I’m a diet expert. No, really. I lived with an obese person for nearly 20 years and we experienced every diet known to man. My wife was between 50 to 150 pounds overweight during that timeframe. Though I can’t possibly remember all of them, I know she tried Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Slimfast, the Grapefruit diet, the Egg diet, the Zone, Adkins, and other carb-less plans. With varying degrees of success, she lost between 10 and 65 pounds with each diet over the two decades of attempts, gaining back all of the losses and then some. During that time, I finally learned why they all failed, which I will now share.
It goes back to the very core of two issues: why my wife was overweight and what it means to ‘diet. ’ Let’s examine the former. I have a simple answer: My wife was addicted to food. More specifically, to sugary or starchy foods. She avoided the good foods like fruits, vegetables. and proteins. Instead, she gravitated, drawn by some unseen magnet, to the snacks and fattening variety of processed foods. Desserts were the culprits, but her love of pasta, potatoes, and bread, wasn’t too far behind. As she ate what she desired, her weight grew. She totally understood the process of her weight gain, yet, was helpless to control her appetite for the exact wrong type of nutrition. That’s the definition of an addict.
So on to the ‘diet. ’ She and I hated the word. She hated when I suggested it and I hated having to broach the subject. Yet, every once in a while, it came up. She would try whatever was popular at the moment. With a renewed sense of urgency and some optimism that this was the ‘one’ that would finally succeed, she would take the plunge. Sometimes I was recruited to chart her results. We calculated her progress and projected her potential weight loss based on the diet’s claims. I was always encouraging and ate the same foods or followed the same restrictions. Not that I needed to lose weight mind you, but I was her partner in all aspects of our lives, including this.
So, you already can guess the outcome. Each one held a promise and hope, only to be dashed somewhere between the second and fifth month, on average. She would eventually hit the proverbial ‘brick wall. ’ She was unable to eat another grapefruit, egg, or protein shake or attend another Weight Watcher’s meeting. For whatever reason, she couldn’t continue. It was as if her brain had a built-in trigger mechanism that kicked in after a predetermined period. But there was something else.
After a certain time of rapid losses, the amount began to slow, almost to a stop. The earlier signs of success became elusive. As the next few weeks crept by and the weight remained the same, she became discouraged. Eventually, with all her hope gone, she reverted to her old ways and the diet was officially over. I understood the problem. The diet followed a calendar that my wife refused to acknowledge. She wanted more immediate gratification and failed to accept the lifelong commitment necessary to achieve permanent weight loss. So time was the enemy, and still is, for all dieters everywhere.
The problem is evident with the very idea of a diet: meaning there’s a beginning and an ending. While it’s true that losing weight must start sometime, it doesn’t actually have to end at all. In fact, it shouldn’t. The process of maintaining a proper weight is a daily duty that must be practiced the way someone brushes their teeth or takes a shower. So, if someone thinks that they will lose weight via a diet, they’re right. But, once the diet ends, are they willing to change their lifestyle to keep the weight from returning? That’s the real question and the one that kills the diet as a solution to permanent weight loss. Myth busted!
Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the Phoenix. " His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages" which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com . Currently, he is the Marketing Director for thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.