Why You Need to Ditch Diets Today
Hi, friends! If you live in the Northeast, I hope you’re enjoying this unexpected snow day. The good and bad part of working at home these days is that I don’t have to skip a beat when we get bad weather. I do take these days a little easier than usual, though. You only live once, right?! ☺️
So today we’re talking all about diets, why they haven’t worked for you in the past, and why they won’t work for you in the future.
You might be someone who tried several diets — think SouthBeach, Atkins, no-fat, low-fat, no-carb, only-kale type of diets — and had a miserable time with them.
You might have blamed yourself for the diet’s failure… you just need to try harder, you need to stick to it more strictly, you need to try a different diet that restricts a different macro-nutrient and THAT one will work.
I’m here today to deliver some much needed, relieving news. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DIET ANYMORE. In fact, dieting itself is probably the reason you’re not losing, or are gaining, weight.
You think I’m crazy right? How could dieting be the reason you’re gaining or not losing weight? One word: stress.
Diets fail you because they increase stress on your body and mind. When our bodies and minds experience an increase in stress, we don’t lose weight. Our bodies panic at our sudden decision to deprive it of energy (food) and scramble to send help (cortisol).
And do you know what cortisol does to your body? It makes you hang on to what you’ve already got because it’s afraid — it’s afraid it might be starving & it’s afraid it might need energy stores.
On an emotional and mental level, dieting causes us the type of stress that lends itself to emotional and binge eating. Even though you might not be able to tell that the type of stress you feel internally is related to depriving or under-nourishing your body, you’re probably reaching for sweets or snacks as a response to such stress. (If you want to talk about what this looks like for you & how we can stop that stress in its tracks, schedule your *free* 50-minute Connection Call with me here).
We reach for “feel good” foods in moments of stress — foods that have just the right amount of grease, fat, sugar, salt & white-floury goodness.
But why are we even reaching for that stuff in the first place? And why are we using food to fill us up emotionally? Because we’re not practicing self-care & taking care of ourselves.
If you eat through your emotions or binge eat out of boredom, sadness, or frustration, you should ask yourself…
- What if, instead of depriving myself, I focused more on adding joy to my life, finding what makes me feel fulfilled, and how I can care for myself on a mental/emotional/soulful level?
- What if I focused on how I want to feel in life & took steps to experience those feelings more often?
- And how about if I managed my stress head-on in a healthy way instead of using food as an emotional blanket?
If you approach food as a fulfilled, happy person, you eat to nourish & fuel your body instead of to fill some void. When you approach food as a fulfilled person, you make sound, informed decisions about foods you actually want to eat. Foods that actually make us feel good — both in the moment & long after.
“AHA!” you might say,”so this is why Sam’s touted self-care all these months! It’s actually the key to getting & maintaining the weight & body you want!”
Yes! I should have made it clearer sooner, but I’m learning this whole blogging thing ☺️ Let me explain…
I’ve touched on it before, but I never had to think about what I ate or how much I exercised until I graduated from law school. I began my first job at a firm and boom, my life was changed. In the office, I sat 8+ hours per day and was constantly bombarded by sweets, lunches out, and drinks after work. Out of the office, I did nothing to re-charge or feel good again.
I realized pretty quickly I needed to make drastic changes. I was not happy with how I looked or felt (tired & cranky).
Like most Type-As, I figured I just needed to find a strict, detailed plan & stick to it. So I did just that! I bought Tone It Up, tried following the plan, and tried keeping up with the 2x/day (!!) workouts (<—- shocking, I failed miserably at this.)
I tried giving up certain foods or food groups. I tried “eating clean” Monday – Friday, only to “cheat” on the weekends. Yet, I couldn’t stick to anything. I figured I just had no willpower or control. Looking back, not only was I stressed out in life (hello, law!), but I stressed my body out by restricting food & engaging in intense exercise.
Even when I strictly followed a plan and started to see results, I didn’t feel any better. I wasn’t any happier. Everything in my life didn’t magically fix itself. And all those things I put off until I reached that magical goal weight? I never did them because I still didn’t feel fulfilled.
Later on, I realized I was looking for something to control because I didn’t know how to follow my life’s purpose. It was easier to focus on my waist size or food intake than my future.
Around the time I discovered self-care, I decided I would follow my life’s true purpose (making health & wellness easy, intuitive & fun for all). I stopped using “when / then” statements and decided to live my best life NOW. I wanted more happiness in my life & I knew it was up to me to cultivate it.
And what do you know… just like that, my weight totally normalized & stabilized. You know from following my Daily Eats series that I eat pretty well, but don’t deny myself anything either. That’s because when I stopped dieting / depriving myself, I realized…
- I had more time to spend on things that were positive & truly ‘filled me up’ in the deepest sense
- I want to eat whole foods as much as possible because that’s what makes me FEEL GOOD
- How to indulge in foods / treats that are “worth it” because I value quality AND quantity
- I didn’t need to put so much weight (no pun intended) into my weight or body shape. It didn’t define me, dictate my happiness, or get in the way of anything I wanted to do anymore.
So here’s why you should ditch that diet & shift your focus to one of true joy & fulfillment…
- By giving up tracking, journaling, weighing everything you eat, you’ll free up lots of time to do things you love.
- By doing things you love & which fill you up, you will develop a deep sense of fulfillment.
- When you feel more fulfilled, you don’t look to outside sources (food) to fulfill you anymore
- You will also naturally & organically gravitate towards whole foods, because those are foods that make you feel good, energized, full, & vibrant
- You will respect & love yourself, so you’ll naturally want to do what’s BEST for yourself — and eating cheeseburgers probably isn’t on that list (at least everyday 😜)
Ditching dieting is the nasty secret the diet industry doesn’t want you to learn. They’ve convinced us that we just need to exert more control, energy, or willpower to “finally make it stick”. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but there are so many resources to show that the stress diets put our bodies & minds through actually inhibits weight loss.
Since we can’t possibly talk about everything in 1 post. Next week, I’ll write all about the connection between joy + natural weight loss/maintenance.
If you want to talk about how ditching diets for a fuller, more joyous life could help you achieve your goals, schedule your free 50-minute Connection Call today. It’s your chance to chat (by phone – so you can live anywhere!) about how it would feel to free yourself of diets & restrictions. You can schedule your time in 1-click here.
Additional reading on why diets don’t work:
“Why Diets Fail” – Science
“Low Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol” – National Institutes of Health
“Cortisol Switcharoo” – Dr. Sara Gottfried
- Why You Should Ditch the Scale [+ 5 better ways to measure your progress]
- Spring Clean Your Routine [5 ways to have the best spring ever]
- On Finding Happiness + Filling Up Your Tank
- The Ultimate Guide to Self Compassion
Learn How To Master Self-Care in 7 Easy Steps
This *free* 7-Day email course shares my step-by-step strategies to help you connect with yourself on a deeper level emotionally, mentally, physically.
We'll tackle topics like intuitive (mindful) eating, body image, your inner critic & more.
I created this eCourse to help you ditch diets and make peace with food so you can live your fullest, best life. Enjoy!