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I love Dr. Phil, and I agree with a lot of what he as to say (even if I often cringe at how he’s saying it). But I’ve never agreed with him on weight loss. I didn’t agree when I was thin, I didn’t agree when I was fat, and I still don’t agree with him now that I’m on my way back. And it all centers on will power.
Dr. Phil has said over and over on his show that if you want to lose weight, you can’t rely on will power. Instead, he pushes his guests to change their entire routines and environments in order to take the weight off. The house is emptied of junk food, the route to work is changed in order to not pass any tempting drive-thru restaurants. This has never made sense to me. For one thing, the foods that I really shouldn’t have much of if I want to lose weight are not necessarily bad foods. Some M&M’s are fine. Half a large bag is not. Cheese is great, as long as I don’t eat the entire package. Why in the world should I keep my family from eating foods that only seem to be making me fat, and why should I deprive myself of foods that are delicious?
And the McDonald’s Drive-Thru? It’s everywhere. I pass at least half a dozen on the way to camp each day to pick up my kids. Will power is the only thing stopping me from driving in every day and grabbing some fries for the road. So sure, if you were to put me in some kind of sterile environment where I didn’t have access to foods that can make me fat, I’m sure that I would come out thin. But I can’t live in that environment forever. Nor would I want to. I want to be able to have some dessert without binging. I want to be able to drive past McDonald’s and choose (most of the time, anyway) not to stop. And the free food? Oh my God, every press event I go to has delicious, free food – my weakness! But the thinner I get, the easier those decisions become.
I’ve often been tempted to join Nutri-System or some other program that would send me food, and as long as I ate that food I would lose weight. But then what? Do I have to eat that food forever? Losing weight isn’t easy, but neither is it hard. What it is, though, is a commitment from within, and changing the outside environment is a temporary fix. I need to be able to live and eat well in my world as it is. And my world is filled with fast food, and kids’ snacks, and the incredibly delicious pizza that’s one room away from me right now (and which is fine to eat as long as I stop at one or two pieces).
Did I eat more than I should have this past weekend in Chicago? Of course. But did I ever stuff myself? No. I did usually eat until I was very full, but I ate so much less than on any other recent out-of-town trip. It all basically boiled down to reminding myself that that wasn’t going to be my last chance to eat free food. That was it. Because I think I eat out of fear a lot of the time. Fear that the food won’t be there tomorrow. And really, convincing myself that I’m a grown-up who could go out and buy food whenever was not hard. So, I can be in the same room with chips and brownies and pasta and not just automatically go hog-wild.
Sorry, Dr. Phil. But I’ll be sure to call you when I catch my daughter pouring drain cleaner on my toothbrush.