Content warning: dieting, food restriction, intentional weight loss (but that's all in the past)
I was dieting, thinking about dieting, about to start a diet, or in between diets for thirty years of my life 30, three, zero. I was good at dieting. I followed the "rules" to a T, the weight came off.
Slowly, I got tired of the rules and the weight slowly crept back on. Food I wasn't "supposed" to have came back in the house and I couldn't help but eat it if it was there. The weight came back on with some extra.
Exercise was always a part of it too. I used that to punish my body because it was "too big". I would lose weight and then stop exercising because it wasn't fun and didn't feel good.
Repeat that cycle for thirty years.
Remind me, what is that quote about repeating the same thing over and over expecting different results? Man, was I just banging my head against the wall over and over again or what?!
I tried every type of diet and lifestyle too. From Slim Fast to Weight Watchers to Richard Simmons to low carb to raw vegan to Herbalife. It all worked until it didn't. How fun. How boring and how frustrating.
Food is supposed to be enjoyed, food is a way to connect with loved ones here, a way to remember loved ones gone and the message we get is to make sure to moderate your ancestors??
Six or so years ago I said enough. I don't want to live this way anymore. It isn't fun and it was me constantly berating myself, chiding myself, and saying really mean things to myself every time the weight would come back on.
I finally realized that if I've been at this for 30 years, it's actually not my fault. It's actually every single diet or lifestyle that I tried. I was good at lots of things. I had very good grades in school, lots of friends, a very successful business so why wasn't I good at this?
It turns out because my body was smarter than me and all of those diet makers. My body was...is, so wise that anytime I would try to give her less food and more exercise she would be like..."ah, we have been here before! We will not be starved, we will survive this next famine by holding on to our life saving fat stores harder!"
As I let go, slowly over time, after the initial swing of the pendulum, things have come to a pause. I am at my heaviest BUT THAT IS BECAUSE OF ALL THOSE 30 YEARS OF DIETING. If I never restricted what I ate as a kid, teenager, and into my adult years I would be much smaller today. I've come to love this version of my body, now so that's okay. This fat body has done some really epic and fun things. And, I can now have chips, chocolate, ice cream and more in my house and I forget about it. How you ask? Let me demonstrate: don't think about a purple lion. What are you thinking about right now? Might it be a purple lion? We are shown constantly that what we restrict, we crave, think about and even obsess about. If everything is allowed at any time, it no longer has power. No, you won't eat all the cookies in the house forever, trust me.
I write this because I see so many people doing what I did. I hear people demean themselves for not having willpower. I see people jumping on this lifestyle trend and that one. I'm here to tell you that it's not your fault you can't keep the weight off. 98% of people gain their weight back (and usually more because of their smart bodies)after 5 years or less. 98%!
Being fat also isn't the health risk that everyone wants you to think. The risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other "fat related " illnesses are much more closely linked to weight cycling or yo yo dieting than to staying at a higher weight. Health benefits are seen when folks move regularly, eat a variety of foods, work on stress reduction* and have proper medical care regardless of body size.
*There is only so much stress reduction a person can do especially if they not only live in a larger body but have other oppressed identities. Black and brown and Indigenous people have to deal with racism, LGBTQIA people have to deal with homophobia, and transphobia. The more marginalized identities a person holds, the more social stressors there are to have a negative affect on their health.
I share this with you in hopes that it inspires you to also give up the dieting. There are way more fun/important/inspiring/interesting etc. things in this life than being a certain size.
If only I could go back and tell child, teen and young adult me.