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A Waist Is a Terrible Thing to Mind: Loving Your Body, Accepting Yourself, and Living Without Regret Paperback – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010

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About the Author

Karen Scalf Linamen is the author of eleven books for women, including the best-selling Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. Karen’s laugh-out-loud humor and common-sense approach to self-help issues have made her a sought-after motivational speaker as she encourages women to thrive through the stresses of life. Karen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and can be found online at

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Making Peace with Your Yo-Yo Diet

What’s a Nice Girl Like Me Doing in a Size Like This?

Okay, fine. I admit it. I’m the girl of a thousand diets. I’ve tried them all: Atkins, Grapefruit, Egg, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Diet Center. On and on, to ad diet nauseum.
   Actually, the diet with which I’ve had the most success is the Yo-Yo Diet, also known as the Déjà Moo Diet, the diet I turn to whenever I get the feeling that I have—once again—put on weight and feel like a cow. I wish I could tell you that going on all these diets has made me svelte. Actually they have, if svelte stands for Still Voraciously Eating Lotsa Treats Enthusiastically.
   Unfortunately, many of my friends share the same problem. Maybe they’re not bouncing up and down the scale on yo-yo diets like I am, but almost every woman I know has something she would love to change about her body, her shape, or the way she looks.
   Knowing this about other people brings a bit of relief. Not that I want my friends to suffer. (In fact, I wouldn’t wish this problem on anyone, not even the woman who whipped her car in front of mine and stole the first-row parking space I was about to claim in the Krispy Kreme parking lot.) But knowing that other women (and men) struggle to change their bodies—or, at the very least, struggle to change how they feel about their bodies—makes me feel a little less…well…alone.
   Apparently we’re all in this together. Even celebrities have this problem, which always amazes the rest of us because most celebrities have the money to hire personal chefs and personal trainers and personal fashion consultants, not to mention their own fleet of personal airbrush artists. I wouldn’t be surprised if the wealthiest stars even hire personal binge doubles who wear the pounds in the relationship. Here’s how it works: a movie star pigs out for a weekend and her binge double gains seven pounds. (If Dorian Gray had been raking in a movie-star salary, he would have gone this route instead of the more budget-friendly oil on canvas.)
   Yet, even with all these resources, many Hollywood hotties do the yo-yo thing too: fat, thin, fat, thin, fat, thin. And I understand their pain. It can unnerve a girl, never knowing what size she’s going to be tomorrow morning. Consider Alice, for example. Within minutes of arriving in Wonderland, she took one measly bite of cake and blew up three times her normal size. It made her so upset that she cried a literal river of tears. (I can so relate!) But if there was all this drama over a single bite of cake, imagine how huge and hysterical Alice would get if, like me, she were in the habit of consuming an entire party-size box of Twinkies in a single sitting.
   I don’t know about you, but as for me and Alice, there’s not much we’d love more than getting our bodies to a size that feels healthy and good…and staying there. What about you?

      Does your closet contain more sizes than your local department store?

      Do you change diets more often than you change the cardboard empties in your toilet-paper dispenser?

      Have you been up and down the scale more often than a beginning piano student?

      Do you long for a committed, long-term relationship with your skinny jeans instead of all these short-lived flings?

      How many different diets have you tried? In fact, if you added up all the pounds you’ve lost over and over again,
would you make the cover of The Weekly World News? Would the headline read something like this: “Woman loses
6,811 pounds and lives to tell the story”? Don’t feel bad. They ran the same story on me last month.


I can put on weight for months, all the while pretending not to notice. As you can imagine, this requires a carefully calibrated system of justification and excusification, not to mention an active avoidance of any reality-based information that might undermine my denial. This is why, if I have a doctor’s appointment and the nurse needs to update my chart, sometimes I stand on the scale with my eyes closed, humming “The Star Spangled Banner.” If she insists on knowing my weight, that’s her business. All I know is that I don’t have a burning need to see the numbers— or hear her announce the numbers. And I certainly don’t want to hear her gasp and turn toward the nurses’ station while she points at me: “Hey girls! Come take a look at this! Did anyone know the digits on this scale went this high?”
   Of course, if I really wanted to stay ignorant of the shape of my body, I could develop eisoptrophobia, which is a fear of mirrors. Except what if I were afraid of mirrors and then lost fifty pounds and wanted to admire my new shape? Or what if I ever wanted to go to counseling and my therapist asked me to take a good look at myself and do some personal reflection?
   Apparently I do not suffer from eisoptrophobia. I say this because last year I looked in the mirror and realized I was the heaviest I’d been in a long time. In fact, at 227 pounds, it dawned on me that I’d broken one of the first commandments of weight management, which is: “Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.” (You think I’m joking? My make and model of fridge weighs 187 pounds. I looked it up.)
   I don’t know why my weight came as a surprise to me. After all, I’d not only been feeling fat and tired, but sad and hopeless too. You see, every time I lose weight, I feel great about my body and my life, while every time I gain it back, I feel angst and shame. And since my angst and shame had skyrocketed, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the numbers on my scale had done the same thing.
   So I did what I always do when this happens, I started a new diet. At the time, this always seems like a good idea. And it probably would be a good idea if dieting didn’t require the mastery of a particular substance that may seem simple, but in reality is about as simple as brain surgery or programming the TiVo.
   That substance, of course, is food.


I don’t know what your relationship with food is like, but to me, food always feels really complicated.
   I know it’s supposed to be simple. Something to do with fueling our bodies. I hear it’s supposed to work like this: feel hungry, eat nutrients, get energy, move around, feel hungry again, eat more nutrients. In fact, it’s kind of like what we do with our cars: fill up and drive. Fill up and drive. Fill up and drive. Food is supposed to work like that, except it tastes better than gas and doesn’t make us complain about the price at the pumps.
   To me, food has always seemed more complex than that. Take breakfast, for example. The remarkably simple question “Gee, what should I have for breakfast?” can turn into the kind of conundrum that would reduce Ernö Rubik to tears. Indeed, last year when I decided to start a new diet, I headed into the kitchen for breakfast, opened the fridge, and—true to form—felt a surge of panic. Here is a random sampling of the thoughts that went ping-ponging around my brain as I studied the contents of my General Electric:

Hmm…what kind of diet should I start? Maybe a low-carb diet? If so, for breakfast I could eat a three-cheese omelet and a half pound of bacon.
Then again, I could always make it a low-glycemic-index day and start off with oatmeal and a piece of rye toast.
Or maybe I should nix food altogether and stick with diet drinks all day. Come to think of it, that egg diet worked well for me once, although nine hard-boiled eggs in one day can get a little tedious.
Of course, I could always grab one of the Nutrisystem breakfasts I bought off that woman on Craigslist.
No, wait! I still have some of that grasslike substance from last year’s colon-cleanse program. All I have to do is mix it with apple juice to create a nutrient- and fiber-rich cocktail that tastes like it was scraped off the bottom of my lawnmower.

With these thoughts swimming around in my brain like Goldfish crackers, it’s no wonder I felt confused and decided to do the only thing that made any sense at the moment: I fasted.
   When you can’t figure out what to eat, don’t eat anything. I do this a lot. It works beautifully for me until about two in the afternoon, when I become so famished I scarf down a pound of bacon, four Nutrisystems, a Tupperware storage container full of leftover mac and cheese, a couple of bowls of Rice Krispies, and half a pan of brownies eaten with a spoon that I dip repeatedly in peanut butter. Which explains why—whenever I decide to get control of my body and my life—it usually only takes about seven hours to feel fatter and more discouraged than ever.
   But last year, as I stared into my refrigerator and pondered a new diet, something clicked. If I were going to kick this thing once and for all, I needed a new approach. Something I’d never tried before.
   It’s not like I don’t already know how to lose weight, what with losing the same forty to sixty pounds over and over and over. But I realized there were apparently some things I didn’t know, because I’d been fighting the same...


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400074010
  • ASIN: B006J44OTE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,924,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jenny on October 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Karen Scalf Linamen's new book A Waist Is a Terrible Thing to Mind is a light discussion about self-acceptance and positive thinking. Her key advice is to focus on making small changes in life to reach manageable goals. As someone who's never had weight issues but still struggled a bit with body image concerns, the topic made for an interesting read. However, I didn't find anything especially unique about the author's advice when compared to other resources.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joyce E. Eddy on June 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am reading it with a group of women over time, so I have only read about thirty pages and want to withhold my thoughts until I have completed reading the book. Her humor is helping to make an entirely too serious problem easier to examine.
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