Have you ever heard the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result?” That’s how I feel about the endless cycle of dieting. Ever since I have been practicing and teaching mindfulness, I feel like I’ve taken an anti-bullsh*t pill and I can point out bullsh*t as soon as I see it. An ad for a gym that promises a “cut” body by working out there? Bullsh*t! A conversation about the newest diet that will speed up your metabolism? Bullsh*t! The need to get “bikini-body ready”? Double bullsh*t! If you have a body and a bikini, then you are ready! But not everyone sees through the bullsh*t and they continue on with the endless cycle of dieting. What they don’t know is that this cycle is doing some major damage…
When you go on a diet – any diet, whether it be a commercial program, or a book, or a cleanse – you may see results initially, but your body will eventually fight this deprivation and encourage your metabolism to slow down and conserve calories in order to get back to your natural, or set point, weight. Recently, there was an article about the Biggest Loser contestants who gained back most, if not all, of the weight they lost on the show, where they followed a low-calorie diet and exercised many hours of each day. My heart hurts for these people. They put their lives on hold – gave up jobs, left their families for months on end, ate not one piece of birthday cake or a Christmas cookie – all for the promise of being thin. Once they returned to their normal lives, even if they continued with the diet and the exercise (as much as they could do while working a job and spending some time with family), their efforts were futile. Unfortunately, they didn’t read the research before starting on this particular cycle, and once the weight returned, the shame and feelings of failure came along for the ride.
Diets don’t work. Continuing to go on them will only bring more shame and failure. What’s the point?? Why is the promise of thin more important than self-preservation, self-love, and happiness? My anti-bullsh*t pill has let me see the truth:
That respecting my body enough to care for it is more productive than listening to my inner mean girl’s need to fit society’s ideal of what I should look like.
That’s a mouthful but it’s freeing! Getting off of the endless cycle of dieting ends the shame, the self-hate, and the obsession with food and exercise as tools to change my body. My body doesn’t need changing! My body is enough, just as it is. However, it does need to be cared for so that it lasts into old age. It needs to be nourished and it needs to move because that’s what’s enjoyable! It needs to be listened to and then given what it asks for; be that an apple or a cookie, be that sleep or play. Dieting forces us to ignore what our bodies need and listen to what an external voice (sort of like the inner mean girl) tells us to do. How can a commercial program or a book know what I need? How will it know if I need more carbs or protein, or whether or not I’m hungry after dark? My anti-bullsh*t pill lets me know that diets don’t know me. They don’t know what I need or when I need it. Only I know that. Only I know what I need and when I need it, but I need to listen.
When I practice listening, I can give my body everything it needs, including love and respect.
In a perfect world, everyone would have an anti-bullsh*t pill and see the insanity that is the endless cycle of dieting. Everyone would accept bodies at every size, exercise for the fun of it, eat for the nourishment of it, and speak kindly of their own bodies. Alas, we are not living in a perfect world, but if you would like, I will share my pill with you. Believe me, life is so much happier (and healthier!) off of the endless cycle of dieting. Are you still on that crazy ride or have you found the anti-bullsh*t pill too?
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