A lot of people will tell you not to diet as we enter the New Year. And while I am not a fan of dieting and want to remind you that you have permission not to engage in it, it’s not that easy. Let’s face it, for our entire lives, we have been conditioned to believe that dieting and weight-loss are the end all, be all.
We have been taught that when we lose weight we gain beauty, relationships, success, acceptance, and more. When we choose not to, or when or bodies can no longer sustain starvation, we are called failures. And since diet culture is something, we are all entirely immersed in from birth, this is a kind of failure that cuts deep. So, no, it isn’t as simple as saying don’t diet next year.
The reality is, letting go of the pursuit of weight-loss is a lot easier then letting go of the desire to. In fact, there’s a lot to grieve. For so many weight-loss brings a sense of comfort and is the means to achieving something greater. Unfortunately, for 95 percent of people, that diet will fail and, when your hopes are set so high, that’s really hard to digest.
This doesn’t mean finding peace isn’t possible. However, it does mean that you need to allow yourself to grieve the reality that dieting will only harm you and begin letting your body be. And, if you have already ditched the diets, I am sure the grieving process has already begun.
It’s in those moments where you wonder if maybe losing those ten pounds will make you more attractive, or maybe just counting calories will give you some sense of control in this hectic world we live in. Regardless of when or how it happens, there will be moments where it will feel a lot harder to not diet, than it will to diet. So, how do you hold space for that, and continue to move forward?
First, don’t rush it. Just like grieving the loss of a relationship, death, or more, you have to give yourself the time to figure out what feels right and determine the most logical steps for moving forward. Next, invite yourself to explore what weight-loss and thinness actually means for you. What is it specifically you are grieving?
For most, it is not just the physicality of weight-loss that is missed, but what it represents. Are you sad to lose this sense of predictability and routine? Are you worried you will not be as acceptable? Are you scared you may face rejection? Yes, this world sadly caters to thinner people, so to some degree life may be harder. However, most are grieving the failed promises of success, perceived beauty, and more.
Once you are able to identify what it is you are missing, you can not only validate that emotion, but determine when and where you should move your energy to next. Personally, dieting provided a sense of safety for me and made me feel as though I belonged. So instead of investing my energy into dieting for a sense of belonging, I began exploring who I wanted to become. By discovering more about myself, I built up my own sense of acceptance and felt safe in who I am, rather than who I feel I should be.
It is okay to be sad about releasing dieting. But just like we get sad over our shitty exes at times, it does not mean that going back is reasonable. Challenge yourself to expand, rather than to shrink.