Why I will never "diet" again

As girls and young women society tries to lead us into so many different directions with regards to our bodies. We should “love ourselves no matter what our shape and size".” (Assuming we are worthy of love based on conditional means such as body size and shape!) In the exact same moment, we need to try and get that bikini body for the summer ahead! There are so many mixed messages out there regarding our bodies that it is easy to get swept away and beat ourselves up when we do not measure up to these impossible standards society has created for women. It is taught women should love their bodies no matter what, but don’t be too heavy, not too thin, not too bulky, not too soft, and the list goes on.

So what happens then? Women get caught up in trying to look impossibly perfect and beautiful in order to meet these impossible standards laid out in front of us. We restrict our calories, go on crazy diets that may or may not even be good for our individual body types, and we exercise for long hours to “burn off” all of the calories we eat. I fell into this trap for most of my life. While I never struggled with big weight issues, I was carrying around those 15 extra pounds that I would have loved to get rid of most of my life. It would be a continuous cycle for me of gaining and losing the weight. I would go down 10 pounds just to put them back on within a month. It was super frustrating because there were other people around me that would lose all this weight and I would beat myself internally for not achieving what they made possible for themselves. I never had a ton of weight to lose so I especially felt like a failure when I didn’t drop those last few pounds.

Then I created another story for myself. Muscle weighs more than fat is what I told my friends. And that is probably true to some extent but then why weren’t my waist measurements going down? I definitely had the workout part down for myself. When I talked to other nutrition experts and gurus, they all said it comes down to literally everything we put into our bodies, not so much our time in the gym. From the chips and guac at happy hour, the glasses of wine, those cookies in the office breakroom, and eating that extra serving of food at dinner. Ok so now that the “muscle weighs more than fat” myth was debunked, I now had to look at literally everything I put into my body? How do I really know if I go to far? Can’t I just enjoy a treat here and there? How much enjoyment is too much? All of these questions were literally EXHAUSTING. Exhaustion and stress equals our bodies HOLDING ON to more weight. Can I get an Amen?!

Two weeks before my thirtieth birthday I decided I was done drinking alcohol. For good. See when I put my mind to something and decide it is final, I follow through. I stop wasting brainpower on it. Before I quit drinking, I would obsess about how much I drank. If I just stick to three glasses of wine tonight, then I can polish off a whole bottle when I am out tomorrow night and just skip dinner. Really?! Little did I know at the time it was the wasting of my precious brain energy thinking about the whole calories in, calories out thing that it became the cause of my struggles. Not the food or beverage itself. Yes it was an issue that I skipped dinner to drink wine and I would never recommend that to anyone, but the real issue is the time spent and wasted energy thinking about food and wine! So I was done drinking alcohol, problem solved right?

NOT. There was still food. And sugar. Luckily I never struggled with anorexia or binge eating but I do have the tendency to emotionally eat mostly when I am bored. Over the next year, I mostly struggled with this since I no longer had alcohol to turn to as a feel good option so I went to sugar. I had to determine the difference between an emotional craving and actually just wanting a piece of cake or a cookie. In all honesty, it was hard for me to differentiate between the two and it can still be challenging today but the act of stopping myself in the moment is sometimes enough to stop the craving in its tracks.

Aside from working on emotional cravings, gone are the days I used to count every calorie I put into my body or eliminating entire food groups because they are labeled as “bad.” I decided I was over that and I was done wasting energy on things that weren’t really serving my highest good. I focused more on feeding my body with enough high quality foods and less on the amount of calories I was consuming. My workouts at the gym are efficient and don’t need to be unnecessarily long. I also have a personal rule if I don’t enjoy the workout, I don’t do it. I MUST enjoy my movement of choice whether that be a high intensity interval training, biking, walking, yoga, or rollerblading. When we banish the “magic pill” mentality from our thinking (believing if we just get the right diet or exercise program, we will finally “arrive”) it is also one less thing for us to worry about. Less stress equals less weight.

Also I stopped labeling certain foods as “good and bad.” When we say something is bad for us or off limits, we crave it even more. I also hear a lot of people say, “I was bad this week” or “I cheated on my diet" and this causes people to think they have to punish themselves in order to get back on track. Honestly, screw that idea as well because that robs us of our own power and ability to make a conscious decision for next time. Instead I tell myself, “well those two cookies were delicious and next time I think I will just order my favorite chicken and carrot dish instead since I feel more nourished when I eat that.” I just choose to be more consciously aware of my choices each day while moving right along.

What are your thoughts on dieting or not dieting? What best practices work for you? I’d love to hear from you below!