Weight loss is a common resolution for the New Year. For nearly two decades, I promised myself every January 1 that I would either lose weight or gain weight, depending on what body battle I was waging. After two babies and diagnosis of an autoimmune disease I gave up the resolution of trying to change myself and instead focused on appreciating the fact that I was alive and well.
Have you already tried to start or stick to a diet this year? Have you read up on the latest celebrity weight loss trend – which, no doubt, includes quinoa, kale juice and not much more? Has trying to diet only left you feeling guilty? Well, it may be time for you, too, to give the idea of dieting and detoxing away.
While I’m not suggesting you drive to the closest fast-food chain, I am saying why not do things a little differently this year? If a juice fast, quitting sugar, the paleo plan, or any other diet doesn’t work for you, why not try another approach? Here’s what worked for me.
Be honest about how you feel
We all know that body image is a complex and ever-changing issue. One day you may feel fabulous about how you look and feel, the next day you’re a crippling mess of insecurities. If you feel uncomfortable about how you look most of the time, it’s time to do something about that. A crash diet isn’t going to fix how you feel about yourself. Feeling comfortable in your own skin requires you to dig a bit deeper. If it’s an issue you have been holding on to for a while, it may be time to talk to a counsellor. There are also some great books on the subject that may help you to start the process. See my reading list at the bottom of this post.
Unless you are doing exercise a few times a week, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t put in your mouth – you won’t feel good. The strictest diet isn’t going to give you a healthy body, only exercise will.
If you are not doing regular exercise, chances are you don’t enjoy it, or you’re too busy. If you hate exercise, just accept the fact that you are not going to enjoy it and do it anyway. You will feel better and look better afterwards. If you think you don’t have the time, think again. If you have time for Facebook or TV, you have time for exercise.
For those of you who are working three jobs to pay for full-time study while you look after an elderly parent, you genuinely don’t have the time for exercise. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Make peace with where you are in life and let go of the notion that you should be doing two hours of pilates a day.
Be aware of your vulnerable times
Everyone has weak spots in their day when temptation gets too great or all willpower fades away. Whether it’s a 3pm chocolate bar, an extra glass of wine, a wheel of cheese before dinner, or a large soft drink, be aware of what’s tripping you up and why.
Do you starve yourself all day only to overeat at night? Do you banish all your favourite foods only to gorge yourself when you do break? Do you find yourself snacking all day out of boredom?
My weak spot was late at night after I had come home from the office and got the kids fed, bathed and to bed. It was time in my exhausted, harried state, to treat myself. It was when I became aware that a towering plate of ice-cream was only providing a temporary solution for some uneasy feelings that things for me changed. I still love ice-cream. I still regularly eat ice-cream. I just don’t need it.
My body is far from picture-perfect but I appreciate it and do my best to look after it well. I’m over feeling guilty about what I should and shouldn’t be doing and have opted, instead, to treat myself the same way I would treat a friend. I still always say ‘yes’ to dessert; I love wine and salt-and-vinegar chips; but I also fuel my body with healthy stuff, too. I had an ‘aha’ moment listening to a friend with a gorgeous figure complain about some invisible stretch marks. I realised everyone has their hang-ups and that it was a waste of time and energy worrying about them. Now I do my best to stay healthy but worrying about what I weigh is a distant memory. It’s liberating.
When Food Is Love by Geneen Roth
Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp
Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere by Kate Karding