Let me start by saying that I've come a long, long way on the issue of weight loss, from being an adolescent in the skinny 70s with a curvy (but healthy) body who was convinced she was fat, to a miserable and very unhealthy young woman with an eating disorder, to a fat woman who was healthy and active and liked herself and went ahead and lived her life, to deciding a little under two years ago that I wanted to lose weight. Since that day I've lost 118 pounds and am happy, enjoying my life, and feeling terrific.
However great I feel and however much peace of mind I have over my decision about my own weight, I still feel extremely uncomfortable, and even outraged, at much of what I see in weight loss support groups and on the weight loss email lists.
There is an epidemic of poisonous thought and language among women concerned about their weight. It ranges from coy declarations of "naughtiness" to calling eating off your chosen plan "cheating" or "illegal," all the way to women who say they stay on plan by looking at themselves "naked in the mirror and grabbing big handfuls of fat" on their thighs and screaming at themselves that they are "disgusting, weak, and revolting." Or advising the motivational strategy of taking a photo of one's cellulite or double chin and blowing it up and posting it on the refrigerator door.
I will tell you right now, no one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever made positive, permanent change in their life motivated by self-disgust and self-loathing. I can guarantee that hating your body and trying to use that hate to stop yourself from eating too much is a surefire way to trap yourself forever in self-destruction. If you're so disgusting and revolting, why should you or anyone else care about your health or happiness? This is not just a doomed strategy, it will make things worse. I promise it.
Nor do we become healthy, well-balanced adults by pretending to be "good" or "bad" little girls, offering up our behavior for a gold star or a black mark to other members of our support group or email list. I'm frankly so disgusted by this whole frame of "goodness" and "badness" about how we eat that it's all I can do not to crawl through the computer and scream at some of these women to GROW UP. I mean, being a naughty schoolgirl works for Wonkette pretty well, but I think the rest of us need to try something else.
What you eat is your decision, and if you have gone out and done something you had previously decided not to do, the only useful thing to do is figure out what happened and how to avoid it in the future. Giggling that you've been naughty is simply a way of making it not be your responsibility, because little girls aren't responsible for their actions. The thing is, are you a little girl or are you a woman?
I wish I could get inside the brains of these women and get them to really understand what it means when you create categories of food and call them "forbidden" and "illegal." When you say you've been "good" or "bad." We aren't children or prisoners. We are adults, responsible for our own lives. Food is not bad, it's not forbidden, it's not illegal. If you want to eat until you explode and live on chips and salsa, NO ONE WILL STOP YOU.
And if you want to step out of that whole way of thinking, and enter into another way of looking at your body, your kitchen, your trips to the market, the very act of taking nourishment into your body.... of seeing eating as a gift and an act of love to yourself.... no one will stop you from doing that either.
Yoda really was right when he said "There is no try, there is only do." You either live how you want to live or you don't. Failing yourself isn't a reason to blow your brains out, but it's also nothing to giggle over.