Is weight loss one of your goals for 2017?
January and February are the months where I hear the most diet talks.
Everyone is eager to learn how to lose the weight gained over the holiday season.
In fact it's almost inevitable to socialise without being confronted with a discussion on what is the best way to lose weight!
But what if setting weight loss goal is one of the most harmful thing you can do to yourself?
What if, every time you go on a diet it will take away your confidence towards food and eating and depress your body image?
What if, every diet you go on will make you more susceptible to disordered eating and weight cycling (yo-yo dieting)?
These are unfortunately the sad truths about weight-loss diets.
The deprivation and restrictions of weight-loss diets make physical and mental damage inevitable. Food and eating becomes driven by fear of gaining weight if you eat the "wrong" or "bad" food. Your body becomes the sole indicator of success or failure.
This. Is. Not. Right.
So I want to give you an opportunity.
An opportunity to look at things a little differently so that you can take the focus off "I have/want to lose weight" and put a bit more attention to your whole body (physical and mental), and start to gain some confidence over eating so that food doesn't rule your life.
Yep, sounds good?
Let's get started.
Now I want to invite you to ponder with me on this question:
What do I really want when I say "I want to lose weight"?
Many would say health.
Sure, weight and health may have a correlation. Improved health status may be associated with weight reduction, but that's often due to the healthier behaviour followed including healthier eating and movement, rather than weight loss on its own.
Some would say to look good/ be confident/ to fit into my old clothes.
Would weight loss REALLY give you that confidence boost?
In the long term?
Have a think... Imagine yourself X-kg lighter walking down the street.
Do you feel confident, cool, relaxed, happy, maybe even superior to others?
Yes? Okay, and what do you feel next?
Oprah Winfrey once made a comment after a weight loss program that now her fear was regaining the weight that she lost.
Some would sigh and say but I used to be X-kg when I was X years old.
Our bodies change.
With time, age, season, temperature, environment, lifestyle and health conditions... just to name a few.
Our bodies are not supposed to stay the same.
It is an ever-evolving vehicle that carries you and nurtures you for life.
Our bodies are completely fine to change in size, shape and appearance.
You see, there is no one way of telling everyone on the planet that this is the perfectly right health status.
Nor is there a perfectly right weight that you must attain to gain health.
This understanding that health isn't a solid status is important to allow you to understand that there is no perfect or right way to eat for health.
Healthy eating is as flexible as a ballerina.
We know that going on a diet is a one-way ticket to weight cycling, yo-yo dieting, and poorer body image.
You almost always regain the weight (if not more), which makes you frustrated feeling like a loser with no self discipline, which then leads to another diet attempt.
Then getting off this diet route sounds like the most sane option possible to health, right?
So, then, what do you do to start a diet-free life?
1. Know that becoming diet-free is a long process.
2. Let go of rigid food and eating rules you've accumulated over the years.
... These may be like "no carbs after X-o'clock", "Sunday cheat day", "low fat everything". Try and let go one rule at a time.
3. Appreciate your body as it is now.
... Your body has, and still will, go through changes. Acknowledge your body in the moment. Don't try to fight against these changes. Your body is capable of many things at each stage in the process.
4. Use food as nourishment instead of therapy or treatment.
... Nourish not just physically but psychologically too. What foods do you enjoy eating, and with whom do you like to eat with, in what sort of setting?
5. Repeat. Everyday.
Truth be told, becoming diet-free isn't as easy as it sounds (wish it was!)
You'll come across occasions where it's so tempting to get back on the diet route (and ultimately weight cycling and yo-yo dieting).
Our monthly newsletter will reassure you and support you throughout the year to gently and safely overcome dieting and deprivation so that you food and eating will no longer be an issue in life.
I love to have a chat so please feel free to shoot an email to email@example.com.
References, further readings, and useful links for more information.
Association for Size Diversity and Health.
Body Positive Australia.
Health at Every Size.
Bacon L, Aphramor L. Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift. Nutrition Journal 2011; 10:9
Tylka TL et al. A weight-neutral versus weight-loss approach for health promotion in women with high BMI: A randomized-controlled trial. Appetite 2016.
Risk Factors Contributing to Chronic Diseases. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2012.