Summertime means putting on those shorts and bathing suits, which means exposing legs and butts, which means raging insecurities and body issues bubbling to the surface.
Time to start rushing off to the gym and obsessively cutting carbs. Yeah, we like to imagine we're above such vanities. But we've been bombarded since childhood with images of women who've thrown up everything they've ever eaten their whole lives, while being told that they are what's desirable, so you'll have to forgive us the odd lapse.
We're only human, after all. Yes, we know better. And, yes, we also want smaller asses. Try not to be stupid about it. Remind yourself when looking at a Calvin Klein ad featuring malnourished 14-year-olds that that's exactly what you're looking at.
So let's say you could stand to lose a few pounds. We know that eating better and exercising more is the key, yet for some reason we refuse to accept this fact, which is why fad diets like Atkins make millions of dollars and weight loss centres everywhere are thriving. It's also why television news shows can get away with saying stuff like "A new study shows that drinking bacon grease makes you fat! More at 11!"
Eat a carrot instead of a bag of chips, go for a walk instead of sitting in front of the TV all night and you'll lose weight. We know this. Deluded creatures that we are, it's still one of the most difficult things in the world.
What the experts say
"Tune down the static, whether it's muscle tension or mental chatter, and focus within. Visualize yourself walking down the street. When you look at your reflexion in a store window, you're the person you want to be. Imagine getting into a pair of pants you used to wear 15 years ago. The brain can't tell the difference between what you're imagining and what's real. Self-talk, or affirmation , is the language of the left side of the brain and imagery of the right, so if you use both you get the right and left brain working in harmony. Relaxation is profoundly effective. Many overeat as a way to deal with stress. Once they manage their stress, the weight just drops off."
ELI BAY , Relaxation Response Institute, Toronto
"The world has an eating disorder - a mental illness that exists until everybody is fed. The ego gets involved [in weight issues] when it's brittle. A brittle ego breaks very easily or is so hard it turns to stone, leading to insecurity and eventually to misery or disease. The first thing to do is remove insecurity , give it much less energy. In yoga that's accomplished through meditation and seva, or service, paying attention to others."
YOGI AKAL , Centre for Yogic Arts and Sciences, Toronto
"We have a mind-body weight loss blueprint ingrained in our subconscious. This is a pre-set program that determines our weight loss successes and failures. It's based on conditioning and earlier experiences, how we were trained by what we saw in our homes about food and weight and what we were told by parents and others. People have to become aware of their own blueprint and redesign it . Becoming aware is 50 per cent of it - being aware of why you do things against your will, eating things you know you shouldn't. Awareness is key."
ROB SUGAR , weight loss coach, Toronto
"Food is the one addiction where you can't go cold turkey. You have to learn to use food responsibly. Avoid the quick fixes. Instead of thinking about [losing weight in] weeks or even months, think of half a year or a year . In Chinese medicine, extra weight is seen as the product of a sluggish digestive system. Acupuncture can help your digestive system. If your system isn't good at extracting nutrients, you need to eat more to get them. The extra weight is seen as a way your body looks after itself. The more nutritious the food you eat, the less you need to eat. Herbs are part of that quick-fix mentality: 'Tell me one herb that will help me lose weight."
KALEB MONTGOMERY , Chinese medicine practitioner, Toronto
"People start self-change efforts with unrealistically high hopes and are very quickly disappointed, which makes them feel bad about themselves. If they're dieting and losing one pound a week instead of five, they give up and say it isn't working, even though it actually is. Unrealistic expectations make it impossible to succeed. People think all they have to do is strap on a device or follow a magical combination of foods. But if it sounds too good to be true, recognize that it probably is. Changing requires putting in some effort, and it doesn't happen by magic."
JANET POLIVY , professor of psychology and psychiatry, U of T