Consciously restricting what we eat, for weeks and months (and in some of our cases, years) at a time, sucks.
It sucks so hard but so many of us do it anyways because of the immense pressure in our society to be thin.
If you’ve never dieted, you might wonder what the big deal is, so for those of you in that camp, let me illustrate to you what being on a diet is like.
We go hungry. All the time. Constantly having to remind ourselves of our “goal” so that we don’t eat. We spend hours looking for ways to suppress normal biological hunger with “skinny” versions of our favorite foods, lots of lettuce, water and food that is reminiscent of cardboard filled air. We dream about getting to eat real food and actually satisfy our appetites. Even when we’re eating, we’re counting down the minutes until we can eat again because we know that whatever we are eating isn’t going to cut it.
We beat ourselves up when we eat more calories than we “should” even if we’re eating because we’re are so hungry we can’t think. We have a massive list of shoulds that we expect ourselves to conform to and we can never meet all of them on the same day. So we shame, berate and use sheer will to get ourselves in line.
We put what little energy we have left into punishing exercise (have to burn off what we eat!) and anything that’s left gets put into wishing we had more willpower and creating pinterest pins of impossible to achieve body standards in the hope that they will help motivate us to ignore our growling stomach for just a few more hours, every day, every week. All of this helps us end the day feeling completely spent with not much to show for it, only to have to get up the next day and go through these same motions again. And again and again until we meet our goal (which is often a moving target).
You don’t have to diet. You might think you have to do it and that it will make you happy but the truth is that you don’t and it won’t. You don’t have to purposely prevent yourself from responding to hunger. If someone prevented a child from eating what their body needed, we would call it abuse, neglect, and go on and on about having basic needs met (because that would be totally messed up). But we don’t think twice about not meeting our own basic needs. We’re different, right? Our needs aren’t as important because we’re bad, we’re out of control and we need to be smaller.
There is so much more to life than size.
I’ve never heard anyone say that they love to diet. I’ve never heard anyone say that they feel amazing being hungry all the time. I’ve never heard someone say that they get more accomplished as a dieter. But I have heard plenty of women talk about the things they were missing out on in their lives because they were too caught up in the details of a food issue. I’ve had plenty of women tell me about all the things they couldn’t be present enough to enjoy because of their obsession with their weight.
It sucks so much.
If you decide that you are done dieting and want to feed your body the way it needs to be fed, once and for all. If you decide that you are worth more than an arbitrary number then you will find that a huge world of amazingness starts to open up for you.
Here are just a few things that are way better than dieting:
- warm summer sun on your skin
- a cat purring on your lap
- a cup of coffee brewed to the exact strength and temperature you like
- an afternoon (and evening!) spent reading your favorite kind of book
- a leisurely bike ride through gorgeous countryside
- clothes you like that fit your actual body
- having a good hair day
- hearing someone you love laugh
- falling asleep in someone’s arms
- being snowed in with nowhere to go, nothing you have to do and good food and company
- a big bowl of real ice cream from a farm stand
- helping someone else (feels even better if they appreciate the help!)
- getting complimented on something other than for what you look like
- swimming in warm and clear water somewhere beautiful
- not having to set an alarm for the next morning
- watching someone you love graduate, become a parent, get married or start their first job
- doing those things yourself
- finally doing something you’ve always wanted to do
- sharing a meal with people whose company you enjoy
- looking at old family photos and remembering those days just as vividly
- eating your fill of your favorite food
- getting a 90 minute massage (that someone else paid for!)
- having more than one day off in a row
- having a little kid reach up to hold your hand
- hearing a song you love that you haven’t heard in years
- surprising yourself by being good at something you never thought you would be
- getting a job or promotion that you really wanted
- getting asked out by someone who you really dig (or asking them out and having them say yes!)
- having a belly that is comfortably full of food on the regular
- having sex with someone you like and respect (and vice versa)
- having a warm, safe and comfortable place to live
- feeling like you have everything you need
- planting something yourself and watching it grow
- climbing into bed with fresh sheets
- teaching someone else something that you know
- falling asleep because someone is playing with your hair
- watching butterflies dance near you
- falling in love for the first time
- falling in love with yourself for the first time
- mastering a skill or learning something totally new
- opening a bottle of good wine that you saved for a “special occasion”, just because
- discovering that there are sports and activities that you actually enjoy
- being able to pay all your bills paid and still have a little wiggle room for fun
- visiting a new city and envisioning what it might be like to live there
- the smell of fresh lemons and limes when you first slice into them
- witnessing good deeds that have nothing to do with you
- the feel of freshly washed skin and the smell of freshly washed hair
- having a well stocked pantry and fridge
- waking up to a sunny day despite a forecast that called for all day rain
- having your health
- a good night’s sleep (no insomnia, no bad dreams, no restlessness!)
- that first bite of homemade cheesecake. The last bite is pretty good too
- challenging the beliefs you have about yourself
- letting some things go
- loving the body that you have as it is right now
There are a zillion more things that are better than dieting but that’s just a small list to get us started. What are some things that you think are way better than dieting?
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