Starving in the New Year

I was standing in line at the grocery behind a young mother and her little girl of about four. She was helping place items on the conveyor and at one point pulled a diet book out and hefted it a bit before remarking,

“This is a really heavy starving book.”

It was a diet book.

I laughed out loud. I just couldn’t help it. Her mother gave me that half-hearted smile mothers do when their children unleash truth for public consumption, and it reminded me again how the wisdom we are born with erodes over time as culture gets hold of us.

This is especially true of women.

Like that little girl, we were all mystified once by the idea of restricting our food intake to the point of making ourselves uncomfortable or even sick. Once upon a time, this didn’t make sense to any of us. But as we grew and were pummeled by a slick media and the expectations and peer pressure it fosters, we eventually lost our inborn wisdom and become hyper aware of our weight, our shape and whether we took up too much space in the world or too little. And then we bought into the starving.

Because really, that is what dieting is all about in the end. Dieting is deliberately starving ourselves. It’s not about learning to eat better or smarter. Dieting is about shrinking.

I don’t remember exactly when I gave up dieting in favor of better food choices and regular exercise. I was not a young woman like the mother of that wise little girl. It took me a long time to learn the truth of starving which was my body didn’t like it and the first chance it got to regain the ground it lost – it would.

Knowing what I know about weight gain, loss and it’s maintenance, I still long to diet. Drop those pesky ten pounds that separate me from my younger days and make me look like someone’s middle-aged mother – which I am and what’s wrong with that? And yet still I can be tempted by Oprah’s call to arms in the new year for yet another crack at thinness. Her weight tribulations are my own after all, brought on by illness and aging.

For the moment I will resist. I’ve found a new yoga studio with class times that suit me better and am determined to replace my beloved, but no longer physically feasible, running habit with a spinning one. When exactly I will reconcile the effects of aging where size is concerned, I don’t know, but this new year will not find me making resolutions about starving.

This is an original 50 Something Moms piece.

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