Recently I’ve made the decision to stop dieting. I no longer want to restrict the foods I’m eating & over-exercise in order to reach a goal. I know that we’re still in the beginning of the year and New Year’s Resolutions for many people are going strong. But, for me, I’ve decided I’m done with it.
My Dieting Past
I’ve been dieting since my junior year at college. I remember getting to college, waving mom & dad goodbye and realizing I was completely on my own. This meant I could truly eat any and everything I wanted, and that I did. There were truly no limits to my food except for the amount of money on my meal card. I didn’t even think twice about the health factor in the food, I just ate what I wanted. That tended to be a lot of fried & processed foods; things I didn’t have a lot growing up.
And with that, I continued to gain weight. Right around my junior year of college, I must have been talking to my roommates a lot about my weight because she asked me if I’d be the focus for her Biggest Loser segment in the school newspaper. And I said yes.
It wasn’t long until I couldn’t keep up with the rigorous workouts and I was constantly having to think about what I was eating. My picture was going to be in the newspaper, I had to lose something. But, I don’t think I ever did.
After I graduated college I remember signing up for Weight Watchers. Each week I would drive about 20 minutes to the meetings, weigh in & stay for the message of the week. I was excited when I lost and embarrassed when I didn’t. I felt terrible about my body and food was the only thing that made me feel better. Even if for a second.
A 6-year relationship ended and I moved home to my parents’ house. I had no idea who I was, what I wanted or where I was going. But I knew I was overweight and that was something in my control. So I started working out 6 days a week, went on a juice cleanse and started tracking my calories.
I didn’t stick with counting calories for too long but I continued working out 4-5 days a week, drinking green smoothies every morning and staying as healthy as I could. During this time is when my gut inflammation began and I was completely lost. A few years later is when I found the Whole30 and did a few rounds of that while continuing to work out 3-5 days a week.
The theme I’m getting to here is that dieting and exercise have always been at the forefront of my mind. And while there have been times I’ve lost weight, there’s been an equal amount of times that I’ve also gained it back if not more.
Where I Am Currently
Currently, I’m at the point where food and my body consume my thoughts. It began with this last round of Whole30 and hasn’t quite stopped yet. But, I’m creating new practices and rituals to change that. But, if I’m not thinking about what I’m going to eat, then I’m thinking about what I’ve already eaten or about what I’m craving and if I should or shouldn’t have it. I mull it over a few times wondering if it’s going to make me gain weight or cause a gut flare up. After I decide to eat it or not, I continue to think about that choice too.
I’m telling you, it’s constant. And I’m done with it.
In the past, I tried Intuitive Eating and when I got into the thick of my Candida issues, my connection to my body started to dwindle. I didn’t know how to trust what my body was telling me anymore. It didn’t matter if I followed my cravings or not, something always caused a gut flare up.
But, I’m at the point in my life where I’m ready to put the work back into my body and create a stronger connection to my intuition and spirituality. My body and I are so disconnected that I often don’t trust it and end up just choosing just to choose, or make a decision based out of fear or some other negative emotion.
Intuitive Eating is the practice of listening to your body’s hunger, fullness & craving cues and moving forward in that direction. It’s the practice of letting go of diet culture, diet talk and of making weight loss the end goal. It helps you become more in tune with your body so that you can trust that it will support you in the way you need it to.
Sometimes we are trying to lose weight in a body that is actually comfortable at a higher set point. How will you know if you keep forcing it to do what it doesn’t need to? Often times we resist cravings that our body actually needs. And many times we overeat when our body has clearly expressed that it doesn’t need anything more.
We’ve become numb to the signals our body’s give us because of external factors such as stress, emotions, etc. I truly believe that if we treat our bodies well by drinking water, getting 8 hours of sleep a night, managing our stress levels & eating a mixture of healthy & satiating foods, it will take care of us.
I know that I have been silencing my body’s cues so that I can emotionally eat and numb other feelings or push my body to a place it’s maybe not meant to go. I honestly have no idea if I’m hungry or just bored. I often get to the end of the meal and realize I could’ve stopped 3-4 bites ago and have been at a more comfortable level. I also know that there are times that I eat emotionally and regret it later.
All of this is a result of being actively engaged in a diet culture for most of my life. I know I said I didn’t begin dieting until I was junior in college but I have always been surrounded by diet culture. My mom has been a part of diet culture for most of her life so I have heard and seen the ups and downs of weight loss & weight gain. From a young age I can remember my mom weighing herself or coming to conclusions about her body from what the scale said.
I’ve always been very aware of my body and believed for a very very long time, like, up until recently that being skinny was good and being anything but was frowned upon. Mind you, I’m not stereotypical “skinny” person so, in my eyes, I’ve always needed to change.
I’m ready to finally give up the fight against food and my body and let my body finally settle in. This is mostly for my mental sanity, honestly. I don’t know if it’s the show This Is Us or me watching Drop Dead Diva for the past few months but, I have been thinking deeply about how many more beautiful things there are to think about outside of food and my body. I’m recognizing how much time & energy is being taken up wondering & worrying about food.
6 Ways To Let Go Of Dieting
If you’re thinking about giving up dieting as well, here are a few things I’m doing that you can consider:
- I’ve unfollowed diet culture in all forms of social media.
- I’ve begun to follow several HAES & IE accounts that promote body positivity and a healthy relationship with food
- I practicing taking the words “good” and “bad” out of my vocabulary in relation to food
- I have started to ask myself if I’m really wanting what I’m about to eat
- I have begun quieting the negative conversations in my head around my body
- I have decided that not every meal needs to be gourmet