While the holidays bring lots of joy and cheer as you spend time with family and friends, they also provide an abundance of indulgent sweet treats, all of your favorite delicious eats that only your mom can make taste so good, and maybe a few too many adult drinks. With the new year less than a day away, you’ve likely been hearing and seeing all sorts of messaging telling you about all the “’bad” decisions you’ve made during the holidays and how the new year is right around the corner for you to turn it all around, leaving you feeling nothing other than guilty for indulging while enjoying your festive fun.
So what are you to do but buy-in to the messaging of the food and wellness industry that plays on your guilt, and begin planning out your diet in the new year and the extra time you’ll be spending at the gym and on the treadmill as a means to burn off those extra calories?
Well friends, I’m here to tell you all of that messaging is a bunch of bologna. You are not any less amazing than you were before the holidays simply because you had a few too many cookies or an extra serving of your mom’s homemade mac and cheese. In fact, you are incredible, just as you are, right now in this moment.
You also don’t have to be spending your energy setting resolutions, intentions, goals, or whatever you want to call them related to your weight or diet in the new year, and instead you can reserve that energy for living a more meaningful, fulfilled, compassionate life that you are truly in love with.
I, for one will not, nor will I ever, set resolutions related to weight or diet, and here’s why I don’t think you should either:
1. Diets don’t work.
Plain and simple. Need more convincing? Okay, okay, here’s a few statistics;
Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and of that 45 million, only 5% keep off the weight they lose. (1)
41% of dieters gain back more weight than they lost after 5 years. (2)
In a 2012 study of over 4,000 identical twins, researchers found that dieters were more likely to gain weight than their non-dieting identical twin. (3)
2. Food is not inherently good or bad, and you are not good or bad for eating certain foods.
It amazes me how many of my students, the youngest of which are 11 years old, already categorize food as good or bad. This language is so ingrained in our culture, but food isn’t one or the other. And you are not good or bad if you eat food that you’ve categorized as such. You truly are a wonderful person, and this has nothing to do with your food choices.
3. Spending time thinking about your weight and diet is a huge time suck.
I recently read that women think or talk about their diets for 21 minutes each day which equals 2 hours a week, and men think about their diets for 18 minutes a day. (4) That is a lot of time, my friends! Think about how much space you would have for other things in your life if this time were spent on other things- things that truly fill you up and nourish your soul. What could your life look like?
4. Food is intended to be enjoyed.
Think about all of the social gatherings you attend. All of them include food, don’t they? We live in a culture where food is so much a part of all that we do, and it often brings people together. There is nothing wrong with that, and it’s more than okay to enjoy food. It is one of the great pleasures of this life. So do your best to stop eating things that you don’t truly enjoy because they’ve been deemed “healthy” or “good” for you. This life is far too short, my friend and you don’t have to waste another moment on not enjoying the food you eat.
5. The scale does not determine your worth.
That number does not make you any less intelligent, strong, beautiful, or capable of doing anything you want to do in this life. It’s a number you truly don’t have to live your life by.
So what could you strive to do in 2018 instead, because I’m all about giving you tangible steps you can take to continue moving towards a life you love.
1. Eat intuitively.
Eat when you feel hungry and simply do your best to stop when you are full. Does that mean you will never overeat or overindulge? Absolutely not, but that’s all part of the intuitive eating process.
2. Choose the foods and drinks your body wants.
Before eating ask yourself, what am I hungry for? Sometimes that will be a green smoothie bowl with all the superfood toppings (because let’s be real, a smoothie bowl is only made for the toppings), and other times that will be donuts. Your body is incredibly smart, and if you give yourself the space to listen to it, it will tell you exactly what it needs- no tracking or counting required!
3. Begin tuning into the reasons for why you are eating.
Are you primarily eating because you feel physically hungry, or are you eating out of emotional hunger? By tapping into the reasons for why you are eating or choosing certain foods, it will allow you to gain greater self-awareness around your eating patterns. And by noticing what you are eating for emotional reasons, you may even begin to see those foods aren’t truly meeting your emotional needs, and you’ll be able to nourish yourself in a way that will actually satisfy your emotional hunger.
4. Change the conversation.
Take a few moments to notice the language you use about food or your body. Is it primarily positive or negative? Do you frequently use the words good or bad when talking about food? What could it look like for you if you started to change the conversation, talking about food in a more positive way and praising your body more frequently? How would this change impact your life?
5. Move mindfully.
Similar to asking yourself what you are hungry for, why not ask yourself how you’d like to move your body each day? Prior to every session with a training client, I always ask how they are feeling physically and energetically. And while I always come into a session with a plan, I’m more than willing to change what I’ve planned according to their responses to these two questions. Movement and exercise are not punishments, instead they are intended to make you feel great! So why not move in a way that will feel good on any given day or in any given moment?
6. Embrace food and your body.
Food is nourishment, and your body is truly amazing. Think about all the things your body does for you each day, whether consciously or not. It really is unbelievable. So rather than berating it or speaking badly to your body, take some time to honor it, appreciating all that it does for you.
(1) Planning to Go On a Diet? One Word of Advice: Don't. Harriet Brown- http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/03/diets_do_not_work_the_thin_evidence_that_losing_weight_makes_you_healthier.html
(2) Why You Can't Lose Weight on a Diet. Sandra Aamodt- https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/opinion/sunday/why-you-cant-lose-weight-on-a-diet.html
(3) Pietiläinen KH, Saarni SE, Kaprio J, Rissanen A. Does dieting make you fat? A twin study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Mar;36(3):456-64. PubMed PMID: 21829159.
(4) Women spend ALMOST A YEAR counting calories and worrying about their weight during lifetime... but men aren't far behind! Martha Lacey- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2348972/Women-spend-year-counting-calories-worrying-weight-lifetime--men-arent-far-behind.html
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole M.S. and Elyse Resch M.S. R.D. F.A.D.A.
Amy Taylor RDN LDN of The Un-Diet Dietitian
Hillary Pride RD, LD of Eats with Pride
Andrea Paul RD, LD of Kale, Quinoa & Cookies
*Please note, I am not a Registered Dietitian. I have a Bachelor of Science in Health with a minor in Nutrition and a Masters degree in Public Health. I am also a Certified Personal Trainer, a 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher, and am Wellcoaches® trained and am currently working towards certification as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach. I am also a certified Health Education teacher through the State of Maine and teach basic nutrition education and concepts related to intuitive eating at the middle school level. If you have questions that fall out of my scope of practice, I would be more than happy to personally connect you to one of the amazing Registered Dietitians that practice and teach the non-diet approach as well as the principles of intuitive eating.
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