It’s almost four years later, and I no longer diet or base my self-worth on what I ate or how much I weigh. And whilst I’m not in a place where I completely accept my body, I am free from the shame that came from so many failed attempts to lose weight.
When I quit, my main focus was to free myself from an extreme habit, reintroduce the food groups I’d eliminated, and stop labeling foods as good or bad. More accurately, stop labeling myself as good or bad – depending on what I ate. After that I’d take the next obvious step, which is where I am now.
Start with surrender: Surrender could be interpreted as giving up, but I prefer to think of it as letting go. I’m not suggesting you quit caring about your body or health. What I’m referring to is surrendering a habit that doesn’t serve you.
Surrender the idea that you need to start ‘a diet’ on a particular date or day, and start being mindful about your choices every time you eat. Surrender the guilt if you eat something that wasn’t the best choice. Most importantly – surrender old ideas about who you are and dare to trust yourself. Your intuition is powerful and will begin to work in ways you cannot imagine.
Commit to the process: If you’ve been yo-yo dieting for a long time, it may take a long time to get used to not dieting. After years of counting calories, omitting entire food groups and weighing myself daily, I initially felt very uncomfortable when I stopped.
Continually remind yourself dieting didn’t work. You’re removing a bad habit from your lifestyle. Learn to sit with the discomfort, and give yourself time to get used to a different way of living.
Record the past and then release it: I found one of the most damaging things about yo-yo dieting was my constant failure to stick to a diet had eroded my confidence.
So, not long after I quit, I listed every single diet I’d ever been on. I went into very fine detail, making a note of the disappointments, the perceived failures and all the times I’d felt particularly bad about my body.
And then I forgave myself and let it all go.
Rebuild your confidence: Good health isn’t just about food. Getting adequate and consistent sleep, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly are just some of the things that contribute.
I did all of these things well when I was on a diet – and they went completely out the window when I wasn’t.
So I decided to make these consistent habits, one at a time. Not only did I feel better, an unexpected yet critical benefit was the sense of confidence I felt at actually being able to make such positive changes part of my lifestyle. It helped me believe I could be successful at making other long-term changes, too.
Practice self-care: Far too often I’d deny myself something, telling myself it would be my “reward” once I lost weight – which rarely happened. Now I practice self-care no matter what I weigh. Get the haircut you’ve always wanted. Have your nails done. Wear clothes that make you feel fabulous. Have a massage. Buy yourself flowers. Stop denying yourself self-care just because you’re not your desired dress size or weight.
Not only did I immediately feel better once I began practicing self-care, I learned to nurture myself in ways that didn’t involve food.
However, the most powerful effect of this practice is I began to change the way I viewed my body – from being the enemy – to being a safe place to live.
These tips are simple… They’re meant to be. Quitting is hard, and it can take time, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose to trust yourself and learn to listen to your body.