Ditching your New Year diet resolutions might sound like a big ask, especially when your weight loss goals bring with them the idea of a happier and more fulfilling life! You know how it goes, ‘if only I was thin, then I would be able to …..’
The diet industry revolves around and perpetuates the idea that you can’t participate in life until you are thin, and that you are fundamentally flawed and broken in some way. You are not. In Move beyond the brokenness and connect with the place that has never been broken, I quoted Geneen Roth about this,
“Like everyone else in this diet-mad culture in which we live, my retreat students all loath to stop the frantic attempts to change themselves. They know that something is not quite right in their lives, and because they are not at their ideal weights, they believe that food is the problem and dieting will fix it. When I suggest that they’re trying to fix something that has never been broken, a wave of anxiety courses through the room.
“How could you say that nothing is broken when I can’t fit into any of my clothes?…. Can’t you see something is terribly, terribly wrong?”
And I say,
“Yes, something is terribly wrong, but it will not be fixed through losing weight.”
If you are caught in an endless cycle of yo-yo dieting, maybe it is time to try something different? 20 years as a psychotherapist and specialist in the disordered eating field, I’m going to recommend redirecting the focus inwards – dive deep and find out what is really going on underlying your repeated weight loss attempts.
7 Tips to Help You Ditch Your New Year Diet Resolutions
1. Your precious body is the home for your soul. Your body is the home for the core of you that is whole and unbroken. Instead of dieting, whatever your soul calls for, nourish that! It might be going for a long nature walk, swimming in the sea, a silent retreat, art journalling, having coffee and cake with a friend, taking a long bath with beautiful essential oils or dancing.
2. Focus on your health and not your size. Size is not always an indication of good health. Many diets call for restriction of specific food groups which can lead to ill health. It’s important to include all food groups, including food that you find pleasurable, otherwise, you will end up bingeing on the restricted foods – this often results in feeling shame and like a failure. Changing your thinking around food and weight can be challenging especially with so many internalised food rules: for example, ‘carbs and fats are bad’. In psychology, this is known as black and white thinking. Foods are not good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, clean or dirty – it’s a lot more grey zone than that. When eating in balance and without labels, food is just food. It is often how you are using food that is unhealthy. Ultimately, good health is about raising consciousness around how you think about your size and your eating (the what, why, when and how you are using food).
3. Focusing on weight and body size is a red herring. Focusing on weight loss and being obsessed with calories, macronutrients, steps or the gym is a misguided search and a distraction from what is really going on. Instead of going on yet another diet, perhaps ask yourself, ‘what’s really going on here?’ 9 times out of 10, the underlying struggle is not with weight, but with self-worth and not feeling good enough. If this is the case, redirect your New Year weight loss goals towards your inner world; developing your sense of self and raising your self-worth.
4. Don’t be seduced by online marketing and book store displays promoting diet culture. It’s virtually impossible to go online or to walk into a bookstore without being bombarded with diets for the new year – it’s important to remember that the majority of people who diet or restrict certain food groups, end up bingeing. This season, don’t be seduced by the false promises of yet another diet. Rather than dieting and restricting, focus on nourishing your whole self; body, feelings, mind and soul.
5. We all have little voices in our heads – don’t believe everything you think. If that harsh and critical voice inside your head is tyrannizing you with thoughts such as, ‘you are fat’, ‘you need to lose weight’, ‘you are disgusting’, ‘you can’t go to the party in that dress because you are too fat’ etc., imagine if you were speaking to a younger part of yourself or another child in that way? Seriously, would you say to a child, ‘you can’t go to the party because you are too fat’? Of course, you wouldn’t. Each time you speak to yourself in this way, you will feel even more down about yourself (and may end up at the fridge soothing how bad you then feel!). It’s time to start speaking to yourself in a loving and kind way and as you would to someone you love. And… If you are not taking care of your body as well as you could be and you do need to make some changes, make them in a caring, compassionate and kind way. I recommend going to Self-Compassion.Org by Dr. Kristen Neff.
6. Being around others obsessed with dieting can be triggering. It’s challenging but consider setting boundaries with friends and family. This might look like, ‘You know, I’ve been thinking – we are smart, sassy, gorgeous, creative women and I notice the conversation always comes back to talking about weight, dieting, clean eating – this year, I want to focus on truly nourishing my whole self, I don’t want to talk about and participate in this toxic, diet industry anymore’. Start a conversation with other women about how poisonous this practice is to women and young girls. There is a great campaign called Fat Talk Free by Delta Delta Delta.
7. Live Your Big Life Now. Don’t wait until you are thin before you live a big life. There is only one thing holding you back from being happy, wearing that gorgeous dress, going to the beach, finding love… and it isn’t your weight! Internalised weight stigma has got hold of your psyche – it’s time to challenge your thoughts about your body, ditch your new year diet resolutions and start living the life you dream of now. You only have one life – live it now.
If you need help to ditch your New Year diet resolutions and/or are struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating or other food, weight or body image concern, find a therapeutic counsellor or psychotherapist who can work through these concerns at depth.
This blog originally appeared on BodyMatters, Five Tips from Six Experts: Surviving Christmas & New Years Without Dieting