If you’re someone who makes and breaks a lot of diets, or who feels a chronic pull towards dieting, I have a question for you:
What is the feeling you imagine you’d have if you reached that lower weight? I’m not talking about the purported reasons why you want to lose weight—those standard things like “I want my clothes to fit better, ” “I want to move more comfortably,” and the holiest grail of all, “I want to be healthy.”
I’m talking about the feeling that you think you’ll feel once you lose weight.
Humans only ever do things—or avoid doing things—because of the feeling we think we’re going to have as a result of taking that action or inaction.
So when you envision yourself at a lower weight, what emotion do you envision yourself accessing? What states of being do you think will be available to you?
Is it acceptance? Love? Ease, relaxation, peace? Respect? Security?
One of those things—or something in this neighbourhood—is what you’re ACTUALLY trying to access through weight loss.
On one hand, yes, it’s ridiculous. But I’m definitely not blaming you for it. (Believe me—this is coming from a person who was TERRIFIED of losing the respect and esteem of friends, family and colleagues if I gained 5 pounds. It was this precise fear that blocked me for the longest time from healing from my disordered eating.)
Because on some level, it’s not at all ridiculous. It’s actually reflective of the norms and values of the society we live in. If you are plus size, it is entirely possible that you face disrespect, contempt and high levels of stress on a daily basis because of weight stigma.
On the other hand, the belief that only thin people can access love, respect, acceptance and so forth on an individual level is actually just factually untrue. Fat people can and do find other people who love, accept and respect them. I am one of them! 🙋🏻♀️
When we diet as a means of bringing ourselves peace, what we bring to our own doorstep is war. We say we want to just feel the same ease that someone thinner surely must feel, but what feelings does dieting actually bring us? Guilt, feeling out of control around food, restriction, anger, tension, and being in a constant tug-of-war with your body.
(And the bitch of it is that, if you do get to your goal weight, somehow the war on your body still doesn’t end! You’ve got to keep fighting it to maintain the weight loss. The kitchen and the gym don’t, in fact, become spaces of self-acceptance and love; they maintain their status as arenas of struggle.)
There is no peace, ease, relaxation or security when you’re dieting. And certainly no self-love.
So you might want to consider if there are OTHER, more effective routes to those feelings you desire? Paths that are a little more secure, or more meaningful? Roads that won’t become washed away when your body regains the weight? Are there relationships to cultivate or spiritual practices to, um, practice, as a more solid way of accessing those feelings? Or is there a reckoning that needs to happen within you to grasp that no one alive on planet earth can escape pain, even the thinnest of the thin? That this isn’t obvious is proof we have been sold a bill of goods and the evidence is all around us. I mean, Beyoncé’s husband cheated on her and if that doesn’t tell you something about there being no guarantees for any of us, I don’t know what does!
Here’s the thing: the path to peace is peace itself, and specifically making peace with your food.
Making peace with your food means making peace with your body’s innate desires.