STOP! Dieting and Weight Loss Are Not The Answer
As we emerge from our Pandemic Cocoon, many of us have become highly sensitive to the way our bodies look and feel. We stand in our closets, wondering what fits beside the yoga pants and sneakers.
With excitement, anticipation, and maybe a little fear, we are seeing friends, co-workers, and extended family for the first time in months. Often the first statement you hear is, “OMG, you look…” What pressure! For many of us, that can induce insecure thoughts and counter-productive stories in our heads about our bodies.
We judge ourselves as we stand in our closets or wait to be judged by how we look at each personal greeting. We may be unintentionally guilty of doing the same to those we meet and greet. Many of us have used this greeting since childhood, not understanding the full impact of the damage it has done to our relationship with food, our bodies, and those around us. We may be innocently supporting someone’s eating disorder, or dismissing their grief from loss or hardship, or breaking a personal boundary space.
After almost 18 months of a total lifestyle change, our bodies have changed too. Our physical activity may have been different. Our stress and anxiety levels may have been heightened by feelings of overwhelm, loss, loneliness, and isolation. And time simply changes our bodies too.
One of the natural responses we use to deal with challenging emotions is to soothe with food. Eating releases dopamine, making you feel better, at least temporarily, aka emotional eating. Food is used as a band-aid for many things.
I am guessing that this scenario brings you to one simple conclusion. It’s time to take the proverbial “bull by the horns,” to gather your willpower and step on the scale and determine that it is time to diet… again.
This is where I say, STOP! Dieting and weight loss are not the answer.
As an Intuitive Eating and Body Image Health Coach, I work with women to take a non-diet approach to health and wellness. This is more important than ever today. Two helpful foundational questions to help you shift away from diet culture are, “What am I feeling right now” and “What do I need?” The practice of Intuitive Eating is learning to become an expert about yourself through instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It is the exact opposite of dieting and diet culture. This practice of Intuitive Eating allows you to reconnect with your body’s natural cues. It allows you to discover what works best for you, your mind, and your body. It removes the arbitrary judgment of how you look and feel based on some number on the scale or someone else's standards.
Listed below are the useful practices that manage body anxiety and cultivate body neutrality:
- Focus on what you appreciate about your body. As long as you are breathing, there is more right with your body than wrong. My body allows me to hug my children, partner, spouse, or even myself when I need some love.
- Choose who you spend time with. Find time to spend with people who accept their bodies. Avoid bonding over body shaming and the next best diet.
- Practice self-compassion. It is easy to be warm, loving, and empathetic to those around you. It’s time to use those words as you talk to yourself and shift from judgment to curiosity.
- Practice movement that makes you feel good. Movement is not about a hard-core daily workout. Try different activities to find ones you enjoy that make you feel good.
- Check-in with yourself. Regularly ask yourself, What are you feeling? What do you need? Learn to listen, trust and respect the answers.
- Avoid body checking and comparing. I refer to this as Dump the Junk. Clean up your social media, notice what you are reading or watching on TV, check your self-talk when you are with others. Comparing yourself to others creates a negative body image. Notice how we are ALL different and adopt the thought; there is no “best” body.
- Ditch the diet. Studies show that diets don’t work, whereas learning to listen, trust and respect your body leads to body peace & food freedom.
- Shift from body image to embodiment. Body Image is a critical judgment of how we see ourselves from the outside. Embodiment is the experience of being in our bodies.
- Immerse yourself in nature - Being in nature (and even just viewing the wilderness) reduces anger, fear, and stress. Being in nature induces positive emotions. It contributes to your physical well-being. It reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and stress hormone levels.
Practicing these strategies not only leads to a shift to body positivity or neutrality, it will make you feel better both emotionally and physically.
Wishing you Body Peace & Food Freedom!
Lisa is a certified Intuitive Eating and Body Image Health Coach. Through Intuitive Eating, she helps women make peace with their food and body. Lisa teaches women to listen, trust, and respect their body to be happy, healthy, and confident at any size. At Lisa Dahl Wellness, she offers her premier program Body Peace & Food Freedom. She has certifications in Intuitive Eating, health and wellness coaching, personal training, and group facilitation from Be Body Positive and Gratefulness.org. Lisa’s coaching philosophy is to ditch the diet and to focus on Progress, not Perfection.
Lisa Dahl Wellness: https://www.lisadahlwellness.com