Stop telling me what to do, diet people.
I am over people shoving Instagram diet rules in my face. Most of you already know how I feel from a previous blog post about the ladies and their Instagram butt-glute pics. Gross.
You can only hear “MY way is right” so many times before we are lost in a sea of diet confusion and results that leave us heavier than when we began.
I want to invite my friend “common sense” into this blog post and boldly say, might we consider what might be good for one person, might not be good for another?
I mean, I’m #justsayin.
And I’m here to create some backlash because I’m kinda mad. No, not kinda. Just mad as hell, actually.
Here’s what we’ve created, and you can quote me on this – a diet industry that gives us rules so rigid or unsatisfying, we don’t want to stick to it for any period of time and creates an atmosphere that makes each of us feel weak, unknowing and incapable of knowing what is best for our own health and wellness. Scare tactics, conflicting studies, arguing “experts” – I mean if the experts are arguing, how can any of us begin to know what in the hell to do?
We have created a society where most of us now believe that we are incapable of knowing how to be healthy on our own. We try diets and we fail and then we just get more dependent and desperately seeking what else MIGHT work. Over and over again. It’s exhausting. Because for me, all that resulted was me getting heavier and heavier…up to 265 pounds to be exact.
But let’s get real. Most of us probably know at least 80% of what we should be doing to be healthier. Eat more nutrient dense foods, eat less food overall and move more. If most of us could actually do this, we wouldn’t be facing a serious obesity epidemic that I found myself a part of for two decades. I mean, I am a smart, accomplished, successful woman. Why oh why did something like food completely dominate my life?
Lemme tell you after 20 years of struggle I was looking to solve the wrong problem. I was hyper focused on trying to get my weight off. But my issue wasn’t knowing WHAT TO eat. I knew what I SHOULD be eating.
No one seemed to want to tell me HOW TO STOP EATING.
I don’t think anyone knew to be honest with you.
In fact, I was surprised at the amount of nutrition people, therapists and coaches gave me blank, uncomfortable stares that made me feel something was wrong with me. And in turn I felt shame and embarrassment. I began to be afraid to talk about my overeating, so I went more underground with it. Hid it. Did a lot of fast food and in my car eating.
I loved overeating McDonalds, pizza, candy, etc. Planned it. Lived for it. Telling me to eat fruits and vegetables didn’t fix my drive-thru habit and need.
Silence from my fellow Insta experts. Diet gurus. US dietary guidelines.
Which was crazy because here are the US Adult Obesity Facts from the CDC’s website. There was no way I was alone in this.
- The obesity prevalence was 42.4% in 2017 – 2018.
- From 1999 –2000 through 2017 –2018, obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 42.4% and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.
- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. These are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death.
- The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the US was $147 billion in 2008. Medical costs for people who had obesity was $1,429 higher than medical costs for people with healthy weight.
I can only imagine what those numbers will be after the COVID years are included.
Meanwhile, in SOCIETY somewhere:
A Cheez-It commercial comes on showing frenzied people who can’t stop eating the new Cheez-It formula. Basically bragging, hey people, we guarantee we have an extra addictive concoction in this one. THEY ARE LITERALLY MARKETING TO US WITH THE PROMISE THAT YOU CAN’T STOP EATING THEM!
Reese’s is just straight up Not Sorry.
Combine these messages with the real worlds with live in, packed with social events, weekends, parties, vacations, the never ending food train just patrolling in front of you every moment of your life. And then magnify that 100x when you start a diet.
The world is not telling us how to do any of this right.
The diet world is telling us to abstain, deprive, do without. Use that discipline and willpower and you too can be a better person!
The real world is saying come on in, just one bite, or if you’re Cheez-Its – you literally won’t be able to stop eating them. We hear other things like – you only live once, it’s your brother-in-law’s birthday, you must eat cake, oh hey – donuts in the break room.
Guilt. Shame. Then back to seeking the deprivation that will make it alright, for 5 seconds. Until the work gang decides pizza sounds good for lunch. Ok well, maybe I’ll start tomorrow.
Tomorrow never comes. So, how do we break free from the food prison?
Look in the mirror. What no one is telling us, is that each of us has the tools we need to find our own path to health.
NO ONE ELSE. You.
OK, Jen. Nice rant. But what do I do when I don’t know what to do?
Fair question, my friends.
So my story is that I finally lost and kept off 115 pounds. There are a few foundational things I had to reconcile before I could even begin to consider lasting change.
See if any of these resonate with you.
- I had to stop seeking the quick fix and know this last time it needed to take as long as it would take so that it would be a permanent change. No timeline. No weight goal. Just slow and steady. One thing at a time.
- I had to be able to know and articulate my values and priorities. I had to be able to claim the 3, 4 or 5 most important values and priorities in my life. Did I know what they were? Yep. My health was at the top of the list. By claiming that as my life’s priority, I could define what that meant in practice and align everything else under that…my job, my marriage and family, my everything else. As I tell my coaching clients, we have to put our own oxygen masks on first. After claiming this, I had no excuse but to begin rearranging things for this to take priority and what that looked like for me. I tried a lot of stuff. Some of it worked, some if it failed. But I kept figuring it out. Kept building on my values…because they were mine. No one elses.
- I had to relearn what eating in balance looked like – FOR ME. Not any diet fad or way of eating but back to basic nutrition principles of eating a good balance of protein, fat and carbs. I realized I must put protein first and eat enough fiber to help hedge my insatiable appetite. It didn’t mean I had to give up my favorite foods, although some I ended up abstaining from by my OWN choice, but I had to rebuild my diet by addition not subtraction and then dial it in based on my own preferences and what truly made me feel good.
- Undo all the food guru talk in my head. Any one food isn’t inherently bad. A single cookie won’t kill anyone and I’m not a bad person if I want to eat a cookie.
- Undo all the negative and lack of self-confidence talk in my head. I had to re-learn how to trust myself and believe that I could do these things. That this behavior aligned with my own values and priorities. A stronger, more energetic me that hiked up mountains, was where I was heading. I wasn’t going to get there on Big Macs and Reese’s at least not daily. I’m not sorry either Reese’s. I do still enjoy those things from time to time…but they don’t serve me in the same way they once did. This took time, growth and filtering regularly through my priorities and values.
- If you are not eating food you love, then you will not stick to this for any amount of time. Learn to make the stuff you love in healthier ways. Tacos, pizza and ice cream are still a part of my life. It just looks a lot different – tastes just as good, if not better.
- Learn to get super bouncy. To get that “dirt off your shoulder” as Jay-Z says. Just get comfortable getting up when you fall down. Keep going.
- I needed a coach and a community. I always thought asking for help meant weakness. Now I know its everything. I couldn’t have done any of this without two amazing coaches (and you have to find the right ones that will support YOUR journey, not guru you to death), a wonderful supportive nutrition and fitness community and their belief and encouragement in me.
Your practice might be different and that is A-OK! Stop listening to the diet preaching and start building your own dang journey!
You have everything you need inside you. You are enough.
Is it easy? No. But guess what, we can do hard things. For me, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I decided I was ready to fight for me.
Are you ready to fight for you? I believe in you. Hope you do too.