Read an Excerpt
FIT FOR LIFE: A NEW BEGINNINGThe Ultimate Diet and Health Plan
By HARVEY DIAMOND
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Harvey Diamond
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow I Got Here from There
Since the release of FIT FOR LIFE, I cannot recall the number of people who have asked me how I became interested in the subject, how I learned so much about food and the human body, where I studied, and who were my teachers. And because I am fit and trim, many others have asked me how I can tell people how to lose weight when I, obviously, never had to deal with a weight problem, which is, of course, not the case.
It's been a long and winding road, and if you'll be so kind as to indulge me, I would like to share with you just a bit of the journey. I think you will find it interesting, sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, and frequently similar to some of the experiences you have had.
I was just stepping from my car when the words pierced my ears like an ice pick being driven into them: "Hey, fatty, mind moving your carthat's my space." Ouch! Fatty! Me? The words of this apparent dropout from the International School of Diplomacy served as a most rude awakening for me. How on earth could this guy be calling me fatty when I was using one of my most reliable methods for concealing rolls and folds: a Pendleton overshirt (one size larger than I actually needed) which was not tucked in so it would hide my extra girth that I was pretty successfully denying I had anyway. Mr. Sensitive threw a monkey wrench into a very carefully thought-out facade I had constructed, designed specifically to conceal from others what I admitted to myself only in fleeting moments of truthfulness. Doggone it, I was fat. I hated being fat. It was the bane of my existence. It was in my thoughts all the time. Should I eat, should I not eat, what should I eat? When? Should I go on another diet? Should I just let it "all hang out" and say, "This is me, take it or leave it?" Why was I so hung up on what others thought of me? Why couldn't I be one of those people who could eat anything that couldn't outrun them and not gain an ounce, instead of the kind that puts on weight just by looking at pictures of food. Why in heaven couldn't I take the weight off on one of these forty-seven different diets I've been on and keep it off?
There were two answers to these questions. First of all, I had not yet admitted to myself that I was (and still am) a foodaholic; and second, I was never taught how to eat. I don't mean I wasn't taught how to get food to my mouth. I needed no lessons in that; I was born with a Ph.D. in inhaling food. What I mean is, I was never taught how to eat for my body instead of exclusively for my tastebuds. Were you? Were you ever taught that your body had certain uncompromising requirements and limitations? And that if the requirements weren't met, while simultaneously pushing the body beyond its limitations and capabilities, all manner of health problems, not the least of which is excess weight, would dog you all the days of your life? If it was taught somewhere along the line, I know I was absent that day. The only instruction I ever received was, "Here are the four food groups; eat lots of everything," which I did as though there were a gun to my head. And as a reward, I got to lose control of my body, feel guilty every time I finished another meal or looked into a mirror, go into regular depressions over not being able to get a handle on my "problem," suffer innumerable emotional upsets over having to buy "fat" clothes, feel uncomfortable at the beach, and constantly answer the all too frequent question: "Why don't you lose a few pounds?" Plus, there was the indignity of having to periodically subject myself to one of the many restrictive regimens that was in effect the open admission to the world that I had failed, once again, and had to go on yet one more of these torturous diets, on which I couldn't eat. At least, not what I wanted to eat.
I was so angry all the time, especially at all of those people who seemed able to eat absolutely anything that would fit into their mouths and never gain an ounce, while all I had to do was walk by a restaurant, and I put on four pounds.
Does any of this stuff sound familiar to you? I'm sure you have your own tale to tell, but some of this must be striking a chord or you would not be reading another book on diet. So here is my question to you, dear reader: Have you had enough yet? Are you ready now to explore more sensible methods that will bring you long-term results and which have, for far too long, been ignored in favor of the "quick hit" solutions that bring only temporary results at best; or do you need to experience some more pain and discomfort, undertake more drug therapy, or go on just a few more restrictive, regimented diets that suck the joy out of the eating experience before you are absolutely, irrevocably certain, beyond any possible doubt, that diets don't work?
If you are ready, I mean really ready, to put temporary diets and the like on the junk heap of the past where they belong, and are instead ready to take charge of this area of your life, then read on. You are about to come face to face with what you have been looking for all these long years. In an ideal world I, you, and everyone else would have been taught this information when we were young as a matter of course. We would then have had the choice either to make use of it or not. But because of some glitch in the cosmic computer, we were cheated out of what was rightfully ours. So, like unsuspecting innocents, we were thrust into the middle of a dense jungle with no bearings, signposts or guides to direct us, so we had to fend for ourselves as best we could. We have been at a loss ever since, trying this scheme and that, all to no avail. I want you to take solace in the fact that people all over the world, and there are legions of them, have found their way clear of the jungle of hype, false promises, and arduous diets and are living lives dominated by health and well-being. They are pain-free, trim, fit, and happy, without dieting, and you are going to have the opportunity and choice to join their ranks if you wish. It is not a matter of chance whether or not you can be successful; it is a matter of choice, and that choice is yours.
So as you read on, you will find in the pages no magic formulas that restore health while you sleep, no outlandish promises that insult the intelligence, no assurances of ridiculous, unrealistic results that fly in the face of reason, logic, and common sense. No, this is a wake-up call to all those interested in finally doing it right, in accordance with the laws of nature and the actual needs of the body. Not the temporary, "here today, gone tomorrow" measures that have dominated the subject for so long. This way your results can be everlasting, not fleeting.
What you will find is a common sense, logical, and realistic way of life that honors and supports the body and its extraordinary ability to achieve the highest level of health possible when given the opportunity to do so.
HI, MY NAME IS HARVEY AND I'M A FOODAHOLIC
I'm in my mid-fifties and I can't recall a time when I was not a foodaholic. The good news is, I now have control over it, it no longer controls me, for I have learned how to live a life that allows me to fully enjoy all the pleasures of eating the food I like while increasing my health and remaining trim and fit.
One of the first questions I invariably ask of audiences I speak to is, "By a show of hands, how many of you love to eat?" The reaction is always immediate and predictable. Along with the usual laughter that ripples through the crowd, the room takes on the appearance of a huge flock of flamingos wildly flapping their wings in unison. The only way I could imagine eliciting a more enthusiastic response would be to ask, "How many of you like to breathe?" (And there are those of you who place breathing on the list of importance right behind eating.)
Let's 'fess up: If eating were not a major issue in your life, you would likely not be reading this book right now. And hey, how could eating not be the significant factor in our lives that it is? It's one of our very first human experiences and we are connected to it at the deepest possible emotional level. Eating isn't only a physical phenomenon, not by a long shot. Our emotional attachment to food has far more of an influence on what we eat and when we eat than most people ever realize.
Before we were born, we were floating in the velvet waters of sublime oblivion in our mother's womb. Absolutely everything was taken care of for us. We were comfortable, safe, secure, and worry-free. All needs were met without our even knowing we had needs. Then, on one fateful day, we were thrust out of our world of cozy, snug security, into the bright, open-air world of reality. What a shocker! All we wanted at that moment was to recapture what had been so familiar, comforting, and friendly for the past nine months. And what is the first thing we experience in this new, unfamiliar, and exposed world of lights and sounds? Mercifully, thanks to the fuller development of gray matter in the collective brains of those whose job it is to assist in this birthing process, we are no longer snatched from the womb and immediately dangled unceremoniously by our ankles and slapped on the rear end. No, we are placed at our mother's breast. Ahhhh. In the midst of what is probably the most frightening experience of our lives we are granted a reprieve. There was the familiar heartbeat that had been our constant companion for nine months. We were being held in loving arms, and the crowning glory was a soft, warm breast filled with delicious, nurturing milk. A semblance of normalcy was restored. At that most scary, disturbing and emotionally harrowing time of our tender new lives, all was made well bythat's rightfood.
For me, the journey from that day when my fears and discomfort were washed away by my first meal has been dominated by anguishing, craving, loathing, loving, wanting, needing, and obsessing over food. My entire life revolves around food. I think about it, talk about it, study it, write about it, and of course, I eat it. I love food, I love eating. And it's not only for the physical pleasures, eitherthe sight of some scrumptious favorite, the many different smells and flavors, the joy of just biting into something I love and having it in my mouth, feeling that sense of satisfaction as the food enters my stomach when I'm really hungry. No, it's so very much more. I can hardly tell you all of the psychological and emotional reasons why one eats food, but it certainly didn't take me long as a kid to realize that there was a whole lot more to food than just staying alive. It was wielded as a reward: "Here's an extra pancake for cleaning up your room." As a punishment: "That's it, you're going to bed without dinner." As a bribe: "Sit quietly like a good boy and I'll get you a big ice cream cone." As a threat: "One more word out of you and no dessert!" It seemed as if every aspect of life could somehow have food associated with it.
I'm one of five children, all boys. Money was not abundant when I was growing up, and the competition with my brothers at dinnertime was fierce. There was usually not enough for everyone to have seconds, so of course, whoever finished his first helpings first got to ask the prized question, "Can I have seconds?" Whoever managed to garner seconds would, of course, wear it like a badge of honor the rest of the night, smirking and strutting around like Napoleon after a successful skirmish. The thing is, we couldn't just blatantly bolt down our first portions as though they might be taken away at any moment in order to be sure and get seconds. That would be too obvious. And my father, who was not a person to mess around with, ran the evening meal like the captain of a well-run ship. He was quite unpredictable with his moods so you never knew when something you did was inappropriate and was going to set him off. If he thought you were slamming down your meal for the express purpose of beating everyone else to seconds, you could be yelled at, cuffed across the side of the head, told you had to do all the dishes alone, or the most dreaded of all, sent from the table without even getting to finish your firsts. No, going for seconds had to be done cleverly, even scientifically. You had to eat as fast as possible without looking as if you were eating fast. The speed at which you ate was determined, of course, by how fast the others at the table were eating. So, with eyes constantly darting back and forth to the other plates to see how fast they were being emptied, you measured your intake of food according to the others' progress, timing your last bite to be shoveled in right before anyone else's last bite (remember, they're all doing the same thing), and with mouth full of the last forkful and the tension mounting, you blurt out, "Can I have seconds?"hopefully without spitting out any of the food in your mouth, which would be a dead giveaway and, despite all your effort, would result in the automatic forfeiture of seconds. I remember my mother's constant refrain to us at the table, "What's the rush, who's chasing you?" That's some picture, isn't it? Need I mention that in our family indigestion was as commonplace after dinner as dirty dishes?
When I now reflect on what I have learned over the years about the importance of one's attitude and environment in eating, I shudder at my experiences during those formative and impressionable years. Food should be blessed to show one's appreciation for it. It should be eaten slowly, so that you can savor the different flavors and not force your body to deal with too much too soon. Ideally, beautiful music and laughter should accompany the meal whenever possible. Happiness, and good feelings should fill the air. In an atmosphere of love, camaraderie, and thoughtfulness, the best that can be hoped for from a meal can be realized. The backdrop of competition, anguish, apprehension, and fear and the absence of joy that permeated my family meals while growing up shaped my attitude toward food in a most unhealthy way that to this day demands my constant attention and awareness to counterbalance. If I don't consciously remind myself to eat slowly, chew my food, and be relaxed, I find myself wolfing down my food exactly the way I did as a youngster. Sometimes I catch myself eating like that when I'm out with friends, and I look up, expecting everyone to be staring at me. Other times, before I catch myself, someone will say something like, "Hungry, Harv?" or, "What did you do, forget to eat today?"
I am still unable to stand in line for food at a buffet or cafeteria. My throat closes up, my heart starts to pound, and I become nervous and irritable. It's as though I'm afraid there won't be enough food left by the time I reach the front of the line, or all the good stuff will be gone. It's horrible. I've tried forcing myself to stand in lines as a means of breaking through this, but so far I've never been able to do it without feeling uncomfortable. It's amazing. It's as though, because of my experiences as a child, these feelings are biologically encoded into my cells. How about youdo you have any habits or patterns around food that seem to take over and you don't know why? Guess what, we all do! This is not to imply that all patterns are negative; some are positive. But we're not interested in the positive ones; they're fine. It's those negative ones we'd like to ferret out, acknowledge, and send packing.
Although there was no food consciousness whatsoever in my house while growing up, and we all ate absolutely whatever we pleased, whenever we pleased, I think it was those dinners described above that were most responsible for spawning my addictive, frenetic, irrational, and obsessive behaviors toward food.
Excerpted from FIT FOR LIFE: A NEW BEGINNING by HARVEY DIAMOND Copyright © 2011 by Harvey Diamond. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.