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One of my fabulous clients described her journey towards permanent weight loss this way:  “It’s like I was on a rollercoaster when I was dieting, now I’m in the driver’s seat, driving change.”

I thought this was a great metaphor for dieting v. lifestyle change.

Let’s think about this.

When you are on the diet rollercoaster:

1.  You feel out of control.

2.  It’s scary.


3.  Emotions rage with good days and bad days.  Emotions always lead to emotional eating and comfort food.

4.  The number on the scale can send you on a binge.

5.  Disappointment, sadness, anxiety and other daily occurrences set off eating sprees, followed by food restriction and new promises to diet all over again tomorrow, next Monday, or next month.

6.  You follow someone else’s plan – might be a diet, a book, a program.  These plans never address your personal body’s needs, but are generalized approaches.

7.  You “wake up” with an empty plate, a candy wrapper, a cookie box, or other container in front of you and no idea how it got there or where the food went.

8.  You try to control the crazy momentum by counting something (calories, aerobic output, anything at all).

9.  You think poor choices say something about your personal character.

10.  You struggle.  Struggle diminishes your effort, your success and, ultimately, your dreams.

9.  You constantly fluctuate between weights, yo-yo-ing up and down the scale.  Ultimately, you wind up back at the beginning, where you started, at the “loading zone” of the rollercoaster ride.

You know you are making a lifestyle change, and you are driving change, when:

1.  You are the authority on what food is the best fuel for YOUR body and you know exactly what makes great energy for your unique physiology.

2.  You consistently fuel your body for optimal energy.

3.  You make decisions easily, without mental combat occurring.

4.  You address any emotion, obstacle or event DIRECTLY, without buffering it with food.

5.  You never make excuses, but OWN every decision and action.

6.  You feel empowered.  You are driving.  You are choosing the route you take.

7.  You treat yourself with respect and love in all circumstances, no matter what you ate that day.

8.  The ride leads to new places, new discoveries, and wide-open vistas because you aren’t on a “track”, you’re in ever-changing life.

Getting off the diet rollercoaster isn’t just about losing weight.  It’s about quality of life.  It’s about living a fully empowered life, instead of giving power away to a plan, a diet, or anything that’s not organic to your amazing physical body.

Non-diet weight loss is the kind that lasts too.  Isn’t that what we ultimately want when we think of lowering the number on the scale, anyway?


For someone who  battled fat and won, long-term, I learned there are many misconceptions about how excess weight is lost.  Unfortunately, what we don’t know can cause great harm, with long-term effects.

Naturally, we want quick results and, with no shortage of diets in the world, it’s very tempting to grab onto a diet for weight loss.  Unfortunately, that leads to the condition we now see in our culture:  DIETING FATTER every year.

But the human body is resourceful and intelligent, and it perceives a diet as an assault.  Let me explain why.

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This week has seen a lot of discussion about a new diet book which targets girls ages 6-12.  After the initial outbreak of criticism, the author appeared on several talk shows defending his book as “empowering.”  I spoke on the news about it Thursday.

I have to admit I’ve been wrestling with conflicting feelings about this.  On one hand, I want to have the guy banned from Amazon and every other bookseller.  His complete ignorance of the damaging and diminishing effect of diets on young women is simply deplorable.

On the other hand, we live in a country where we enjoy freedom of speech.

And yet, we have laws and policies that protect children from harm.  And this is harmful.

To complicate matters further, as a blogger, do I speak up and risk giving him more exposure, or do I remain silent?

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One of the very few advantages of having my long history with the diet world is that I can see the patterns perpetuated by the diet industry.

For instance, my first diet was Atkins but not the recent round of that high protein diet. I was on the original diet when I was 10 years old! (Looking back, I was not overweight but my mother was, and she put all of us on a diet to keep her company.)

I’ve lived through various rounds of low fat, high fiber, low calorie, high protein and high carb diets. Tried them all, and felt the impact as they all failed, time after time.

So, what’s next in diet world?

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As I travel, spreading the word about permanent weight loss, I often speak to middle and high school girls about health, body image, and the negative impact of dieting on weight. It’s always very touching for me to look out over the classroom and see the young women as I speak. Many of them (according to some statistics, about 50%) are already dieting and associating being thin with deprivation.

Thin = Deprivation


Most of them can’t look ahead to see how their current behavior and stringent dieting will lead to frustration, anger and excess weight in their twenties and thirties. It takes many years to see the real equation:

Dieting and Food Avoidance = More Fat

If I could do one thing for these girls, who deserve a healthy future free from disordered eating, it would be to freeze them right where they are.


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Successful weight management requires a lifestyle change that includes healthy eating patterns and lots of activity. Making far-reaching changes may be even more challenging if you are involved in relationships that promote or support an unhealthy approach to eating and exercise.

For example, does your best friend agree to go to the gym with you but, once there, grumble and complain the entire time? After an hour with a whiner, who wouldn’t avoid the activity again?

Does your mother tell you that you need to lose weight but constantly push fattening food at you when you visit?

Common saboteurs to a healthy lifestyle are the relationships around you. After all, change can be frightening or threatening within a relationship.


Take the spouse or partner who becomes nervous or argumentative when you being to lose weight. This partner may have his/her own weight problems or simply feel more comfortable when you are lacking self-esteem. When one partner begins to actively work on lifestyle issues and loses a few pounds, the saboteur may accept an invitation to a lavish party, or bring home chocolates, or simply insist on restaurants that lack healthy food choices.

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Diets may be intended to trim our bodies but they actually diminish us as people.

Harsh restrictions give the body the message that it is something to be “whipped” into shape, changed, altered, melted — instead of teaching us to listen to our bodies for the wealth of information inside them.


Diets instill the idea of control. The message is:

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