Dieting Failure or Success in Disguise?


“Success and failure are both greatly overrated but failure gives you a whole lot more to talk about.” Hildegard Knef

I was a little shocked when I first read this nugget in my daily calendar – I think “failure” is the last taboo subject – and of course, I instantly thought of “diet failure” which seems to be a fate worse than death these days (Kirstie Alley aside, who is either savvy or unfortunate enough to turn her weight struggles into a career).
“Diet failure” is considered such an unacceptable outcome that we’ve invented surgical interventions (removing healthy, working body parts!) to ensure “diet success.” Indeed, there’s nothing more to talk about once you’ve done that…but repeatedly failing at dieting does give your internal dialogue a lot of fodder. And yet, as we already know, diets are doomed to fail, still we blame ourselves!

So what if we embraced the failure and looked at the whole thing a little more philosophically, rather than internalizing the pain? I read Conan O’Brien’s commencement address to Harvard’s 2000 graduating class, where he says “I’ve dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed.” Wow, that hit a nerve.

Replace “as graduates of Harvard” with “as veteran dieters” and the light begins to dawn! Needing to define success only as “weight loss,” rather than health or feeling good or fit, has been the liability that tends to end the diet.

So let’s stop dieting for weight loss, and think about taking care of ourselves for health. Eating well (in a way that makes us feel good, not stuffed and sluggish), moving well, and putting balance in our lives is the only way. It’s something to think more about as we try to put this in perspective. Once again, Fitbriefing article “Weight Loss Expectations” really speaks to the issue in a practical way.
I’m glad I’m a diet failure – it’s given me a lot more to talk about, and a better way to be in my body.

One response to “Dieting Failure or Success in Disguise?”

  1. Susannah says:

    This article is really well written and thought out! Kudos G.

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