Weight Loss Role Model Natalie Strawn Proves That Diets Are a Waste of Time

natalie strawn and rita strawn hold up her pantsNatalie Strawn, the 20-year-old from Nebraska who appeared on GMA yesterday to discuss her 282-pound weight loss, has become something of a celebrity overnight. People all over the U.S. are fascinated by her battle with the scale and also what she stands for: an "in-your-face!" to the obesity epidemic the country has been grappling with. And sure, we always love a heartwarming, uplifting success story. But I'm positive there's more to it than that.

We think, "Well, whatever she did to lose almost 300 pounds can, without a doubt, help me lose 10, 40, or 100, right?" But what she's doing isn't exactly what many of us want to hear.


On GMA, Strawn shared that she's been following Weight Watchers and that what she loves about the plan is its flexibility. She can pretty much eat "whatever she wants," as long as she watches her portions. And while you'd think that would be something someone looking to lose weight would seek in a program, it actually scares the hell out of lots of people. We're so brainwashed to think we need a DIET -- with rigorous rules and regulations and lists of "can't haves." Bonus points if it's a fad popular diet -- something attached to a celebrity, Dr. Oz, a book, or a disease ("Let's cut out gluten completely, even if we're not allergic to it, but just to see if that leads to slimming success, wheee!!").

That's why diets like Slim Fast and Jenny Craig and NutriSystem do very well. People who go for those systems claim they "don't have time" to cook for themselves. They'd prefer to be told what to eat or given a boxed lunch, so they don't "have to think" about making the right choice when given a choice.

That's fine, but "dieters" are the ones who could really stand to learn a thing or two from Natalie. She's going to be better off than people who need a quick fix, a fad diet, pre-packaged and pre-approved food. Because having to think and make those tough decisions -- like whether or not to spend your daily allotted calories on a brownie or whether you're going to treat yourself to that cocktail (even if it means skipping the pasta) -- leads to long-term weight loss success. It's about being an active participant in your own weight loss journey instead of being passive follower of a diet.

Sure, with a lifestyle program like WW, there are "tricks" involved -- like coming up with lighter versions of your favorite dessert (brownies made with yogurt instead of eggs!), or remembering that if "you bite it, you write it" in your food journal. But these are actually just healthy habits you want to and can easily adopt for a lifetime. They're what will help Natalie get to her goal weight and maintain it for years to come. I can't imagine that anyone looking to lose weight would want to settle for "tricks" that deliver anything less.

How do you feel about fad dieting?


Image via ABC

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