Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Have a holly Jolly . . .

Christmas, "it's the best time of the year" - unless of course like me you are trying to lose weight.

You might be thinking "what idiot would start a diet at Christmas instead of waiting until after the New Year. Isn't that setting yourself up to fail?"

Let me explain. I have just re-joined Weight Watchers after about a year away. And in that year, of course, I have re-gained some of the 85 pounds I lost the first time I went there. And that was predictable because I was not adhering to the discipline necessary to maintain weight loss.

As a result, I saw the numbers on my friend the scale begin to climb. Then I got my blood test back recently and my LDL - bad cholesterol - was above 100, and the Dr. said that was a little high. So I thought it better to start new habits now, in the hardest time of the year to avoid eating unhealthy foods, and that would make continuing the discipline easier.

And it's really helpful to go to meetings. To be around other people who are struggling to do the same thing you are. And it is a struggle. The temptation is everywhere - especially this time of year.

Somehow Christmas has become associated with eating till you explode. Brownies, cookies, honeybaked ham, stuffing, turkey, cranberries, hot chocolate, fudge - the eternal enemy of those who struggle with their weight - and lots of other treats. I once saw a guy who paid $150 for a box of Godiva chocolates.

But the biggest thing is to avoid the lies we are told. This time of year - especially in the week before Christmas - men in particular will be seeing a lot of ads featuring people who look like this -Victoria's Secret Catalog Cover a Victoria's Secret model strutting her stuff on the runway and asking the question "What is Sexy?" I realize everyone's got to make a living, but come on! What is she really saying? Unless you look like me, you are unacceptable.

Have you noticed that all the happy families pictured in the Pizza Hut ads are skinny? And anyone who is overweight (or male, but that's another post) is portrayed as a doofus, a mouth-breather. Unless of course he's foisting off an outrageously expensive diamond something or other on his (of course) skinny, attractive wife?

Why do we buy that lie? The subtext that whispers "be like this, and you will be loved. Buy my (beer, car, stereo, iPod, music, food, underwear, cologne,) and people like this will love you." There is even an article I read (at that said that advertisers work long and hard to deliver the kind of message that stimulates endorfin release in the brain and connects that "feel-good" drug we produce with products.

C.S. Lewis is getting more attention now because of the Chronicles of Narnia movie. And that's appropriate, I think. But he wrote another book called The Screwtape Letters in which an older devil instructs a novice in the art of temptation. And one thing he mentions is appropriate here. Screwtape tells Wormwood (his nephew) that temptation is "promising everything and delivering nothing."

And that applies to the advertising industry - including the food ads you see - particularly this time of year. Have you ever wondered why that Pizza looks so good? Because there are people who have worked thousands of hours and spent millions of dollars trying to find out what will make you buy it. And with that knowledge they craft these ads to create in us the desire to buy pizza. Check out more at The whole study is called Health Seduction and it is very sobering.

But we can choose - and this is another encouraging thing about Weight Watchers, they teach you how to make good choices. So I will post periodically about my journey. Happy holidays!

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