This post is going to slightly veer away from the usual posts about ways to help you navigate weight-loss. The reason I have been missing in action for the last few weeks is largely due to the impasse I found myself at. I was going through the motions of tracking my food, never missing a workout, but no longer feeling “all-in.” I have spent the last few weeks contemplating my next move; I love health and wellness and fitness, but the diet culture is literally sucking the life out of me.
After spending nearly a decade going from one diet to the next, severely restricting myself, and obsessively tracking calories, points, macros, etc., I find myself riding this continuous merry-go-round—hating my body, taking action, starting a new “lifestyle,” getting results, relapsing, and then the cycle repeats again. At some point, it was time to get out of this dizzying cycle and try something different. What I was doing wasn’t going to help me in the long-term; I really dug deep and asked myself if this was what I wanted for my health—to be on this perpetual journey that always ended with me in the same spot.
This is when I decided to embrace more of an intuitive eating approach. The thought of no longer focusing on a number on the scale or deleting all my food tracking apps was both freeing, and terrifying. I had never NOT done this, and if I’m being honest, I was worried that I was going to fail miserably. But I made a promise to myself to trust that my body knows what foods to eat and when. While it’s still early in my journey, here are three things that I have learned since I bid farewell to dieting.
1) It’s easy to fall back into old habits
When I first decided to unplug myself from dieting programs, I thought it would be easy. Tracking is so much work, anyways! But after the novelty had worn off, I began to feel uneasy and panicky—like I should be doing something. My body was so programmed to eat according to calories/points that I felt lost when listening to my internal cues. I had to intentionally stop myself from mentally adding up how many calories or points I was eating. I deleted and downloaded the same fitness/nutrition apps repeatedly until reminding myself that to get out of this restrictive cycle, I had to stop using these apps once and for all.
2) The scale doesn’t equal happiness
We often start working from the outside, thinking that losing weight will answer all of our problems. If we just had enough willpower to lose weight, everything else in our lives would fall into place, and we’d be happy. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. From my own experience with dieting over the years, I’d lose the weight, and I was surprised when I didn’t feel happier about it. This often leads people down a dark path, and it isn’t uncommon to slide back into old habits.
3) Living A Healthy Life Should Make you Happy, not Miserable
Ever find yourself feeling panicky when a friend invites you out to dinner or silently cursing the delicious birthday cake that you can’t have because you’re doing keto? Life can be downright miserable when you’re constantly restricting yourself. Unless there’s a medical reason, giving up entire food groups is unnecessary. You can still have your cake and eat it too! Choose a way of eating that includes balance that includes all foods, even your favorite treats, every so often. To maintain a weight-loss, you have to be willing to live this way forever, and if you’re not willing to do that, then it’s not going to work.
Stay tuned for more articles about health, wellness, and saying goodbye to restrictive diets.