I hate this time of year. Not because it's winter. I LOVE winter (though, I admit, Mother Nature is testing my limits with this one). No, it's the locust-like swarm of diet ads that I detest. All that "New Year, New You" crap. I mean, what was wrong with the old me? Why is the "old" me suddenly unacceptable because it's a new year? Really, other than the date and perhaps having to buy a new calendar, what's so different?
The ads that really get my goat are the Special K ones. You know the ones: women get on scales that have sayings instead of numbers, and the tagline is "What will you gain when you lose?" And it has that earworm oo la la song. It's not the song or the tagline that irritates me the most, or the fact that they don't call their plan a diet when it clearly is, or how nutritionally unbalanced their plan must be (eating Special K products for at least 2/3 of your daily food intake can't be nutritionally balanced. Just read the ingredients and nutrition label on any one of their products!)
No, what irritates me is the not-so-subliminal message it sends. The scale used in the ads registers positive personality traits like joy and confidence instead of numbers. (Such a scale does exist, and if anyone wants to buy me one, I would graciously accept the gift.) The intimation is that a person can only acquire these traits by losing weight, that only thin people have these characteristics. And that pisses me off. Why is it unacceptable for an overweight person to be joyful, confident, inspired, inspiring? That's ludicrous!
The worst part is, I used to buy into that idea and not so long ago. I believed that good things I wanted had to be postponed until I lost a certain amount of weight. I remember being explicitly told, "No one wants to be friends with the fat girl" and "No one wants to date the fat girl." It's a sign of how far I've come in my journey (and a testament to the effectiveness of my therapist) that I don't believe that anymore. (Most days, anyway. Those ol' demons don't go away quietly. They still pop up their heads now and again.)
If anything, I'm learning the opposite is true: effective (as in healthy, long-lasting) weight loss requires joy and confidence and inspiration first. That's why I failed every time before and why this time around is taking so much longer (much to the frustration and impatience of certain medical professionals and family members). Before, it was all about weight and deprivation--but I still hated myself and felt unworthy, so whatever weight loss I achieved didn't stick and the effort didn't last. This time, I'm turning it around--focusing my efforts on feeling worthy and accepting myself and making healthier choices, not deprivation.
It's a slower, rockier road that certainly won't lead to a New Year's weight loss commercial, but it will eventually lead to a happier, healthier, more confident me and I won't need a scale to tell me when I get there.