Nowadays, people are praised for controlling their bodies and their food. Society pushes an ideal (yet, unrealistic) body type out into the media and tells us all we should strive to meet that expectation. If our bodies are larger than this ideal, we are told that we should have more control over our food and our bodies. I bought into this message (several times, actually) and it never got me anywhere. In fact, I would argue that it robbed me of my life for a few years. Constantly trying to control my food and my body left me ultimately feeling out of control.
We all seem to ignore the hundreds of scientific studies claiming that 99% of all diets fail. We get sucked into this illusion that "This time will be different," but we usually end up falling harder than we did the time before. Each failed diet comes with another knock against our self-worth. Why can't we just get it together?!
If you've struggled with dieting, I want to ask you an honest question....Do you really think that you have control over your food and weight?
Take some time and reflect on that.
Sure, you might have had control in the short term, as we all had. Two weeks, two months, two years, whatever it was...there was some amount of time when you felt "in control." But, then as soon as you "lost" control....you really lost it. And, if you're like me, you ended up where you were before you started dieting, if not heavier.
I want to help you give up this illusion of control more than anything, so let's look at the two components individually. Let's start with the food portion.
Dieting causes binging. This isn't news to anyone. The severity of the binging will vary from person to person, but I'm sure if you've ever dieted, you've extremed some kind of binge eating behavior. You did so good for a week, then on the weekend stuff your face with pizza. Or, if you've dealt with more serious binge eating behaviors like myself, you could eat 2 boxes of cookies, a bag of chips, a box of cereal, and maybe half a jar of peanut butter in one sitting.
Humans don't like to be controlled. It is not in our nature. When we restrict ourselves from food, it's only a matter of time before we rebel against the rules we set. You might be able to outdo your "damage" with exercise, but the purge-binge cycle will only get worse with time.
Now, let's talk about the body component.
Just the same as we ignore the 99% of diets fail research, a lot of people also ignore the plethora of data on weight set point theory. The theory which states that as humans, were all designed to maintain a certain body weight/range. Not only are we set to weigh a certain amount, but our body will actually work to keep us in that range if we deter from it.
If our weight gets too low, our bodies will do things like increase our appetite, slow down our temperature regulation, and promote resting instead of exercise. If our weight gets too high, our metabolic activity speeds up and our desire for movement and activity increases.
Crazy, right? It's like our bodies are a self-sufficient, energy balancing, living, animal. Oh wait...they are.
So, what is the real purpose in trying to control our weight? We don't walk around trying to change our skin color or our height, right? Because they're not in our control. We can't change them. What if we thought the same way of our weight? Our weight just is what it is. We can end the war with our bodies, our scales and just surrender to this beautiful reality.
Let your body weigh what it wants to weigh. Let your food be what it is. Worrying, controlling, and shaming haven't gotten you anywhere in the past and its not going to get you anywhere now.
This isn't an easy concept to grasp. Especially if you've spent your entire life believing that you could control your body and your food. Trust me when I say, I've been there. I've gained, lost, gained, and lost probably over 200lbs in the first quarter of my life. I beat myself up for years, thinking I was flawed. But, I'm not flawed. And neither are you. It's the system that is flawed.
Ironically, as soon as you stop trying to control your food/weight....your food/weight will normalize. But, that's not even the best part. When you give up dieting, you free up so much time, mental space, and energy that you can actually start to live your life.
That's what I want for you. I want you to stop wasting time in your life trying to control something you can't control. I want you to realize that your body is perfect, your food is perfect, and your soul is perfect. I want you to start spending energy in discovering new hobbies (besides dieting) that make you feel alive. I want you to get to know your true self outside of your body so that no matter what happens in the external world, you will know that you are OK. More on that to come. This isn't an overnight fix. This is a journey. I'm still on it myself, but I'm a lot further along than I ever used to be and I want everyone to feel the relief and love I have felt since surrendering to this idea of control.
For now, just start to sit with this idea. You don't have to believe it, but keep it in the back of your mind. Let you experiences give you the confirmation you need.
For more incredible insights like this, please visit my mentor Isabel Foxen Duke. This woman has transformed my perception of food/body image with her work and hopefully can help you get some clarity around your struggles, too.
If you know someone who needs to read this post, please share and send their way!