Why I am giving up dieting for good
These last few weeks have been the usual emotional roller coaster that ensues when I start a program and then "fall off the wagon." Anyone who's spent a lifetime dieting and trying to lose weight only to regain it all will know exactly what I am talking about. And because I am doing this so publicly and even started a Facebook group this time, the sense of 'failure' is even more crushing.
It seems that we have to learn our lessons as often as it takes to learn them.
On a physiological level dieting works because it creates the calorie deficit needed for weight loss. On a psychological level, however, it is a minefield of hope, expectations, disappointment and ultimately defeat.
When I created my Intuitive Dieting concept a few years ago I really thought I was onto something. Combining dieting methods with Intuitive Eating guidelines made so much sense to me and felt like it was the missing connection between knowing what to do and actually doing it. And for a while it worked. Until life threw me a major curveball (my mom's sudden death) and sent me straight back into the familiar and comforting arms of food and intertia. I regained the 50 lbs I had lost and have been struggling to recover my Intuitive Dieting mojo ever since.
My reasons for wanting to lose weight are still valid: my obesity is impacting my health and general sense of wellbeing, and I do need to shed a considerable amount to qualify for the ankle surgery I need. I know how I got here, I know what to do on a practical level and even have a good understanding of the psychological root causes of my overeating and physical apathy. Yet I resist every time I come close to thinking This is it, I've got it!
Resistance, ultimately, is a protective mechanism whereby the perceived risk of an action feels more dangerous than the discomfort of the status quo.
This, I know, is where the real work lies. Dieting only ever addresses the symptoms and leads to short-term successes, but rarely to long-term behavioral changes. I used to say that dieting is my tool and not my master. As a tool dieting felt empowering but maybe it's a bit like a jackhammer: very useful for breaking through hard surfaces but not something you want to be holding in your hands forever.
The problem is that dieting, eventually, always becomes my master after all. And that's when I start resisting and "falling off the wagon." It's a very familiar cycle for too many people.
I am done with dieting.
I am not done with wanting to lose weight but I am done with food restrictions of any kind, with counting things and the spinning wheel of guilt and shame that keeps me running around the same loop again and again. Done.
So if I don't diet anymore how will I still lose weight? I know I will lose weight when I start to truly listen to my body's natural satiation signals and reconnect with the joy of cooking and a more active lifestyle. My body will tell me what it needs and when it reaches its happy weight.
The real work, for me, is the unravelling of decades of last-supper mentality, guilt and resistance, while fostering emotional resilience and healing.
My word this year is HEAL and as so often before, I chose it and then promply forgot about it. Yet I know that healing is a big part of this journey and that's why I renamed this website's tag line, too:
Healing Emotional Eating: From Resistance to Resilience.
I removed the word dieting from previous posts and deleted my Intuitive Dieting page. Eventually this will be replaced with Intuitive Eating and other appropriate resources. The name of my Facebook group has also been changed from Intuitive Dieting to The Reluctant Cook.
I won't be doing this alone and am seeking support in various places:
- The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
- Nutrition Therapy (had my first appointment this week)
- My Facebook Group
I know that the journey ahead won't be easy but I am feeling a clarity and peace I have not felt in a long time. In many ways this is new territory for me, I know how to diet and practice restriction but I don't know how to truly listen to my body and trust its messages. I don't know how to navigate my anxieties without food. I don't know how to be more present than not. I don't know what true inner resilience feels like. But over the years I've had glimpses of all of these and I know that I have already learned so many lessons that I can draw from and build upon.
And perhaps, just perhaps, this is the lesson that finally sticks.
→ Click here to join The Reluctant Cook Facebook group for support and inspiration