As a Registered Dietitian and food and body image coach, a huge part of my work is helping women feel confident in their clothes, eat what they want without guilt, and begin to reconnect with the beautiful soul they are.
I love what I do.
Part of why I do what I do is because I get what it feels like to be an obsessive calorie-counter and yo-yo dieter, who thinks once she gets to a certain size she will be happy…
Well, I got to that size and was more miserable than ever. Today, I eat what I want without guilt, feel confident in my clothes and have deep connections that make me truly happy.
But here’s the thing that was keeping me from getting to this point for sooooo long… And maybe it’s what is keeping you stuck too? Because I see it all of the time with clients…
Keeping one foot in the dieting, eat-this, not-that world and having the other foot in the world of self-acceptance, body positivity, and anti-dieting. When you’re in both of those places… it’s confusing and exhausting and it keeps you stuck.
When you’re in-between these two worlds, your social media accounts are telling you to love yourself just as you are and then, they’re telling you about the latest 6-pack ab, no-carb meal plan – like what? What in the world are you supposed to do with that?
Of course, you feel confused, overwhelmed, and unsure when it comes to this whole food and body image thing.
That’s why you’ve got to commit. You’ve got to decide.
Are you going to move through the path of self-acceptance and compassion or are you going to head down the road of diets, detoxes, and food rules?
Let me tell you – the latter is a much sexier road – usually, with a much higher budget to spend than we anti-diet, self-compassionate advocates over here have. But, what we do have is integrity, truth, and something that actually works for the long-haul.
Because when you really look at the research, you will find that over 95% of diets don’t work and within 2-5 years, participants are gaining back everything they lost plus some. And that’s not even accounting for if the people are truly happy…
I can tell you that in my dieting days, all I had was constipation, miserable relationships (if any because I was so consumed with how many calories I burned at the gym and what I’d eat, if I went out), and major anxiety.
So if you’re stuck in the middle here – between the dieting and body love world – I would highly encourage you to be honest with yourself – is the world of weight loss and dieting truly making you happy? Is it giving you what you want? Is it really working for you?
Or, are you open and willing to try something else? Something that actually works?
And look, I know how scary giving up food rules, dieting books, and crazy workout routines can be. But it’s scary because it’s the unknown. It’s not scary and foreign forever. And if it is, then it’s worth it to find the support and invest in working with someone who can help you feel and see things differently.
Because I absolutely, 3000% guarantee that once you commit to this new way of living, eating, thinking, and exercising, you won’t want to turn back.
If you do commit….
Will there be ups and downs? YES.
Will you be unsure at times? YES.
Will allowing yourself to eat what you want when you’re actually hungry feel weird? Probably.
Will you feel free? YES.
Will it be worth it? It’ll be PRICELESS.
So if you’re with me and you’re ready to commit to the road of self-acceptance and self-compassion instead of dieting and body bashing… Here are some tips to start:
1.) Release expectations of your weight
I know this is hard. But the reality is you can’t control your physiological or skeletal makeup or your genes. So using your weight – something that is designed to change as you age and as you move through different phases of life, like pregnancy, menopause, and puberty, and as you go through various life transitions, getting sick or injured or having a child, is only going to leave you feeling bad about your body. So the key is to…
2.) Focus on things you can control
Instead of obsessing about weight, body size, cellulite, rolls or folds (all are normal), begin to instead focus on things that will actually help you feel better about yourself and in your body. This looks like focusing on how you speak to yourself (Are you speaking to yourself, as you would speak to your daughter or best friend?), how you decide to connect with and move your body (Do you workout in ways you enjoy? Are you exercising?), the foods you decide to nourish yourself with (Do they make you feel good after you eat them and during?), and the people you decide to surround yourself with (Do they bring you up or down?), and how much sleep you get. Begin to shift your focus to things you have control over and things you can actually DO that will allow you to feel better in your body.
3.) Concentrate on where you’re going in your body acceptance journey, not where you were
The phrase “compare and despair” exists for a reason. That reason is because when we compare ourselves to others we generally feel bad about ourselves. But what nobody talks about here is that comparing ourselves to how we used to look is just as equally depleting, if not worse. So I want to tell you that, as mentioned in point number one, our bodies are meant to change. So if you stay stuck in how you used to look years ago, you’re only keeping yourself stuck in the past and stuck in the “compare and despair” mentality. Instead, train your brain to begin thinking about where you’re going NOW. And show the “old you” some compassion as well because without her, you wouldn’t be the beautiful soul you are today.
Here’s a template that may help you focus on where you’re going now: I am a woman who is becoming ______________, _____________, and _________ in her body. When I close my eyes and imagine myself becoming this woman I feel ____________, ______________, and ____________. I am becoming a woman who ___________________.
4.) Define what healthy means to YOU
This is so important. You see, I grew up with a mother who was (and still is) a major calorie counter, which is fine. It works for her. But, it doesn’t work for me. In fact, it influenced part of my disordered eating back in the day (i.e. obsessive calorie counting, working out only to burn calories, super focused on health foods). Was this healthy? At the time, 15 years ago, unfortunately, I thought it was. I didn’t know. Today, that nowhere near fits my definition of health.
Begin thinking for yourself – what does healthy mean for YOU? How do you want to feel in your body? How do you want your kids (or future kids) to be when it comes to food? What type of relationship do you want them to have with food? What type of relationship do YOU want to have with food? Asking yourself these questions can get the juices flowing and provide clarity here.
I know I want my future daughter to have her relationship with food be one of food freedom, where she eats foods that nourish her and where she doesn’t worry about how many calories are in a piece of pizza (or 3). And when she’s 80 (and when I’m 80), I don’t want her to celebrate her birthday without cake or to have guilt, if she eats it! My definition of health also looks like going out with friends and eating what I want with true mindfulness and enjoyment. If I truly want mac n’ cheese, I get mac n’cheese. I don’t beat myself up about it. I eat what I want with joy and pleasure and move on.
Because the truth is, our bodies are super smart and when we really listen to them, they’ll have us enjoying but also choosing foods that nourish us. For example, there’s NO way our bodies would allow us to just eat fried chicken and Mars Bars all day long. We’d feel sick. Our bodies are much smarter than that and have innate wisdom. This is a HUGE mindset piece and teaching that I talk about in my Ditch the Diet course. But for now know, it begins with unraveling those diet mentality thoughts, defining what type of relationship you want to have with food, and truly getting to know your body and trusting it, which you will over time. And again, to be quite frank, the research shows that over 95% of diets fail in 5 years… and have all the weight coming back plus some. So this isn’t about on and off-limit foods, it’s about getting to know your body and honoring it.
5.) Focus on what you appreciate about yourself as a whole
If you stay consumed with how you look, your body and food, and comparing what (or who) you’re not to others, you’ll drive yourself nuts. So instead, expand YOUR world and begin focusing on other things (like hobbies!) that bring you joy and focus on the positive things you like about you that have nothing to do with your physical appearance. For hobbies, think painting, boxing, coloring, a new yoga or gym class, or joining a women’s group. To shift your focus to the positive, keep a journal and bullet point – everyday – one to three traits, strengths, quirks, or characteristics that you appreciate about yourself or that you’re proud of – unique to that day. It only takes 3 minutes. Put a reminder in your calendar and do it for a week. See what happens. You may be surprised!
6.) Remember this is a practice for your entire life
Accepting and learning to love your body is a practice and something that takes time. It’s also something that you’ll work on forever. And some days will be better than others and that’s OK and totally normal. The thing is – the more you practice – self-compassion the more you’ll have “light” moments and the less you’ll have “dark” moments. In other words, you’ll feel better about yourself longer and not good enough much less often. But, know that the dark moments never go away because they’re there to show us just how good it is to be in the light.
6.) Know anti-diet does not mean anti-health
In culture today, when folks hear that you’re not on a diet, meal plan, or detox, or you say that you practice mindful or intuitive eating, it’s common that they think you’ve thrown all health and wellness behaviors out the window. But that’s anything but the case. Anti-diet doesn’t mean anti-health. Instead, it means that you holistically practice wellness. You honor your body’s hunger and fullness cues and cravings, you listen if your body wants to workout or rest, you have a healthy relationship with food, you speak to yourself kindly, you show yourself some compassion, and you live a big, bold, brave life not consumed by food, what you should or shouldn’t eat, or your physical appearance.
Not everyone will understand this approach. And this approach won’t be for everyone either. However, I can tell you that when you’re really ready to commit, show up, and do the work it’s an approach that will never turn you down.