You may be perfectly happy dieting. And if you are, then great! We’re not all the same. Maybe you just needed to tweak a few things to put you in a happier place. That is awesome! Maybe you just needed to up your exercise a bit, drink some more water. Fabulous. And maybe you have never ever connected your self worth and self esteem with your clothes size. That is the most amazing thing.
And if that’s the case then I’m not writing these blog entries for you.
I am writing these blog entries for myself, and for the 90% of dieters, for whom yoyo-ing has become a rule of life. For those people who have more than 3 sizes of clothes hidden around their house, and who might feel lost, or out of control, or hopeless, or desperate, or worthless.
You see, dieting is seen as normal. It’s the top of conversations between women. In the workplace, people silently eye up each others lunches or snack time treat, and the phrase “Ooooh I really mustn’t” rolls off the tongue as often as “Coffee, black, no sugar”. It’s acceptable to assume someone is on a diet, or going on a diet, or “Wow, you look so good, have you lost weight?”. And I’m not criticizing anyone for complimenting another on weight loss here. If I know someone has been on a diet, I know the hard work, I know they’ve put in effort.
What I’m questioning is so much more. The acceptability of being on those diets. Why are so many of us constantly returning to something that is so rigid, that inevitably sees us falling off and gaining back the weight? Why do we allow our self worth to be measured by how much we managed to stick to this weight loss method? Why do we berate ourselves so violently when a social event takes us over our allotted portions?
This is primarily a woman issue, but it’s affecting men too, and more and more as time moves on. The media shows us perfection, we want to attain that perfection. Both men and women are being shown a “normal” that doesn’t exist, and society continues to accept it. We are so much more than our outer appearance, but you wouldn’t know it from the conversations we so often have. “I feel so fat. My jeans won’t zip up. I’m disgusting. I have no self control” “But you look so good! You’ve lost loads of weight!” “Yeah, but I’m still so fat. I’ve got gazillions of pounds still to lose.” Of course our image is the first thing people see, and so, maybe naturally, the easiest thing to comment on. But we are so much more than an empty vase.
Achievements based on image are fragile. We yoyo dieters realise that. Every time we lose weight, our spirits are lifted, we can feel that little bit more “normal”. But when, after all that dieting, the euphoria vanishes, and our old habits return, the weight starts to slip back, and those uncomfortable, self loathing, critical voices get loud once more.
And what are those old habits that led to the weight gain in the first place? The root cause? For me, it was, and is, comfort eating. Eating to cover emotions, to delay having to deal with uncomfortable feelings. The irony is, that for me, dieting does nothing to address those issues, and I try to comfort eat lettuce….it’s just not the same. So the struggle continues through the dieting, but in a more controlled way. Until it all becomes too much, the binge occurs, and then the berating gets louder, and oh, that perpetual cycle.
So I’m vocal, but I want those people, who, like me, have dieted and dieted and dieted and dieted, to hear of a different way, of the small movement of intuitive eating, of starting to tune in to ourselves.
And it doesn’t mean never losing weight again. It doesn’t mean you will get fatter and fatter with no stop button. What it does mean is you will start to feel connected. You will have the opportunity to learn to deal with the emotions that terrify you so much now.
A few helpful links can be found
And don’t mistake me for someone who’s pretending to have it altogether! I will no doubt return to that dieting pattern yet again, when life gets too much, and the voices get too loud, it happens periodically. But each time I am brought out of the fairy tale with a start, when the self hatred takes me spiraling into the disordered eating patterns I have fought hard to leave behind. And sharing my journey will hopefully help people that have gone through some similar experiences