Patricia recovered from decades of dieting after she met me at a party and challenged my ideas. There was no book to give her so I told her about the basics of adaptation and she could see that she had been on the feast or famine cycle for many years. So, she went home and started eating. Months into recovery Patricia started to go down in pants sizes. Her weight loss was temporarily delayed by a stressful family situation. During this difficult time—several years—Patricia was just focused on surviving. Her eating definitely took a back seat. But she did well anyway, stayed on a plateau for several years and then gradually continued to lose. Fifty-five pounds later and still diet-free, she knows there is no other way. Patricia went from a size 16 to an 8 and that was 25 years ago.
Patricia and Jasmine’s lives crossed when they worked in the same office for two years. Jasmine was obviously quite overweight and talked about every diet she tried. Patricia had to bite her tongue. Those who recover know better than to offer suggestions to dieters at any stage of dieting, unless they ask. Predictably, Jasmine lost weight and gained it back, lost it and gained it back again. It was hard for Patricia to witness this because she knew the struggle and frustration of chronic, unsuccessful dieting.
Healthy Weight Loss Tips Recovery Interrupted Photo Gallery
The last day Jasmine worked with Patricia, she said something surprising. She looked at Patricia and said, “You’re really thin. You’re always thin and you seem to always be eating. What do you do to stay so thin?” Patricia simply gave her the basics: Eat whenever you get hungry. Stop when you get full. Get some exercise every day. And give it time.
Two years later, a woman showed up in Patricia’s office. She looked familiar but Patricia couldn’t place her. “Do you remember me?” Jasmine asked. Patricia replied, “I think so, but I don’t remember your name.”
They had a good talk. Jasmine had lost almost 50 pounds over that time. Twenty-five pounds a year— two pounds a month! And yet, after two years, she looked like a different person. She thanked Patricia for her advice and told her it had not been that hard for her once she got over the shock of all that food. She didn’t have to fear food or eating anymore. She just had to stay with the basics. All she had to go on for her recovery were the basics. No book, no training, no coaching, no nutritionist. Jasmine listened. She saw herself on the cycle. She got it. She did it. That was eight diet-free years ago.
Where Do You See Yourself?
Jasmine was clearly ready for the information Patricia shared with her. She had dieted herself to a point of open mindedness. She had lost her hope, burned her bridges, and surrendered her delusions about dieting. She knew another diet was never going to help her for long.
Such absolute conviction is helpful but not required to recover. I’ve witnessed people who still entertained the possibility that some diet out there might bring the results they desired. But, they weren’t sure, and they were open to trying something different, at least for a while. Many of these people got hooked on eating, leaving the pain of going hungry and the war with their bodies behind. And they saw changes in their eating and in their attitude towards food almost immediately. These experiences kept them hopeful and encouraged them to continue to apply these practical principles.
Where are you on this spectrum? The honesty with which you face your past experience with eat-less/exercise-more dieting will make the difference in your openness to this brand new way of thinking and eating. Are you open? Do you have even a little hope that there is something better for your body, for you, for your life?