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5 Tips To Help You Quit Dieting

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In my last post, I promised to outline the most important things I did that helped me quit 30 years of yo-yo dieting. You can read some of the “highlights” of my history with food here.

It’s almost four years later, and I no longer diet or base my self-worth on what I ate or how much I weigh. And whilst I’m not in a place where I completely accept my body, I am free from the shame that came from so many failed attempts to lose weight.

When I quit, my main focus was to free myself from an extreme habit, reintroduce the food groups I’d eliminated, and stop labeling foods as good or bad. More accurately, stop labeling myself as good or bad – depending on what I ate. After that I’d take the next obvious step, which is where I am now.

Start with surrender: Surrender could be interpreted as giving up, but I prefer to think of it as letting go. I’m not suggesting you quit caring about your body or health. What I’m referring to is surrendering a habit that doesn’t serve you.

Surrender the idea that you need to start ‘a diet’ on a particular date or day, and start being mindful about your choices every time you eat. Surrender the guilt if you eat something that wasn’t the best choice. Most importantly – surrender old ideas about who you are and dare to trust yourself. Your intuition is powerful and will begin to work in ways you cannot imagine.

Commit to the process: If you’ve been yo-yo dieting for a long time, it may take a long time to get used to not dieting. After years of counting calories, omitting entire food groups and weighing myself daily, I initially felt very uncomfortable when I stopped.

Continually remind yourself dieting didn’t work. You’re removing a bad habit from your lifestyle. Learn to sit with the discomfort, and give yourself time to get used to a different way of living.

Record the past and then release it: I found one of the most damaging things about yo-yo dieting was my constant failure to stick to a diet had eroded my confidence.

So, not long after I quit, I listed every single diet I’d ever been on. I went into very fine detail, making a note of the disappointments, the perceived failures and all the times I’d felt particularly bad about my body.

And then I forgave myself and let it all go.

Rebuild your confidence: Good health isn’t just about food. Getting adequate and consistent sleep, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly are just some of the things that contribute.

I did all of these things well when I was on a diet – and they went completely out the window when I wasn’t.

So I decided to make these consistent habits, one at a time. Not only did I feel better, an unexpected yet critical benefit was the sense of confidence I felt at actually being able to make such positive changes part of my lifestyle. It helped me believe I could be successful at making other long-term changes, too.

Practice self-care: Far too often I’d deny myself something, telling myself it would be my “reward” once I lost weight – which rarely happened. Now I practice self-care no matter what I weigh. Get the haircut you’ve always wanted. Have your nails done. Wear clothes that make you feel fabulous. Have a massage. Buy yourself flowers. Stop denying yourself self-care just because you’re not your desired dress size or weight.

Not only did I immediately feel better once I began practicing self-care, I learned to nurture myself in ways that didn’t involve food.

However, the most powerful effect of this practice is I began to change the way I viewed my body – from being the enemy – to being a safe place to live.

These tips are simple… They’re meant to be. Quitting is hard, and it can take time, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose to trust yourself and learn to listen to your body.  

Related articles: “What Nobody’s Saying About Self-Care” and “Claim Your Self-Worth“.

The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the first entry here or the next entry, “Learning To Live In My Body” here.



  • Susan January 4, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Wonderful tips, Esther! At this time of year, too many people are setting unrealistic weight-loss resolutions that will be broken within weeks. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, without self-judgment, is a much better way to go. Like you, I abandoned the scales years ago. My body, and my jeans, let me know when I have detoured from my routine. One day over the holidays, I noticed that I could feel my butt sagging–something I hadn’t experienced in a while. So I recommitted to cutting out sugar and wheat, hit the walking trail, and was back to my non-saggy butt in no time! Thanks for leading us on this journey!

    • Esther Zimmer January 5, 2017 at 5:25 am

      Thanks so much, Susan! It’s always lovely to read your kind words of encouragement. Yes, we need to quit the self-judgement, it only takes away our power. I love that you listen to your body and know so well what you need to do feel good; quitting dieting isn’t about letting ourselves go, it’s about exactly what you describe – tuning in and taking action in a way that works for you! Thanks for your comment. Esther xx

  • 1010ParkPlace January 4, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Brava, Essie! This is an amazing concept: the no diet, yet do what’s in your own best interest concept. We don’t read or hear about this idea. It’s always you’re dieting or you “blew it” and therefore give-up. I’d like to hear more about self-care at some point. I’ve met women who preach self-care, but one look at their ragged fingernails tells you they don’t. I think you’re on the trail of something big here and am excited to see where it leads you and all of us who read your blog. xoxox, Brenda

    • Esther Zimmer January 5, 2017 at 5:47 am

      Brenda, thank you so much! We’re all so familiar with the stories you describe – or given the same tips on repeat, such as, “Only eat when you’re hungry” etc. – that our eyes have begun to glaze over. I believe that most women who think about their weight already know a lot about food and different ways of eating – and yet they’re still struggling. It’s time to change the dialogue. Thanks for making note of the self-care piece, for those of us who eat our feelings it can be a crucial area to focus on, so I’ll definitely be going deeper on this particular topic! Thank you, as always, for your wonderful encouragement and support. Essie xx

  • Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski January 5, 2017 at 8:29 am

    You’re right about it being most important to think about your health first rather than diet. Some diets can make you sick. I found that logging in what I eat on a fitness tracker app keeps me from eating impulsively.

    • Esther Zimmer January 6, 2017 at 4:02 am

      Hi Rebecca, I really love reading what different readers do that they find useful, so thank you for your input! I truly believe that if each of us trusted ourselves enough we could work out what healthy lifestyle methods work for us as individuals – rather than trying to stick to an extreme, one-size-fits-all approach. There needs to be education, of course, but I imagine that the majority of women reading this website probably know more about food and eating habits than most doctors I know. Esther xx

  • Missy Phillips Cooper January 5, 2017 at 8:35 am

    “Stop denying yourself self-care just because you’re not your desired dress size or weight.” Lord have mercy, YES. Amen.

    • Esther Zimmer January 6, 2017 at 4:11 am

      Missy, thanks for voicing your support on this one! Personally I found focussing on self-care key to transforming my relationship with my body. I love your comment! Esther xx

  • Renee January 5, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I think we focus too much on what we don’t want instead of what we do want…look at the positives and just try to eat healthy. Don’t keep yourself from eating something, just don’t eat the whole darn carton..

    • Esther Zimmer January 6, 2017 at 4:16 am

      Hi Renee, that’s a good point because when I stopped thinking of myself as being ‘fat’ (something I didn’t want to be) and started thinking of myself as ‘fit, healthy and strong’ (something I did want to be) my actual behavior started to change to support the new narrative! Thanks for your comment. Esther xx

  • Dawn Engler January 5, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Loved this. I’m in the middle of learning to accept the “new me” that doesn’t have the physical job I used to. Needless to say, weight gain quickly followed. But I’m also at an age where I couldn’t keep up with that physical job, so…round and round I go. I have been trying to work with healthier eating instead of dieting and it’s good to read confirmation of that decision! Thanks

    • Esther Zimmer January 6, 2017 at 4:26 am

      Hi Dawn and thanks for sharing your situation. It’s always good to be reminded that life – and therefore circumstances – change, which can be challenging. Healthy eating is definitely the way to go – whatever that looks like for you – I believe we’re all different but it’s hard to tune into what works and what doesn’t until you learn to listen to your body. Consistency is also key! Wishing you all the best and thanks so much for commenting. Esther xx

  • Michelle January 5, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I really have to make some changes for my health. This is helpful.

  • Esther Zimmer January 6, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Hi Michelle, I’m so pleased you found this helpful! Thanks so much for letting me know. Esther xx

  • Deb Shock January 10, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    I have found that dieting doesn’t work, only short term. I moved in October 2016 and got rid of my scale. I want to go for the long term with a healthy life style change. I love the idea of practicing self help! I think that is a cornerstone to build on. Thank you for this series Esther!

    • Esther Zimmer January 13, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Thank you for your words of encouragement, Deb! I’m so pleased that you’re finding the series useful. Esther xx

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