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When I first picked up the book Overcoming Overeating, I thought I was buying another diet book. I thought to myself, "This is it—I can do this one!" (Like many of us have.) Well, how wrong and how right I was.
First I failed. I even took my book to a used book store. I thought, "You failed yet another diet plan." I found myself desperate. I wandered into a local company whose plan was like the "diet center" and similar to Blondie's approach—No Fat!! and starvation levels of calories. I invested $1,000+, four months of my life, and lots of blood, sweat and tears. Their ad reads "It's not a diet—it's a lifestyle."
Somehow, after this failure, I made a connection about compulsion. As a daughter of an alcoholic I realized I didn't use alcohol to feel better, I used food. Everything revolved around what was there to eat wherever I was going. Next meal, next snack, next fix. When the light went on, I sought therapy. My therapist gave me the book Overcoming Overeating. And it finally all fit. Just prior to this I read Geneen Roth's book and it all came together.
It's still a struggle at times, but I find I have more great days and less bad ones. My weight has stabilized a little below what I gained after filling my house with real food. I've worked with body image and have become comfortable with my body as it is. I've learned to appreciate my strengths and weaknesses and build on those strengths.
I do have three questions. How can I become actively involved against the diet industry? I would also like to know how I can find others in my area who use the Overcoming Overeating approach. Is it possible to print my address? I would like to start a support system and possibly help someone else. And—when will you be in my area? Please come soon!
Thanks for your letter. As far as fighting the diet industry goes, we recommend joining the "National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). You can contact their national office at 800-442-1214, or write to them at P.O. Box 188620, Sacramento, CA 95818. You can also get on the mailing list of the May 5th Coalition, P.O. Box 305, Mt. Marion, NY 12456.
In terms of finding others of like mind in your area, putting your name in the newsletter is a first step. Perhaps you could post signs in appropriate places in your community announcing the formation of a self-help group based on Overcoming Overeating. Once the group is formed, you can add your listing to our Support Groups Directory in case someone else from your area is looking for a group. We'd love to come to your area—as soon as someone organizes a conference!
Ten years ago I read Diets Don't Work, Thin Within, Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating, Eating Awareness, and Overcoming Overeating. I believed what these books said, and so I began my lonely, lonely journey. When I told an acquaintance I was never going on another diet she looked at me as if I had said I was going to shoot the pope! The hardest part was getting away from the diet talks and comments. People automatically assume that if you're bigger than average, you want to be on a diet, and you hate yourself the way you are. I tried. I walked out of rooms when the conversation turned. Once in a while I'd try to convince someone of the hell of diets. But after years and years, I slowly got sucked into the maze. I finally succumbed to Powter Power. Consequently, I craved fats, berated myself when I didn't exercise and gained 20 more pounds!
Last week I found your newsletter on the table. It was like an old friend coming home after being cast out. I read it and almost cried, then I marched to the cupboard and wrapped up all that awful-tasting nonfat food. This time is so different. This time I am really and truly accepting my body the way it is or any way it becomes. This time I don't feel so alone.
Yesterday my boss told me about a possible new hire and that I would probably hate her because she was 5'2" and 90 lbs. I smiled and said, "Why? Do you think I believe that to be better than me?" Poor guy. He tried to get out of it but just stuck his foot in deeper. I didn't mean to hurt or embarrass him, but I really felt that way.
I am so much happier this week than last. Food tastes so damn good! I feel so sexy. I'm so happy with me. I don't know why this time is different, something just clicked. I'm a slow learner, I guess.
Are there any groups in the Northwest? Where are my pals in the non-dieting world? Can you offer any suggestions to handling the outside world any better when they start this madness? To me, that is the hardest part, though it is easier now than it was 10 years ago.
You asked us about handling the outside world. It seems to us that you're on your way. Speaking up to your boss when he intimated that you'd hate someone thinner than you was an important start. So often we don't speak up in these situations because a part of us still agrees with the remark that is being made. Remember that at some point in the not-too-distant past, you shared his point of view. It might be helpful to review some points about how to handle other people's comments about food and weight.
Remember that whatever people are saying to you is no different from what you have said to yourself about food and fat for so many years. The best assertion to make is one that acknowledges the fact that you were once of the same mind as the person commenting on your size and/or your eating, but that now you see things differently. Then go on and explain as much—or as little—about your new point of view as feels comfortable. Remember that you are not looking to convince the other person about your position. You don't need their agreement. You are simply stating your new world view. After all, it is your body and your eating.
It can be a nuisance to hear people talking constantly about food and weight, but think about it this way. Each time someone makes a comment, it gives you an opportunity to reinforce your new ideas about your eating and your body. Your views may still be shaky, but expressing them helps anchor your perspective. Also, take a look at the "Bad Body Thought" article in this issue—it's about other people's bad body thoughts.