By Joan Ridsdel
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise Hay
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get fit in 2019? I must admit that it was tempting to go back to dieting after seeing a flurry of new weight-loss advertisements and programs on TV as soon as January 1st arrived.
The promise of weight loss by simply following a “reimagined program” that helps us on our way, fits our lifestyle, and has everything we need to succeed is enticing. Special promotions, pre-packaged food, and the lure of being able to “fix” our bodies just by “clean” or “healthy” eating is tempting.
There’s a reason why there are about 9,510,000 results on Google when I asked for help with “falling off the diet wagon,” or wondered “how do I get back on track,” and about 123,000,000 results when I entered “can’t stick to a diet.”
Diets don’t work, and dieting sets us up for failure.
As a member of a weight-loss group, I attended a weekly meeting. When I lost weight, I loved how unstoppable I felt; I was in control of my life and my body seemed to change at my will.
When I gained weight or stayed the same, it was the opposite. Our meetings were often spent preparing ourselves for these inevitable moments — overeating foods on the “bad” list that would make us lose our minds and take away our ability to stop at just one bite.
We left each meeting with a plan to “save” us from ourselves. We were ready to defeat our inner gremlins and become assertive ninjas when pushed to eat more than our points or calories would allow. Or, we felt ashamed that our bodies would betray us with weight gain as we ate with wild abandon.
How many times have you promised yourself you’d “stay on track” or joined a weight-loss program, swearing this was the last time?
How many times have you “fallen off the wagon” the minute you’ve eaten or drank more than you wanted to?
How many times have you sworn to start over and stick to your points or calories on Monday? Or after New Year’s? After your birthday? If you’re like me, far too many!
I can’t say that ditching dieting was a quick process or that learning to respect and love my body has been as easy as pie! But I can tell you that as I look back on my life and reflect on my dieting past, I’m so glad I stepped off that roller coaster and began searching for a saner, more satisfying way to live and be.
When I realized I could stop dieting and learn to eat and live intuitively, I wondered: how could someone like me, who had been dieting for over 40 years, possibly change the way I felt about my body without dieting and the promise of weight loss? Food and body freedom seemed like a pipe dream meant for others to achieve, not me!
And yet, here I am. More and more enjoying my life, knowing that I control food, that food does not control me.
I recently met with a small group of women to talk about learning to eat more mindfully and intuitively. We shared our dieting stories, and although some of the details were unique, the essence of how we felt about our bodies and the lack of control over weight (gains and losses) was the same. We were experts in how to trick our bodies into becoming smaller and frustrated with biology that refused to bow to our demands.
One group member shared that her dieting history began at an early age. She, like most of us in the group, had tried diet and after diet only to find that weight kept reappearing. The number on the scale never seemed to stay where she wanted it to be.
As I talked about how our intuition can change our perspective, she mentioned that she recently decided to suspend dieting and started paying attention to how her body felt before, during and after eating. She sighed deeply as she acknowledged that she was tired of fighting with her body. Beginning to feel good about herself, she was amazed that her body size or number on the scale was beginning to fade in importance. She was on her way to creating a healthy relationship with food and reconnecting with her body.
You know you’re ready to ditch dieting and start eating and living intuitively when:
- You are at the end of your rope with dieting — no matter how much you restrict, exercise, or stick to a diet plan, those stubborn pounds refuse to budge
- Your inner rebel puts up a good fight and stops you when you “should” be counting your points or tracking your food in MyFitnessPal
- You have a sneaking suspicion that reaching the pinnacle of happiness might not have anything to do with losing weight
- You’ve lost weight and are still frightened of food, of eating too much, or of not exercising enough
- Your pattern of turning to food to soothe your feelings and manage your life hasn’t changed whether you’ve lost weight or not
How has worrying about your weight influenced your self-worth, your activities, and how you’ve lived your life?
If you’re teetering on the brink of jumping off the diet roller coaster but need a gentle nudge, consider these coaching questions to help you decide:
- What activities would you enjoy doing if dieting was no longer your master?
- If you took weight off the table, how would you nourish you and your body differently?
- If you stopped thinking about dieting, what would you begin thinking about — what positive thoughts would fill your mind?
- How will you feed your feelings without using food?
- Who can you count on to support you?
You deserve to live your life fully and completely at whatever size or weight you are now. By learning to live and eat in a more intuitive and mindful way, you can have a healthy relationship with food and become exquisitely comfortable in your body.
Wondering where to start on this journey? There’s no need to travel on your own. I recommend professional coaching or counselling with someone familiar with the principles of intuitive eating to help you get started on your journey to self-discovery, self-compassion, and self-respect for you and your body.
Joan Ridsdel is an Erickson Certified Professional Coach, registered social worker, and the founder and creator of W.I.S.E.R. Woman Coaching and Personal Development. (W.I.S.E.R. = Wisdom, Intuition, Self-compassion, Energy, Resilience)
Specializing in private and small-group coaching, Joan partners with women to help them stop dieting, create a healthy relationship with food, and become deliciously comfortable in their bodies. Through her coaching program, Join the Journey, Joan guides women to make WISER Choices to become experts in their own self-care that leads to creating the life they crave.