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May 07, 2009

International No Diet Day

Damn! YESTERDAY was International No Diet Day, but I didn't hear about it until today. TODAY is Claire No Diet Day.

Just kidding. I'm just saying that because I went to the dentist this morning and, to reward myself, had a second breakfast at a favorite diner nearby. WITH a cheesy YA vampire book. Lotsa naughty.

I just wanna say a couple of things about dieting. First of all, there's nothing wrong with being on a diet. Any healthy eating regime is a diet, whether you're trying to lose weight, keep weight off, or just feel good. In fact, if you're overweight or obese and not trying to eat healthy, you're also on a diet ... just a really bad diet.

If you're alive, you have a diet ... you're ON a diet. It's the kind of diet you're on, the way you approach eating, and most importantly, your attitude towards eating, exercising, and feeling healthy that's at issue, not your diet.

I tell a tale of two friends. One had a mother with an eating disorder who put her on a diet for the first time when she was eleven years old. Years later I had to be careful not to ever initiate a conversation with her about food, exercise, or health. She would get a gleam in her eye, and start spouting the latest diet advice -- in great detail -- as if it were not only gospel truth, but also salvation. If she got a good head of steam on her, she could talk for hours about this stuff. But the details would change at least once a year, with each fad diet. And she never lost weight, because her problem wasn't really what she ate. Yet she continued, year in and year out, to pursue whatever diet fad was happening, and to talk like she believed in it. It was an item of faith. Also, she never really did exercise.

The other friend was dealing with some mental health issues and decided at one point to get healthy. Given her status as a member of American society, she had a lot of false notions about dieting and losing weight floating around in her head. At one point she told me (somewhat hesitantly) that she was trying to diet and lose weight. And she told me how. I gave her a few pointers (you know: make sure you're eating ENOUGH; eat more, smaller meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up; trade out simple carbs for complex) in an effort to be genuinely helpful. She listened, tried them out. She also found a personal trainer and started going to the gym. Naturally, she lost about 40 pounds over the course of a year and kept it off for another year. She's still struggling with mental health and has had setbacks, but her attitude towards addressing diet and exercise was that it was all part of her overall health.

I'm sure all of you have a friend or acquaintance like the first one. This is someone you either avoid bringing up a particular subject with, or avoid completely. Their attitude to eating and weight is unhealthy, and uncomfortable. And they don't realize it. These are the people that No Diet Day is aimed at, the ones who think diets will solve their weight problem/problems.

Many of you may have a friend or acquaintance like the second one as well, although you might not know it. Usually when people get serious about getting healthy or losing weight, they don't run around telling everyone. They, like Nike, just do it. They'll talk about it a little with close friends, if they think those friends can help with advice or support. Otherwise, they keep it to themselves ... much in the way that most people keep the details of their family lives to themselves: it's nobody's business.

The latter type is the type of person who SHOULD be dieting: because they only diet when they've gotten unhealthy and overweight, and they only diet to get healthy again.

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