Friday, December 27, 2013

Anne Lamott On Why You Shouldn't Start a New Year's Diet

Anne Lamott just posted this totally reasonable anti-New Year's diet rant on FB. It's blowing up, for reasons which will become obvious as soon as you read it.

Love this woman and her so-real voice. Love that she lives right down the street from us here in Marin. And love her commitment to wearing forgiving pants.

We need to talk. 
I know you are planning to start a diet next Wednesday. I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, "Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?" 
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.  
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, gentle Self-Talk, to a jungly glade that had always existed deep inside me, but that I'd avoided by achieving, dieting, people-pleasing, multi-talking, and so on.

Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much are you hoping to gain?"

I was able to successfully put on weight on book tour by eating room service meals in a gobbly trance in 13 different hotels. So that was exhilarating, to make myself feel like Jabba the Hut.

And then I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I've been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago.

So I am at least five pounds up — but praise be to God, I do not currently have a scale, because as I've said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth.

I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough self-esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act.

By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious sickness with sugar: if I start eating it, I can't stop. It turns out I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat candy corn and Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.

But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts.

So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.

It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. It's an inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and serenity you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.

Maybe some of us will eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to almost all problems.

I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor — let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of Pringles is ALL for you." And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container.

No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, filled with happiness, love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or on the 1st. Wow!

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