A Journey Toward Getting Lighter

May 17, 2012
A food expert shows a better way to lose weight than grief, guilt, and obsession, demonstrating that losing weight can be more than weight loss.


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags.

This is the third of seven articles on the topic of weight loss that appear on Thursdays. See the Getting Lighter Weight Loss Program, on May 3,  to get you started.


By Jill Place, MA, RD

So you’re probably wondering what to do now that you’ve let go of your belief that diets help you lose weight. And you’ve tossed away the latest diet book or the paper with those neat, cute little boxes on it.

Feet on scaleEven if you’re just considering tossing your dieting beliefs in the trash, I applaud you for being brave. And trusting that there’s got to be a better way to lose weight than grief, guilt, obesity, and obsession. Now I invite you to look at weight loss in a whole new way. Even if it’s scary. As a matter of fact, let’s rename this whole process. The words “weight loss” are just too limiting. And consider what these words are saying to you. When you “weight” for something it never happens. And when you “lose” something you’re always trying to find it. So how are you going to reshape yourself when you’re waiting forever for it to change or always trying to regain it?

So why don’t you “Get Lighter” instead? The process of Getting Lighter involves a lot more than weight loss. When you Get Lighter, you not only lighten up your body but your mind and spirit as well.

My Getting Lighter Story

I’ve been moving toward Getting Lighter since I was born. I’ve been overeating all my life. I can’t remember when I didn’t diet. I did high-protein, low protein, predigested protein, Fit for Life, Unfit for Life, and Fat for Life. With each diet, my obsession with food grew until I found myself roaming the supermarket aisles late at night because I couldn’t sleep and scarfing up a whole cake and a box of red licorice on the way home.

My weight yo-yoed as long as I can remember. I was almost anorexic when I was acting. Every other actress was thinner and more beautiful than me. I was too afraid to eat. When I didn’t have a reason to be thin, I ate and ballooned. I’ve been all the way from 112 to 180. Size 6 to popping out of a size 16.

I was so obsessed with food that I became a Registered Dietitian. And as a Registered Dietitian, I ate myself into an awful state as the spokesperson for Health Valley Foods in 1993. I was eating endless samples of fat-free goodies nonstop for eight hours a day for a baking cookbook we were writing. When I found that I had gained TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS and was popping out of my size-ten suits, I freaked! Here I was going around telling people “Just eat fat-free and lose weight” and I was gaining instead! I made a conscious decision to Get Lighter instead of dieting. I lost the twenty-five pounds and have kept it off for almost ten years.

Before I was ready to Get Lighter, I did a lot of therapy. I healed some emotional wounds that I was stuffing down with food since I was a small child. Then I explored why I overate. So when I was finally ready, I used the principles of non-dieting and learned how to eat like thin people eat. I even had a boy friend around that time who totally ate like a thin person. It was difficult to plan meals around him because he only ate when he was hungry. I learned a lot.

The Getting Lighter Plan

I also learned that there are many books about non-diet weight control. But most of them talk only about the process of relearning to eat like a thin person. Few of them talk about the underlying reasons why people overeat. And if they do, they don’t talk about it in a sequential way so that you can work and rework all the steps to Getting Lighter. I wanted to create a real foundation to replace those diet books and neat, cute little menu boxes.

So I enlisted the aid of my friend and colleague, Arlene Harder, MA, MFT. I’m a personal veteran of Getting Lighter and have counseled eating disordered and overweight clients for years, but I felt I needed a therapist’s perspective. Together we came up with a step-by-step approach so you can find out how you feel about the world, how you feel about your life, how you feel about your body, how you feel about others, and how all that information relates to the way you use food. The first part of Getting Lighter is about you. The second part is about how you deal with food. When you Get Lighter, you not only lighten up your body but your mind and spirit as well.

Getting Lighter in Many Ways

Getting Lighter also shows you how to connect to your relationship to food in several ways. Most self-help books encourage you to process your feelings by writing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t process things in that way. Even though I write for a living, I’m also an actor and acting teacher who was has studied and taught Method acting and improvisation for many years. Because of my acting experiences, I’ve worked out a lot of the answers to my life questions and my relationship to food by moving my body, improvising, and imaging. Acting training is so healing that one of my acting students continually writes “therapy”, “ongoing therapy”, and “continuing therapy” on his checks. When I finally decided to Get Lighter, I connected with my inner process by using guided imagery to meet my ideal self and using movement to join with that ideal self.

That’s why there are four ways to help you to Get Lighter. Four ways to build a physical, mental, or creative bridge between the inner world and the outer world.

When you’re doing The Writing Way you’re answering the step-by-step Get Lighter questions by recording and journaling your answers, thoughts, and feelings.

In The Art Way you can answer the same Get Lighter questions by drawing, coloring, collaging, or any other artistic endeavor.

The Image Way uses guided imagery scripts to help you Get Lighter. Guided imagery is a powerful tool to help you change your mind by taking a fantasy trip to meet, for example, your ideal self or the part of you that overeats. When you do guided imagery you can get out of the thinking mode and into the feeling mode where change might take place faster and easier.

In The Moving Way, you can have a similar experience to guided imagery by doing the same exercise physically instead of mentally. For example, instead of picturing your ideal self in your mind, you can move like your ideal self or dance with your ideal self.

You can also use more than one way to look at a question or exercise. Whatever works for you. That’s the beauty of Getting Lighter. If one thing doesn’t work, try another.

The goal of Getting Lighter is to explore your belief systems one by one to find out what serves you or doesn’t serve you on your Getting Lighter journey. Once you can see your unique journey clearly with all its obstacles, traps, and potholes, you may have acquired enough knowledge to change your body once and for all instead of rollercoastering, yo-yoing, and those other things you do when you’re dieting. So I invite you to Get Lighter!

© Copyright 2002 Jill Place, MA, RD


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