“We’ve dieted ourselves into obesity.”
I was watching the Agenda with Steve Paikin last night on TVO and they were discussing the “obesity epidemic.” Now, I have a lot of respect and admiration for the show, its producers and host, and not only because I interned on the show’s predecessor, Studio 2, in university ;).
But last night…I don’t know.
They held a panel discussion (as well as a live chat online with the segment’s producers) with a couple of scholars, a fitness and lifestyle writer and a funny fat chick (just to round it out, ya know). The discussion had my mind racing about a lot of things, but it was Valerie Taylor, an assistant professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at McMaster University, and her comments that had my mind spinning. She’s responsible for the lead quote.
The reason I don’t believe it to be true is because I had never dieted a day in my life before I stepped on a scale for the first time in YEARS and realized I was well over 200lbs. It was only THEN that I decided to try a diet (with moderate success). And it wasn’t the diet that was responsible for the backslide that occurred after. It was all me, unlike the next gem from her that bothered me where she felt that when people say, “it’s not the diet’s fault, you just don’t have the willpower,” that they were placing blame in the wrong place.
I fail to see how it’s a diet’s fault. Yes, some can be restrictive, leading people into the yo-yo dieting cycle, but is it the diet’s fault? Really? I’m the one shovelling crap in my mouth. I’m the one making the decisions. How is it Weight Watchers’, Jenny Craig’s or Dr. Atkin’s fault?
If anything, I think it’s more about wants and needs, behaviour modification and overall goals of the individuals. Do I want to be a size 6, run a marathon or wear a bikini, or do I want to enjoy a piece of cake, a fancy dinner at a French restaurant or a bucket of wings while watching hockey? It was the latter list that had me back over 200lbs by 2005 and back up to 160 now.
I think, if anything, social pressures (whether real or the ones you conjure up in your head) lead us both to diet and to stray from those diets. We assume we have to look a certain way so we diet, but are afraid to be left out so we stray from them as well. We claim it is their restrictive nature that really causes us to binge and balloon up again, but I don’t buy it. We’re not meant to consume so many calories in our more sedentary lifestyles, so being “restrictive” should be the norm. In fact, we shouldn’t be saying “restrictive” but rather “conscious” of what we’re ingesting, how we’re burning off calories and the choices we make related to our health.
Chelsey Lichtman, the co-founder of the fat activist and performance duo the fat femme mafia and the only panel member with any real meat on her bones, summed up her feelings on why we go from small to big and back again. She feels that we’re constantly searching for “perfection” when there is no one true and concrete example for us to aspire to.
I wondered if that held true for me. In the 130s I still felt like I was the biggest in the room but looking at pictures now, I was anything but. In my warped mind I needed to look like health and fitness magazine cover girls, with flat stomachs and toned arms/legs. With all of my POINTS counting and working out, I never got that flat stomach and I never will have it short of plastic surgery.
But is that what’s stopping me now? That I still don’t know perfect? No. It’s that I make poor choices, from not running today because of rain to that extra cookie after dinner.
I never dieted myself fat, but the cookies sure did help.
Just food for thought, I guess.
What’s your take on it?