• Wed, Nov 6 - 4:00 pm ET

Is Dieting Embarrassing Or Is It Just Me?

regina george diet

Is that what I sound like?

The other week, I did a little “diet experiment” on myself. After making fun of Kim Kardashian for doing the Atkins diet to lose her baby weight, some people reacted with a “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” attitude and I thought, sure, fine, I’ll try it.  I want to lose about 10 lbs anyway.

I did a lot of research, did not consult a physician and started on the induction phase of the diet.  On Atkins, induction is an intense two weeks that is supposed to jerk your body into ketosis. Because I hate commitments in general, it was the only phase I truly intended to do…unless I liked it. I did not. It sucked. I hated it. I failed. My breath smelled and I was tired. Meat started grossing me out really fast. There was nothing to eat. Instead of two weeks of induction, I did one and then went back to my normal fruit-eating ways. Carbohydrates and I will be together forever in a big way. It’s super cool that low-carbohydrate diets work for so many people, but no thanks. Not for me.

Dizzy spells and the constant urge to pee aside, the worst part about Atkins was coming clean to people that I was dieting. Telling people that I was restricting my consumption was pretty embarrassing. At my current weight, most people wouldn’t call me fat (or thin). It wasn’t a necessary diet by any means. That’s why it was an experiment–an experiment I’d hoped would yield some vanity-fueled results, but still an experiment. It was critical that I explain that I was just testing it out to anyone who offered me a beer or a pastry. I didn’t want to deal with the kind of attention that comes with friends and peers thinking/knowing I was a maniac for imposing a diet on myself. I just wanted to see what the fuss was all about. And maybe lose a few pounds.

Maybe announcing a weight loss endeavor wouldn’t make me feel guilty if I had more weight to lose (then everyone would just be patronizing). Telling people that you want to actively change your body size, particularly when you have a normal BMI can feel a lot like telling people“I am dabbling in disordered eating habits” or “I’m outrageously vain” or “I really want to lose three pounds.” Maybe I was imagining the eye-rolls and sighs, but probably not.

If I were thinner, I probably wouldn’t want to risk shattering the illusion that I’m just naturally very thin. Thinness is supposed to be effortless. You’re not supposed to care! Giving a fuck is try-hard. It’s difficult to seem fun-loving and full of joie de vivre if you’re fretting over what one tiny glass of wine will do to your diet. But does anyone really even notice what you’re eating and drinking? Ugh, they do.

I’d like to think that I’m above being judgmental about what people eat, that I ‘d respond with a shrug and a “who freakin’ cares what you eat” if someone told me they were dieting, but I’m obviously not like that. Of course people should eat or not eat whatever they want, but if a totally “normal sized” friend of mine tells me that she wants to lose 15 pounds by any means necessary, I might think she’s being a weirdo.

As of this moment, I’m not on a “diet.” I watch what I eat, but I don’t really restrict myself. That’s how normal people eat, right? My coffee is milky and I don’t have to do any math before a meal. Should I decide to “diet” again, I’m definitely not going to do anything so conspicuous as completely eliminating a major food group.

Image via Paramount

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  • Julia Sonenshein

    It is embarrassing for some reason and I think you nailed it–it’s the trying that’s embarrassing. Trying to change your body highlights the fact that your body needs (or wants) to be changed, and if you don’t mention it, maybe nobody will notice.

    • Jessieface

      For me, it is also that then I feel judged. Are they now paying more attention to my flaws and what I eat? I find people are always trying to tempt me also, once I share. “oh come on, one won’t hurt you – live a little”. ESPECIALLY if they notice I have made some progress. “you look great, you deserve a little break”. If I keep my mouth shut, people typically accept my polite decline to indulge and leave me along.

    • Katie

      I think it’s for sure a pride issue. Pride related to your perceived “failure” at being a normal body weight AND pride related to talking about dieting and than potentially failing at your diet. On the flipside though, now that I’ve lost a ton of weight I happily tell everyone “Yes I’m Dieting!” because I’m proud of my accomplishment AND I’d really like my progress to be an encouragement to others.

  • Eileen

    I definitely think so – obviously, unless you are dangerously overweight, in which people just say, “Good for you!” – but more because it seems vain. “I’m trying to eat better,” on the other hand, or “I’m trying to be healthier about my snacking,” sound fine. I think it’s because “dieting” sounds faddish, or like the kind of thing you do when you only care about how your body looks. Eating more fruits and vegetables and staying away from candy sounds like you care about how your body works.