The Good Little Dieter

The Good Little Dieter

For a long time, I was a very good dieter. I think it stems from the fact that I was the perennial good girl in my youth (something I’m not sure I ever fully grew out of). For me it wasn’t ever really a willpower thing – you know, the not cheating. It was more about being good. Being perfect. Living up to something. You see, when I was being good, I was very, very good. But there was also the other side. The binger. The not so very good. I was the little girl from the poem. The one with the curl, right in the middle of her forehead. Do you remember that one? It goes like this: There was a little girl,  And she had a little curl Right in the middle of her forehead.    When she was good     She was very, very good, And when she was bad she was horrid. ~ From “There was a little girl” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) That pretty much described my relationship with food for A LOT of years. It was either very, very good. Or it was horrid. Not much in between. One or the other. Perfect little dieter. Detailed calorie counter. Precise macronutrient tracker. Or. Out of control binge eater. Emotional eater. Compulsive overeater. Either / or. One or the other. Black or white. No shades of grey. Masculine or feminine. Restriction or excess. Deprivation or overindulgence. No moderation. No balance. My food life was one of extremes and my biggest fear was that if I stopped the control side, I would live in the out of control side. So I kept holding on to the control for as long as I could and each time I lost my grip, I’d swing out of control again. Year after year. Sometimes I’d hold on for days, sometimes for months, but over and over again, the pattern repeated. Until finally, decades later, after feeling like I’d tried everything else I could try, I let go. I just let go (reluctantly, but I did it). And, yes, it took some time for the swinging to stop. But it did finally stop. That’s the thing about pendulums – they obey the laws of physics. When I stopped pulling it to the control side, it stopped being swung to the out of control side. Eventually the violent swinging slows down to a gentle sway. Dieting. It seems so simple. So innocuous in the beginning. Drop a few pounds. Lose the muffin top. Get beach ready. Feel better in your skin. Be healthier. More confident. Happier. But in the end they are all empty promises. It all comes down to physics. Preservation of...

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What If You Don’t Love Your Body?

What If You Don’t Love Your Body?

You may have noticed an emerging trend that is all about embracing your curves, appreciating the body you have, enjoying your body at every size, and loving yourself no matter what you weigh. And, if you are like me, you’ve seen these women on your Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter) feed, fighting the bullies back, taking their selfies on the beach in their imperfect bodies in their bikinis and you think “good for them!” And then you look down at your belly, or you see yourself in the mirror, or you catch a picture of your double-chin and, crestfallen, you realize that, yes, you are happy for them, but somehow that standard doesn’t apply to you. Because your too tight jeans are not okay. Because you aren’t capable of loving this body. Because you still need to be smaller. Better. Fitter. Prettier. Different. Fixed. Not. This. It’s just so easy to cheer on those other women for loving their bodies no matter what, but when it comes to ourselves, out comes that uber-judgy, self-critical voice that just won’t shut the heck up. What’s up with that? I hear you. I really do. I want you to know that I get it. And I know how much you want to love yourself no matter what, and that you want to love your body as is. And I want you to know that it’s okay if you aren’t quite there yet. If you aren’t quite ready yet. You can’t force yourself to wake up one morning and love it. Let me say that again. You can’t will yourself to love your body. But here are some things you can do. First, you can set the intention to love yourself and your body. You can give yourself a little more love each day. A little mental hug. Some gratitude and appreciation to your body and all that it does. And then you can start living your life. You can set aside the angst. You can set aside the anxiety about not loving yourself and simply start creating a life that you love. Yes, that you can do. Summer is right around the corner. And you have a choice. You can sit around at home wishing you felt better about yourself so you could be outside having fun with everyone else. Or you could just be having fun with everyone else. You can spend your evenings at the gym, punishing yourself with exercise until you think your body is worthy of being seen in public – or you can get out and enjoy life! Yes, eating healthy, moving your body, being fit, feeling healthy, feeling good are important and wonderful. But when you...

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How can a thought be toxic?

How can a thought be toxic?

Negative body thoughts. We all have them from time to time – some of us more than others. Thoughts like “I’m too fat,” “I hate my body,” “I wish I looked like her.” For some women these play like a constant broken record, day in and day out. For others they crop up after a heavy meal, a bad day, or when they see a picture of themselves. So what makes these thoughts so toxic? I want to introduce a term that is used when we talk about chemical toxicity: Total Load. Total Load refers to the build-up of chemicals (a.k.a. toxins) in our bodies. These might include exposure to pesticides, household chemicals, beauty products, heavy metals, etc. Individually, each of these chemicals may be relatively benign at a small dose. But over time, with repeated exposure, they can start to overwhelm our systems – and that cumulative effect is the Total Load of toxins, which can lead to symptoms and disease. Just like those chemicals, each individual negative thought or belief about ourselves or our bodies can seem relatively benign. Like I said, most of us have these thoughts from time to time. But when our inner critic just won’t shut up and the tape reel that tells us there is something wrong with us because of the size of our bodies never stops playing, that cumulative effect – or Total Load – starts to do longer term damage. And while it isn’t the obvious form of damage that chemical and environmental toxins cause, it is real, physiological damage just the same. When we put up with a barrage of toxic thoughts and beliefs, we live in a constant state of low-level stress. And that long-term low-level stress response produces real bio-chemical reactions in our bodies that lead to decreased digestive capacity, increased cortisol, lower metabolic power, inflammation, and many other undesired impacts on our bodies. While a lot is said about the power of positive thinking, we don’t always remember that negative thoughts are just as powerful. So now that we know how important it is to change our way of thinking, what do we do? When we are in a cycle or habit for years or decades, just knowing that we should stop doing it isn’t always enough. That’s why I decided to create a free, fun 10-day detox to help us all re-frame those negative thoughts: It starts tomorrow, the first day of spring (a perfect time for a detox). All you need to do to join me is click here to join the Women’s Body Gratitude Circle Facebook group, which is where all of the action will be taking place. I look forward to...

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Everyone knows…

Everyone knows…

“Everyone knows that Weight Watchers works.” Those are the words spoken at the beginning of a recent WW television ad. And I cringe each time I hear them. For a multitude of reasons. And it’s not even just because, well, everyone does NOT know that. In fact, more often than not, the words I hear about Weight Watchers are along the lines of “I just don’t know what to do about my weight. I guess I’ll go back to Weight Watchers because it worked for me before.” And that always makes me curious because if the system worked so well, why did you stop and why do you need to go back? And it’s only a little bit because what really matters when it comes to weight loss is the long term. Quite frankly, for people who are hormonally healthy, there are a lot of ways to lose a moderate amount of weight and keep it off for a period of weeks or months, WW being one of them. So what? Show me the statistics 1 year, 5 years, 10 years out. It’s hard to find that information, but this blog post goes over some of the numbers that WW published several years ago. No, the biggest reason that statement gets to me is what it does to your psyche. Because if, as they say, everyone knows WW works, then what does that mean when it doesn’t work for you? Well, if the program works, then the problem must be you. You must be the failure. The willpower weakling. The one and only person for whom WW didn’t work. That makes me sad. And a little angry. Because that means (if we use the numbers in the blog post I referenced) that 1998/2000 of you didn’t do it right. You screwed up. You cheated. You ate too much. You couldn’t follow the system. You stopped doing it. Your fault, your fault, your fault. WRONG! If the programs out there result in a 99% failure rate, you are not the problem! Got it? You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. There is nothing wrong with you. You did not get it wrong. You got hungry! You got tired of a program that required you to eat less than your body needed to thrive. You didn’t want to count points for the rest of your life. You wanted to go out with your friends, to have fun, to have a life. Who could blame you for that? So no, everyone does not know that Weight Watchers works. Everyone does know that weight loss is a complex challenge for complicated, interesting human beings – and it goes beyond...

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Living In Your Body

Living In Your Body

Are you living in your body? That seems like a strange question, doesn’t it? Where else would you (or could you) be living? But the truth is that there is a difference between occupying a body and fully living in it, embracing it, being embodied. Many of us have become accustomed to living in our heads. We analyze everything. We think more than we feel. We live in a world of shoulds and have-tos – it’s part of our survival. From how much money we need to how hard we have to work to how many calories we should eat to how much we should weigh. We worry about things and wish things were different. We analyze our past and plan our futures. And it’s all done in our heads. And some of us believe that there is something not right about our bodies. Too big, too soft, too boney, too curvy, too many curves in the wrong places, not enough curves in the right places, too heavy, not pretty enough. And when we spend our days – and eventually years or decades – disliking our bodies, we tend to leave them. We pack up and move out and disconnect and reject those awful bodies that don’t cooperate and mold themselves to what they should be. And once we’ve disconnected from our bodies and moved fully into our heads, we start to lose our body wisdom. We lose our connection to our emotions, which reside in our bodies. We forget that we are actually whole and perfect and complete just the way we are. And from that place of disconnection it’s impossible to have a body that we love – not matter what size or shape it is. About 10 years ago I was at my idea of my “goal weight.” I was wearing a size 6, something I never thought was possible for me, having worn a size 12-14+ most of my life. I remember being at Macy’s, browsing through the rack of clothing marked with the letter “S”. And in that moment I had this overwhelming feeling that someone was going to come from behind, tap me on the shoulder, and say “Excuse me, Miss, the Extra-larges are over there.” That’s how dis-embodied I was. And from that place of living outside my body, as I’d become so accustomed to doing, it is no surprise that gradually, over the years, the weight came back on. I never owned that new body. I have very few pictures of myself at that weight. I was still the big girl – even if there was an “S” or a “6” on the labels of my clothes. Embodiment is a feeling,...

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