People have various reasons for going on a “diet” or “weight loss plan” or “a new healthy eating program.” The main reason for most is that their desire to change the number on the scale. Most want it to go down, some want it to go up. There are certainly people out there that choose a new way of eating in an attempt to improve some other aspect of their health as well, but in my experience these people are in the minority.
We Hate The Word "Overweight"
There is nothing wrong with wanting to shed some extra pounds per se. We are told over and over again about all the health risks that come along with obesity - heart disease, diabetes, lowered immune function, increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac episodes, inflammation of tissue and so on. As a society, we are well aware of the health implications of being overweight.
We are also well aware that being overweight is seen as unattractive. There is a stigma around being overweight. There are false beliefs that those who are overweight are lazy, less intelligent, or otherwise lacking in desirable personality characteristics.
Hate My Body, Hate Myself
When it comes down to it, most people that I talk to in my nutrition practice want to lose weight because they do not like the way they look, they do not like the way they feel, and they so strongly identify with their physical selves that in all this not liking their bodies, they wind up believing that they do not like themselves...as though their bodies and their inner core are one and the same.
“I hate myself for eating so much.”
“I hate my fat thighs.”
“I hate the way I look in my clothes and how I feel when I get up in the morning.” “I hate.” “I hate.” “I hate.”
It is my theory, in working with myself and with others, that when someone is motivated by hate, desirable, lovable, and awesome results are hard to come by.
When you start out on your journey believing that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, something that must be fixed, must be rectified, or beat into submission, you wind up on a perpetual cycle of dieting, rebelling from your diet, hating yourself more, dieting, rebelling from your diet and so on.
Hate does NOT work. Diets that are fueled by hate do NOT work.
Make Love, Not Diet
In my own journey, I struggled with my weight, with my health and with sticking to a healthy eating plan for years. I yoyo-ed up and down in weight, flip flopped from extreme restriction to extreme binges and killed myself in the gym. I burnt out my adrenal glands, messed up my metabolism and made myself absolutely miserable. My world was about food, what would make me skinny and therefore lovable, and about how fat I was, and therefore shameful.
There was no diet that could undo the pain. There was no lifestyle plan that was going to help me get to where I wanted to be because in my heart, I was unhealthy. The second I stopped hating myself, I changed. The second I gave myself permission to love myself, wholly and fully just as I was in the body I was in, my body began to change. The moment I stopped forcing myself to eat foods I did not like because I thought they would make me lose weight, and when I stopped restricting foods that I enjoyed (and feared), my appetite transformed naturally.
I began to crave the foods that made me feel good, that tasted good and helped me find a healthy weight. I stopped killing myself in the gym and found whole new levels of strength and grace in my yoga practice.
What Would Someone Who Loved Themselves Do?
My mantra became “what would someone who loved themselves do right now?” What would someone who loved themselves eat? What would someone who loved themselves wear? What would someone who loved themselves think as they look in the mirror.
As I progress, as I continue to do things that are motivated by love, rather than hate and fear, I am finding more freedom, more health, more balance, and a lower number on the scale. But here is the thing -- that doesn't even matter as much anymore.
Don’t go on a diet. Get off the merry go round. Just love you. Work on loving yourself and see that from that place, everything else will fall into order.