When I meet with a new client, they're usually pretty focused on weight loss. They know I'm not a weight loss dietitian and their personal experience has shown them that diets don't work (which is why they're coming to see me, a non-diet dietitian). But, of course, knowing that doesn't make the desire to lose weight go away.
I often ask why they want to lose weight - what they think they'll get, achieve, or how life will be different if their body was smaller. Have you ever asked yourself that question? Here's some of the answers I get:
- More dates
- Wear more stylish clothes
- Respect/envy from other people
- A sense of identity
- Better sex life
- Feel better physically
- Feel in control
I call this the "thin myth," the idea that weight loss will fix your problems, and that a smaller you is the best version of you. It's not true, which is why it's the thin myth. Spend too much time daydreaming about it, and the fantasy will start to feel real, as if weight loss is your only path to the kind of life you want.
The other problem with living in this fantasy world, pleasant as it may be, is that it prevents you from living in the present moment. It blinds you to the fact your body isn't preventing you from living the life you want - it's dieting doing that.
Next time you catch yourself daydreaming about life in a smaller body, I challenge you to instead think about what you're missing out on because of diet mentality or disordered eating. Here's some examples:
- Missing social events because there's nothing you feel safe eating.
- No time for self care because of the time spent at the gym/cooking/meal planning/etc.
- Not eating foods that give you pleasure.
- Not being able to enjoy family holidays because you're stressing about food.
- Difficulty traveling because there's no food that fits your diet.
- Mental energy wasted on calorie/point/etc counting or reading about nutrition, not spent nerding out on topics you enjoy.
- Feeling rested because you "need" to wake up early to workout.
- Money to spend on fun, frivolous things because you're spending it on expensive health foods.
Me? I know dieting robbed me of being able to enjoy fitness for a really long time. I always thought of it as punishment or a chore, which means I didn't have it as a tool to combat my anxiety (let alone fitness as a pleasurable activity). I can also think back to so many parties or other social events I spent feeling sick to my stomach, because restricting myself from certain foods meant I was always the girl hanging out by the snacks.
In reality, you can live your best life in whatever body you're in right now. And in fact, to live your best life you have to do that in the body you're in now, because living your best life means living in the present, not in a fantasy world.
ARE YOU READY TO REDISCOVER THE JOY OF EATING?
I work with clients helping them discover their happiest and healthiest selves by nourishing a healthy relationship with food and their body. Learn more about my philosophy here.
What have you been missing out on by dieting?
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