If I see one more advertisement or an article about a diet that’s going to give me “The Best Body Ever in 2017,” the only thing I’ll be using a fork for is to poke my eyes out.
In the U.S. alone, dieting is a $60 billion industry, yet chronic illness and obesity rates continue to rise. It’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but if diets really work, why the need to start a new one each year?
Despite not having a dramatic weight loss story to share, I consider quitting dieting to be one of my greatest achievements.
When you make a choice to quit dieting, what you’re really doing is making a choice to trust yourself and daring to be present for everything you feel in your body. It’s about changing the way you view your body – from being the enemy – to being a safe space to live. It’s about connecting with your intuition. I may not weigh any less, but I’m wildly in tune with the woman within.
I ALSO CONSIDER QUITTING TO BE A SUBVERSIVE ACT. IT’S GIVING THE FINGER TO AN INDUSTRY THAT’S BECOME PROFITABLE BY TELLING US WE CAN’T TRUST OURSELVES. A FINGER AT THE IDEA THAT WE MUST BEAT OUR BODIES INTO SUBMISSION BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH UNLESS WE DO.
One of the reasons I’m so opposed to dieting is that I was on one on for almost 30 hellish years. For the majority of us, they rarely work or deliver permanent results. But most of all, when you’re trying to follow an impossibly rigid, one-size-fits-all diet; constantly thinking about your body and food, beating yourself up for something you ate or the workout you missed – then you’re not only living in a constant state of shame, but you become disconnected from your inner self.
I want to feel fabulous in my skinny jeans just as much as the next woman, but I also have important work to do with my life. Work that can’t be done if I’m sacrificing my precious time and energy feeling bad about myself and disconnected from my intuition. I’d be horrified if I totaled the number of years spent being stressed about my body and thinking about food. What concerns me most, however, is how dieting wrecked my ability to trust in myself.
Quitting dieting doesn’t mean letting yourself go, it means creating a holistic, sustainable approach that works for you. Best of all, it means re-connecting with the essence of who you are.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight by dieting, and the only thing you’ve lost is your confidence and joy, then it’s worth considering another way. I’m planting that seed in your head today whilst New Year’s Resolutions are such a hot topic. I’m not suggesting I have all the answers – because I still have so much to learn – but what I’m discovering, I want to share with you.
My next post will outline the most important things I did that helped me quit dieting.
The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the first entry here or the next entry, “5 Tips To Help You Quit Dieting” here.
YES! i’m w/ you sister.
Thank you, Meg! I just had a peek at your site – lots of healthy recipes on there, I will be visiting again! Esther xx
I quit dieting, as well. Three years ago, I decided to make a lifestyle change. I wanted to lose weight and keep it off this time. First, I cut back on the wine. It was a habit I got into after work to de-stress and unwind. Then… I cut back on unhealthy carbs – breads and deserts. I started to walk every day, increasing my distance and speed. I lost weight, felt healthy and have kept it off. Looking forward to your next post on how you lost weight without dieting.
Joanna, One of my girlfriends made some small changes to her diet and lifestyle, like you did. It’s part of her lifestyle, not a diet, and she’s lost 12 pounds and has kept them off. I love that Essie’s doing this series. Her ah-ha moments are important ones we all need to think about because I think they’ll resonate with so many women. Brenda
Your girlfriend is an inspiration! I applaud her and any other woman who can do this. I’ve heard and read so many stories about others who have quit dieting and found they began to eat intuitively and the weight came off – and stayed off. That’s not my story at all, which is a big reason why I wanted to share it because when that didn’t happen to me, I’ll admit that I felt like a failure. However, I know why now and I’m looking forward to sharing more throughout the series! Essie xx
Joanna, this is so inspiring, thank you for sharing! I’ll be honest, I quit dieting in February 2013 and over this past year, my weight actually increased. Although I’ve started to lose it now. I was such an extreme dieter for so long and it felt dangerous to be around food at times, so my main focus was to get out of that habit and then take the next step. It was only this year that I felt like I’d reached that point and could begin to look at some of the underlying issues behind my eating habits. I wanted to write about this because I want to raise awareness that quitting is hard – but even without initial weight loss – it’s still worth it to be free. Esther xx
I love this post! I have also found that “dieting” is so restricting and just committing to a healthier lifestyle, and sometimes not so healthy, has made it much simpler.
Thank you, Jennifer! And yes, it’s all about the lifestyle and what works for each of us as individuals. I’ve just been poking around on your website, what a fabulous vibe it has! I’ll be spending some time over there during the festive break, I want to read your ’12 Days of Happiness Life Hacks’ series! Esther xx
Same here. I read “Diets Don’t Work” in 1984 and threw out my scale. I went for hunger and what my body really wanted and stopped when full. I wrote it all down so I’d know if other stuff was fueling the eating (like Christmas stress is now). God was there for me too, as I learned some negative beliefs I had and I worked through them. After stress from a very sick family member (https://www.crowdrise.com/JasonCendroskiMedicalFund/fundraiser/catherinecendroski – take this off it is against the rules) weight came on and last year, Kim Dolen Leto’s FIT book was a God send. I joined her Facebook group, but as for her very few good guidelines – well, they were just suggestions, it was the fellowship of likcminded women that was such a help. Except for her guideline of spending an hour a day with God and with moving my body – that is a very good goal and idea and I had some success with it, although I still struggle. I concentrated on hunger and fullness and if I had to have a treat, I ate the least amount I could and threw the rest in the trash. Actually, I will save a 1/4 C. or 1/8 C. of a dish, if I become full while eating, “waste not, want not’, but it doesn’t have to go to my hips from overeating. Save it for a snack tomorrow!. I’m down by about 15 lb. Got 10 to go.
So much good advice in your comment, thank you, Cathy! I love that you threw out your scale – me too – and that you find keeping a record of not only what you eat, but what’s fueling the desire to eat, helpful. After some resistance, I started doing that this month and it’s been very revealing. And thanks for sharing about Kim Dolen Leto too, it’s always good to know that there are so many different routes and options in terms of guidance and support.
I’m sorry to read about your family member who is ill and I’ll be sending him my prayers. I’ll admit I’d never heard of PANDAS before, thanks for raising my awareness of this issue.
Agreed. It’s about listening to your body. Moderation. Lifestyle. And NOT listening to the media or trying to life up to Photoshop 🙂
Yes, it’s definitely about listening to your body! Thanks for the vote of support, Mona! Esther xx
Yay, yes, yep, for sure. I’m with you, and this is probably one of the best resolutions anyone can make. One of my favorite writers, Michael Pollan, has written, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” This is the only diet I’ll ever subject myself to. Anita xx
Thanks for commenting, Anita! I really hope this does encourage more women to consider quitting dieting as a resolution, it takes away so much of our power. Which doesn’t mean – of course – that we shouldn’t look after our health, but there are far better ways! Esther xx