Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Announcing a new website and a new look!

Great news, sports fans! The new website for I Will Not Diet is up and running.

Like this original site, the new I Will Not Diet has blog posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the gallery of gorgeous women, and tips for healthy living/losing weight without dieting. It also includes more info about my history as well as a new section called “Unburden Yourself” where you can tell your stories and, if you’re brave enough, post your weight.

You can check out the new site here:

Also, be sure to subscribe at the new site because this site will cease existence one week from today.

I have to admit that launching the new website is a little bittersweet. I’ve been using this site on blogspot for over two years, so it’s hard to say goodbye.

It’s interesting to think about the fact that when I started I Will Not Diet, I told myself I wouldn’t spend any time or money on the design of the site until I proved that it was something that would stand the test of time—both for my readers and for me.

I honestly never imagined I Will Not Diet would become what it is now—something bigger than me, something about more than just my struggles to lose weight without dieting, which is how it all started. Now I’m not even sure I want to lose weight anymore. This blog has had that much of an effect on me. Yes, I want to be healthy, but I also want to believe what I preach—that beauty comes in more than one size. And if that’s the case, then losing weight is besides the point.

I have to also say that I struggled to create a logo and a website that I thought fit the message fo the blog but also didn’t look too cute if you know what I mean. My web designer, Kara Thurmond, has spent months working through this with me, and I want to thank her for her patience, her tenacity, and her talent.

Hope to see you all on the other side!

P.S. I may have to add the Statue of Liberty to the Gallery of Gorgeous Women since she is the first lady of natural beauty.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eat . . . Pray . . . Eat . . . Love . . . Eat

I've had a problem this week . . . I've been insatiable.

It's a feeling that hits me about once a month, and when it does, I am overwhelmed by my desire for food. Over the past few years, I've become one of those people who gets full pretty quickly (even though I was never like that when I was younger), but when a bout of what I call "The Insatiables" hits, I can never seem to feel satisfied, not to mention full.

The result is that it feels like I eat all day long and simply cannot stop eating.

Don't get me wrong—I'm not a binge eater. I don't sit down and eat a whole pint of ice cream or a bag of chips. Or both. But during these monthly bouts of insatiability, I can slowly make my way through all of the food groups in one day. More than once.

This last round of insatiability started early on Monday and lasted through Tuesday night (thank God it's finally over), and I spent the first half of the week trying to figure out why I could no longer control my eating.

Was I upset about something? Was I falling back on the old feeding-my-emotions trick?

Those questions didn't lead me to an answer, but something else did . . . over the weekend (a time when I usually indulge), I had tried to make healthier choices. We ate light on Friday because we were going to the movies that night and didn't want to miss any of the film for bathroom breaks, and when we went out to dinner on Saturday, I intentionally ordered the lowest calorie item on the menu.

I think that's where things went off the rails because even after we finished dinner I still felt unsatisfied. Yes, I was full, but I wasn't sated.

The next day we went out for drinks with friends, and the beer made me too bloated to eat a real meal that night. Translation: I still didn't feel like I'd had much to eat that weekend.

Monday was when the sh*t hit the fan.

We were both struggling with our writing projects and, in order to cope, decided to indulge in some much needed comfort food: Skyline chili.

If you don't know, Skyline chili is served over pasta. Yes, pasta. With cheese. A single entree doesn't get much more decadent than that. Well, unless you add sour cream, which I have seen people do when they make it at home.

For some reason, every time I eat Skyline chili, I lose control of myself. It is so good that I feel I must go back for seconds and can't wait until I go to sleep that night so I can eat the leftovers the next day.

So this is how Monday and Tuesday went—eat some Skyline, have some more Skyline, and have even more Skyline on top of that.

It was like I was in a chili-eating contest.

And I was winning.

As cliched as it sounds, it was an unmitigated disaster, facilitated by the fact that Dave and I usually make enough food for four people, so we can eat it for two days (and thus avoid cooking two days in a row).

Thank God we ran out of Skyline on Tuesday night because, I swear on my mother-in-law's life, if there was Skyline in the house right now, I might not be able to stop myself from eating it.

So part of the problem was the Skyline.

But I believe the bigger problem was my meal on Saturday.

Dave and I try to eat out only once a week, and when we did that last weekend, I picked something that was healthy rather than indulgent, which is where I think I went wrong.

I always talk about how one of the reasons dieting doesn't work is because whenever we are denied something we want, we end up wanting it even more. (Remember how appealing beer was before you were twenty-one?) But sometimes I forget that even small changes in your diet can leave you craving the things you're trying to avoid.

That's what I believe happened to me this week—instead of having a greasy pizza or a nice fat juicy cheeseburger during my one meal out on Saturday night, I had vegetables and shrimp in a curry sauce.

Sure, it was delicious, but it was also light.

I've known for years that we NEED to indulge ourselves sometimes, so it's kind of embarrassing to admit that even I still make the mistake of denying myself that indulgence. I guess it makes me human if I have to remind myself not to take the healthy living thing too far sometimes.

The funny thing is that I know for sure that if I'd ordered the same meal last Saturday because I wanted it (rather than because it was healthy), I would have never had the problem I did after it was all over. I would have never had a raging case of The Insatiables.

As it turns out, my need to feel satisfied was simply psychological.

And now that I've figured that out, I just need to figure out what I can do the next time the psychological desire to eat chili for two days straight takes over every cell of my being.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Talk to Little Girls:
a cross post by Lisa Bloom

Originally published on ThinkTV and The Huffington Post.

I went to a dinner party at a friend's home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.

Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, "Maya, you're so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!"

But I didn't. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

What's wrong with that? It's our culture's standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn't it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.

Hold that thought for just a moment.

This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather winAmerica's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they'd rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What's missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

That's why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.

"Maya," I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, "very nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too," she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.

"Hey, what are you reading?" I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I'm nuts for them. I let that show.

Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic. She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.

"I LOVE books," I said. "Do you?"

Most kids do.

"YES," she said. "And I can read them all by myself now!"

"Wow, amazing!" I said. And it is, for a five-year-old. You go on with your bad self, Maya.

"What's your favorite book?" I asked.

"I'll go get it! Can I read it to you?"

Purplicious was Maya's pick and a new one to me, as Maya snuggled next to me on the sofa and proudly read aloud every word, about our heroine who loves pink but is tormented by a group of girls at school who only wear black. Alas, it was about girls and what they wore, and how their wardrobe choices defined their identities. But after Maya closed the final page, I steered the conversation to the deeper issues in the book: mean girls and peer pressure and not going along with the group. I told her my favorite color in the world is green, because I love nature, and she was down with that.

Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It's surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I'm stubborn.

I told her that I'd just written a book, and that I hoped she'd write one too one day. She was fairly psyched about that idea. We were both sad when Maya had to go to bed, but I told her next time to choose another book and we'd read it and talk about it. Oops. That got her too amped up to sleep, and she came down from her bedroom a few times, all jazzed up.

So, one tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages to our girls. One tiny nudge towards valuing female brains. One brief moment of intentional role modeling. Will my few minutes with Maya change our multibillion dollar beauty industry, reality shows that demean women, our celebrity-manic culture? No. But I did change Maya's perspective for at least that evening.

Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she's reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You're just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.

And let me know the response you get at

Here's to changing the world, one little girl at a time.

For many more tips on how keep yourself and your daughter smart, check out my new book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World,

LISA BLOOM, author of Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World, is an award-winning journalist, legal analyst, trial attorney, and the daughter of renowned women's rights attorney, Gloria Allred. A daily fixture on American television for the last decade, Bloom is currently the CBS News legal analyst, appearing frequently on The Early Show and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, as well as the legal analyst for The Dr. Phil Show. Bloom has written for the Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, the National Law Journal,, the Daily Beast, and many more. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she runs her law firm, The Bloom Firm.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What are they teaching these kids in Sunday school?

Yesterday I got an email message from a former student telling me that I am “fugly” and I need to get on a treadmill and have plastic surgery.

Sure, I’m hurt by this message, but not on a personal level as much as on an intellectual one.

For instance, it doesn’t really hurt my feelings that the student called me fugly or implied I’m overweight. Since I don’t think he really believes I need plastic surgery, his attack is rather toothless. In that sense, it's kind of obvious to me that he was just trying to wound me.

But what really hurts me is that he doesn’t respect me. Because if he did, he wouldn’t be trying to wound me at all.

Like most of the teachers and college professors I know, I work my butt off trying to help students learn the material and become better writers. I give it everything I have, and when school is in session I basically live and breathe my job. Though I don’t have “summers off” in the sense that I still have to work on my writing, I honestly don’t know how I would survive if I didn’t have these three months away from the classroom to recharge.

So when a former student sends me a hateful message—and it happens almost every semester, though it’s usually not this personal—it bothers me because it tells me that the student doesn’t think I work hard or care about my job. Because if the student believed that, he wouldn’t intentionally try to hurt my feelings.

To be honest, it’s hard to imagine any student—this one included—not knowing how hard I work after spending a semester in my classroom, and that’s what really burns me about this message. This kid knows I bust my butt for my students, and despite this, he’s basically saying, “I don’t care how hard you work or how much you care about your students because I still hate you. “ He’s pissing all over my attempts to be a good teacher.

It also bothers me because it’s the kind of comment that’s designed to attack me where I’m most vulnerable, which seems especially cruel. Most of my students learn over the course of the semester that I have a blog about body acceptance, so it’s clear this student thought he could undermine my self-confidence by attacking my physical appearance. It’s a cheap shot, but one he apparently thought would work.

Finally his comments bother me because they imply—especially the “get on the treadmill” comment—that I don’t exercise just because I’m not thin.

Twice every week on this blog I try to send the message that curvy does not mean unhealthy and a curvy person is not necessarily a person who doesn’t work out, but I’m clearly not getting the message across.

Not only do I work out, I work out religiously. I walk every morning—lately for eighty minutes, during which time I alternate between walking and running—and I usually exercise almost every afternoon and evening as well, which is my attempt to follow my own advice that we should all “play and play often.” So when this student told me to get on the treadmill, it actually hurt me more to think he assumes I don’t work out than it does for me to realize that he thinks I’m overweight.

So let me be clear—just because I’m lumpy or imperfect does not mean I am sedentary or lazy. It just means I’m no longer young, and I have a little wear and tear on my body. Of course, when you’re twenty-two, you have no idea that you can do everything in your power to be thin and still fail.

Though all of these issues are a problem, the biggest problem is why anyone—student or otherwise—feels comfortable saying these kinds of hurtful things to anyone else. Whatever happened to the golden rule?

I am not a religious person in the sense that I don’t read a Bible or go to church unless you count communing with nature every morning, but at times like these I find myself thinking of Leviticus 19:18“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself”—or Matthew 5:39—“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

Which makes me wonder, what makes a human being want to harm another person this way? What kind of issues must one have to be so hateful?

I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do hope that each of us—myself included—will think twice the next time we are tempted to lash out at another.

If need be, think of the Torah, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Quran, the Bible, the Tao Teh Ching. Think of Socrates, Buddha, Jesus, Matthew, Luke, and Confucius. And treat others as you wish to be treated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don't even think about trying this
(This = jogging in place while eating celery
and cheesecake)

I've talked many times about the fact that the media plays a H U G E role in how we see ourselves—both our bodies and our behavior. Of course, we all know the American obsession with thinness and dieting is largely influenced by the media, and that until the way women are depicted in the media changes, our collective perception of our bodies won't change either.

That's why I'm thrilled to report that General Mills pulled a Yoplait commercial last week (see video above) that makes it appear as if having an eating disorder is normal, even desirable.

In the ad, a thin woman is standing in front of a refrigerator eyeing a cheesecake with raspberries on top. She wants to have a piece but clearly feels guilty doing it, so she tries to talk herself into it by first telling herself that she's "deserves it" and that she'll have a "small slice."

But then her internal monologue goes haywire as she tells herself she can have "a medium slice and some celery sticks and they would cancel each other out" or that she could have a "large slice and jog in place while I eat it." And then finally she wonders, "how about one large slice while jogging in place while I ate celery?"

Watching this woman try to convince herself that it's all right to have a piece of cheesecake is honestly frightening.

Maybe the woman is just a good actress or maybe we're all just a little too familiar with this kind of internal justification process.

Either way, it's scary to see her longing for the cheesecake and trying to convince herself of some way it will be acceptable to eat a piece. It's kind of like watching a healthy person descend into the land of lunacy. No, she's not completely nuts, but she's going to a place that is not healthy or happy, which is what makes it so hard to witness.

And this is the reason why the National Eating Disorders Association complained about the ad, saying that it "felt like a 20-second look at the mind of somebody with an eating disorder."*

Jenni Schaefer, author of Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life, added that "a commercial showing a thin person anxiously doing mental gymnastics in order to justify eating dessert—and then denying herself the treat because she wants to be even thinner—could reinforce the idea that such deliberations are healthy and normal,"* and I completely agree that's what makes the commercial so problematic.

Not only does the ad seem to make light of this woman's eating disorder in order to sell yogurt, it also models that behavior for viewers, which is exactly what we don't want our commercials to do.

Schaefer adds that an eating disorder "often starts with that voice in your head saying 'Eat this but not that... The commercial just reinforced that voice. It made that inner dialogue look normal. It let you think, 'I'm okay. I do the same thing.' But that's not normal. You don't have to open that refrigerator and hear that voice."*

Not only does the ad normalize this unhealthy justification process, it also reinforces the message that thin is better by showing this woman complimenting an even thinner woman on her body. The message is clearly that thinner = better, which is one we get far too often on our television and movie screens.

General Mills ultimately apologized and removed the ad from the airwaves.

I have to say I'm thrilled General Mills didn't try to rationalize their depiction of a woman clearly struggling to maintain a healthy attitude about eating, and I'm equally pleased that they pulled the ad without hesitation. I like it when someone, or in this case something, accepts responsibility for its actions. I'm not even unhappy that the ad is probably getting more air time now than it would have without this controversy because it gives people an opportunity to talk about why this message is so unfortunate.

In fact, if every corporation was as conscientious as General Mills, then maybe none of us would ever engage in this kind of unhealthy behavior again.

I'm allowed to fantasize, right?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dress for the body you have:
revisiting the moob-and-miniskirt debate

Recently I wrote a post about the fact that I think most men should keep their shirts on even when the weather becomes unbearably hot.

I have to say that when I admitted this on Facebook, a few people gave me grief about it and hinted that I was being hypocritical.

It's possible that making a joke about shirtless men on Facebook (by asking them to put away their "man boobs," which one friend called "moobs") was hypocritical in the sense that it sends the message it's okay to make fun of people's bodies. Yes, that's true, and I'm sorry if I sent that message.

Though I also think it's possible to take ourselves TOO seriously.

But I don't think that my attitude about men needing to keep their shirts on is hypocritical at all, and I'd like to explain why.

This blog is designed to help people understand two things: 1) why dieting is unhealthy and has caused many people to gain weight over the long haul, and 2) how important it is for people to accept themselves the way they are. As I've said before, I don't think sustained weight loss or healthy living is possible without understanding these ideas.

Part of accepting ourselves requires us to see what it is that makes each of us beautiful and then showing off that beauty by highlighting our best features.

This first part is pretty straightforward (after you do the hard work of seeing what makes you beautiful): if you have great legs, you can show them off by wearing more skirts. If you have a defined waist, buy more clothes that feature your middle. If you have gorgeous green eyes, wear more red to make them stand out. (I often wear orange or blue because my eyes are blue.) That kind of thing.

These ideas are not revolutionary, but they really can improve your self-esteem and, therefore, positively affect your life. Half the time I wear blue someone comes up to me and says, "Wow, your eyes look amazing!" That's the kind of thing that makes me feel like I'm on top of the world. There is no substitute for a good compliment, and I'll take them any way I can get them.

(Incidentally that is also why I ALWAYS tell other women when I like something about their appearance—whether it be their shoes, their hair, or whatever. I think it's important that we hand out compliments as much as we can—about our appearance or anything else.)

The second part of accepting ourselves the way we are requires us to dress for the bodies we have, and that can be a lot trickier.

The hardest part is figuring out what body you have. I'm still never sure if I have a pear-shaped body or an apple-shaped body or simply fall under the "plus-size" umbrella. (Glamour magazine has a great monthly column about picking a certain piece of clothing for your body shape and size—last month it was bathing suits—and I never know which shape I am, so I usually look at more than one.)

Equally difficult is following the rules for your body. Sometimes this is hard because our bodies change, and we don't know it right away. In fact, it can take Y E A R S to figure this out.

For instance, I've always had a defined waist, so I've never worried about wearing unstructured clothing on top. I love a lightweight slouchy t-shirt in the summer almost as much as I love hot dogs and watermelon at a picnic, but lately I've noticed that when I wear flimsy t-shirts to a party where someone is taking pictures, the photos come back with me looking like I have a little roll around my belly even though that part of my body is pretty fit. Part of the problem is my posture. I have never learned to stand up straight, so when I'm sitting, my shoulders roll forward and cause my stomach to look bigger than it is. The other problem is that even though my stomach is relatively small, it's not as small as it was when I was younger. No matter the cause, the pictures are always awful, and so I've vowed to stop wearing those kinds of unstructured tops when I might be photographed.

I had the same problem with short skirts when I was younger.

I was always a fan of the miniskirt and, until I was in my late-twenties, could pull it off. But after I gained weight from an accident, I didn't realize that the look was no longer flattering until I saw some pictures from a bridal shower where I wore a panty-skimming dress (what was I thinking???) and started watching What Not to Wear, a show that pushes the "no miniskirts after thirty-five" rule. Now I swear by this rule too because—I don't care how thin you are—after a certain age, a knee-length skirt is much sexier than a mid-thigh one.

The picture above of one of the thinnest woman alive, Nicole Kidman, proves my point.

(I wish Heidi Klum would follow Nic's lead and give up minis.)

Nicole looks sexy as hell in this photo, but if she had gone four inches shorter, she would have looked like she was trying too hard to hold onto her youth. In fact, the longer skirt actually makes her look younger. Some people call this aging gracefully, but that can make people feel old—better to simply think of it as looking your best.

This is the same place where my negative attitude about shirtless men comes in.

I think men over the age of twenty-five take their shirts off when they working out for two reasons: 1) because they're hot (which bothers me because women don't have the same option), but more importantly, 2) because they started doing so when they were teenagers and haven't stopped and looked in the mirror long enough to realize how much their bodies have changed. And if they did, I imagine they would think twice about baring their chests to the world.

The reason I think they shouldn't bare said chests if they're not in great shape is because doing so is NOT dressing for the body you have. It's dressing for the body you used to have. To me, an out-of-shape man taking his shirt off in public is no different than a forty-something woman walking out the door in a micro-mini: it should just be avoided. Even if technically she or he can still pull it off.

The same could be said about muffin tops.

If your jeans are so tight that a layer of fat spills out of the top, it's time to get a new pair. One really important lesson I've learned is that it is ALWAYS worth it to buy new clothes rather than stuffing yourself into the old ones. You will immediately feel better in a new pair of jeans but feel lousy for a long time if you have to lie down on your bed to zip your old ones.

I don't mean to send the message that we all need to cover ourselves up. On the contrary I'm all about showing it off. I hate sack dresses and muumuus and polygamist-type clothes more than almost anything. I believe in showing off our assets—in skirts that skim the knee and shirts that show off a great set of arms. (I also understand that sometimes we just want to blow off the rules, which is fine too.)

But I think showing off our liabilities is just plain silly.

And admitting you have liabilities is not inconsistent with the message of this blog or even hypocritical because it's in line with what the blog is about—which is focusing on what makes you beautiful. But you can't do that if you're not honest with yourself about what your less-than-perfect features are too.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that body acceptance is not only about appreciating your beauty, it's also about being okay with the fact that none of us are perfect. And I hope more than anything that you will understand that recognizing your imperfection doesn't mean that you have to be ashamed of them, but it also doesn't mean that you need to flaunt them either.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Being able to do so—hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time—also allows people to understand why I want everyone to accept themselves the way are AND dress for the body they have. And from my point of view, these are not mutually exclusive ideas.