17 day diet my ass!

9 Jan

Ok – I watch Dr. Phil. I know, it’s a show that is at times ridiculous, incredibly preachy, and cheesy on many levels. But I watch it. Sue me.

Today I saw the episode kicking off the shill-a-thon that is the “17 day diet challenge”, and I’m pissed off.

This man is supposed to be a mental health professional and it’s seriously upsetting to me that he’s pimping out this BS program.

I’ll start by saying this: weight issues are solved not by changing what you eat (though of course that is something you need to do). Weight issues are caused by emotional eating. They are a symptom! Not the problem.

And the fact that this supposed mental health professional basically ignores this  in what he preaches is incredibly upsetting to me.

I’ve written here before about my own struggles with my weight. Since the age of 17, I’ve been yo-yoing between 120 pounds and 190 pounds.

I gain the weight, go on a diet, lose the weight, and then gain it again.

Now that I have some clarity – it’s obvious to me why this happens.

I was depressed, I suffered from extreme anxiety. I self-medicated with food.

I was raised to see food as a comfort. I celebrated with food, I mourned with food, I ate and ate “because I deserved it”.

I do not know one single person who is overweight, that does not also have problems with depression, anxiety, and/or low self-esteem. Not one. I literally ran through every person I know who has weight issues, and they all meet this criteria.

Since going on zoloft, and beginning to deal with my emotional issues, I have lost weight, and I’ve done so without even trying. I don’t have the urge to binge anymore, I’m not obsessed with food, and I no longer eat until I’m stuffed – only until I’m full.

I realize that especially because of my high cholesterol and high blood pressure I need to take more steps to eat healthier, and I need to exercise more. I’m working on it, step by step, and getting better at it every day.

There is no magic diet. You lose weight by eating healthy and moving your body. It’s not rocket science, yet people struggle with it all the time.

“Dr” Phil showed taped segments of the competitors in this 17 diet whatever, and each one of them mentioned, at least in passing, going through some tragedy in their lives, becoming overweight as a result of a major life change, or emotional eating.

Yet for some reason – nobody even brought up the thought that treating these people’s obvious issues with depression would be a far better approach – instead of making them run through tires on national television.

Yes – of course they need to learn how to eat healthier and exercise – but when you’re depressed, or feeling bad about yourself – are you really going to be able to find the motivation to get off your fat ass and do something about it? Of course not!

Losing weight is about loving yourself – it’s about saying to yourself “I deserve to be pretty and healthy”.

Gaining weight is about self-hate. I never stuck to anything because in my heart of hearts I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel pretty. I didn’t deserve to be healthy. I was engaging in self-destructive behavior. Period. This is what substance abuse is. Self-medication. It’s the same for smokers, for alcoholics, and yes – for people with weight issues.

Why is it that when a heroin addict goes into rehab he or she spends most of their time dealing with childhood trauma or abusive spouses or depression or whatever, but when an overweight person goes on a diet not one moment is spent in figuring out why they overeat in the first place?

I saw a few months back a story about some guy who was on “The Biggest Loser” and lost something like 200 pounds, and then a year later, away from the cameras, he gained it all back.

Of course he did! Because losing weight did not solve any of his REAL problems.

It pisses me off that a supposed licensed psychiatrist would be so irresponsible as to perpetuate the myth of magic diets.

There is no such thing as a “diet” that works. What works for people with lifelong struggles with weight is to figure out the true cause for their self-medication.

“Dr” Phil needs to stop peddling some bullshit goods that will supposedly make these people magically thin and happy.

They may end up thin – but trust me – the second those cameras go away, those people ain’t gonna be happy.

Zoloft is not a magic diet pill. The reason I’ve lost weight while taking it is because I have real medication for my emotional problems, and no longer feel the need to self-medicate with food.

I still have a long way to go – and many pounds to lose. But I will not be buying any gimmicky books to do so. I’m just going to work on getting healthy and moving my body more, and I know that if I continue to look after my mental health, my physical health will easily follow.

It’s not that I’m against legitimate programs like weight watchers that help a person deal with the day-to-day practicality of eating right. They do good things, and emphasize long-term change.

But I went on weight watchers – and I lost 30 pounds on it – and then I gained it all back – BECAUSE I WAS DEPRESSED.

“Dr” Phil needs to take a good hard look at his own (overweight!) self and start educating his audience about the real causes of weight gain. It’s not the fast food joints. It’s not the dramatic pounds of lard that he dumps on his stage to illustrate what his guests consume every month.

No – it’s people with emotional issues that are self medicating in order to deal with them.

Deal with the cause – and the symptom will eventually take care of itself (with a little bit of hard work of course – but I know that it will).

I’ll end with an anecdote: last night I went out to a show with friends. When it was over, we went to a restaurant. I was starving because I hadn’t really eaten all day. I ordered food (some healthy, some a bit less – but nothing too damaging), and I ate until I was full. And then – I didn’t order dessert. I didn’t even consider it. It wasn’t on my radar. I was full, I didn’t need to eat chocolate cake because “I was out with friends” or because “I deserved it.”

I just didn’t need it because I wasn’t hungry anymore. It’s as simple as that. And I was clear headed enough to see this. There was no internal yes or no battle here. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t eat it.

These last few weeks have been the first time in 13 years that I have gone out to eat on several occasions and not even broached the subject of dessert.

And no BS book was involved. All that was involved was clarity.



5 Responses to “17 day diet my ass!”

  1. Marie January 9, 2011 at 20:09 #

    I have to defend the Biggest Loser here, because I love that show.

    Those contestants are not just on diets and crazy exercise regimes. They are also monitored by doctors. And in therapy. You don’t see them in a session, but you occasionally see Bob or Jillian taking a contestant outside and asking about their personal lives, and the connection between their family/loss/self-esteem issues and their weight is SO obvious. So it’s clear that BL knows what they’re really dealing with, and that the nice people at the ranch includes a team of head-doctors. They’re probably not prescribing zoloft – or maybe they are – but they are definitely, DEFINITELY giving these people some counseling. And most contestants do not gain it all back. There was that one guy, and as soon as the show found out, they teamed up with him on his journey to lose it all again.

    I used to watch Biggest Loser and cry (ok, I still cry) because I wished I was fat so that I could go to a place like the ranch and get a complete mind-body-soul makeover like that. I wanted someone to come in and help me and save me and turn my life around, too. There’s actually a post about this somewhere in my archives.

    I agree with you about Dr. Phil and the rest. But BL is the shit, and Jillian Michaels is my hero. They do it right.

    • mommyodyssey January 9, 2011 at 22:42 #

      Ok – I’ll concede that BL isn’t as bad. But the rest suck! 🙂

  2. mkate23 January 19, 2011 at 18:54 #

    Nice post. Mostly true. It is nice to have a diet to follow after you clear up the emotional mess though…because probably after years of trama eating – you could use some good habits.

    • mommyodyssey January 19, 2011 at 21:25 #

      that’s definitely true. I’ve started seeing a dietician to get that kind of stuff in order. I just hate the way people are ripped off so much, it really is just about getting some sort of minimal support system.

  3. Landsake April 9, 2011 at 01:49 #

    Thank you for putting this out there. I experienced the same thing, when on Prozac. All of a sudden, the cravings that were like constant static in my head, were gone. I lost 30 pound without even trying because I felt good, and was able to focus on doing things that made me feel better, like eating properly, and moving my body.

    Here I am after miscarriage #4, wanting to go back on Prozac to lose weight to help with the PCOS, (and you know, not be depressed) and hopefully better my odds next time, but NOT going on the meds, because I’m concerned about effects on the pregnancy (if there is another one).

    Again, thanks for being out there, and for putting what feels like my very own thoughts in such perfect order.

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