“I’m going on a diet”
“I’m starting a new diet on Monday”
“I’m dieting, so I can’t eat that”
How often have we heard those phrases (or said them ourselves!)? The diet mentality—one of restriction and deprivation—is keeping us overweight.
And here’s how:
If you start with a “diet” to lose some extra pounds, then going off that diet automatically means putting weight back on. And more often than not, it means putting on more weight than originally lost.
So the cycle begins and then solidifies as a way of life for many of us.
The cycle is endless, literally, because going “on” and “off” a diet will never lead to a stable weight. “Diets” are incompatible with maintaining your weight.
What is needed instead is a new way of eating.
No matter your current weight, eating differently, consistently, will change your weight. In order to lose, that could mean fewer calories or more focus on protein or regular meal times.
But, how to make these changes?
You lean into it.
That could mean incremental changes in food choice or portion size. That works, especially if you do it slowly. Elizabeth’s story shows us another way.
Elizabeth looked forward to her nightly wine. It was her time to relax and it had been months and months of ending the day this way. She had also gained weight over those months. Her “shrinking” clothes are what brought her to me.
There are certain foods I note as “low hanging fruit” when I first assess a person’s eating habits. Daily alcohol, sweets and salad dressings stand out to me. I generally point this out then listen. Elizabeth was clear—she was not ready to give up her wine.
We focused elsewhere. As she started feeding herself more regularly, she noticed what she was feeling—when she was hungry and when she was satisfied. This new awareness led to other realizations. She could more easily identify when she was tired, overwhelmed and even happy. As these feelings became more obvious, it occurred to her to deal with them more directly—feed hunger, sleep when tired, slow down when overwhelmed, love when happy. This happened slowly over time with lots of practice.
And like many things, slow and steady wins the race.
Wine just didn’t make as much sense anymore. The poor sleep, the extra calories, and the mild headaches were too high a price to pay for the distraction of a nightly buzz. The habit fell away.
Force, restriction, punishment, deprivation don’t work long term. Ease, compassion, intention and awareness more often do. It may be slower (maybe not!) but it is more permanent. And that is what I want for you, Dear Friend, lasting ease and thighs you are happy with.