Today my friends and I were discussing being fat. This is a favorite topic among women, but it’s sometimes an underlying theme in conversations with men too. Thinking about fat always makes one think about diet and exercise too, and this of course makes one argue with oneself and with others about what the most effective dieting and exercise strategies are. This afternoon I was looking at some old pictures and thinking about how my weight has remained relatively constant over the past few years despite the many diet and exercises crazes that I temporarily adopted. Obsessing about my body has never once done me any good! Then I saw my pictures from my summer in Nicaragua, where I ate wonderfully delicious things and hung out at bars and went on trips with strangers (that I really shouldn’t have) and sweated a lot and went hungry sometimes. I realized how non-regimented it was and how I didn’t care at all about what I ate or how much I exercised. And of course I lost weight. Am I saying that you or I should start eating Nicaraguan food to lose weight? Or that we should walk on a treadmill as much a Nicaraguan would in order to simulate this lifestyle? No, of course not! (Although the food would be delicious!) I’m saying that the reason our bodies sometimes shut down on us is because we’re killing them with our worry-filled meaningless lives. Namely, our lives of calorie counting and low-carb cookbooks. Our lives of half-hour runs and pilates sessions. We’re trying to calculate what the exact nutritional and motional needs of a human being would be if she were living in similar conditions to ours, but the problem is, we’re not really living so it doesn’t work. We’re not out there exploring, laughing, starting up conversations with strangers, losing ourselves in new passions we discover, getting to know the people we love, getting lost for hours. People who do those things don’t have time to worry about what they eat or how much exercise they do. They’re too busy living. We’re too busy worrying about our weights to get out there and do anything worthwhile. The body, as it did for me in Nicaragua, will take care of itself when the soul pushes forward. So this is my diet advice for you and me: stop dieting and go get a life!