So, for 2014 I decided to do an experiment. I decided my New Year’s Resolution would be to try to go the entire year NOT dieting.
THE PREMISE: Yeah, I know, it seems like I got it mixed up, but no, I’m sick of the same old “New Year, New Me” crap that focuses on my deficits in a determination to better myself that always peters out sometimes usually around late February resulting in further feelings of defeat and self loathing. So, I decided to mindfully, purposely NOT diet. To not restrict and discipline myself hoping the results would eventually be a better future version of me. Instead, I opted to instead focus on getting to know me…like the NOW version of me, a little better. And with that knowing, accepting myself for who I am and how I am NOW; (maybe even taking it one step past acceptance to actual celebration). The “easiest” place to start I thought would be my body. My body is not the whole of me, of course, there is much more to me, but that is the tangible part of me most easy to focus on first. And frankly, that’s always the part of me I have most loathed, as every proper American girl does.
THE EXPERIMENT: So, here was the plan. I would go the entire year of 2014 not dieting. Now I’ve never gone a whole year without doing some sort of weight loss plan since 1985. For my purposes, I’m not talking just “fad diets”…I quit those in the early 90s because I was smart for a teenager and caught on that they are stupid. And yes, I understand that difference between a “diet” and a “healthy lifestyle change” (eye roll). Those are included. I was going to go an entire year without monitoring my eating and exercise with the purpose of trying to lose weight. I would still be as active as possible because being active as always been vital to my mental and spiritual health, but I would be ignoring the “calories burned” component of it. Along with the commitment to not dieting, I basically hid my scales and tried to forget about the number on them. I basically got weighed at the doctor’s office and when I had to weigh my luggage before big trips.
THE EXPERIENCE: So, believe it or not, this resolution was one of the toughest I’ve ever done. Leaving behind the behaviors and the thinking of dieting is really a challenge in our culture. Whenever I would have a bad day and think about how ugly and fat and repulsive I was, I immediately defaulted to starting to plan my diet that would, of course start the next Monday, and start to plan HOW to make myself more desirable and worthy. Sigh. Which only proved how badly I really needed to learn to NOT diet. Those times I had to remind myself to look at myself in the mirror and find something beautiful NOW (not if I lose 10 lbs and have better hair, etc). Initially, this was me doing a lot of IGNORING the things I hate about myself like my big ass or pudgy…parts everywhere and REFOCUSING on the things I like about myself like my eyes or the fact that I tan well. But as the year progressed, I realized those things I didn’t like so much were still me and I needed to stop ignoring them and ACCEPT them as part of me. I did a lot less smacking my flabby belly and saying “ugh, I”m so fat” and a lot more squeezing my wobbly bits and kinda giggling at them. Because, face it, there is something a little adorable and giggle-worthy about wobbly bits. And before I knew it, I kinda started EMBRACING things I used to hate about me. Noticing that I was getting grey hairs remind me how much life I’ve lived, facing facts that even if I was a “healthy weight” I would still have an ass that is larger than life (and parts of the continental US) because that is just the way I am structurally made. And that’s all just fine. I still will have those days when I just effing hate my body, but for the most part, I’ve become amazed at how strong and resilient it is. It’s my only certain lifelong companion.
OBSERVATIONS: This experiment was more for me to reframe how I look at myself, but I had a bunch of other observations about how I view and experience food, how I listen to my body and it’s needs and desires, thoughts about how guilt is such a wasteful emotion, and just things I didn’t know about myself or notice about our culture before doing this. And since I’m sure you wanna hear them, I’ll just have to write another time about those.
“RESULTS:” Honestly, I expected to gain weight from NOT dieting. Heh. Nope, instead I fluctuated the same 10lbs I always fluctuate every year (yes, those same 10lbs that I keep losing and gaining back when relentlessly dieting). Some of my body shape changed a little at different times, depending on exercise and hormones, but I pretty much stayed the same. My numbers in my bloodwork that was done at the end of 2014 showed that I am still pretty darn healthy just like the numbers said last year. I didn’t have to buy a new wardrobe, although I got much of a new one anyway, just for funsies. And in buying the new wardrobe, I started dressing to actually fit and flaunt my body instead of hide it in shame, which oddly enough led to numerous “compliments” on how much weight I had lost. Heh. So, frankly probably not a lot of change if we took a before and after pic, but I see a ton of change when I look in the mirror. I still have those days when my eyes instantly look at things that I hate about myself, but honestly, they are few and far between. More days than not, I look in the mirror and smile back at someone I like quite a bit. Someone who is strong and beautiful just the way I am now. And someone who knows how to truly savor a cupcake in all it’s glory whenever I want.
CONCLUSION: I am not suggesting that everyone go down the same path. My experiences were very much my own. Results may vary. But I would suggest that you too could benefit from learning to know you, accept you, and embrace who you are NOW.