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Are You Gambling with Your Well-being?

By Michelle May, M.D.

Playing a Game of Chance

Right below the newspaper article about the lack of scientific evidence for the latest weight loss "miracle" was a large ad for a local doctor prescribing the stuff. Though he'll probably demand a refund of his costly advertising dollars, I seriously doubt the article will decrease the response rate to his ad.

Gambling with your health

Gambling 5 Somehow, when there's a possibility of a payoff, no matter how remote, some people will take the chance. It's kind of like gambling. You know it's too good to be true but somebody has to win, right? Wrong.

I recently saw a woman at a dinner party who looked kind of "flat." I noticed she wasn't eating. She explained that she was sick of yo-yo dieting and was now on a program of hormone shots and 500 calories a day to "reset her pituitary gland." Apparently, this scientific-sounding explanation and her own desperation caused her to overlook the absurdity of it. This was not the first time she'd been taken in by drastic measures – and I'm afraid it won't be the last.

Addiction to Restriction

The $40 billion weight loss industry has continued to explode. If it actually did what it claimed, wouldn't the market be shrinking? We're lured in with images of happy people and promises of a quick fix for all our problems. Somehow the cost doesn't seem so high when the potential benefits look so great. This is akin to someone in financial trouble heading to Vegas with their last thousand dollars. They don't pause long enough to wonder, "How could they keep all these lights on if people actually won?" Somehow they manage to ignore their gut instincts telling them that it's too good to be true.

Even people who don't usually gamble might plunk down a few bucks every week to buy a lottery ticket. Advertisements convince them that "you can't win if you don't play." They get hooked on the small payoffs and ignore the fact that very few people actually hit the jackpot. And most that do eventually end up right back where they started.

Don't Bet On It

Other than a few quarters in a slot machine for entertainment value, the lure of gambling has eluded me. Yet I was once willing to play the weekly weigh-in game until I realized that weighing, measuring, and counting was causing preoccupation, deprivation, cravings, and overeating. Just like gambling to get rich, the "solution" had become part of the problem. I could fool myself into believing that "this was the last time," but it never was. I finally admitted that I had become addicted to the eat-repent-repeat cycle.

A Sure Thing

If I wasn't willing to gamble my money, why was I gambling with my well-being? I went cold turkey: no more dieting. Instead, I made a true investment in my health – body, mind, heart, and spirit. I expected it to be harder, but it wasn't, because the wins were immediate, real, and lasting. I discovered true success:

  • Eating what I love without guilt or bingeing
  • Meeting my needs in more satisfying, fulfilling ways than eating and restricting
  • Living the vibrant, healthy, abundant life I craved

If you suspect you might be trapped in the addictive eat-repent-repeat cycle, take our quiz to find out. Write down your scores and download the report. If you've already read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle or participated in an Am I Hungry? Workshop, take the quiz again to see how your investment has paid off!


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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