When I think back about my journey to Health at Every Size, I sometimes think that the hardest part was giving up dieting, because by that point being on a diet had become a massive part of my life. But there was something that was harder to give up…
It was my addiction to the pursuit of being thin. This took a lot of forms but at the time there was nothing like the adrenaline rush of starting a new diet or a new weight loss challenge. Every day was one day closer to having a socially acceptable body. All the praise you get when you lose that first little bit of weight. I had the same yo-yo diet experience that most people will statistically have but the blow of weight regain was always softened by the high of starting another diet. Weighing and measuring food, spending more and more time in the gym.
Another form that it took was my performance of dieting. I was constantly talking about my diet, my exercise routine, why this diet was different because it was a lifestyle change and you have to make a lifestyle change if it’s going to work blah blah blah dear lord I must have been annoying. Although I absolutely did need a lifestyle change, it wasn’t the one I thought I needed. No amount of changing my lifestyle would make me thin – in the hospital after collapsing on a treadmill due to an eating disorder, with such low body fat that some of my bodily functions had stopped working, I was still 15 pounds “over weight”.
I found Health at Every Size during what was supposed to be the search for the diet with the absolute best track record of success. I had read hundreds of studies at that point and was honestly completely shocked to find that there wasn’t a single study that even suggested that dieting would lead to long-term weight loss for me. Health at Every Size was an absolute no-brainer according to the research, but it meant giving up dieting and giving up on all the benefits of dieting – the addiction of the pursuit of thin, the high of the new diet, the approval I got as the fat girl who counts every calorie, skips every dessert, and is a model good fatty doing what is socially approved in order to get a body that is socially acceptable. The idea, that I knew deep down wasn’t true, that all of my problems would be solved as soon as I was thin.
Looking back, my choice to celebrate the awesomeness of my body and take good care of it through healthy habits rather than hating how it looked and trying to make it smaller and hoping that would bring health, was absolutely the best choice I could have made and my life is exponentially better in terms of my mental and physical health because of my choice to pursue HAES. But in this case I had to sacrifice something to get something better and what I had to sacrifice was my addiction to the pursuit of thin, the “good fatty” approval I got for being the world’s worst dinner companion constantly blabbering on about calories, points, and drinking enough water.
When I first started my Health at Every Size practice I would have “slips” where I would think about dieting – just one more time – then I would remember the rule about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I had to quit cold turkey and fight through the withdrawal – I was never going to be thin and I was never going to get the approval that a fatty on a diet gets and, over time, that became completely ok because the peace and freedom I got were worth far more.
If you’re having a hard time giving up the pursuit of thin or the diet mentality, I recommend checking it out. You can look at the blogs of Golda Poretsky or Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist to get an idea about eating outside of the diet paradigm. Check out the Fit Fatties Forum and see over 1,000 people of all sizes and fitness levels who are working on fitness from a weight-neutral perspective – look at the photo and video gallery and read to forum, and check out the blog of fat fitness professional Jeanette DePatie to start to get a sense of what it’s like to pursue fitness goals that aren’t about body size. (And no, none of these people pay me anything, I recommend them because I like their work!) Check out the research about Health at Every Size. Then maybe give it a try, you can always go back to what you’re doing now if you don’t like it. If you’ve tried diet after diet and nothing works, maybe it’s time to try not dieting.
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