There’s a sucker born every minute

Frequently it’s me.

Over my adult life, I’ve been tempted by a large number of weight loss fads and programs. I don’t always put a lot of energy into following them, but that doesn’t stop me from signing up wholeheartedly in the first place.

When I was a young teenager in high school, my mother decided to put me on a diet. I hadn’t realized it until I started to write this but I guess am still holding onto some bitterness about that. I was shorter than my older sister until late 1974. I was nine and a half. I have a picture of my sister and I when I was 12 or 13. I was tall, with broad shoulders, and was struggling to tame what my grandmother liked to call my “noble front” — my sister got to wear delicate lacy things but, back then, once you passed into D cups and beyond, you entered sturdy matronly bra territory. Big boobs would have made you popular if you were short, but just made you an oddity if you were taller than the boys. (Well, except for that one poor boy who made the horrible mistake of attempting to compliment me by telling me that I was “pleasantly plump” at a grade 9 dance.) Coming to grips with puberty while struggling with being tall and smart (I’d already skipped two grades and faced endless hazing for that) was difficult. Having your mother telling you that you were fat was not helpful, especially when I was carrying no more than an extra 5 or 10 pounds. So I learned to pretend and cheat. Self-discipline is alien to me at the best of times and this wasn’t one of those.

I have a large frame (I’m big boned in the truest sense of the words), and unfortunately can pack on a lot of extra weight before it shows up as much more than a little bit of a tummy. What was an extra 10 pounds when I graduated from high school quickly turned into an extra 30 by the time I was living on my own three years later, despite my mother’s best efforts and a membership at the local Gloria Stevens Figure Salon.

It all went downhill from there, especially after I developed my current eating issues in 1989. Interspersed with it all were the determined “this is it” moments where I was sure I was ready to lose weight with the right tools: the fitness boot camp custom-designed by my brother who seemed to always be trying to redesign me as a mini-him; the Nautilus and World Gym memberships that were used a handful of times; the Slim Fast shakes that gave me massive caffeine headaches; the late night infomercial binges on Susan Powter books and videos, Richard Simmons’ Deal-a-Meal cards and Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos, and Greer Childers’ Body Flex tapes; the toning bands and home gym equipment; subliminal audio tapes; Yoga; Tai Chi; Thin Thighs in Thirty Days; Eat Right 4 Your Type; Biggest Loser; eDiets; Weight Watchers; more diet books than I can actually remember (though most are still around here somewhere); even an actual weight-loss clinic. Logically, I know what I need to do if I can just get past certain mental blocks. But I still find myself drawn to new books and gizmos that come out.

This all comes to mind now for two reasons.

One is that I got a marketing e-mail from Prevention saying that they are giving away 85 free copies of the Flat Belly Diet book if you’re willing to blog about it and take part in various interactive events. I really considered applying. I even got the application partly fill out when I realized that I don’t want to share my private Facebook account with everyone and anyone. I keep it private because I want to keep it private and, since Facebook TOS states that you can only have one account, that pretty much rules me out as a suitable experimenter. After that, I started browsing the site and came to the realization that I’m not a good diet program candidate. I don’t want to share my battle with other like minded people. I don’t want someone else cheering me on. I don’t want to be a part of a community. That all brings up very bad memories of Weight Watchers meetings. I don’t want to have to be someone else’s cheering section. It’s just not me. And I don’t want a special low fat/low calorie/low carb/low whatever recipe book or varied menus. They’re usually full of things I don’t like and won’t eat (as opposed to things I don’t like but can make myself eat). I could happily eat the same things every day and not get bored, as long as they were things I enjoyed.

Two is that saw a new Greer Childers ad last night, for her new Shapely Secrets weight loss program. I like Greer. I’ve liked her since her Body Flex infomercials. But I don’t believe the patter, any more than I buy into the spiel given by other weight loss “experts” about their plans. I still found myself wanting to buy it, though. Because you just never know — maybe it really is the one that works, the one that really lets you erase the years of misuse and neglect, the overeating and under moving, in an instant and with minimal time and effort. The easy fix.

I know. Trust me, I was thinking the same thing every time I bought one of those programs, even as I was reaching for my credit card. The weight loss industry is not built on people thinking logically. It’s built on taking advantage of people wanting instant results and a reason for being fat that is outside of their control.

Hello. My name is Louise and I’m a sucker.

[Edited to add: You know, I originally had a number of hyperlinks pointing to more information about many of the programs I’ve mentioned above. But they get more than enough business from gullible people without me adding to it, so I’ve removed them.]