You may have heard of the the “dieter’s dilemma” or more commonly, “weight rebound effect,” wherein any weight loss on a diet comes back faster and with a few added pounds. Perhaps you’ve even experienced it yourself.
What that tells us is that diets don’t work. It’s not about Weight Watchers, veganism, Atkins, or any other fad diet. It’s not about juice cleansing and extended fasts.
Anecdotal evidence teaches us this, the research proves it, and I have confirmed it on myself.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with just about every diet with any kind of credibility and on every single one I gained weight, at least in the long-term and on many, in the short term, as well.
Every time I tried a new diet and found it didn’t work for me, I blamed myself either for not having the willpower and commitment, or for not having the body type and metabolism that the diet was meant for. Each successive round made me feel like more of a failure and I would end up sitting alone, stuffing my face with all the ‘forbidden foods’ as I numbed out. Frequently, I would do it in front of the TV, to help distract me from the emotional pain of failing again and from the physical pain of eating too much.
I would hide my binges, hide my body, and hide from myself, from my self-derision, from my inner critic, and from the outside world which I feared would judge me as harsh as I judged myself.
Slowly, even as this failure pattern continued, a new undercurrent was emerging. It took me many, many years to realize it and make the connection.
The undercurrent was periods of ease around food which manifested as a stable lower weight.
How was it possible that I could be at ease with eating after so many years of torturous encounters with food? It happened when I ate in response to my hunger; when I stopped because I was full and had had enough. I didn’t need to force myself to stop eating out of fear.
This stable weight and hunger-directed eating seemed to occur when I was practicing a lot of yoga. And the periods of normalness around weight and eating were extended when I meditated more frequently.
As I started to make the connection, I took up a regular meditation practice instead of a sporadic one, and I continued my yoga practice, making it one of my primary forms of movement. Eventually, the times when I felt comfortable in my body, when I ate because I was hungry, and my weight remained stable started to be longer than the dieting-bingeing periods.
Once I got off the diet roller coaster, I could also begin creating healthier habits. These are the things I now teach–eating nutrient-dense, whole foods and lots of vegetables, self-care, sufficient sleep, regular movement, sipping tea, and avoiding the restriction around eating that leads to resentment and bingeing.
What I learned
Yoga and meditation teach awareness and mindfulness. Awareness allows us to listen to our own body, to understand when it’s hungry, to know when it’s full and when it’s time to stop, and to know when stress or emotions are driving the eating. Mindfulness helps us to respond to those cues, to try to understand (or at least sit with) the underlying emotions, and to bring self-love into the picture.
Once I brought awareness and mindfulness into my daily life and to the table with me at meals, eating became an act of intuition, love, and nourishment. Treating my body well and loving it makes me want to continue treating it well and to make healthy, nourishing practices a normal part of my daily life.
Yoga and meditation brought me to awareness and mindfulness, which helped me to reframe my thoughts to focus on love and gratitude and to change my actions.
While it hasn’t been a smooth or seamless process–sometimes emotions and negative self-talk do still get the best of me–overall I’m happier with my body and more at ease with food than I’ve ever been.
In case you’re wondering, I weigh less now than I ever have in my adult life. And I find it easy to maintain this weight with lots of self-love and the healthy habits mentioned above.
If you want this too, you can sign up to work with me and we’ll do a complete inventory of your mental, emotional, and physical status to undercover what you need to find peace with food, love your body, and gracefully maintain your ideal weight.
Please consider investing in yourself and finding that peace that you deserve.