Recently, I was talking with a patient of mine who had a Bypass two years earlier. She had lost about 140 pounds in the first year and was about 10 pounds from her goal weight with a BMI of 25 — a fantastic post-operative result. When she came back to me at her two-year, post-surgery anniversary, she had gained back about 15 pounds of the 140 pounds she had lost. Her explanation: “I just cannot stop eating a bag of chips and some chocolate every day. I
have no control.” No matter what I said, she still replied with, “I have no control.” I looked at her and thought — “Hmmm, no control?”
So I asked her a series of very presumptuous and obnoxious questions to shake her up. “How often do you cheat on your husband? Do you drink to excess all of the time — getting falling-down drunk? Do you recklessly drive 120 mph plus on the highway — cutting off cars and tailgating?” I thought she was going to kick me and that her 25-year-old daughter who was with her was going to burst into laughter. She was stunned and a bit annoyed. “I do none of those things. Ever!” I then stopped and told her that I disagreed with her judgment of her limitations. I said, “It seems to me that you have a lot of control. You respect your marriage. You limit your intake of alcohol. And you show good judgment on the road. It seems to me that on a daily basis you show a lot of control in the areas I challenged you.” She smiled and got what I was hinting at. The problem was not her lack of control. The problem was that she did not think that having dietary control was very important in her life. After all she had put her family and friends through — the monetary investment in surgery, the potential risk to her life and health of a surgical procedure, and the stress of the surgery and recuperation — all of this “risk and stress” and it wasn’t very important to her? I told her that she was being very unfair to herself and her family. Maybe even selfish. She thought hard about this, put it in perspective and left with a renewed faith in her ability to control her world. There is a lot of uncertainty in life. It is important to have some control in those “few” things we can control. And in those who are trying to control their weight, it “feels bad” to not be in dietary control. Why subject yourself to this kind of sadness and these feelings of failure?
How does this apply to you? Compared to the life’s other temptations, dietary control is a very small compromise for your health and sense of well-being. This is about who you are and who you want to be. Haven’t you spent enough time thinking about your health and weight satisfaction? Many people think about this all of the time. What a humongous waste of your limited time. Don’t you have anything better to do? Shouldn’t you concentrate on your family? Friends? Work? Fun?
Come on. You are spending all of this energy on food and your weight? Get on with your life. You can do this. Take the steps to take control. I have shown you some simple changes that will bring great results. However, you have got to see it as critically important. You need to believe that to ignore what
you know, to not show control, to not take this seriously…well, that is to say that you are not a person who can take charge of his or her life. And I know that you have much more potential than this. Virtually everyone reading this is a responsible person — taking care of others, staying employed and/or holding together your household, respecting the world around you. How can this be so? Well, you take all of these parts of your world seriously. Why then do you not take the diet and nutrition part of your world as seriously? You need to think about this. Until this is important to you, you will not have any success. It will only work if it is important to you — like keeping your job is important, like keeping your family healthy is important, like obeying the law is important. Until it is important to you and helps to define who you are…you will not succeed. You know the difference between a hobby and a career. The main difference is how much you work at it and how seriously you take it. I have a lot of hobbies. I have one career. I could care less if my hobbies are neglected. I would never neglect my career. So which has more potential for success? The thing I could care less about or that which I have told you I would never neglect? It is not a fair comparison. Where will you succeed — where you are “trying out” or where you “have committed to succeed”? Hmmm. Does this sound like your dieting history? If you commit to the process and the life change, you will succeed. It will become a part of who you are. If you do not commit and learn to see this as critically important to your health and your life, it is just another “hobby” and will soon occupy a shelf in the storage closet of your life.