Stop dieting? You mean give up on my body and become a glutton? You must be crazy! Believe it or not, that’s the first thing that comes to mind for most folks when they hear the words “stop dieting” coming from a well-intentioned friend (or blogger like myself).
When I talk about giving up diets in my book, I obviously mean you need to sit on the couch all day and eat frozen pizza with total abandon, right?
Come on–you know me better than that, don’t you? I’m all about balance, listening to your body, being flexible… but if you’re caught on the diet bandwagon, these words probably sound pretty different to your ears. I know because I’ve been there. Back then I thought more like this:
“Balance?” Yeah, right.
“Listen to my body?” All my body wants is cookies and cream ice cream!
“Be flexible?” Are you kidding? If I let up even once I’ll binge on everything in sight!
Because D-I-E-T actually spells a word that is near and dear to many of us whether or not we realize it: CONTROL.
Diets are all about control. Control your starches. Control your calories. Control your appetite. Control your cravings. So what do most people think happens when they stop dieting? They’ll lose control. And that can feel downright terrifying, especially when what you eat might be one of the only things you feel you have control over.
“But if I stop dieting, I’m giving up on myself!”
I’m sure you’ve seen the berating comments around the web.
“You’re just using all this anti-dieting stuff as an excuse to eat whatever the heck you want! You’re lazy and don’t want to control yourself. Count some calories and lose the weight already!”
Yeah, that’s not a direct quote, but that’s only because I don’t want to repeat the profanity and name-calling that are usually included in these types of comments.
Who in the world made a rule that dieting is the only way to take care of our bodies?
I beg to differ. In fact, my opinion is probably a little on the controversial side, because this is what I really think:
As long as you’re dieting, you’re NOT taking care of your body.
There, I said it. I know it’s not a popular way of thinking, but in my experience it’s the truth.
Stop Dieting? What Does That Even Mean?
Okay, for the purposes of this discussion, we’d better define “dieting” if we’re going to stop doing it. What I mean when I say “stop dieting” is to stop restricting, forbidding, and obsessing.
It means not worrying if a banana has more calories than an apple, or weighing yourself six times a day to see if that tuna salad for lunch made you “fat” or not. It means not constantly putting every food in sight on the “good” or “bad” list (and then consequently feeling good or bad about yourself based on what you just ate). It means not always, always, always thinking about that smaller pair of jeans or that bikini in your dresser than doesn’t quite fit–and hating yourself every minute you’re not the size you think you should be.
That’s what I mean when I say “stop dieting.”
Obsession–Not AWARENESS–is the Problem
I know some of you hear what I say and think that I’m promoting complete obliviousness to what you eat and what your body needs. What I’m actually promoting is the exact opposite. I actually think AWARENESS is a good thing. It’s OBSESSION that leads us down a dark path.
AWARENESS means having a general understanding of what your body needs to feel its best and making reasonable efforts to fulfill those needs.
OBSESSION means having an insatiable need to weigh, calculate and measure every possible factor in your energy needs–it means constantly weighing yourself, keeping religious track of every bite that passes your lips, repeated “mirror checks” where you scrutinize every single bulge, fold, or bump of possible fat to determine whether you need to run that extra mile or if you actually “deserve” a piece of fruit before bed.
To put it simply, AWARENESS helps you feel more positive and proactive about making good decisions for your body and your life. OBSESSION basically throws a negative wrench into everything you do and sucks the life out of you. One adds to your quality of life, the other detracts from it.
Solution? There Are No “Rules”
This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you MY plan. I’ll tell you all the other plans were wrong, and all you need to do is my 30-day XYZ plan and all your problems will melt away.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
Why? Because I don’t have a plan for you. I realize that calorie counting works like awareness for some folks and more like obsession for others. I know that some people feel better on more carbs and others on more fat. I know people who feel their best playing intense sports, and others who thrive on quiet yoga sessions.
The only thing I want to tell you before you walk away from this post is to listen to your body. Learn what works for you–for your body and for your life. I don’t have to live in your shoes. And neither does anyone else. Just you. So you get to make the call: awareness or obsession?
Want to Learn More?
You can read more about my thoughts on nutrition, stress and metabolism in my eBook The Nourished Metabolism. No gimmicks, just a balanced perspective on how you can improve your metabolic health. Click here to check it out.
More Articles on Diets and Metabolism:
- My Milk Diet Experiment
- Traditional Diets in Perspective
- I Stopped Dieting 6 Years Ago and This Happened…
- 7 “Healthy” Habits That Stress Your Metabolism
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Elizabeth is the founder and creative director at The Nourished Life. Her mission is to help people find a more balanced (less stressful!) approach to living a happy, healthy life. Read more about Elizabeth here.