Had an interesting conversation with David Allison, PhD, an obesity expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and one of the clearest thinkers on weight-loss issues I know. Allison feels that, outside actual clinical environments (where clinical language is used), experts are nervous about discussing the extent to which deprivation is a part of losing weight. It’s as if it’s a bad word—as if there’s a magic way to get there in which you don’t feel deprived, don’t feel you’re making a sacrifice.
Allison thinks this is counterproductive because acceptance that you will be somewhat deprived, that your desires will be unfilled, is one of the things that motivates. Think of it in terms of athletics: We celebrate the pain that athletes go through to make their goal. Or in terms of the all-nighters students pull to ace a test: Sleep deprivation is a badge of honor.
Getting what you want involves sacrifice and deprivation. We all know this—people who try to eat less know it more than most. The challenge is that eating is a several-times-a-day activity in an environment saturated with messages of indulgence.
Allison also pointed out that while it would be nice to think that, once we reach our goal weights, we can ease up on the throttle and cruise along without further sacrifice, many people who have lost weight permanently adjust permanently to some sacrifices. The reward for doing so: knowing you’re staying at a goal that you reached the hard way.