Five years ago, I did what was once unfathomable to me. I stopped caring about losing weight.
After Dieting myself from a skinny kid just out of elementary school to clinically obese in my early forties, I finally realized that chronic dieting was the reason I was so heavy. Going on diet after diet only to gain back the weight plus some was like struggling in quicksand — the more I tried the worse it got.
Releasing the cycle of chronic dieting and making peace with food and my body was such a relief and gift; even if that was the end of the story my life was tremendously better without all the angst and self-loathing that yo-yo dieting brings.
It was so empowering to listen to my own body instead of looking for someone else to tell me the “right” way to eat. It was wonderful to be interested in nutrition, health, and feeling physically better and stronger, rather than focusing on weight loss. Low and behold, without giving it any mind I began releasing weight.
I landed on what’s come to be known as a paleo style of eating. I called it my 90% healthy eating style because this was a lifestyle change for me, not a diet. If I went out to eat, or to a party or cookout, I ate whatever called to me, not worrying if it was “paleo friendly.” I enjoyed whatever I was eating and the company I was in, and then I let it go.
Excited about my transformation, I wanted to share it with others.
As I focused my business in this direction, coaching others, and then writing and promoting a book, my wonderful shift began to erode. I fell back into the mindset that I needed to look a certain way, a certain super slim way, because I was talking to folks about weight loss.
That’s when, unbeknownst to me at first, my healthy eating style turned into a diet.
The few pounds I gained after transitioning from a heavy juicing healing phase to a more balanced way of eating began to haunt me. Without even realizing it, I turned the healthy eating style that I had enjoyed into something strict and rigid — I feared eating foods that weren’t “allowed.”
As this fear persisted my jeans got tight … a favorite skirt became ill fitting … and all the terrible diet mentality thoughts washed over me — I have to get this weight off!
Nope —that’s not the way it works.
I proved to myself once again that thinking negative thoughts about my body, comparing myself to others, and fearing food is NOT the way to lose weight.
In fact, it’s a damn good way to gain some.
So, as much as being thrown back into my old diet way of thinking was very unpleasant (to say the least) it was a great reminder that while finding the healthy eating style that was right for me was awesome, the critical part of my transformation was releasing the cycle of chronic dieting, and making peace with food and my body.
Once I started to lose that peace, my healthy eating style turned into a restrictive diet I no longer enjoyed — I was operating out of fear.
Dieting is about so much more than what foods you eat or don’t eat. Dieting is a fear based activity that we engage in because we feel desperate to shed the “extra” weight we find to be so hideous because of our cultural conditioning.
Alternatively, eating whole nutritious foods that support each of our unique bodies is something that is done out of love. It is done out of care for ourselves. It is nurturing and kind.
During the many years I spent dieting I was super slim, super heavy, and all the weights in between, but I was never happy.
As much as you might dream it will, becoming what you would consider thin from dieting does not bring happiness. It does not bring joy or love because it comes from a system based on fear.
Acting from that low vibration of fear ultimately brings us more of what we don’t want — in this case more weight.
Our outer world reflects our internal state of being. Instead of dieting, nurture your body with whole nutrient dense foods that feel good in your system, and whether you are eating a carrot or a cookie, eat it joyfully and peacefully.
Rather than resolving to get on that diet and finally lose the weight, take a hand out of the quicksand and finally release the cycle of chronic dieting — you will be amazed at what results!
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Dieting Made Me Super Slim and Super Heavy, But Never Happy was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.