Ginnifer Goodwin may practice Big Love, but she's determined to not have "more to love." The actress recently told Health Magazine that she's been on Weight Watchers for 23 years, since she was nine years old!
She explains her dieting diligence: "I've never had a dramatic weight problem, it's just that I tend to indulge, and then I need to get back on track so I can button my pants." And Weight Watchers isn't a dramatic program--you track your consumption using a point system, but get to eat normal food. And, as Ginnifer sees it, Weight Watchers "is the only thing on the planet that doesn't dehydrate you or just make you miserable."
We hate when celebs claim to eat pizza and brownies all day, and certainly appreciate Ginnifer's candor. But starting a diet plan at nine is pretty controversial, as is the way the Ginnifer measures her dieting success. The actress explains: "I have had a number for, honestly, 12 years that's my happy number where I feel good about myself and my energy's high. I call it my 'shooting weight,' because it's also the number that doesn't freak me out when I see myself on screen."
According to our expert, San Francisco Marriage and Family Therapist Lisa Bograd, "On any given day, there are 65 million people, mostly women, who are on a diet in this country. Women learn to deprive themselves at an early age to be appealing to others. But the truth about diets is that they don't work in the long term, as the research consistently shows that more than 95 percent of people who go on diets regain their weight within two years, and that dieting can be quite taxing and damaging to the body, causing hypertension, heart problems, and often creating lifelong struggles with food and weight.
Ginnifer Goodwin articulates the inherent flaw in the diet mentality when she says, 'It's just that I tend to indulge, and then I need to get back on track.' This is the impossible conundrum of the dieter, as restriction cannot help but to beget overconsumption; they are as intricately linked as day to night, thus setting in motion a lifetime of yo yo dieting and its accompanied obsession and preoccupation--in her case 23 years and counting!
We live in a culture that values thinness in a woman and which bestows more benefits and advantages to those of the female species who can fit into a size 4 than a size 14. Against such a backdrop, it is impossible for a woman not to concur that the thinner she is the better she is and the happier she will be--I would be willing to bet that Ginnifer Goodwin's 'happy number' is closer to a 4 than a 14. And if that isn't enough, we are taught that the heavier we are the more likely we are to develop serious health complications, like diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, just to name a few.
So, sure, we are going to venerate weight loss and to throw a great deal of time and resources into efforts to be slimmer. But my experience as a clinician who has worked with people with eating disorders for more than a decade and who has studied a large body of literature related to nutrition science, health, and eating disorder prevention has led me to the conclusion that it is far healthier emotionally and physically for a woman to focus on being at home in the body that she currently occupies, even if it falls outside of our cultural 'happy' range, than to put her life on hold until the numbers change.
I have never seen one single woman find lasting happiness by reducing her dress size. But I have seen many women who refuse to go out, who are filled with self hate and self recrimination and who deprive themselves of countless opportunities for pleasure and fulfillment simply because of a number on a scale. So I think it is a serious problem to measure weight loss success, in fact, to measure success in general, by a number. Whenever a woman does that to herself she gives herself the message that she is not acceptable as she is, for who she is, and I have never seen one single person make lasting changes and find success in their lives when they are motivated by self hatred and self abnegation.
The research shows that exercise is a far more significant harbinger of health than body size--except of course, at the extremes--so moving one's body in the world, whether by walking, jumping rope, or dancing, regardless of the weight loss payoff, is a far saner and more productive way to approach the issue of being healthy.
Of equal importance is to focus on how certain foods make you feel rather than on how they will make you look. For example, how does that afternoon Coke and Snickers bar feel in your body 10 minutes after the caffeine and sugar high? Do you start to feel lethargic and want to take a nap? Are there certain foods that just give you more energy and that your body finds easier to digest than others? Start to notice what is going on inside your body and within yourself (do you think you were feeling lonely before you dove into that chocolate éclair?)--and as you begin to cultivate more self awareness, you will feel more in tune with yourself instead of at odds with yourself.
The research also shows that while body weight has an effect on the perception of attractiveness, self esteem, which is not contingent on weight or Body Mass Index, is an equally potent elixir, and one that is likely to bring a far more lasting happiness and sense of wellbeing.
So whether we are trying to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic or simply trying to keep our adult waistlines from expanding, I think it is best to start from a position of self love and self acceptance and to focus on feeling good about who we are in the bodies we currently find ourselves in, through movement, through self expression, through tuning into ourselves and truly inhabiting our own skin." Amen.