If you fight a constant battle with your weight and are losing -- the battle, that is, not the weight -- you're definitely not alone. As many as one in three women in this country are dieting on any given day.
So when a group of working women got together in Belfast, Maine, not long ago, the conversation just naturally came around to food and weight.
"I think I stay overweight because it helps me at work," said Diane, a powerfully attractive 36-year-old despite her extra 30 pounds. "All the messy sexual issues are moot; I can be as businesslike and powerful as I have to be and some man isn't going to come along and pat my fanny and treat me like a bimbo."
She paused, looked away, lit her 90-hundredth cigarette and said, "That's a cop-out. I'm just trying to find positive reasons for not losing the weight. I don't know why I stay overweight."
Her friend Carol said: "For me, staying just this much overweight [25 pounds] -- never more -- has become some sort of ace up my sleeve. I can always lose the weight if I want to, is what I tell myself, and when I do, my whole life will change for the better.
"But I never actually lose the weight because after all this time, the risk is too high. What if I get thin and this great guy doesn't come along, for instance, and my career doesn't take a jump forward and I don't like myself better and I don't suddenly have a world of self-confidence?
"I've been blaming everything on my weight for so long, it's safer to stay this way than risk finding out that my weight isn't to blame for all the things I don't like about my life."
Said Ellen, married for 27 years and the mother of six: "I think one of the reasons I stay overweight is that on some level, my VTC husband wants me to -- strange as that sounds.
"Maybe my extra weight means he doesn't have to worry about someone else coming along and sweeping me off my feet, or it gives him something to feel superior about, or an excuse for not being the most ardent lover in the world.
"All I know is, every time I go on a diet, he brings home a pizza!"
A woman who couldn't possibly claim to be fat shook her head and said, "I'm not overweight, but that doesn't mean that I'm not obsessed with food. . . .
"A lot of times, I think I eat instead of dealing with the way people treat me. If I feel ignored or unloved or put down, I'm likely to stay home alone and eat chocolate doughnuts and cry instead of standing up for myself."
What seemed clear by the end of this warm, sharing time was that a lot of women who are losing the weight battle have hidden reasons for not wanting to win it.
But what's always most important is that all of us learn to like ourselves unconditionally -- no matter how much or little we weigh.
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.