I’ve never been particularly good at making or keeping New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I’m making one that I’m almost positive I’ll be able to keep.
I’m not going to diet anymore.
I’ve been on a diet or thinking I should be on a diet since I was in high school. Now I’m tired. Tired of dieting. So I’m going to take a break – maybe forever.
I’ve been above average weight since I was seven, and even though lots of people assured me that I’d grow out of my baby weight phase, I never did. This meant shopping from the pretty plus section of the JC Penny Catalog. It meant internalizing the subtle but persistent messages from friends and loved ones that I was just lazy and needed to move my body more. This meant watching my thin brothers receive public praise for eating cookies, chips, and candy by the handful while I begged my mom to let me join a popular weight loss program on my fifteenth birthday.
I followed the plan and I lost weight. A lot of weight very quickly. It felt great for a while. Then the weight came back, slowly but surely.
By the time I started college I had already gained back most of what I lost and added more. So I started a different diet in college, found success, and maintained it for a little bit longer. Still, the pressures of my first teaching job led me to regain most of that weight and I knew what I had to do – sign up for another diet plan.
You get the drill, up and down. Yo-yo diets and yo-yo weights. As you can imagine, birthing four babies and aging have only exasperated this cycle. Now I work harder to lose smaller amounts of weight and can scarcely maintain my meager progress before the pounds creep on again. It’s no fun, and frankly, a whole lot of work.
My Lightbulb Moment
Like many others, I have put on some pandemic weight. Feeling frustrated about how I looked and felt, I started scrolling through social media, looking for a new idea for a diet or workout plan that would help me feel in control of my weight situation.
I saw a simple meme from an intuitive eating dietician that reassured readers gaining weight during a global health crisis was not the end of the world. Then I started reading more of her stuff, and, like social media is so good at doing, my feed starting showing more pictures, videos, and quotes from intuitive eaters and the anti-diet community. I didn’t even know that these groups existed, still their messages resonated so deeply with me – a serial dieter.
Like a lightswitch, it dawned on me. I don’t actually have to go on a diet today, tomorrow, or ever again if I don’t want to.
Instead, I can just love myself enough to make food choices that feel good, taste delicious, and nourish my body. I can move my body not out of punishment for calories consumed, or to combat the subtle but persistent societal perception that I’m a couch potato, but because I feel really good when I exercise. Moreover, I can love myself and live a full life at my current weight.
These things are as hard for me to put on paper as they are for me to truly believe. Obviously, this is an extremely vulnerable post for me, and I’m the first to say I don’t have it all figured out. I’ve ordered a few books on the topics of intuitive eating and living a life without diets. I’m on a waitlist for a one-on-one consultation with a dietician. I plan to discuss my weight and its correlation to my overall health with my doctor at my next appointment.
Still, I’m looking forward to a new year without a new diet and I’m excited to see what this journey will mean for my long-term health and overall wellbeing.