Why I Stopped Dieting, and Why You Should Too
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I stopped dieting! I know what you might be thinking: she’s obviously not at a healthy weight. Or: wow, how freeing that must be! You’re right. I’m by no means thin, and I feel so much freer not worrying about calories, macros, and exercise. Read on to learn why I stopped dieting, how it’s affected my life, and whether you should stop dieting, too.
Yes, I have lost weight before. But…
You can read my post about when I started trying to lose 100 pounds and when I lost 25 pounds. If I’ve lost weight before, why would I stop? Well, I just can’t seem to lose more weight without seriously damaging myself. I did successfully lose those 25 pounds, but I really had to push to get the last five off. And as soon as I relaxed when I hit that magic 25, a few pounds came right back. And more have been creeping on since, despite trying a few diets over the last ten months. This got me thinking… Why did those first ten pounds fall off? And why were the last five so hard? And why did it come back so easily? The answer might surprise you…
Dieting Doesn’t Work
Diets don’t cause weight loss. Let me say that again so it sinks in: diets do not cause weight loss! The vast majority of people who try a diet will fail. So why do doctors and common knowledge keep telling us to try another diet, eat clean, count calories – when these methods just don’t work? Simple: because we don’t know what works! Scientists have not figured out a sustainable way to help people lose weight, with the exception of bariatric surgery (which has its own risks). But why not just keep trying diets until I become part of the lucky 5% who do maintain weight loss? Well…
Dieting Causes Weight Gain
As one researcher put it, “If you want to gain weight, go on a diet.” Most people don’t maintain their weight loss, and most actually end up at a higher weight! Why? A few things happen when someone starts eating fewer calories. Their metabolism becomes more efficient, making their body burn fewer calories. Their hunger hormones are revved up, making them more likely to overeat. And their brain makes high-calorie food look and taste even better.
Worst of all, these changes have long term effects. People who have dieted to get to their current weight often need to eat significantly less than people who didn’t diet to maintain the same weight. And, by dieting, we teach ourselves to ignore our body’s gentle cues of hunger and fullness. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can continue to diet, fail, and gain weight (and over and over). Or, we can remove ourselves from the dieting cycle entirely and end up healthier for it.
Dieting Causes Mental Health Issues
How’s your relationship with food? Has it betrayed you too many times? Is it evil, trying to pack onto your thighs? Does it call your name at night? Or has it become a drag, weighing, measuring, with no enjoyment. Here’s a wake-up call: food should be a source of enjoyment and social connection. When was the last time you had dinner with your family and actually let yourself fully enjoy it?
I stopped dieting because I was tired of being disappointed in myself. Every time I looked in the mirror or stepped on the scale, I saw failure, laziness, lack of willpower. All the reasons we believe that we fail diets – instead of diets failing us. It’s been a long road to accepting my body that hasn’t always been smooth. But I’m starting to realize that I – just as I am right now, not skinny-me or future-me – I deserve to eat food I enjoy, in quantities that make me feel good, without guilt or shame for not playing into the diet mentality that just doesn’t work!
Dieting Turns Us Against Our Bodies
Dieting teaches us that we have to control our bodies. That if we let go of that tight grip, we’ll go completely off the rails! I’d like to challenge you on that. The last time you stopped dieting for a week or two, you probably had the thought: “Well, I’m not watching my calories right now, so I’m just going to enjoy myself.” But you did more than enjoy yourself – you crammed yourself way past full. You took portions that were too big. You ate when you weren’t hungry, just because you weren’t dieting, right? That feeling of “I’d better eat when I can, before my next diet starts” is just as destructive as the diet itself.
Next, how’s your relationship with your body? Do you feel like it’s shameful, that it must be covered, that by simply existing at that size, you don’t deserve enjoyment? Sounds familiar to me! If you look in the mirror and only see flaws and failures, it might be time you stopped dieting!
Say it with me: I want to enjoy my life.
I won’t spend the rest of my life wasting my energy on something I might not be able to change. I will spend my time on earth enjoying food with my family. I’ll move my body in a way I like because I like it, not as punishment. I’ll accept and maybe even like the way I look.
I want to live longer.
I won’t hurt myself by losing and regaining weight. Nor will I take years off my life by stressing about my appearance. Instead, I’ll do things that I know will help my live a long, healthy life, like eating fruits and veggies when I want them, and getting outside.
I want to be healthier in every way.
I’m realizing that I can have a healthy body at the size I am – and I don’t need to lose weight first before focusing on my health. I understand that making healthy changes – eating fruits and veggies, moving my body, not smoking, and drinking in moderation – will help me live longer no matter my size! If necessary, I’ll get help finding ways to strengthen the muscles around my joints so I don’t have to live with pain. I can take care of my health conditions instead of putting them off due to my weight. And I can laugh, relax, and make deep connections regardless of how I look! I can make a different in the world, no matter my size.
But don’t you want to lose weight?
Yes, of course I want to lose weight! Life is easier for thin people in our society. They make more money and get better medical care. But I’ll say it one more time: diets don’t work! Trying to be thin is not worth the damage to my body and mind. And I feel that since I’ve stopped dieting, my body has become healthier. My health is worth more to me than what other people think!
Have you stopped dieting? What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome? Tell me in the comments!
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