I'm touring the US right now, coast to coast in a flash. Twenty cities in as many days and this is what I've seen: America has become startlingly, achingly fat.
In Dallas yesterday, a middle-aged woman dressed to the nines, and healthy-thin, asked me, "How have we gone from being the Greatest Generation to the biggest and slowest? My three sisters have become huge, and I keep asking myself HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?" How? It happened
bite by bite, over time. Like the frog in the saucepan, we increased heat and before we knew it, we were cooked!
We expanded portions and fundamentally shifted the way we eat. We did away with those core routines of home-cooked dinners with family and replaced them with eating on the go. Dollar meals replaced mindful eating. Our busy lives transformed us into a nation of MORE, where one
of something is a good start, and more is never enough.
In my work as a teacher, author and board-registered interventionist I swim in MORE, even as I've come to live in less. I know from more. The past seven years I've been peeling MORE off as a recovered compulsive overeater and bulimic, addict, alcoholic and smoker. Today I am a trim, healthy-eating fellow. I'm a student of change and an expert on how to help others craft a plan to change and make it stick.
I'm fascinated by how resilient we are, how we begin change, and the manner in which we view ourselves and the world around us.
Last fall, with 2010 just around the corner I co-authored a survey on eating, food and views about size, eating habits and the very notion of change. I knew New Year's Resolutions were just around the corner and I was curious how attitudes and habits around food are shaped by what I had come to suspect was a myopic vision of ourselves and the way we graze. More than 2,000 people took time to thoughtfully answer our survey and the results will surprise
A) We see others as losing the food fight, but not ourselves
B) We view our spouse or significant other as about half-as-healthy as
C) We identify our own relationship food as "generally healthy" even
when it's not
We're not only big -- but blind! We only see what we want to see.
A fifth of my clients are now yo-yo dieters, compulsive overeaters, binge eaters or food addicts of one kind or another and they are dying from their sideways eating. As a nation, nearly half of us are obese; we turned to food to mollify the deep need we have to step away from feelings, into some other state entirely. Stretched thin, we sit and pile it in. We have developed an insatiable need to feed that is making us bigger, thicker, sicker and slower one mouthful at a time.
Over the past forty years, we have spent increasingly more on gimmicks, fad diets and resolutions to change. In my book How to Change Someone You Love I focus on the power of support to inspire, instill, enlighten and enliven change. "I'm sore, from more," a client told me recently. When I met her she was on the Popcorn Diet in her
Is it really a war!? You bet it is.
We bought into the lie that more is better. We swallowed it along with that grande butterscotch frappe, and the lie that we can "do it on our own!" We began to disbelieve that we don't reap what we sow. But the naked truth stands there in the mirror no matter how many
oversized sets of clothes we shift in and out of as we expand.
No more. I've stopped resolving, and leaned into letting others give
me a hand.
Support comes in people, in places and in things. The love of others, and commitment to honoring their love for you by letting them help you live better, stands ready to energize. Help from your dietician (not just another diet) gives support to answer the question of how. Help from keeping a food diary and participating in support meetings (online or in person) and even an FDA approved diet aid offers external support for so many.
In order to overcome this food fight, I counsel my clients and friends to understand and then integrate these three critical steps into the process of weighing what you want:
1) MEND your unloved self
What hurts, stressers and emotions do you pile food onto? What emotional landmines scatter your landscape? Identify them then set out to remove through healing this piece of you!
2) MOVE into your peaceful temple of health
How do you eat? What do you eat? Do you snack in a pre-determined way or do you feast right out of the bag? Do you move? On what schedule? Consistency is critical in making your amazing machinery work its best.
3) MAINTAIN your loving connections
Do you let others in on your effort? Do you open yourself up to the love and care of others in your resolve to change? Accountability and structure increase your odds of changing successfully exponentially. Do you extend your hand to help others in their journey?
We are beautiful soulful resilient creations who rarely experience radical and lasting change in a vacuum. So reach out your hand and take these steps to heart.
The one you're reaching out to help might finally be yourself.