(Disclaimer-y stuff: I’m not a doctor. Or a nutritionist. I’m a sometimes politically motivated, ranty, sorta humour writer person. Listening to anything I say might be profoundly stupid. I’m just saying.)
I have a history with dieting. Put mildly, if diets were a person – Diet, if you will – then Diet and I have had a profoundly troubled and disturbing relationship throughout my entire life, an abusive cycle that no matter of money spent or time invested or books read or medical intervention could correct. I tried it all – counting points. Counting calories. Having food delivered. Exercise plans. Medical plans. Shakes. Pills. Eating disorders. Apps. Writing your food down. Fasting. Eating every two hours. No carbs. Only carbs.
All of it.
I’ve learned something about dieting and bodies and weight – FINALLY – and I want to share it with you, here. The Last Diet Plan I Will Ever Follow And The Only One You Will Ever Need.
Step One: Know Your Body
Assess your body. How is it? How does it feel? Does it move? Is it free of pain? Are your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar in healthy ranges? Can you breathe? RECOGNIZE THAT THE HEALTH OF YOUR BODY IS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SIZE OF YOUR PANTS OR A NUMBER ON A SCALE.
If your body is a healthy body?
Learn to love it.
Don’t think, “Oh I’ll love myself more when I weigh x,” because you will not. Don’t think “I would love myself if I looked like Gisele” because that’s not going to happen. (I was going to type, “that’s not going to happen, sorry” but I stopped because I’m NOT sorry. I think you should look like you, and you should know that you’re fabulous, and none of that has anything to do with looking like Gisele or anyone else.)
If your body is not healthy, if it has issues? You can take care of those. But know this: You need to take care of them in a way that is beyond measuring yourself and your worth with BMI calipers and a bathroom scale.
Step Two: Eat Things
Eat anything you want, unless you are allergic, or a doctor specifically tells you not to eat something because your body reacts to it badly. Make nothing off limits, but – and this is very important -- Listen to your body. Do not listen to someone who wants to sell you something. Listen to what your body wants. IT WILL TELL YOU. It will tell you, Hey, I need protein or An orange would be beneficial right now or For the LOVE OF GOD stop with the coffee.
You have to learn to listen to your body and give it what it wants.
That can include cheeseburgers. Or pizza. Or ice cream. Or salads or quinoa or eggs. It can include food that isn’t organic. It can include carbs! It can be whatever. No food that you enjoy eating should be off limits or forbidden. Life – and eating – are things to enjoy.
ENJOY YOUR LIFE. ENJOY YOUR FOOD.
Listening to your body means … listening to your body. This is different from listening to the emotional voices in your head that want you to eat chocolate until you hurl. Your body does not want to eat until you hurl. It doesn’t really want you to eat when you’re not actually hungry. If you’re not hungry? It’s telling you it’s all set right now, thank you. It means stopping when you’re full. “I don’t need any more Ben and Jerry’s right now. Thank you. We can have more later if we want.”
So eat some food. (But only if you’re hungry.)
And go to step three.
Step Three: Feed Your Soul …
… and notice if the way in which you normally feed your soul involves also feeding your face, because they’re really not the same thing. Your soul is not your stomach. If you are trying to feed your soul by filling your stomach, you are probably finding that your stomach is very full but your soul is not sated.
If you’re feeding your soul through forkfuls of cake? Put down the fork and ask yourself what you really want. Do you really need more frosting to be happy in this moment? Because if you don’t? All you’re going to have is a sugar high and an inevitable crash. In other words, if you need a hug, no amount of Ben and Jerry’s will give you one.
To misquote the Spice Girls, figure out what you want, what you really really want – if it actually IS frosting? Have some without guilt or shame. If it’s something else? Find that instead. The important thing here is to make sure that you’re feeding what’s actually hungry and learning to tell the difference.
Step Four: Move
Find something that involves moving and that also makes you smile and try to do it on the regular. It doesn’t have to be hours at the gym or involve specialized clothes or gear.
It does have to be something that gets you going and makes you happy, and you should try to do it whenever you get the chance.
Don’t punish yourself if you hate the gym. I hate the gym. I like to be outside, though, and walk. I like to dance around and sing while I clean. I didn’t think those were exercise because I wasn’t in the gym.
Find something you like to do – something that requires that you move. Something that makes you sweat a little. And then love the hell out of doing it.
You are WELCOME.