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When I "quit" dieting

The A-HA moment

In 2019, I traveled to France and Italy, and ate ALL the bread, cheese, pasta, pastries, and drank lots of wine. I deliciously enjoyed myself.  

After two and a half weeks, I returned home and finally stepped on the scale, fearful of the number I would see. The number remained the exact same as when I had left for Europe. I hadn't gained an ounce. 

This led me to the realization that whenever I go on vacation, I never gain weight, in fact sometimes I lose weight, and I enjoy eating and drinking without restriction. In fact, on vacation, I don't even think about weight, or how much I weight, or even weight myself. I realized on vacation I ate and drank in moderation. On vacation, I'm not on the restrict-binge cycle. 

I've done ALL the diets!

I have done EVERY DIET! When I was 13 years old, I started restricting food and giving it morality. Bread was bad. Pasta was bad. Sugar was bad, butter was bad, and the list continued. The restriction had begun. I would eat mainly fruits and vegetables until I was so hungry, I would binge on all the foods on the "bad" list.

At 16, I planned to go to Florida for spring break and my friends and I decided to do Slim Fast 3 weeks before we left. Remember that? A shake for breakfast and lunch, and then a sensible dinner. I lost 10 pounds.  As soon as I stopped, I binged on my "bad" list foods. 

This went on for 30 more years. Cabbage Soup Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Cottage Cheese Diet, Weight Watchers, LA Weightloss, High-Carb/Low Fat, Atkins, 21 Day Fix, Keto, Intermittent Fasting, and probably some I can't remember. 

The strict rules around food just kept growing. I weighed and measured all my food, I even had special containers. I became a pro at "healthifying" recipes, which never tasted as good as I wanted them to. I was either "being good" with my eating or "being bad" with my eating. 

In addition, I weighed myself every day. If I liked the number on the scale, I was happy, but also felt the pressure to keep that number going down, and restrict food more. I weighed myself daily because I had to keep myself accountable, right? But accountable to who? And why? Would my family or friends love me any less because of a number on the scale?

I got tired of it all

The whole process was exhausting, and in my late 40s I was tired of it all. So tired, and confused about what to eat. I started to look at my future and turning 50, and asked myself, "Did I want to be dieting for the rest of my life? Did I want my days and thoughts to revolve around food?"  

What I started doing

Threw out the diets

No more! No more spending money on diet foods, programs, supplements, or follow stupid food rules. No more adding morality around food. No more guilt around food. This takes time, but I started eating whenI was hungry, and what I felt like eating. 
I would shoot for consistency. I threw out diets and restriction and decided I would consistently eat when I was hungry, and eat foods that made me physically feel good. However, if I wanted a muffin, cookies, chips, bread, or any of the other foods originally on my "bad food" list, I ate them - without guilt. I did the same for my workouts. Consistent strength training and walking, and let go of the punishing, hour long, twice a day workout. 

Mindset and Identity Shift

Changing the weightloss narrative and my identity in my thoughts also helped. Instead of thinking of myself as someone who needed to lose weight, I started living as someone who had already lost the weight. When I opened the refrigerator, or I would say to myself "I'm a fit and healthy person. As a fit and healthy person, what do I want to put in my body?" Anytime I thought of myself as "too heavy", "fat", or any other unkind word, I would change that too: "If a friend of mine said that about herself, what would I say to her?" 

It's been a three-year journey, and the weight has come off slowly, more slowly than 16, 20, or 30 year old me would have liked. What's even better is my mental health! Changing mindset is HARD!! But I've learned, food isn't good or bad, it's just food. I'm not good or bad for eating it, I'm me! 

Threw out the scale

I don't weigh myself, and I don't worry about what I can and can't eat. I still struggle some days with negative body image, but I'm so much happier just eating foods I enjoy, and avoiding diets and the scale. I got on the scale once because I was curious how this was going, and I completely spiraled. I thought I should have lost more, and it ruined my day. I LET THE SCALE DETERMINE MY EMOTIONS!! Do you see how crazy that sounds? I have two fabulous kids, a husband that loves me, wonderful extended family and friends, and some stupid digital object was doing this to me. 

How I eat

How I eat has also changed. I used to never be able to stop in the middle of eating. I was wired to finish my plate and eat everything I could, because my body had this fear that I would go o another diet or restrict myself, so I didn't know when I'd be able to eat again. 

Now that I've developed trust with myself and food, I know that I can listen to my body and put the food away, because I will allow myself to eat it when and if I get hungry. 

The Result

This entire process has led me to start taking courses for a degree in Dietetics, because I want other women to believe that their body is good. I don't sell anything, push any supplements, or require anything that will help weightloss. 
Our bodies are good. We may still want to improve our bodies, but not by restricting them of food or punishing them with workouts, but by treating them well. 

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