A WAIST IS A TERRIBLE THING TO MIND
I am "copping out" on my article this time around, but my motives are somewhat sincere. Dr. Martin Seligman, President of the APA (American Psychological Association), is basically a hero of mine. I've chosen to share a few of his thoughts with you on the wearying subject of weight management. I feel somewhat exonerated knowing that such an intelligent and well respected man shares my frustrations and gut feelings, so ENJOY!!
"I have been watching my weight and restricting my intake since I was 20. I weighed about 175 pounds then, maybe 15 pounds over my official "ideal" weight. I weigh 199 pounds now, 30 years later, about 25 pounds over the ideal. I have tried about a dozen regimes - fasting, the Beverly Hills Diet, no carbs, Metrecal for lunch, no starches, skipping every other dinner. I lost 10 or 15 pounds on each in about a month. The pounds always came back, though, and I have gained a net of about a pound a year - inexorably.
This is the most consistent failure in my life. It's also a failure I can't just put out of mind. I have spent the last few years reading the scientific literature, not the parade of best-selling diet books or the flood of women's magazine articles on the latest way to slim down. The scientific findings look clear to me, but there is not yet a consensus. I am going to go out on a limb, because I see so many signs all pointing in one direction. What I have concluded will, I believe, soon be the consensus of the scientists. The conclusions surprise me. They will probably surprise you, too, and they may change your life.
Here is what the picture looks like to me:
* Dieting doesn't work
* Dieting may make overweight worse, not better.
* Dieting may be bad for health.
* Dieting may cause eating disorders - including bulimia and anorexia
I have been dieting off and on for 30 years because I want to be more attractive, healthier, and more in control. How do these goals stack up against the facts?
Attractiveness: If your attractiveness is a high-enough priority to convince you to diet, keep three drawbacks in mind. First, the attractiveness you gain will be temporary. All the weight you lose and maybe more will likely come back in a few years. This will depress you. Then you will have to lose it again and it will be harder the second time. Or you will have to resign yourself to being less attractive. Second, when women choose the silhouette figure they want to achieve, it turns out to be thinner than the silhouette that men label most attractive. Third, you may well become bulimic particularly if your natural weight is substantially more than your ideal weight. On balance, if short-term attractiveness is your overriding goal, diet. But be prepared for the costs.
Health. No one has ever shown that losing weight will increase my longevity. On balance, the health goal does not warrant dieting.
Control. For many people, getting to an ideal weight and staying there is just as biologically impossible as going with much less sleep. This fact tells me not to diet, and defuses my feeling of shame. My bottom line is clear: I am not going to diet anymore."
All I have to say in conclusion is "Thanks Marty!!!"
(Dr. Seligman's full article, including statistical and factual documentation can be found in Annual Editions - Personal Growth and Behavior 00/01 McGraw-Hill pg176. )