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FreshStart Check-In, And The Eternal Question: To 'Diet' Or Not To 'Diet'?

Dear FreshStarters: How are you doing so far? Please post your progress as a comment below. (For background on FreshStart, please click here and here. It's not too late to join by posting your comment here, and there are still prizes available!)

Classic, completely classic. Here I am, one week into my spring FreshStart program to exercise more and eat better, and I get on the scale today for my weekly weigh-in, convinced that I'm leaner and lighter.

But the scale begs to differ: I'm up half a pound. Now, I fight the good fight against weight-obsession along with the rest of us, but I can't pretend to be pleased. True, my central goal is to be healthier, but I do believe that some streamlining should be part of that. And so the D word raises its ugly head. I had decided that I didn't want to "diet." I don't want to feel so restricted, and I have better things to do with my time than spend it writing down everything I eat and calculating calories. I preferred the positivity of focusing on eating more fruits and vegetables rather than eating fewer calorie-dense foods. But now I can't help but wonder: Maybe that's the only way?

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"Think of body mass like cement," he writes. "It is rather easy to shape when it is new, but once it settles, it is very resistant to change."

[/module]The never-ending dieting debate continues to play out far beyond my own little dilemma. The prominent sociologist Amitai Etzioni recently wrote a piece for CNN titled "Dieting Gets You Nowhere," in which he argues that the vast majority of anti-obesity efforts should be focused on kids, because adults are all but hopeless. "Think of body mass like cement," he writes. "It is rather easy to shape when it is new, but once it settles, it is very resistant to change."

In response, Dr. David Gratzer accused Etzioni of defeatism here on Kevin MD, riposting: "Even if just two in ten Americans are losing a little weight and keep it off, it’s more than worth the trouble – for their sakes, and for everyone’s sake."

I particularly liked this response from one commenter:

Although the premise that obesity is voluntary is true to a degree, there is a great deal about morbid obesity that is poorly understood. There is some recent evidence of an infectious component, certainly there is some genetic component, and it’s just plain complicated.

Hear hear! If it were simple, we'd all be as thin as we want to be! So where does this leave us? And how do we lose weight when what many of us would like, as expressed in sign-up posts, is to think less about our weight??

I think we need Coach Beth's help. And in the meanwhile, I encourage you all to weigh in (verbally, that is...)

p.s. And by the way, aside from the weight thing, I'm definitely feeling better: Adding a walk on the days I don't work out feels wonderful, especially as I pass hyacinths and daffodils. My 9-year-old daughter joined me on one, and we had one of our best talks ever. Waking up is easier, and there's more of the proverbial spring in my step. It's all good. My only complaint is the calorie conundrum...

This program aired on April 25, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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