After decades of dieting, I had an epiphany. I needed to walk away from them!
I found that I was so disconnected to what my body wanted and needed, I had to seek professional help. Eating made me anxious and I learned that I had no idea how to eat without the help of a diet, and a scale.
I was told to stop dieting, dump my scale, and regain control of my life.
As a serial dieter, this completely freaked me out. The number on my scale defined me. When under a certain number, I was good. When over that number, I was bad! Though I had huge doubts about breaking up with diets, I knew I couldn’t keep failing, and feared if I didn’t get off the rollercoaster, I’d hate myself forever.
I went on my first diet, at age 15. I wasn’t overweight, but my curvy body in our society, made me feel as if I was. So, I decided it was time to be skinny, and chose a diet that promised to shed the excess pounds. I had a list that outlined everything I was allowed to eat, and I only ate what I was told. If I lost weight I was cheered and celebrated, but if I didn’t, I felt badly about myself. I wanted to be good, so I didn’t deviate from the list until I lost the pounds.
But, the moment I hit my goal weight, the opposite effect took place. I began eating with a vengeance, which was not the case before I began to diet.
I came to learn that over time, diets teach our bodies to be less responsive to our natural hunger cues, making it harder for us to regulate our weight. The body has what is called a starvation response, where the brain reacts to weight loss by upping hunger. Physiologically, the metabolic rate slows when dieting, and afterward the brain intervenes to protect itself from what it perceives as starvation.
So, following all my diets, I gained weight so rapidly that I’d bypass where I started and would lose 10 pounds and gain back 15, and then lose 15 but gain back 20, and on and on!
My body was simply doing its job, but I didn’t know this, so I blamed myself. I had brief moments of triumph, followed by a free fall down an emotional abyss. Showcasing my weight loss failure to the people in my world e-v-e-r-y t-i-m-e I gained the weight back was painful and mortifying. “If I’d just keep my mouth shut”, I thought.
What I didn’t know is that more than 95% of dieters are powerless over successfully sustaining a weight loss through dieting alone. Only 5% of Americans can maintain a weight loss achieved through dieting.
My heart breaks for those, who like me, travel up and down the scale appearing to have no discipline, but are simply in the group that dominates all dieters. We, the 95% are the ones who prove that dieting is more like Russian roulette than the pathway to loving ourselves. We must forgive ourselves and recognize that this only works for a select few and odds prove most of us will fail at this practice.
My switch from dieting to exercise began slowly and with love for my body over the hatred I had acquired through dieting. I began jogging slower than most people walk, but that jog made me whole again, and exercising was the vehicle that got me there. I do not measure my exercise like I used to do with my food. I just show up and do the best I can. It never fails me, as when I work out with thoughtfulness and mindfulness, I never regret it.
Though sometimes I struggle with getting there, I promise myself that if I can just get there, it’s good enough.
· Exercise is about saying, “yes” to ourselves, diets are about saying, “no”.
· Consistent exercise routines raise the metabolism; consistent dieting slows it down.
· Exercising can help us feel strong and capable, dieting can make us feel weak and incompetent.
· Exercise builds up confidence, dieting breed’s insecurity.
· Exercising promotes heart health, fights diabetes, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system and our longevity, builds confidence and leads to long-term weight loss. Yoyo dieting is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, higher blood pressure, low self-esteem, gastric issues and, ironically, long-term weight gain.
Eventually, through fitness, I shed the 60 pounds that I had gained by dieting and have never looked back. Showing up for my fitness is showing up for ME! My body knows that I care now. I don’t deprive it, talk trash to it or neglect its voice when it speaks to me. I eat what I want, and usually, I choose to eat healthier because I like to feel good.
DON’T EVER DIET MORE THAN ONCE, BECAUSE IF YOU NEED A SECOND DIET, DIETS DON’T WORK FOR YOU! LOVE AND RESPECT YOUR BODY WITH FITNESS, AND YOUR BODY WILL LOVE AND RESPECT YOU BACK!