When you start to loosen the reins of diet culture, it’s just that: a loosening. It’s not as rigid as it once was, so yeah, it feels loose and permissive. But that’s only compared to what was familiar to you before starting intuitive eating.
This new freedom is not being permissive or “letting yourself go.” It’s you letting go of perfectionism and discovering what sustainable health behaviors satisfy you.
Say it with me: I am not letting myself go, I am letting myself free!
Often, cLients feel this way if they gain weight. When you choose to stop restrictive behaviors, it's possible you will gain weight. Gaining weight can be therapeutic and important to heal your relationship to food and your body. It's not a bad thing.
So, when did gaining weight become a sign of letting yourself go? Like, why is weight gain bad anyway?
Well, the simple answer is: because looks (including weight) was historically how women were valued in society. And for a deeper dive on how thin = beautiful, I would highly recommend the book "Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia" by Sabrina Strings.
Good thing society is changing and valuing people based on who they are instead of what they look like (at the same time, there is still considerable work to be done in regards to race in America).
The best part about quitting dieting is you get to decide for yourself what your value and purpose is. And this, my friend, is how you create a positive relationship to your body.
And it's backed by science. Research has shown that women with lower self-esteem are more likely to diet, and thus, more likely to gain weight.
Increasing your body image is one of the main components of intuitive eating. If you don't increase your body image, you will be stuck in the messy middle of "I like the idea of intuitive eating, but want to loose the weight before I fully commit." This deep desire to change and mold your body will hold you back from fully embracing intuitive eating.
But I got you.
Part of breaking the diet cycle is purposefully cultivating a positive body image, which is no small feat if you have been dieting on and off for many years.
How do you do it?
Here are 10 steps to increasing your body confidence now:
Define how you currently feel about your body. Write it all down now. Every good, bad, and ugly thought. Gotta know where you are, so we can understand where to go.
How do you want to feel about your body? What are your goals? What thoughts do you wish would effortlessly pop into your head?
What's stopping you from thinking those thoughts or that way about your body? Where did those beliefs come from? What tools reenforce your current beliefs (body checking in mirror, weighing yourself, measuring yourself, trying on "goal" pants, comparing yourself to old photos, googling "thinspiration" or popular diets, etc.)
Is this body critic helping you or hurting you? Do you want to keep talking to yourself this way?
Instead, talk to yourself like your best friend would or how you would talk to your own child. Self-compassion is the KEY that unlocks CONFIDENCE. Self-compassion is not a denial of reality (you can acknowledge your body has changed and still talk nicely to it). This is something I teach clients how to do in session.
Sometimes clients feel very sad about their bodies and wish they were smaller. They also know they don't want to diet ever again because of the toll it took on their mental health, relationships, finances, and much more. Knowing you lost the body you once had is grief and you have to process it much in the same way you process any grief (all the stages).
Mirror, mirror on the wall...one way to create confidence is to look in a mirror and say nice things to your body that are true. List the things you do like, the things your body can do, and all the things your body has done. Ex: My legs are capable of taking me the places I want to go. My hands are able to type so I can get my work done. I like my hair. I like my smile. My body is capable of moving in a way that makes me feel strong. Nothing is too small! If saying nice things feels too hard, start with letting your negative comments come into your head and picturing capturing them with a butterfly net and placing the negative thoughts in a jar. Then picture yourself, throwing the jar into the ocean, and saying goodbye to all those negatives thoughts. Just practice noticing the thought and releasing the thought.
Do one thing you want to do when you "lose the weight"...go on vacation, work/ask for your promotion, buy the new clothes, or start taking the class you wanted.
Take care of yourself by saying "no" to other wants, needs, and demands (all the fluff that you don't really need to do, yet you do because you feel guilty if you don't). Hire housecleaner, sign-up for the meal kit service, train your kids to help around the house, and ask your husband, wife, or partner for more help. Time to unwind or do something for you every day, week, or month is vital and not negotiable.
Define your values and write them down. Is there one for being thin? Healthy maybe, but thin? No. Based on your values, define your purpose in life, something that can exist beyond raising kids or being a partner (though that may be part of your purpose, it's not all of it, so put your thinking cap on and stretch beyond that: what do you want for your life)? This will become your north star to point your ship towards when you feel lost and confused.
During the pandemic I gained weight, had to buy new bras, jeans, shirts, and working out became harder.
So I bought some new clothes, continued to workout, worked through the shame and guilt I felt (by focusing on my core values and purpose in life) and guess what? I feel as good about my body
now, as I did before the pandemic.
I just had to adjust and now I don't even think about it anymore. My weight doesn't define who I am, what I can do, and my value as a woman. I get to decide who I am, what I do, and what my value is.
If you want to quit dieting for good and want to learn how to love your body again, I would love to help you on your journey. I have a proven step-by-step process that helps women just like you undiet their life, learn healthy habits, and start living a life they love.