It's a long road, but I'm taking it one step at a time...

My Mini-Goal

8/08/10 to 8/31/10-to lose 6 lbs this month

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Diet Industry

Well, I'm sick. I think I have a UTI. I had a low-grade fever and burning when I pee, so I chugged some cranberry juice and slept most of the day away. I am feeling better now, and woke up hungry so I made a delicious pot of black beans for dinner.

I was paging through some magazines my mother gave me when I was laying there and the thing on my mind today is the diet industry.

I just think it is so.... sad.

Not that I am against making money-- by all means, I am all for capitalism-- however, I think the diet industry should be held more accountable for their advertising and marketing. They make promises, they mislead, they prey on people who have a serious problem and try to sell them magic beans.

When I was in my early 20's, after having my daughter, I was shopping in this mall and saw a Jenny Craig office. I stopped in to ask for some literature. They asked me to sit and watch a video. I played with my daughter and watched the video, and they offered to weigh me and give me some profile and tour the facility, which I did.

Then they told me the price, which was about $70 per week for food-- just for me. I said thanks, no thanks, and tried to leave. The girl kept telling me how I have to buy food anyway, but I told her I didn't spend anywhere near $70 per week. So she called in another girl and left, the other girl asked if I had a problem with the first girl. I was taken aback, said no, it was just out of my price range.

They then proceeded to pull a pitch on me that to this day I find insulting. They kept telling me how important my weight and health is, don't I know someone I can borrow the money from. Asked me why not borrow from my parents, didn't they want me healthy? I said they didn't have that kind of money and this wasn't something I was going into debt for... she puts the phone in front of me.  "Here. Call them. I'll leave, you talk in private. It doesn't hurt to ask. I'm sure they want you to be happy and healthy." I refused and tried to leave, they proceeded to, "Do you have a boyfriend? Don't you want to meet someone special?"

I pretty much stormed out of there.

The secret to their "brilliant" diet is this: eating a low-cal balanced diet and exercising.

Like I need to pay them to do that. Like I need to pay them for pre-packaged microwavable foods to do that.

How embarrassing... for them. They were like freaking sharks. So basically Jenny Craig isn't anything special, diet-wise, they're just good at milking people out of money to sell them overpriced frozen foods, to keep people dependent on those foods so they can keep selling them.

Look at Kirstie Alley now... for whom I have lost all respect for. Not because her weight goes up and down, but because she's decided she is going to prey on people as desperate as she is.

First off, her website is insulting. Stupid little cartoon of her and other people drinking some of her drink and then becoming skinny. Yeah, like that's truth in advertising.

Next, she tries to sell you supplements for like $140 a month and won't tell you what's in them. I did some digging and basically they are vitamin supplements that you can get anywhere for less than half the price. None of these particular vitamins are actually helpful in weight loss.

Then you pay $10 per month or $89 a year for her website so you can find support (there are thousands of free weight loss support  board groups) find stores that sell organic foods (you can find that with google, or an old-fashioned phone book) or look up the calories of what you're eating (like you can't do that on your computer or get a little book?).

There is no emphasis on exercise. There is no actual diet except to say you should eat organic (well, basically, anyone who eats veggies and lean meats and whole grains, organic or not, will lose weight).

But the kicker is this... the testimonials on the website are from her friends and people who work for the company. They had images of people that were supposed success stories that were discovered to come from stock photos they paid for. And here is Kirsty Alley hocking the secret to weight loss when apparently she can't lose and keep off weight. She's had access to this product for at least a year, it apparently has not worked for her yet, why should anyone believe her?

Don't even get me started on the companies that sell pills, drinks and other meal replacement products. As if eating something full of chemicals from a jar is ever going to solve someone's food issues.

Now some do have it right... Richard Simmons products that help you track what you eat or help you burn off calories is really good, and he is big on the motivation and support. Marilu Henner's diet books that advocate an organic vegetarian diet of healthy foods-- sure, good plan. Can't lose if you eat right.  Weight Watchers, despite the fact that it tries to hawk products, really is at the core just about making sensible choices & finding a healthy balance (though frankly I think one could do as well as to go with the The American Diabetes Association free website & publications; In my opinion, a great free resource for a healthy diet even if you don't have diabetes). WW gives you a lot of support, though, and that's a huge factor in this struggle, which is why it has long been one of the best plans out there. And you know... I just love my "Cook Yourself Thin" recipe books, which don't tell me how to live or what to eat or that I must sell my soul to them to be billed monthly on my Visa card, but offer me some great tasting low-cal, low-fat recipes. 

So I'm not saying all weight loss products and plans are bad.

But basically the best products are the ones that don't claim to do the work for you... the ones that acknowledge that it is hard, and that it requires a lifelong change, and that it pays to have some kind of plan for a healthier lifestyle. The ones that help you formulate that plan without making it out as though you completely dependent upon them alone for your success. The ones that teach you about nutrition rather than hand you blind supplements to swallow at exorbitant costs. The ones that help you figure out how to fit exercise into your life instead of the ones that tell you you don't really need it.

If you go into any weight loss maintenance board and look for people who lost a significant amount of weight (without surgery) and kept it off for 2+ years, you will not find people wasting a lot of time endorsing products or talking about supplements... you will mostly find people who said something inside of them changed, they started thinking differently, they changed their lifestyle permanently and continue to work at it. Even if they found some product helpful, they will usually say that the product simply was convenient for them, but that it was the changes and efforts that resulted in success, not the product.

Fact is, just about any of those products will work if you change your eating habits and exercise and stick to it... and none of those products will work if you don't change.

People waste a lifetime of frustration looking for that holy grail that will do it for them, and in the process they do all sorts of awful things to their bodies, when the answer is there all the time-- just eat healthy and exercise. Is this answer easy? No. Fast? No. Will it give you the body of a Victoria Secrets model? Probably not. But it is the only real solution to the problem.

One woman came out with a book about how her faith as a Christian helped her to achieve her weight loss goals... that in wanting to be a better Christian and closer to God, she made better choices and found the inspiration to help her succeed.

Even though i am a different religion, I can realte to her. It's the same thing with my religion. Frankly I feel like I am so falling short of the teachings of my religion if I keep abusing my body and stay stuck in problems without seeking solutions. It's like I am dishonoring the very gift of life itself if I don't do everything in my power to make the most of it.

Wicca teaches me to strive for balance, to improve myself, to take responsibility for my life and the direction I want it to take. My relationship with God and Goddess are endless sources of strength, courage, comfort and wisdom there for me to take when I need it. The practice of the Craft, which is rooted in nature and psychology, is a spiritual practice; it is a means of my helping myself in every way possible to reach my goal.

My faith has helped transform so much in my life, if it can't help me with this, I don't know what can... but at the same time, I realize that, while my faith is a powerful force in my life, when it comes down to it, the solution is within me. The Charge of the Goddess says, "for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without." And while this is just liturgy, it's true... I am part of God/dess, God/dess is part of me, the macrocosm is in the microcosm... it is all connected, so everything I need resides inside of me.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, my dear friend !! I too have struggled with weightloss problems since my late teens. When I married David I was 190lbs. Then I blew up to 298. I know it was my cooking and I have relearned the right way to eat and cook again through The American Heart Association. They have a great website and recipes to help in the fight. You are on the right track for your weightloss program, and I applaud you for your hard work. This blog post about the diet industry is so true and I think it is worthy of either a newspaper or magazine article. You should look into seeing if the Witches' Voice might post it.


I would enjoy hearing your encouragement, reasonable criticism, questions, insights, advice and experiences. Comments will be moderated, however. I realize there may be people out there who only want to insult me for my weight or attack my beliefs in Witchcraft. There are plenty of forums for doing that. This is not one of them.

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