Dieting steals time and energy. There’s the loss of physical energy, from under-fueling and/or over-exercising. There’s the loss of mental energy, from constantly obsessing about food and body. Then there’s the hours spent at the gym, reading books and articles about nutrition, and meticulously planning and preparing “healthy” meals. Phew.
One of my core beliefs is that everyone deserves equal opportunity to do, see, and achieve anything they want in this world. But diet culture steals that from many of us, but convincing us to waste our two most precious resources - time and energy - on a futile pursuit.
I don’t think most people think about dieting in this way. Dieting is almost considered a have-to-do kind of thing, a non-negotiable. In actuality, it’s a choice, and I wonder if people would choose the same way if they knew what they were giving up.
So, I made this list! Obviously it’s not all inclusive, so please feel free to add on things you missed out on, or feel like you're currently missing out on in the comments.
Volunteer. Instead of spending 1-2 hours on the weekend planning meals, you could donate that time to an organization you care about.
Get more informed about the world. Stop spending time reading articles about nutrition and start reading more about current events or essays by people who live a very different life from you.
Enjoy a weekend getaway. Instead of spending $500-$1000+ a year on a membership to a gym or fitness studio you don’t actually enjoy, you could put that money towards a fun weekend getaway with a friend or spouse.
Go back to school. Seriously. Dieters spend 20-60% of their time thinking about food and their body. What if that was put towards getting a first (or second or third) degree? Or just taking a class for fun!
Go to therapy. Skip a workout, enjoy a rest day, and make an appointment with a therapist in that time slot.
Nurture closer friendships. Instead of talking about food and dieting with friends, go deeper with them. Discuss what's going on in their life, help them think through a difficult situation, chat or debate current events, or enjoy some belly laughs reminiscing over a funny memory!
Buy comfortable clothes that fit. Instead of spending money on a weight loss program, put that money towards purchasing comfortable clothes that fit your body as it is, or altering older clothes so they feel comfortable.
Give more compliments. Instead of engaging in "fat talk" with people you know, you could instead give them a non-appearance focused compliment. Tell them you admire their bravery in always speaking their mind or compassion for others or the outside-the-box thinking that helped progress a project at work.
Build happy food memories. Instead of yet another meal of baked chicken with broccoli and brown rice, you could go out and make a happy food memory. Perhaps checking out a hot new restaurant with friends, taste-testing for the best of a local delicacy, or planning a picnic date in your favorite park (ya know, when it's not 20 degrees).
Have fun moving your body. When you're not constantly feeling crappy from low energy due to undereating, or bloated and bleh from the inevitable backlash overeating, you'll feel good enough to actually have fun moving your body. And when you're not hyper-focused on concerns over your appearance, you may feel more comfortable checking out a fitness class you used to be intimidated by.
Donate to charity. Instead of spending money on a new diet book, you could donate that money to a charity you care about. Or a person whose doing work you admire. Or buy lunch for a homeless person. Or lunch for someone who is underpaid/underappreciated at your work.
Foster a health-promoting habit that actually sticks. Instead of trying to stick to a list of what you should/shouldn't eat, you could put that energy towards fostering a habit that's actually sustainable, like building a meditation practice, learning to cook more vegetables or planning a few meals to cook each week.
Get more sleep. Instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to exercise, you could get more sleep. Glorious, glorious sleep.
Journal. Instead of logging everything you ate into a calorie counting app, you could journal spend that time work through difficult emotions or challenging situations.
Spread self love and challenge weight stigma. When you feel good about yourself, that confidence is infectious. If you want a more compassionate, inclusive world, start living those values yourself by being an example of self love and respect, and challenging both internalized weight stigma and the stigma you see in society.
What did you miss out on when you were dieting? Feel free to add to the comments! I'd love to keep this list going!