And The Oscar Goes To…

We all know what it feels like to be overweight. The self-disgust. The shame. The exhaustion. Unpleasant physical symptoms abound; maybe we even have to have our blood taken regularly to test for diabetes. A trip to the doctor’s office includes the inevitable rationalizations about heavy clothing as we step on the scale and later dire pronouncements of doom and gloom from the doctor if we don’t do something.

We all know what it feels like to start a diet. The excitement. The hope. The long, complicated grocery list, and that uplifting, adventuresome feeling of endless, uncharted possibilities opening up before us.

Then, just when things get going little smoothly, along come the cravings. We start the battle, the crusade to find the perfect substitute: a low carb cookie, a way to drink champagne and have the carbs not count.

We all know what it feels like to cheat on a diet. The guilt. The subterfuge. The endless rounds of mental mathematics as we find ways to numerically rationalize our indulgence. The mental gymnastics as we begin to think that maybe our bodies were screaming for those foods because we really do need them. And, of course, the pure eroticism of the actual dietary indulgence.

We all know the feelings of a long plateau. The frustration mixed with a sense of mystery as we go about unraveling our own little what-done-it.

We all know what it feels like to lose weight. The exhilaration. The pride. Maybe there’s even a touch of exhibitionism as we put ourselves in skimpy clothes or have our belly buttons pierced to show off our new flat tummies.

And that’s just our own feelings..

What about all our interactions with other people? There is that authoritarian doctor who tries to scare us. Our girlfriends who commiserate with us and then swap cookie recipes. And let’s not even talk about the high drama of in our love lives

Getting to goal weight is like winning an Academy Award. The accolades are deafening. We have new opportunities, and new offers come at us from the left and right.

But are we really prepared for what it’s like to lose weight and keep it off? Do we really know what’s it going to be like? Two and a half years after hitting goal weight, I think I can sum it up in one word:


It’s boring. There are just so many new recipes to try, and guess what? There really aren’t all that many foods we can add back. At least it seems that way, because the foods we can add back are invariably the ones that never excited us much anyway.

But maybe we don’t notice it right away.

Maybe for the first time in our lives we’re dating – a lot. Maybe for the first time in years we have the courage to end an unhealthy relationship. Maybe we start on that new career or educational path that we never thought would be open to us. Maybe we take on an exercise goal.

Shakespeare said that all the world’s a stage and all the people players. Certainly many of us thrive on lives of high drama. And everything about the process of becoming obese and everything about the process of losing weight can be very dramatic.

Sooner or later, though, we’re going to stop getting interesting roles. Day in and day out we eat our chicken wings and wear our size 8s. We break a six minute mile on the track, or we lift 100 pounds and….. and then, what next?

At this point, many of us descend from the lofty heights of feature films to bit parts in a soap opera. We begin to cheat on the diet. We don’t cheat enough for it to be noticed by the whole world, but it’s just enough to get that rush of disgust and shame. And it is such relief to break out of the boredom that we again put ourselves through all the cycles of weight gain and weight loss in five or ten pound increments until we begin to feel like drama queens on Sunset Boulevard again. Or maybe we make a joke out of the whole cycle and become the dietary equivalent of those perennial stars on the syndicated game shows on television.

This can go on for years.

Even more dangerously, we may begin to seek the high drama we miss elsewhere. We become thrill seekers, and we are never satisfied with the status quo. Perhaps a few of us are led into worthy endeavors as a result of this addiction to drama, and if you are I salute you, but most of us are not.

How many of us, upon losing weight and managing to keep it off, find ourselves picking fights with our loved ones or our coworkers? How many of us take up high risk activities?

My own experience has been a little bit of everything. I have taken on new challenges; I have tried new things. I have gotten into new relationships, and I have taken them deeper than I have ever gone before. I have gotten into exercise; I have gone back to school.

But I still get bored.

And darned if I don’t find myself pushing the limits of the diet, gaining a few pounds and then taking them back off. If I catch myself doing that, I stop, and the next thing I know I’m picking a fight with someone I love.

Do you remember playing those staring games as a kid? Whoever blinked first lost. That’s the answer to my boredom problem. I need to learn how to stare boredom down. It turns out that that’s an important skill in our weight loss and weight maintenance repertoire. It’s not flashy, it’s not “fun,” but it’s necessary.

I haven’t won this one yet. Persevering is not dramatic. Beating boredom is more like waging a siege than waging a battle. And I think it will be my most challenging role.

You know the kind of movie role I’m talking about? Nobody really enjoys the film but in the end the actress gets to flutter her eyelashes and say…..

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Sex And Food

There are certain instinctive drives that all human beings share. Hunger is one of them. Eating is necessary for our survival as individuals, so we eat. We can't live without eating, so the drive to eat is hardwired into our psyches. As individuals, we can live without sex, but as a species we cannot, so that drive is also hardwired into our psyche.

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