I am in diet recovery.
What does that mean?
It means that I no longer buy into the “lose weight to be healthy” myth. This myth has wreaked havoc on my body, mind, and soul. It has left me feeling unworthy to be alive and taking up space. It has led me to believe there’s something wrong with me and my body when the truth is that the MYTH is the problem.
Yes, it’s a myth… Thin does not equal healthy. Fat does not equal unhealthy. Science supports those two statements.
I’ve used the “calories in — calories out” thinking over and over and over again. I’ve used it with a variety of eating plans, calorie allotments, and have learned that “losing” weight doesn’t take will-power it takes the willingness to abuse yourself and your body on all levels.
By the time I came to my senses, I had an extreme fear of food. ALL food. I also had close to 100 pounds of “excess” weight. In 2013, I began to read books like,
- How to Become Naturally Thin by Eating More, written by Jean Antonello
- Health at Every Size, written by Linda Bacon
- Intuitive Eating, written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
- Secrets from the Eating Lab, written by Tracie Mann
These books and many others taught me that dieting CREATES disordered eating. In my mind, that means that dieting IS an eating disorder. You see it is not normal to weigh and measure food before eating. It’s also not normal to count calories, fat, carbohydrate, protein calories. And it certainly isn’t normal to only eat your food from dishes where you can perfectly proportion your food.
It is NOT NORMAL to know this much about the food I place in my mouth!!
I wasn’t born this way.
I came into the world just like everyone else. I was the girl in high school who could eat whatever she wanted and not gain an ounce. Then, after the arrival of my first child, I bought into the myth.
I bought the garbage that I “had to” return to my pre-pregnancy weight. Never mind the fact that my pre-pregnancy weight was UNDER-weight. I knew that….something told me that before I conceived and I tried everything I could think of to gain weight. So, when I found myself 15 pounds heavier, I was excited! I finally liked the body I saw in the mirror. Then, I found out that I was pregnant and that’s what created the weight gain.
So, after my first child arrived, my body began dropping weight…per its design. It stopped 10 pounds away from where I thought it should…as if it were up to me. Do you know how absurd that sounds now?
My desire to lose those 10 pounds….my misconceptions of how the human body works….led me to ask my doctor for her suggestions. She suggested “a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner” and I bought into the myth.
After 30-days doing exactly what my doctor (and the program) had told me to do, I had GAINED 30 more pounds!!…and I was hooked and focused on getting rid of that weight too.
Now 40 pounds….
Fast forward 30+ years and I’ve learned A TON about myself, the human body and that DIETS DON’T WORK. Diets and dieting is a futile attempt to force the human body to do what it is not designed to do. It has one goal….ONE…that goal is to SURVIVE! It’s supposed to survive whatever you throw at it. Guess what calorie restriction actually does for the human body?
Calorie restriction doesn’t just throw the body into famine mode where it will store whatever you eat as fat. No, it doesn’t just do that. It SLOWS your metabolism so it takes you longer to burn the foods you eat. It also turns on the immune system in an effort to survive by creating inflammation and retaining water. Your body expects you to eat every time you get hungry….because hunger pangs (and other hunger cues) are your body telling you it needs more fuel.
One day as I was reading and pondering on my own body and how it was not cooperating with me, a thought came to my mind…
… “Dieters are all bulimic…”
“How?,” I asked myself…. “because they binge and purge….purging isn’t only about throwing up…”
OH MY WORD!! That’s true! Every single time that I got fed up and ate whatever I wanted to eat AND THEN
(1) starved myself until dinner the next day, or
(2) exercised more then my usual routine the next day
I was in the bulimic cycle of binge and purge. Consider this….
Every year, as a society, we participate in what I refer to as the Great Binge cycle also known as the “Holiday Season.” This is followed by….YOU GUESSED IT!…the Great Purge cycle also known as the “Weight Loss New Year’s Resolution Season.”
How do you stop the cycle?
Let me begin by sharing that it’s not necessarily easy to do. It is worth doing…and it takes time to heal. I no longer look at weight loss as the gateway to wellness. The truth is that wellness is the gateway to weight loss….when your body is ready.
I make no promises that you’ll experience weight loss after 1, 6, 12 or more weeks of living a life based in wellness. Your results will depend upon YOU and whether or not your body is willing to take a risk on you. After all, you’ve already abused it.
That’s right! Your body has a say in how this happens. You may be living inside your body but you do not have total control over it.
There is no way that your body is going to tolerate your abuse over the long haul. It can tolerate a lot AND it has one goal….survival. You desire to thrive? That part’s up to you and it has NOTHING to do with starvation, or a specific meal plan, eating timeframe, or any other belief currently being spread like wildfire by the weight loss industry.
You stop the cycle of abusing the body and yourself when you focus on multidimensional wellness. You are a multidimensional person and you’re wellness program should be too.
Where do you begin?
You may feel a bit overwhelmed right now. I know I did. I also felt relief and excitement. That didn’t make it any easier to undo the really bad habits dieting had taught me, like distraction as a way to ignore my hunger. The point is that YOU will need to be gentle with yourself…and with those who still believe the myth.
It takes time to shift a paradigm regardless of how much science proves the shift needs to happen. I won’t lie to you, you will be fighting an uphill battle. You will have people think that you’ve given up on your health. You will have people sending you information about the latest diet information. You will need support and access to someone who knows where you’re heading AND has been where you are right now.
The place to start is with rejecting the diet mentality. No more tracker app(s). No more counting calories, fat, carbs, or protein. No more weighing or measuring anything, including your body. Let your clothes tell you all that you need to know. Yes, in the beginning you might gain weight….or you might not. Get a journal and write about your day, what you’re thinking and feeling.
Start the process of loving yourself and your body for where you are right now. Your intentions are good; just misguided by an industry that honestly doesn’t care about your health. The weight loss industry only cares about your money. Stop giving it your money. Put that money into a savings account to help pay for your wellness journey. I promise that you’re worth it. Your body needs to know that you love it. YOU need to know that you love you.
What dieting tools will you let go of starting today?