which can be found in the dictionary on page four of Protein Power? Would any decent search engine give them a hundred sites on the word search? Do they ask a question that was asked and answered yesterday? Are they still complaining about their stall a month later without having done what the dozen concurring experts advised them? If so, I’m willing to bet that they are looking for someone or something to give their weight loss to them without even paying forty-nine dollars for it! Silver platters, optional?

On the other hand, after years on low carb Internet lists, I have seen another type of newcomer. Here is what their questions sound like. “I read this. I got this and this and this, and I am eating this and this and this. My symptoms are such and such. What am I doing wrong?”

Notice all those verbs in the first person singular? Notice all those personal pronouns? That’s a person who is willing to change the way they live in order to change their life. And I’ll bet good money that when the advice starts coming in to that person, they will try to follow it.

And if they find they cannot follow it, then they will ask themselves, “What is going on with me that I can’t do this?”

That person is going to get slim and fit and attractive. It won’t happen overnight. Their weight loss is more likely to be served up on a shovel than a silver platter. Long term, significant weight loss takes digging. And this is one of those situations where you can’t pay anyone else to dig for you.

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New Year’s Resolutions and the Low-Carb Lifestyle

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