"Hi, my name is Tina and I've been on a diet for the past decade."
(Hi, Tina.)

They say the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result." 

I guess I can see where "they" are coming from. I mean, if one, say, bangs his head on the wall over and over and expects it to not hurt and/or bleed the next time...well...said person is, in fact, insane. Who beats their own head against walls except insane people?

Well, call me insane because I've been dieting and trying to shed my excess weight for at least a decade. I've done "Deal-A-Meal" by the incomparable Richard Simmons before he became a freak of nature, Weight Watchers, the Body Type diet, Sugar Busters, Atkins and every diet ever published in Ladies Home Journal.

How successful have I been, thus far? Well, here is a before and after for you.

If you think I look, um, plumper in the after photo, you're right. 

Yes, I know the point of a diet is to de-plump. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

But, this whole decade hasn't been a total loss. I've learned some valuable lessons from the fad diet merry-go-round.

1. Diet's don't work*. When you've failed at as many diets as I have, you really have to ask yourself "Is it me or the diet?" Just like in a breakup, we naturally want someone to take the blame...and for it to not be us. But, in this case, it really isn't me. (#winning) Yes, I do have the appetite of a linebacker and, sure, I can be lazy and, ok, I am prone to opt for take-out too much, and I do have a tendency to eat emotionally...what's your point? Ok, maybe diets just don't work "for me" and maybe I'm part of the problem, but there is a wealth of information out there supporting my assertions on a more global scale. Many diet doctrines have now been de-bunked as total myth; that, combined with my experience has led me to "call BS" on the whole concept of dieting. Think about that for a second. While the whole calories in/calories out thing might work on paper, we all know the reality is that the results often fail to bear this theory out as truth. And, what about the whole "low fat" or "sugar-free" stuff? How, exactly is making our food more processed, pumping it full of chemicals and turning it into something that is more food-like than actual food better for us? It's a trick, a gimmick, and worst of all, it's a lie. Fat doesn't make us fat, being gluttons and eating food our bodies aren't designed to consume and digest does. (#science) The other reason diets don't work is because they just don't satisfy us. Even if we don't walk around with grumbling tummies, that half an egg white sandwich on cardboard bread with side salad we had for lunch is just not going to cut it. Neither is that frozen diet entree. At the end of the day...or the end of our lunch break...we just want real, actual, flavorful food. Period. What's more, because we are hardwired to want what we can't have, diets only serve to make us want the food we are denying ourselves even more. I'm talking "I will punch an elderly person for some McDonald's fries right now" kind of want. Those strong cravings to have what is forbidden will only lead to giving in to them. Once we do, it's just a matter of time before we are back to eating the way we were. For all these reasons, diets just won't ever work or be sustainable long-term. Period again. (If I had a mic, I'd drop it right now.)

2. Change is just hard and is not sustainable long-term when fueled by negative thoughts and feelings. Most of my diet attempts were prompted by one of the following: seeing a photo of myself and reeling from the shock of reality (#mirrorsareliars), crushing on a person I was sure would never like me "as is", or New Years Eve. In these instances, my desire for change was fueled by regret, fear or a garden-variety pity party. These types of thoughts only create negative feelings which then fuel cravings which then leads to eventually diving face first into a gallon of ice cream (or pan of brownies, or bag of chips or whatever your binge food of choice is). What I've learned is that when "I'm gross" or "I'm not good enough" or "I need to stop being a failure" is not sufficient fuel for change. It is the equivalent of a bottle rocket. Sure, it will go some distance really fast, but as soon as that wick burns out, it's coming crashing to the ground...hard. To go the distance, more powerful fuel is required. Trying to sustain any long-term change on negative thoughts and feelings is like trying to get to work after topping off your tank with water. It just ain't gonna make it. The same holds true for those "bikini dreams". Vanity, envy, self-loathing, they are all the same. They create bad feelings about ourselves and will only lead to bad results. They just do. If you can't trust a dieter with a 10-year chip on this, who can you trust?

3. Change takes time. When I think about change, I immediately envision what my life will look like when I'm done. A whole movie-style montage plays in my head, complete with emotive music and the happily ever after. But, the reality is, life doesn't happen in movie montage speed, it doesn't even happen in movie speed...and neither does change. While our favorite movie character can go from dweeb to belle of the ball in approximately 90 minutes, we are stuck on the slow path, lamenting how things never seem to happen quickly and easily. But, real, true change is neither of those things. Real change takes commitment, determination, stubbornness, and, yes, a little bit of insanity (#bringingitbackaround). Ask any truly successful person their story and it won't be a 5 minute, reader's digest "I woke up one day and walked out the door and success was there waiting for me" story. It will involve setting a goal, resolving to see it to fruition, and working really hard to attain it. The story will also involve failures, disappointments and mistakes. If you're lucky, it will also involve some funny anecdotes about getting lost in Turkey without their passport or accidentally wearing their wife's jeans to work. But, mostly, it will be about trying and failing and trying again, and again, and again, until it happened. No overnight successes. No fairy godmothers. Only a dream, consistent effort, just enough insanity to never say "die", patience and some humility, because, let's face it, it's hard to get up after failing...again. 

(Author's Note: Especially when you document each attempt on FB.)

But, after these 10 years of trials and errors, and the lessons I've learned, I have no alternative other than to do the insane thing and get up, shrug my shoulders and soldier forth once again, hopefully, wiser and more determined than I was the last 75 times. 

It's a crazy idea, I know, but it's so crazy it just might work! ;)

*You might be wondering, "Well, if diets don't work, then what?" Good question! What I've found to be the most effective, most satisfying way to lose weight is this: Eat real, proper food (i.e. meat, veggies, fruit and keep dairy and refined products...such as white bread, pasta and sugar...to a minimum) and spend some time each day NOT on the couch. That doesn't have to mean a gym (#ihategyms) or a treadmill (#ihatetreadmills). It could be biking or jogging or walking around a park or exploring your city or running through the sprinkler with kiddos (or without, that's legal, too), or taking a Zumba class, or, if you're really hardcore, doing cross-fit. You'll be amazed how cooperative your body will be in terms of weight-loss when you are feeding it what it was designed to consume and using it the way it was designed to be used. #truestory The last time I "dieted" I used this method. I lost 60 lbs in 6 months. Of course my fuel/motivation was bad and I crashed and burned, but, while I was blowin' and goin' the weight just poured off of me and I almost never craved junk food! If you have been struggling with weight watchers or paleo or gluten free or whatever other diet, or if you see other diets as too restrictive, try this for a month. It will rock your world. #pinkypromise