Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One big social experiment

This whole weight-loss experience has provided a huge lesson in American views of image and dieting.  I am constantly amazed at the reactions I get lately-especially at work. I must have looked really horrible before! People who barely know me at work feel the need to say something. I can't imagine that 22 pounds is really THAT different, but apparently it is. And I'm not particularly thin...I still need to lose 15 pounds to be the "correct" weight, according to various online sources (I'm not really aiming for 15 more, but 8 more would be great). I don't really see a difference in my face but other people certainly do. 

But what is so funny is how person after person looks at me with a sense of true confusion and says, "How did you do it?" A simple enough question, and I usually give a simple enough answer - "Weight Watchers basically." But of course the real question they are asking is, "Where did you find the willpower?" All reasonable diets work as long as you stick to them and don't eat too much. Willpower is that magic, elusive ingredient. Where does it come from? I remember looking at friends who have undergone a similar transformation and feeling a desperate sense of inadequacy, like they had some secret internal source of strength that I could never ever have. It's still how I feel about people who run marathons. Just how on earth does a person summon the inner resolve to train for and run a marathon? I don't think I could ever in a million years have that drive.

I just find it so interesting how many people have asked me that question with the exact same tone of voice and look on their faces. I guess the search for that answer explains why the diet industry is so large. Weight Watchers did provide me with a structure around which to relearn how to eat properly, but it's dealing with hunger, temptation and cravings that is the true hard part. Of course Weight Watchers says they offer meetings, support forums, and tactics to help people deal with those challenges, but when it comes down to it it's just discipline and resolve. 

To me the real question people should be asking is, "What took you so long?"  Of course that would be horribly rude. But it's the question I ask myself. 

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