It’s been months since I’ve written about dieting and it’s probably about time I explain why.
When I first started this journey of ditching diets I was desperate for a different way to live because nearly every morning, after my daily weigh in, I’d beat myself up for the rest of the day if I hadn’t lost “enough” pounds – which was every day because even if I lost, it was never enough. So, basically, I was disappointed and frustrated, Every. Single. Day.
(By the way, if your daily weigh-in works for you, cool).
Anyways, because I was feeling crazy and on an emotional rollercoaster, I went looking for a different way to live and found one.
And not only did I find one, but I also decided to teach other women how to live free of diets. Because it was painful for me to think of other women living their day to day beating themselves up for the same reasons I used to beat myself up.
So, after finding answers, my new found freedom from diets was great. No more guilty conversations with myself. No more freak out binge sessions where I devoured everything in sight because it was my “cheat day” or because I just lost my shit and couldn’t take counting my calories for one more second.
It was great until………
I didn’t feel right.
Seriously. I felt bad – not like, oh I hate the way I look bad. Or uh oh, I’m gaining weight, and I feel bad. It was more like; I physically felt terrible.
I felt weak from not working out. I felt tired from shitty food consumption. I felt foggy because of more alcohol. My pants were tight which made me feel uncomfortable.
I just felt awful.
Which led me to think – well, how do I do this? How do I not diet but still feel good?
It’s an incredibly difficult question – or at least was for me.
And consequently, it’s even more difficult because I’ve done a lot of blabbing about not dieting and I thought, I can’t go back to dieting – I’d be such a hypocrite.
I also couldn’t go back because mentally, I just knew I couldn’t handle it. It doesn’t work for me – period.
But then I also thought, I can’t keep doing what I’m doing either because I feel like shit.
I also thought – with what I’m doing (eating whatever, whenever and not having a regular workout routine) goes against the grain of what I’ve believed my whole life – living well is paramount to living a good life. Like, genuinely feeling great is essential in life!
So – acting like I didn’t give a shit about any of this anymore was tough.
I was at a crossroads. And I couldn’t pick which road because neither seemed to be okay for me. I couldn’t choose the “go back on a diet” road, and I couldn’t pick the “freeeeeeeeeeeedom road.”
So – I retracted from my coaching business – where I wanted to help other women ditch dieting. I stopped blogging. I stopped talking about how diets are the devil, and nobody should EVER go on them. I went into an “I’m f’n confused” mode.
So, here I am. Clear (sort of). And I’d like to share – hoping it helps you and me both move forward in our journeys.
I know for a damn fact – diets can no longer be in my life. However, having a relatively unobstructed view of what particular way of eating works for me has helped establish a general guideline for how I eat on most days – this has helped me avoid confusion, helped me stay focused during the day, and most importantly – HAS HELPED ME FEEL GOOD AGAIN!!! Wooo who. Party bus time.
And all this without a strict, painful diet that just pisses me off on a fairly regular basis (basically every minute of every day).
And this is a bit nerve racking to share because I’m sure some folks will claim this a diet mentality taking over my psyche and will put me down for “buying into the social health and wellness craze” or suggesting I’m promoting thinness as happiness.
So – I’m not going to explain much other than I think there’s a way to balance feeling good and feeling free.
Like, eating and exercising framework let’s say….that WORKS for you. Key takeaway….. it works for YOU.
Like, five out of the seven days a week I work out and eat relatively healthy to balance the non-diet life versus the feeling crappy from doing whatever felt right in the moment.
Which means – yeah, I probably can’t technically eat whatever the hell I want. Well, I can, but there are consequences.
And being mindful of your health and wellness doesn’t have to equate to non-stop dieting. Nor does it mean you support the thinness suppression acts that have plagued our society for a hot minute.
So this is where I’m at. I’m at a place of balance and sanity. I’m at a place that believes, whatever makes you happy and whatever makes you feel good is what you should do.
And, your journey may look different than everyone else’s, and that’s okay too. There’s no wrong or right way to live, eat, exercise – what is ultimately “correct” is if you feel good or not. Period.
But good should equate to certain reasonable standards that work for you mentally, physically, emotionally, professionally, and sexually.
So, if you want a few tidbits on how this could work for you too, I’ve listed out a few below – perhaps it will help you. I’m sure there’s more to it than this, but this is a start.
1) I started paying attention to when I felt terrible and when I felt good – and to be REAL clear, this DIDN’T mean when I thought my body looked good and when I thought my body looked bad. The reason I ignore that part of the equation is because that equation leads to a simple ending – strict dieting and then binging – and a cycle of misery.
To be clear though, I’m not perfect. I have days I look in the mirror and think – life would be so magnificent if I were smaller or had perkier boobs or a flatter stomach. Societal pressures of thinness still plague me.
I’m not perfect in my journey. Nobody is (more on that to come). But there’s also days where I think well hot damn, I’m lookin gooooood TO-DAY. And I take those winning days in stride and carry on.
SO! Back to the topic at hand. Paying attention to when I felt good and when I felt bad. I defined good as my head was clear. I don’t feel foggy. I’m not tired. My stomach isn’t upset. My poo is relatively healthy. I feel strong. I feel capable of exercising.
Bad’s definition was I feel lethargic. I feel foggy. I feel like there’s a small alien in my stomach begging to get out. I feel unfocused and unable to work hard with clarity. I feel puffy.
So, when I slowly but surely matched up how I felt to how I ate. Eating in such a way that works for me got clearer and clearer. And generally speaking, that’s how I live my life and how I choose what I eat and what exercise I do.
I use two questions to keep it simple – will this make me feel good? Will it make me feel like crap?
And that’s it. That’s how I choose food and my exercise for the day. And that’s how I fit into a newly found paradigm that perhaps I”m the only person existing in this paradigm.
2)Another way I’ve come to a better place is I detached from perfection, which is a huge win on my journey.
Being on the slight side of Type A, I tend to want to be perfect. I hate screwing up. And buddy, when I do, all hell breaks loose. I feel bad. I feel aggressive toward myself and others. I get really pissed, to say the least.
So if I think in terms of one day at a time – that tends to drive me crazy. Why? Well, because if one day is “screwed up” in my mind – i.e., I eat in such a way that makes me feel bad (remember, bad is my body doesn’t feel good) – then I’ve screwed up somehow, and now I’ve lost my way in life forever.
A bit extreme but seriously, that’s how I used to think when I dieted. But now, I try my best to avoid perfection. If I have a day or a weekend or hell, a whole week of feeding my body food that doesn’t feel good and I don’t work out. It is what it is. I’m not here for a day or a week at a time. I’m here for a lifetime and thinking in terms of lifespan helps get the perfection out of the picture.
3)Being real with myself helped. I had to understand I was at a bit of a crossroads and admit to myself I wasn’t necessarily on the extreme bus. Just like I didn’t want to be on a strict diet, I also didn’t want to feel like I was giving up on myself or giving up on my health and wellness. Health as always been important to me, and it always will be. So paying attention to myself was important to admit and deal with.
I also needed to get honest about promoting health and wellness might make it seem like I’m judging if you are not someone who thinks it’s essential. I was afraid because I thought it might make me look like I’m shaming others. I’m not. It’s just what I think is important in my life. Mainly because it’s what makes me feel like I’m living. And if it’s not what works for you. That’s cool too.
And quite frankly, I’m not saying folks in the anti-diet world are of a non-health mindset but for some reason that was how I was feeling and couldn’t bring myself to promote that. It’s just another way we create stories in our heads and get caught up in false narratives.
So that leads me to this – I’m here. I live my life eating a certain way that feels good to me. When I have a day where I’ve fed myself something that didn’t feel good literally doesn’t matter because I’m in my health and wellness journey for the long haul.
I want to help other women find a place of balance where they don’t feel extreme in any direction. They don’t feel like they’re giving up on themselves, but they don’t feel crazy about strict diets any longer either. And if they want to just feel good in life, I can help with that.
Forewarning though, I’m not your fix it quick shop. I’m not going to slap you on a strict calorie counting diet and put you on a journey to track your changes and progress.
That’s not me.
What is me – I can help you feel good. If you’re currently in a state of feeling bad day to day – I can likely get you to a better place – but not in the way of setting you up to lose 50 pounds in a month. Mostly, because it’s not sustainable. It’s proven time and time again not to work. Research tells us blatantly; diets don’t work. But most importantly, because it’ll just keep driving you nuts.
Let me know what you think – and thanks for coming along with me on this journey. It’s been a weird and inconsistent, to say the least.