I love a good diet. I love shopping for all the "good" foods, planning meals, meal prep, buying a couple of new workout pieces of clothing, but mostly I love the serving of hope dieting promises me. Dieting provides a structure, a plan, to get yourself out of the fatty mess you got yourself info. To go on a diet feels as though you are empowering yourself by attempting to take control of a complicated psychological and biological situation (your body).
Unfortunately, dieting offers nothing but false hope, blame, shame and weight gain. As most of us have found out, going on a diet may give us short term success, but not long term success (keeping the weight off for 5 or more years). I am lumped in the 95% of folks who regain the weight after going on a diet, but who continued to try after multiple diet "failures". I had started researching dieting in 2012 and came across a allllll the research on how dieting is NOT the answer to improving one's health, and in 2014 decided to try and stay off the diet roller coaster. But herein lies the problem, if dieting isn't the answer to improving one's health, and dare I say helping us large folk fit more comfortably in airline seats, then what options do we have?
Taffy Brodesser-Akner takes a deep dive into weight and dieting in her article, "Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age", and after reading this article is seems there are more questions than answers concerning our health and attempting to modify the size of our waist. One of the biggest takeaways I gained from this article is how our bias concerning weight has really hindered research into what health truly looks like. We have moralized a person's size and by doing this we have poisoned our health research. What if we simply looked at weight as a number instead of a moral failing? What if weight is merely the symptom and not the problem?
But this is where my internal struggle begins, I know that dieting is bad for me, but I continue to slowly gain weight and as I slowly gain I feel more and more uncomfortable. I worry about mobility and being able to mow my yard with these insane ditches. If I gain much more weight, I don't know that I'll be able to keep up our yard. I also want to feel comfortable. Also, I am fortunate in that my blood work looks really good. Ultimately, I would like to maintain my good blood work, but also increase my fitness level and not worry about my ass fitting into an airline seat. I'm not asking to be a size 2 or even a size 10, but dropping from a size 22 to a size 18 would make fitting in the world a bit easier. My goal does focus on my weight (size) but the more important piece of this goal is my fitness level and blood work.
The question is, how do I change my current way of living to a life that supports my health goals? Dieting doesn't work, so what options do I have? After reflecting on all my past diets and attempts to make changes in my life, I believe that a combination of environment and healthy habits may help me obtain my wellness goals. But what does this look like?
1. Carving out time each day (or week) to plan, dream, and take care of myself. It's easy to focus on everything else but how you live. I've heard 5 million times that a person should take 5 minutes out of their day to love, support, nurture themselves.... blech. What does that even mean? I've had to figure out what loving myself looks like, because sitting in a bubble bath with a glass of wine sounds terrible to me. I hate baths... and wine (more of a beer person myself). And I don't know about you, but I hate the time limit thing.
How does this translate to my current schedule? Each week I go grocery shopping for food for the week, I plan all our family meals, and snacks, the day before. I do not want to create meals for my family AND myself. I've done this in the past and it obviously hasn't worked. Therefore, the meals I plan include lots of veggies and foods I know we will all enjoy. Has this limited our rotation of meals? Yep. Do I care? Nope. Does the family complain? Nope because who else is gonna pick up this task?
Secondly, I want to explore non-food and fitness related projects, such as building a seedling rack for my baby plants, building a table for our dining area, looking into new seed varieties for the upcoming planting season, or maybe even learning a new language.
Taking time for ourselves, and self-love, doesn't have to only about doing nothing (but that's also encouraged), it could even mean finding a therapist, or actually trying something new! Try thinking outside of the box, but do something that interests YOU!
2. Slowly add habits I consider healthy. It seems the best way to improve our health is to add rather than subtract things out of our life. By adding a healthy habit one slowly pushes out the unwanted habit. There is a bunch of psychology behind restriction and how that sets us up for failure and I'll leave that to you to google.
In Charles Duhigg's book, "The Power of Habit", Charles explains that to change an unwanted habit one should not ignore it but, act differently once that habit is triggered. For instance, in the evenings I normally eat a bed time snack. Usually I eat too much and end up with heartburn, but I do receive satisfaction (mentally) from my sugary treat. I really want to eliminate the heartburn, but don't want to feel like I'm on a diet by eating something I don't really want. Fortunately, I do love frozen peaches and cherries. So after dinner, I'll pour some frozen peaches and cherries into a bowl so it will be slightly melted by the time I eat it in the evening. I also asked my spouse if he'd like to watch a TV show series with me in the evening. When my habit kicks up in the evening, I act differently by eating the frozen fruit and spending time with my spouse and feel mentally satisfied without the heartburn.
I'm giving myself about a month between adding new habits. I get overwhelmed quickly and know that I need time to get used to each new habit.
3. Keep a Food/Sleep/Activity Diary. Isn't that diet-y?? Well.... kinda? I really want to understand what I'm eating, how it makes me feel, is sleep affected by what I eat and vice versa, do I sleep better when I exercise? Since all the food diarys I found focused on weight loss and Calories, Carbs, etc I created my own. I wanted a diary where I could write down what I ate, if I exercised, how I felt, what the weather and temperature was like and the moon cycle. I wonder if any of these factors are connected or affect me. For instance, I may notice I don't sleep as well when there is a huge flux in temperature or when there is a new moon, and this affects what I eat the following day. If I don't write it down, then how will I know if there is a pattern?
The point of the food diary isn't restriction rather to gather data on myself. Download the diary HERE
I have no idea if or how I will achieve my goals with this "plan", but I know I'm currently uncomfortable where I am. Does this sound like I'm putting myself on yet another diet? I don't know, but I do feel like my body, and my life, are worth trying for.
Who am I?
I'm a regular everyday middle-age mom, retired Military Spouse, homeschooling parent, Herbalist, Usui Reiki Master Teacher, and seeker of a [whole]istic life.