21 Jan 2021

Another January, another diet? by Cathy Houghton

Does this bring January to mind?

If so this blog is a plea NOT TO DIET in 2021.   Don’t set yourself up with another promise or NY resolution that this will be THE YEAR for you to win at weight loss. 

Weight loss through dieting is set up for failure.  If it weren’t the big slimming companies would be bankrupt, they rely on repeat business.  The diet industry (backed up by media and fashion industries) is incredibly powerful and persuasive.  Think for a moment, what other service or product would you pay that has a 95-97% failure rate over 18 months, AND blames you for this failure?

With some clients I work hard to undo the damage that years of certain slimming clubs have caused.  E.g clients buying their slimming club’s low fat and ‘diet’ products, counting ‘allowed’ foods,  success measured by the number on the scales alone.    Most of us have been there, why does number on the scales mean we are a success?  Are we not more than a weight?

To try to convince you not to diet next year, I thought I might illustrate this through the following 2 opposite scenario letters written in 6 months time,  June 2021

 

Dear me

6 months ago I promised myself, again, that this was going to be the diet to end all diets.  In my 3rd decade of dieting now, surely I have learnt enough to master this, I mean how difficult can it be just to eat less?  And exercise too – 2021 was going to be my super fit year too.

So I re-joined my local slimming club, it was lovely to see all the regulars back there again, I have so much in common with them.  And I signed up at the new gym, paid for a personal trainer which cost me a fortune.   And January felt worth this expense, I did lose a stone.  What I didn’t realise was that by reducing carbs so much I was actually losing a lot of fluid.  By February weight loss slowed, weariness crept in, exercise harder to maintain.  However the thought of my 50th coming up motivated me again,  I redoubled my efforts with the support of my slimming club.    I cut out dairy, as a friend told me this helped her. I added an early morning exercise class which distracted me from wanting breakfast.  And I did lose some more weight, my dream dress size was in sight.  I started to plan all those things I had been planning for when I was slim.

Then disaster struck, in March that niggle in my hip from exercising turned into injury and I couldn’t exercise.  I felt so bad – panicky every time I ate – how could I lose weight now?  I started obsessing about eating as little as possible, what else could I cut out, maybe gluten?  What about those celebrity 800 calories a day diet?  I gave that a go. 

But then those things began to happen in my head again, but worse this time – dreaming about food, wanting to be feeding other people, weighing twice a day, exhausted yet sleeping badly,  jittery and anxious about everything.  I started craving chocolate éclairs, my favourites, I hadn’t had one in so long.  Eventually I caved in, but it was so good before I knew it, I had eaten the box.  The shame was overwhelming.  I punished myself the next day.   But this was the start of a familiar slippery slope.

And now its July and I am heavier than in January. Haven’t bought anything new, I’m too fat for new clothes and can’t afford them anyway after the gym and physio costs.  My 50th came and went quietly, I didn’t feel like celebrating.    I have wasted my time, my money, my energy, and beaten myself up so badly every step of the way.  I am still left with an injury so I can’t even do my favourite dance class.    I feel a bit broken.  I am terribly unhappy with my body yet feel powerless to change, I have days when I literally can’t stop eating, I am out of control, my life is on hold, I am miserable……

 

Dear me

I wanted 2021 to be different, after 3 decades of yo-yo dieting I can’t put myself through it anymore and I didn’t make NY resolutions, I know there is no point.

Instead, I kind of had an idea at the back of my mind that I might approach this in a new way.  My 50th this year and whilst I would have loved to be weigh x,  I know now that isn’t realistic.  And perhaps size isn’t everything, I am not convinced those diets did me any good really as they messed with my mind.  And I put on more weight each time.

So, 2021 was the year to not diet.  BUT I wanted to make some positive changes around my health.  At first this was difficult without falling back into the dieting trap, especially as my colleagues all started their regular January diets too.    They watched me as I improved the quality of my lunch, yet didn’t make it smaller (in fact I made it bigger as I realised how hungry I was before). And I watched them deprive themselves every day.  I signed up to more of my favourite dance classes and started yoga.  I got a dog and began to walk every day before work.

I have learnt a lot about food and my eating in the last 6 months, the biggest thing is that there is so much rubbish information out there, and  I had lost sight of what I wanted to eat.  I took a leap of faith and began to trust my body.  I let go of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels and have found all sorts of foods that I really love that before would have been ‘banned’ or used as ‘punishment’ (broccoli choice is SO much better than broccoli forced).

Now its June, I feel great both in my body and mind. That niggle in my hip has gone, I have more energy, I sleep well.  I have nourished my body though good food, and supplements at times.  I get compliments again and my confidence is up.   I have bought new clothes for my 50th birthday, I deserve them now.  I haven’t weighed myself since last year, I think I have lost a little weight but actually what’s so weird after all those years of dieting is that its not so important now, but feeling better about myself is ………

 

Weight loss is complicated, with sometimes serious physical and mental health implications.  My position with clients is size neutrality, wherever they are when we begin work.   Its adding to wellbeing, not taking things away.  There are ways of achieving some weight loss through adopting a healthier approach to natural eating and movement for life.  Not dieting. The 2nd letter above is how I work with clients,  This may bring weight loss, depending on the client’s starting position.

Its my business to help client’s Blossom.  How can I help you?

Find out more about what I do here, then get in touch  for your free initial consultation.

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