When the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, many will resolve that their last sip of champagne will be their last empty calorie for the foreseeable future.
For the month of January, they’ll live and die by the digits on a scale, measuring personal success and willpower in daily increments. Their day’s happiness may hinge on whether their weight fluctuated by half a pound or whether they gave in to the temptation of office cookies.
Then as many as 92 percent will just give up.
Author Anne Lamott says, stop. Not this year.
In a lengthy Facebook post ahead of the new year, Lamott lays out why people should forgo the disappointing annual weight-loss pledge.
“The world is too hard as it is,” she wrote, “without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing.”
Losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution. But the annual cycle often amounts to little more than self loathing. It also creates an unhealthy relationship with food. A slice of pizza is no longer just that. It’s a symbol of self-control, deprivation or reward.
Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt described two classes of eaters during a 2013 Ted Talk that was viewed more than 3 million times. There are intuitive eaters who eat when they’re hungry and controlled eaters who view meals as a battle of will.
“The interesting thing is that intuitive eaters are less likely to be overweight, and they spend less time thinking about food,” she said. “Controlled eaters are more vulnerable to overeating in response to advertising, super-sizing, and the all-you-can-eat buffet. And a small indulgence, like eating one scoop of ice cream, is more likely to lead to a food binge in controlled eaters.”
Critiquing the diet culture was the subject of a 1995 book, “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself from Food and Weight Obsession.” In that book, women were asked to record the thoughts they had about their bodies over a 24-hour period. The results included: “I look disgusting.” “Nothing fits me.” “I feel so fat, I want to die.”
That internal dialogue is a form of self-abuse. And losing weight won’t erase those insecurities.
Those themes were echoed by Lamott, who in a separate tweet credited the 20-year-old book with radically changing her views on food and weight, calling it “scary and life-giving.”
“If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135,” Lamott wrote on Facebook. “The self-respect and peace of mind 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.”