Sheila B., an obese woman, who craves high-fat foods such as, chocolate cake, butter (by itself!) and potato chips, often says that she will virtually eat anything that doesn't eat her first. She admits that her weight is totally out of her control. Yet, for Lent, she has given up eating desserts of any kind. Think she will make it?
How can someone with such an appetite remain abstinent for four weeks? The answer is that abstinence makes the heart grow fonder. And the day after Easter, Sheila will, as she does every year, celebrate by baking an elaborate chocolate cake. Eating may be viewed as a vehicle; a taxi capable of transporting us from one state of consciousness to another. That is one state of consciousness to another such as, tense to calm; isolated to socially acceptable; unloved to...unloved but "full." Like most taxis, the ride is accessible, but the fare is costly:
Feeling fat, frustrated and possibly frightened by a recent medical examination, a person may feel suddenly compelled to severely restrict calorie intake in an effort to hurry up and lose weight, quickly! Why diets often fail... Managing weight through restrictive dieting frequently does not produce the desired result because diets are typically based on some form of deprivation. That is, counting calories, restricting portion sizes, altering percents of certain food groups through laborious measuring. So what's wrong with a little deprivation for a good cause? On the surface, it seems reasonable. Most human beings learn to believe that the value of an outcome is directly related to the amount of work or suffering required to obtain it. But in the case of dieting, there are certain genetic principles at work on the "inside" that contra-indicate deprivation.
About four hundred years ago, people did not live long enough to die of obesity-related diseases (and you thought you had problems?). There was widespread famine, and those who were able to store fat survived through "natural selection." Thus, the legacy you have inherited: When restricting calorie intake, the hunger and weight-controlling gland in your brain (hypothalamus) will "think there is a famine occurring", and will consequently change your body's biochemistry so your weight loss plateaus-- despite the fact that you are on a starvation diet. In effect, it puts the brakes on weight loss and gears your body to store any incoming fat...
Meanwhile, on the "outside": eventually, most individuals become frustrated with feeling hungry and deprived-- the taxi is no longer taking them to the desired state-- and they shed their restricted calorie diets, rather than their weight. Moreover, with the availability of delicious and tempting "forbidden" foods, people who begin with the best of intentions often end up cycling between restricted and normal calorie diets (I know people who have each dieted successfully...
hundreds of times!).
Back "inside": When returning to a normal diet, the increased calories are stored as fat-- lest another "famine" occur-- and becomes gained weight! Additionally, during a low-calorie diet without heavy exercise, up to twenty-five percent of weight that is lost will be lean body mass, not fat. In contrast, when resuming a regular calorie diet, for reasons already mentioned, the weight that is gained is largely fat. Thus, it is possible for one who repeatedly diets to actually end up with less muscle mass than before starting, without losing weight: Truly one of life's frustrations. Perhaps you might try weighting your efforts differently:

  • 1- Think "type", not "quantity." You don't have to starve to diet. Once you change the types of food you eat-- from high-fat meats, dairy products and processed foods to low- fat carbohydrates and proteins, such as fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes-- you need not be concerned about how much you eat. Your meals can be elaborate or simple; delicious, hearty and beautifully presented. Best of all, your body won't "think" there's a famine occurring even if you eat the same amount as before; and you will consume fewer calories.
  • 2- Exercise. It promotes improved muscle tone, better oxygen efficiency, increased metabolism; and improves concentration while decreasing your need for sleep. Generally, it enhances weight loss while improving your self-image.
  • 3- Try another form of transportation. Feeling stressed and wish to relax? Do something other than overeating. For example, learn to meditate and relax to get there.