Can I ask you a personal question? Are you on a diet? Or are you currently rebelling against a diet?
Chances are you said yes to one of those questions. A survey done a few years ago showed that the average woman spends 31 years of her life on a diet. And also that the average length of time that we stick to a diet is 5.5 weeks.
Diet, rebel, overeat, regret, diet, rebel, overeat, regret………
Since posting last June about my decision to quit dieting, I’ve battled my own little diet/don’t diet cycle. To begin with, I ate what I wanted, and to hell with the consequences.
Which resulted in weight gain. Of course.
So then I panicked, felt guilty, and went on a diet. I know, I said I wouldn’t, but I did. Everything felt so out of control, and if there is one allure that diets hold out for us, it’s the illusion of regaining control.
But it didn’t feel right. And I lost a little weight, but I was obsessed with food. It was all I could think about. And then I started getting ill, my energy went down the tube, I was having to go to bed every afternoon for three hours. Crazy stuff.
I renewed my vow not to diet. But this time, instead of rebelling and eating whatever I wanted, I promised myself that I would find out what foods made me feel good, and what foods made me feel bad, and really start to look after my body.
I can’t tell you how hard that has been. We are not trained to look after our bodies. We are trained to punish them, one way or another. To actually make healthy choices, just for the sake of wellbeing, is challenging. Every day I feel like I’m wobbling on a high wire. No net. But every day it’s getting a bit easier.
I’m learning balance, for the first time. I’m finding out what foods agree with me, and what foods don’t. I’m beginning to trust myself.
Yes, I’ve lost a little weight. I don’t know how much, because I was really struggling with my motivation, feeling very conflicted, slipping back into obsessing about losing pounds, and so I packed my scale away. You’ve no idea how freeing that was. Not to pack it away in a I’m-giving-up kind of way, but to pack it away because my weight is no longer the issue.
My next task is to try to heal my relationship with exercise, and that’s going to be tough. I’m one of those people who loathe exercise, truly loathe it. I grew to love running a few years ago, and Pilates too, but I was solely motivated by a desire to lose weight, and that drove me into over exercising and burning out. Running six times a week, taking Pilates classes three times a week. And still feeling guilty that I wasn’t working hard enough for the body of my dreams. I ruined it for myself, and I’m sad about that, because I know now how hard I will have to work to regain some of that fitness, and it’s a daunting task. Especially daunting when I have to motivate myself with loving, positive reasons, rather than shame and guilt and body hate.
But I’m determined to try. Because if it’s possible to heal my relationship with food, it must be possible to heal my relationship with exercise.
So, here’s my plan. I recently found this cool site called Chains.cc. The premise is that it helps you break bad habits and establish good habits, by creating a chain of daily actions. Momentum is a powerful thing. I’m promising myself that for the month of May, I will commit 30 minutes every single day to some form of exercise. Walking, Pilates, weights, stretching, whatever I feel like on that day. I’m hoping that by the end of the month, I will learn to enjoy exercise for it’s own sake, regardless of how it makes me look or what it does to my weight or my dress size.
Do you want to join me? One month. 31 days. We can do this!!