I’m thrilled to announced I was featured in a recent NY Post article about the potential harms of dieting. Click here to check it out!
I must say the article makes it all seem so easy — and it’s NOT! Giving up the pursuit of weight loss has probably been the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. Perhaps that sounds like an exaggeration, but I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to accept my body size, honor my hunger and focus on my health, and it continues to be a struggle every day. As I’ve written in the past, I sometimes cry and spend hours in bed trying to wrap my head around this new “normal.”
After all, I’ve spent my entire adult life wishing I could lose weight. Dissatisfaction with the size of my body has been so central to my identity that it’s a difficult belief to shake overnight. But after becoming so tired with the dieting process and tired of hating my body regardless of its size, tired of feeling like a failure and FINALLY coming to terms with the fact that any intentional pursuit of weight loss was only leading me gain weight, I decided to take one small step at a time in the direction of health and happiness.
The first step was to look at my body and try not to hate it. I didn’t have to love it, but I had to accept it just as it was in that present moment. I chose to be in awe of it instead of being at war with it. I chose to be grateful for the things it does for me, rather than focus purely on how I wished it looked or felt. I chose to appreciate the fact that despite my years of hatred and damage and wishing I was different, my body continues to work for me every day, trying its hardest to care for me and keep me alive.
The second step was to stop weighing myself. I knew that if I wanted an intuitive relationship with eating and a judgment-free view of my body, I had to make that number irrelevant to who I was as a person.
The third step was to stop viewing exercise as a punishment, and start to move my body in ways that felt good and had no previous association with my dieting days. Instead of going to the gym to “get in shape,” I’ve chosen walking my dog, swimming with my kids and going for leisurely bike rides. I stretch my body when its sore, and rest when I’m tired.
There are many more steps, and I could go on and on, but I’ll save those for another post. For now, be kind to your body and try step one for a week or two. Our overall health depends so much on our emotional state of being, and this can start with hating yourself a little less each day.
Listen to the negative thoughts about your body in your head and try to replace them with neutral or positive thoughts instead. (Change “I hate my belly” to “My stomach is a vital organ that keeps my body alive,” or “My thighs are monstrous” to “My legs keep me up and take me places.”)
Learning to accept ourselves without judgment is the first step in a lengthy process of healing, but it’s essential to our healthy and well-being. Just think where you’d be if you had simply accepted your body from Day 1 and never felt the need to diet in your youth.
I’d love to know what you’re struggling with in this journey of self-acceptance. It’s a really hard road, and we don’t have to do it alone!