Archive for the 'Politics of Weight' Category


Would you bet on yourself?

I mentioned to a friend the post about Chris last week where he bet on his own weight loss.  My friend sent me this link to an article in the New York Times about betting on weight loss. 

I wonder what it would take to get me into the betting pool. And whether my effects would be longterm, like Chris's.

The article is worth reading because it describes winner-take-all scenarios and also lists several web sites that organize betting for people who want to commit.  There’s even a site that gives people the option of designating an anti-charity to receive their money if those lose.  Apparently, that’s the most successful mechanism on that particular site.  People really work hard to NOT give money to groups they oppose socially and politically.

And I like the way workplace culture can shift as a result of some of these betting pools.  I had a coaching client who used the term “dumping” to describe the practice of bringing high caloric food into work to remove temptation from home.  The problem with this practice is that it creates a culture of temptation and indulgence at work.  And it brings in a social element that revolves around treats at work.  Would a betting pool with colleagues really make people do pushups in front of each other’s desks and taunt one another over the morning donuts?  Maybe it just drives indulgent behavior underground.

I’m not a researcher, but there’s a study in here somewhere.  And, for me, the long-term effects are where my curiousity lives.



I’ve been listening to Michael Pollan’s books on audio, and he has some insightful ideas about our Western diet.  He talks about the money that processed foods bring to corporations and the financial incentive to keep the Western diet intact, and it’s pretty convincing that the almighty dollar is a factor here in keeping obesity a continuing epidemic rather than disseminating simple information about returning to a plant-based diet.  Here’s a quote from his book Food Rules:

The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes. The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three quarters of the $2 trillion we spend each year on the health care in this country) than preventing them.  So we ignore the elephant in the room and focus instead on the good and evil nutrients, the identities of which seem to change with every new study.

When I interviewed Ella, she has some great insights into the reasons behind the so-called obesity epidemic. “It’s unusual in the human condition to live in such abundance,” she observes.  She also recognizes that “there was a lot of misinformation” during her growing years about what was healthy.  “Our parents had a lot of faith that the government would produce information about unhealthy foods.  They lived in a generation that respected authority.”

When Rachel taught a class at her church about her journey to recovery around food, she recognized some deeply ingrained beliefs among the participants.  She noticed that they could only receive so much information.  “It takes so much time to process.  I wanted ‘Aha’s!” to come out of that class, but seeds like these have to be nurtured and blossom in their own time.”

So many of the people I’ve already talked to for this project recognize the value of returning to fruits and vegetables.  The answer to WHAT to eat is actually very simple.  As Michael Pollan says,

Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly plants.

The place where most of us get stuck is in the emotions:  memories of food, purposes of food (connection to those around us, numbing and distraction from feelings and experiences), meet others’ expectations (“but I made it just for you!”), and all of the OTHER nuances that enter the equation.

A yummy blend of story, politics, and personal philosophy.

This blog is not currently active, but it's got some extraordinary content so I keep it going with a very occasional post. It's a series of stories from people who have successfully let go of 40 or more pounds using lots of different approaches. The stories are all here along with my editorials about the threads that run between them (click on the Stories and Tapestry tabs). Enjoy!

Margaret Graham, NCC, CPCC

Photo of Maggie Graham

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