You've realized that diets don't work. You've been on a lot of diets and even though you lose weight, it doesn't last. After many diets, you've come to the conclusion that there's more to your food and body image issues than a diet can fix. You feel good about this insight. You may even be working towards taking steps to make peace with food and your body.
But why can't you stop thinking about dieting!
Why do you keep having thoughts about dieting? Here are some of the reasons I hear in clients in The Anchor Program and other patients:
- maybe i could should go on one last diet so I can see faster changes in my size
- maybe now that I know more myself and have had insights into why I'm struggling with food and body image issues, a diet would be more likely to work.
- my doctor has told me that this new diet has worked for him so I should try it.
Is there ever a situation where diets work well?
The simple answer to this is no. Even though the diet industry posts thousands of before and after pictures showing people who've lost weight, most depict short term results. No one is going back 1 year, 2 years or 5 years after that "after" picture to see how many people have kept their weight off. Research studies for decades have shown that while many people lose 5-10% of their weight while dieting, these results do not last. In a recent blog I wrote about "intermittent fasting (IF)," I read an article by a physician-researcher who was a big proponent of intermittent fasting diet, only to find out from his own research project that IF was not effective. He said: "I had done it and become an advocate for it because it worked for me," Weiss said. "That's a good lesson — just because it works for me, doesn't mean it will work for everyone."
Despite the science, the dream of the "magic diet" lives on.
When this dream of finding the one, good diet is examined more closely, you may find that beneath it, is the desire to fit in, to no longer be the person who looks different than other people, to be able to travel. This dream is a dream of belonging and on that level, it is very understandable. Our society stigmatizes people who are different, marking them as "other."
Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that there are powerful biological controls over our individual body size.
What does this mean for you? It means, you're not alone and it's not your fault. Society's messages have made people in larger bodies feel that they are failures, don't have willpower or are too lazy to exercise. We know from studies on identical twins, who were separated at birth that the twins end up with almost identical weights. Children who were adopted are almost always of same size as their biological parents, not their adoptive parents. All of this information flies in the face of weight stigma promoted by our society and the notion that "all you need to do is to eat less and exercise more."
Your size is not your fault and it's nobody's business!
Having been very thin most of my life, only to gain weight as I got older, I struggled with thinking if I just did a cleanse, tried this "healthy" diet, "changed my lifestyle," etc., etc. I could get back to my former slim size.
What I've come to realize in working with thousands of women and in my own experience is that the issue of body size is very complex and there is no one solution. I came to the conclusion that I no longer wanted to spend time, money and wasted efforts trying to change my size. I decided to get back into life, enjoying life, surrounding myself with people who are supportive and loving and let my body do what it does.
I had a dream of unconditional love and acceptance.
I did have this dream of being surrounded by people who were crazy about me, who loved me just the way I am - my size, my crotchety personality, my wisdom - just loved me. There was no fear of being rejected or judged. It felt absolutely amazing. When I woke up, I realized that there is no perfect world like that but I can be grateful for those in my life currently who love me and I can continue to work harder to love and accept myself.
There's nothing wrong with you if you're tired of being stigmatized because of your size or if you, too dream of being surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance. It's only human to want to be treated with kindness and consideration, even outright admiration. Someone once said to me "everyone can be a "10" in the right situation." I keep finding that as I move through my life and my career, there are people who admire me, especially when I'm living my passion, doing the work I love, being true to myself.
Until that dream world comes true, I try to find inspiration in quotes like this one:
‘….and I said to my body, softly "I want to be your friend", it took a long breath and replied "I have been waiting my whole life for this."’
– Nayyirah Waheed –