Defining insanity

The AA folks say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

This makes me wonder how I might define Oprah's response to her recent weight gain.

Frankly, I don't care how much Oprah weighs. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter to me. It does, I am sure, matter to her.

Other people have written on this (here, here, and here) far more eloquently than I have, but I did want to toss out a few comments from the peanut gallery.

What seems to be happening is endless weight cycling: gain some, lose some, gain some, lose some. And the fact that people keep dieting--in spite of the evidence, scientific and personal, that it does not work--kind of exemplifies the AA definition of insanity. Really? It's not going to be different this time.

If Oprah, who can afford luxuries like a full-time chef and full-time personal trainer, as well as housekeepers and more money that some small countries in Africa, can't figure out a way to lose weight and keep it off, this should tell us something. Mother Nature is stronger than Oprah. If your genes want your weight to stay at a certain level, they will make sure you get there and stay there, and Bob Greene can go suck it.

Of course, I want people to take care of their health. But there's a lot of space between lettuce and plain grilled chicken and duct taping yourself to the couch with an endless supply of Ho-Ho's. The problem is that dieting takes away that middle ground, makes us forget what it's like to live there.* It made me very dismayed when Oprah said that the weight gain was because she "ate whatever [she] wanted" and this was a bad thing.

Eating whatever you want is NOT A BAD THING. After you've been dieting for the eleventy-billionth time, however, you can go overboard. Eating too much of whatever you want can be a bad thing.** It's the First Law of Dieting: Every diet is followed by and equal and opposite binge. I can't help but thing that maybe if Oprah had just eaten whatever the hell she wanted in the first place, her weight might be stable.

An interesting side note: my therapist said that she can kind of tell when Oprah is on a weight loss kick because her magazine focuses more on recipes and weight loss tips than before, when it was more about accepting yourself and work/life balance, etc.

I would love to see Oprah stand up and accept herself for who she is, whatever the size of her ass. It doesn't matter. She can still do amazing things and be an amazing person. I'm not super-hopeful, to be honest. I think she has a lot invested in dieting and being a weight she might not supposed to stay at. And de-investing in this would be a phenomenal thing for ALL of us. We put so much energy and effort into things that may not be sustainable long-term, and there's a grieving process when you realize that you're never gonna be thin and the only thing left to do is work with what you've got.

*For that matter, so does an eating disorder.
**And let's not forget: so can eating too little.

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Harriet said...

Hear hear!

MelissaS said...

i'm just now letting myself eat freely. and i find i think about food less. AND i'm gaining weight. my body has never wanted to be the toothpick i tried to be for years. my russian peasant ancestors were big and strong and pretty much all lived to 100. re: oprah. 5'6 and 200 may not be healthy and comfortable for her. is she out of breath when walking? diabetes? blood pressure? cholestrol? i thought she was really, really too tough on herself, AND i can see where she might wanted to bring her weight to a lower, range.

Decadent Westerner said...

"more money that some small countries in Africa": I know you don't mean it literally, but it sounds so... American.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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