Trying to lose weight never actually improved my health.
Diets were a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even as a dietitian and fitness trainer, the way I taught “healthy living” was really a joyless diet full of rules – do’s and don’ts for good and bad behavior.
Today’s dieting is even more insidious because it co-opts the perfectly normal and rational desire for better health with crazy extremes like cutting out sugar, gluten, or even beans! (Anyone else think this is crazy?)
I finally changed my habits (and my happiness soared) when I could exercise, eat, and take care of myself without the judgments. It didn’t work overnight. It was a consistent effort of telling myself “don’t focus on weight, think about health.” I had to make myself notice other benefits and define personally meaningful reasons to keep going.
I got to a point when I realized I could no longer prescribe for clients something I knew didn’t work for me. I no longer believed in it.
Having children only strengthened my resolve to live my values every day and resist the “noise” of diet culture. In this video, I share how becoming a mom changed me forever and made me vow “I will never diet again.”
Things really came full circle for me when I visited my childhood stomping grounds, Berlin Lake. Standing in the same spot I once played as an innocent child and embracing my own girls, I finally let myself live in the pain and fear that consumed most of my teen and early adult years – and gave myself the apology I needed. Read my essay “finally saying I’m sorry to my body.”
It’s been a long, but worthwhile road. I’m the happiest and most compassionate person I have ever been. I see myself as a person who cares about health, but I don’t lay my self-worth in my appearance or judge myself for eating a big plate of pasta (or heaven forbid, a cookie!)
It turns out weight loss is not a guaranteed, lifelong healthy outcome for everybody. It’s just an easy promise to make that’s appealing because we all live in a diet culture. But there are better ways to change your mindset, create new habits, and improve your health. It all starts with kindness.