December Damage Control: The Non-Diet Way
by Kelsey Leland


Alas, break is over, and 2009 is here. As we get back into the swing of things, hassling with schedule changes, fighting over scarce used textbooks, and dreading holiday credit card bills, there’s a host of things we may be pondering in light of the new year: ’09…Obama…and oh shit, why don’t my jeans fit like they used to?

Holiday eat- and drink-a-thons mean weight gain for most. ‘Tis the season. In fact, the months from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve seem to cause as much of a sales boom for the weight loss industry as they do for retail stores. But who are these desperate attempts to shed the weight really benefiting? The guilt-laden consumer, or the corporation that invents the latest diet trend?

Note the titles you see front and center as you wander into any bookstore these days. Barnes and Noble has gone so far as to create a “New Year/New You” campaign to push their in-your-face self-“help” books, many of which promise to make you thinner faster, while eating more and doing less.  
The appalling part is that we believe this bullshit; we eat it up with as little forethought as we gave to that second trip down the dessert table last month.

It’s truly amazing how many ways we think we can trick our metabolisms into giving us supermodel figures before the looming swimsuit season begins. Don’t eat carbs. Don’t eat after 5 p.m. Don’t eat anything but prepackaged freeze-dried items delivered to your door. Don’t let anything touch your lips unless it has this logo, and then you know it will make you skinny (ahem, Slim-Fast®, Special K®, South Beach Diet®…).

It’s really much simpler than all these fad diets would have you believe. Our bodies need food for energy. We feel hungry when our body is telling us to refuel. Eat when hungry. Stop when full. Kapeesh?

Think of your metabolism like a bank account. Eating more calories than you need is like spending more dollars than you have, but instead of Visa bills, you get fat cells to show for it. That’s why high-calorie sugary and fatty treats are just that — treats. Not to be confused with actual food.
Muffins from Starbucks don’t belong in your mouth any more than they belong hanging over the waistline of your skinny jeans. Everyone knows Freebirds tastes better when shared. Nachos are good; food babies are not.

We must also understand that a little exercise can go a long way in the weight loss process. Take a walk, try out a group fitness class, or go for a short jog. Don’t fuss over how many calories you’re burning; just get your heart rate up for health’s and happiness’s sake. Appreciate what your body can do.
Respecting your body is essential, even if you’re working to change it. Don’t try to outsmart Mother Nature by falling into the fad diet trap. Ultimately she will win, and you will lose. But it’s not the kind of losing you’re looking for. Eat moderately, exercise, and learn to listen to what your body is telling you at all times; the Seasonal Seven will be gone soon enough.

Another thing to remember is that while just about everyone feels at least a little of this post-party-season self-loathing, most likely no one even notices your extra poundage. Even with UCSB’s residing Barbie population, you won’t stick out like a sore thumb just for softening up a bit over the holidays. Stressing about it will only make you bitter and more likely to keep the weight on.  

Eat well, live well, and above all, love the body you have. It is what it is. And it wants to be fed.