Nobody loves dieting, but the reality is, almost everyone wants to lose weight and one of the biggest reasons I hear for wanting this is health reasons. Which leads to the question,
“How can I lose weight without dieting?”
Me, “Why do you want to lose weight?”
The client, “To be healthy.”
Me, “Ah, okay! So you want to go on a diet to lose weight to be healthier. I get that.” So I then have to ask, “What about losing weight makes you healthy?”
The client, “Well, I don’t know. Isn’t it healthier to be thinner? Won’t I put myself at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various other fat-related diseases if I don’t lose weight?”
Cue the blank stare from the client and long awkward pause.
I know it’s hard to believe because society tells us fat is a silent killer, which tricks us into thinking fat is bad and we should go on a diet. In actuality, it’s the yo-yo dieting and being super thin that wreaks havoc on our health!
In and of itself, fat isn’t what kills us. Fat doesn’t do anything but be fat. It’s no different than accusing yellow teeth of lung cancer. It’s the act of smoking, the cigarette, etc. that does it.
Additionally, weight is an arbitrary number associated with BMI that labels most of us either overweight or obese. I’m overweight by society standards, but by my doctor’s says I’m healthy.
So, if you want to lose weight for the sake of health but not go on a diet, then check out the following five tips. Disclaimer, it may not help you lose weight, but if healthy is your goal, these will help!
1) No surprise here — stop dieting! You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you!? Society wants us to rely on menus to control our food, weight, and health. The reality? This always fails! So, trust yourself, make food choices that feel right and don’t rely on prescriptions to guide you.
If free stylin’ food choices freaks you out, think about it this way. When you were young, you knew what you needed and wanted because babies and children know when they are hungry, full, and thirsty. They don’t check the clock and eat every 3 hours. They don’t meal prep on Sunday. They don’t avoid eating after 5:00 p.m. They don’t measure, weigh food, or count calories. They don’t start eating and find themselves unable to stop; they naturally eat when hungry and stop when full.
The reason? They are not ashamed or scared of food. Over time, you learn shame and fear, and it isn’t a natural way of being. The biggest culprit causing shame and fear of food is the diet culture. If you’d like to learn about eating naturally and relying on your intuition versus diets, check out Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole M.S. R.D. and Elyse Resch M.S. R.D. F.A.D.A.. No time to read? No problem check out their audible book here.
2) Try moving your body. I’m purposefully replacing the word exercise with “move your body” because when I suggest exercise, I immediately get the nose snarl and, “but I hate it.” Yes, of course, you do. You hate it because you haven’t found something that you enjoy.
I used to workout like a crazy person. And if I couldn’t get in a solid sweat sesh, it wasn’t good enough. Eventually, my motivation would turn into “I don’t feel like it today” because ultimately, I didn’t like what I was doing. I was exercising for the sole purpose of losing weight. Replace the “losing weight motivation” with “enjoyment motivation.”
Pick something you love and can’t live without- gardening, walking the dog, playing with your child/grandchild at the park, swimming, tennis, soccer, yoga, pilates, weight training, sex, dance, kayak — the list goes on and on.
Just because it’s not a stair stepper at the gym, or a high-intensity run, doesn’t mean it’s not exercising. Try things on, see what you like. And if you are curious why I’m suggesting this, check out the physiological benefits here (heh hemmmmmm….none of them are about losing weight).
3) Listen to your body instead of relying on a diet to tell you what to eat. The biggest objection I hear to this is, “but I have cravings, and I CAN’T stop them. I need (fill in the blank with whatever you “crave” i.e. sugar, salt, etc.) and this drives me crazy because I know sugar, salt, etc. isn’t what is right for me.” Listen, you do not need sugar or salt or whatever else it is that you crave. There’s a different reason you’re craving food. But regardless, you never physically need it. You need to eat, you need to go to the bathroom, you need sleep, but you don’t need to eat a doughnut. You can if you want to, but you don’t need to. Cravings are the result of something different going on.
4) If planning food doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. I spent years trying to “food prep” on Sunday only to despise my dry refrigerator tasting chicken by Wednesday. Bleh! Instead, listen to your body cues. You won’t know Sunday what you feel like eating on Wednesday so stop trying to plan so far in advance. Plus, this only leads to a restrictive mindset which sets the stage for all kinds of things — like binge eating! (PS, if you are a planner and this is what you enjoy, by all means, go right ahead).
5) PSA — healthy doesn’t equate to slimmer or smaller. I know we all think it does because of the good ole’ cultural bs. But, Health at Every Size proves there’s not a set weight or size that equals health. We just don’t hear about it because it doesn’t feed the billion dollar weight loss industry. I encourage you to check out health at every size, it may surprise you!
All in all, I can honestly say, I’ve never in my life heard someone say, “I love dieting.” Now and then I’ll hear, “I’m on this awesome new diet, and it’s helped me lose 10 pounds, ” but when I check back with that person they’ve grown to hate it because they’ve stopped losing weight and are going crazy with cravings.
This is called a diet love affair. It feels great at first, lasts a while, then it fizzles out. With your cravings going crazy you’ll figure this diet must not be the one for you. Then when your pants are tight again (the ones you bought when you lost 20 pounds), you’ll justify yet another fad diet with the hopes of losing weight again, and this time it will be different. This cycle continues and on until you find yourself googling how to not gain weight without going on a diet.
Give the five tips a try and let me know how they work for you in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me at www.melissacoloton.com for free info that will help you get rid of your non-stop, all-consuming, crazy, internal chatter about food, diets, and exercise.