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Short-Term Recasting: The First Three Months

Excerpted from

French Women Don't Get Fat; The Secret of Eating For Pleasure


While your leeks are boiling, ask yourself: a couple of questions:

1. Why am I doing this? Because I'm afraid my husband or girlfriends think I am bouboum(overweight and dumpy)? Because none of my clothes fit? While diets are often inspired by fear and sell-loathing, such emotions do not show the way toward living like a French woman. To embrace recasting, you have to be ready to embrace pleasure and individual happiness as your goals.

Sounds paradoxical? At least hall our bad eating and drinking habits are careless; they grow out of inattention to our true needs and delights. We don't notice what we are consuming, we are not alert to flavors-we are not really enjoying our indulgences, and therefore we think nothing of them and overdo it. Perhaps you have given up caring about fashion. Or trying other new things? It may be easy for a wife, mother, and full-time worker to neglect pleasure; perhaps a part of you even thinks it's selfish. But you must understand there is nothing noble in failing to discover and cultivate your pleasures. (It will make you not only fat, but grouchy.) You owe it to your loved ones as well as yourself to know and pursue your pleasures. And since everyone's taste and metabolism are unique, you must pay attention to yourself-to what delights you-so you can tailor your system and preferences. It's a lifelong commitment, but it promises a lifetime of good health and contentment.

2. You can't start eating and living well in a physical or emotional vacuum. Why do you think you have gained weight? Age? Family or work pressure? Loneliness? Fashion? (Believe it or not, some of us tend to gain precisely when styles are at their least forgiving!) Just had a baby? Stopped smoking? Always hungry? Grief? Other stress? The possible combinations of mental and physical factors are too vast to list completely Losing one's equilibrium can be a symptom of a more serious trauma. II it's a devastating problem, you may need some outside help-seek that help. But if it hasn't knocked you totally oil stride, chances are you can identify and deal with it on your own. If bad eating habits are your way of compensating for another problem, stay tuned, because French women have a much more varied menu of compensations. If you have traded in your nicotine for potato chips, it's time to consider alternatives.

Having said these things, we can proceed to plan the recasting of the next three months. First and foremost, this means identifying and reconsidering our worst offenders. Some may be eliminated, others reduced. The right approach depends on your individual needs.

"Round Up the Usual Suspects"

Inspector Renault's famous line in Casablanca, when he lets Humphrey Bogart off the hook for killing the Nazi officer, is an apt command for the first step in recasting.

Let's look at your diary. Does anything in your past three weeks seem strange? Maybe not. Without Dr. Miracle's objective eye, I might not have immediately identified my own "offenders," those foods I was consuming out of all proportion. My big problems were bread, pastry, and chocolate. Not such rare vices. But perhaps for you they are not vices at all: your consumption of them maybe perfectly moderate or trivial. One slice of bread with lunch, a small slice of tart after dinner. Your offenders may be quite different.

Analyze your diary by determining what seems excessive in your judgment. You might begin by asking, "What could I live without-or at least with less of?" Is the thought of those two cosmos at quitting time the only thing getting you through the day? How would one suit you? Or skipping every third day? Do you ask the waiter for more bread before he has even brought your order? You might find one slice savored slowly with dinner just as satisfying, or you might just as easily wait for your appetizer. Do you finish every French try on your plate?

You see where I am going. This is not radical. Little things do add up. But now ask yourself something else: "Which things do I most enjoy: my glass of wine at dinner? an ice cream cone on Sunday afternoon?"

Tags: Diets and Weight Loss