Diets Don’t Work.
I’m calling bullsh*t on the diet industry. Diets do not work. In my time, I have tried the Atkins (now rebranded to the Keto) the low-fat, the alkaline, the blood group diet and I’ve watched my friends do many more. The one thing that all of these have in common is that they are not sustainable long term, and because of this they don’t work.
In our modern age where we are constantly assaulted by a barrage of images delivered into the palm of our hand telling us what the ideal body type is, it can be super difficult to feel good about ourselves and not succumb to self-judgment. There are hundreds of wellness influencers telling us that we should be vegan or ban sugar or that gluten is the source of all of our health problems, it’s confusing and exhausting and supremely unhelpful*.
In this climate, love and acceptance of your body truly is a radical act. People who are happy do not drive the consumer machine and that is why social media platforms are geared to make you feel that you’re not enough, so that you buy more. This can result in driving you to extreme diets which are usually followed by a rebound, where you put on the weight that you lost and possibly more, only to start the cycle again. Recent studies have shown that this type of yo-yo dieting can result in and increased risk of heart disease.
There is another way. Here are my three tips for maintaining a good relationship with your body.
Find a way to move that you enjoy. This can be walking, running, Zumba, Yoga, dance classes, it does not matter. Just find a way of exercising that you love. For me, it’s primarily lifting weights. I love it which keeps me going back to the gym (and has done for the last ten years). If you put me in an aerobics class I would not last two minutes; I am so uncoordinated. Do what you love.
Be grateful to your body for giving you the ability to do that thing. My relationship with my body changed when I started thanking my body for its strength rather than punishing it for not being enough (coordinated enough, fast enough, thin enough etc). This is incredibly hard for some of us and if that’s you – start as small as possible and work your way up. What’s the smallest thing that you can thank your body for?
Eat mindfully. When you focus on eating while you’re eating, you can better feel when you are full. You also have much stronger awareness of how the food that you’re eating makes you feel. I have a real sweet tooth and can easily finish off a bag of Percy Pigs in a matter of minutes. But when I’m mindful of how I actually feel once I’ve done this (like cr*p) the memory of this will stay with me and discourage me from doing it again. I also find it helpful to eat without distractions; no TV or phone, reading or working. Just me and the meal.
Finally, try not to categorise foods as good and bad. Everyone deserves to eat cake now and again without piling on guilt. If you are looking to lose weight then what will work is the simple equation calories in < calories out. It is more sustainable to lose weight in a slow and steady way by making adjustments to your food and exercise plan than it is to heavily restrict calories or jump into extreme exercise programs. Above all, be compassionate towards yourself. Your body is amazing. Honour it.
*For help with curating your online environment, go here.