by Celeste Bernal-Curiel RDN, LD
For as long as I can remember an endless amount of people have thrived on their ability to possess such willpower that it results in weight loss. The most threatening outcome to those that are on a diet roller coaster is that the weight loss is not sustained, and all the weight starts reappearing. So, now what?
"Does this outcome make me a failure? Does this mean there is something wrong with my body? I know! I should try a new diet: a different one, a better one, a more restrictive one."
And so, the cycle continues. Not one diet seems to permanently change the situation or fix "the problem." So, we move on to the next, and the next, and the next, and before we know it we are trapped within a net of mixed messages and contradicting information. It’s a diet trap, with no way out but the next fad. Why are our expectations focused so intensely on making our bodies smaller? What forces us to stay locked away in such an inescapable trap? What happens when all the solutions that we are presented with don't work? We must look for a new and better way.
We get messages constantly that we are not the right size or shape and this pushes the idea that we need to change. There is always a new ad, poster, or magazine exploding with the newest most efficient diet. This fuels the cycle that keeps us trapped. We have a preconceived notion that if we are thin or thinner, we will be happy. Most of us recall a time when we were thinner, and we were "happy." I like to challenge my clients by asking, is that really the case? Was the thinness what made you happy or was it your surroundings, the people that were near, the job that you had? We seem to recall the physical appearance as the root of the happiness, but it is usually just the association we have made not necessarily the truth. Ever heard the phrase don't trust everything you think? If you haven't you can read about it here .
What if some of us have a predisposition to be in a bigger body, and what if we are only making our bodies bigger by constantly trying to manipulate its current size? Would you hate me for telling you that might be the case? Biology shows us that we are adaptive creatures. We as a species have survived centuries that were ridden with times of scarcity. So, thanks to evolution our bodies have found ways to cope with starvation. Every time we go on a diet, we put our bodies through starvation. The bodies innate response is survival! I once heard it described as our natural caveman brain. Our physiological systems come together to "save our lives" by slowing down our major organ systems and cellular function. This conserves energy hence resulting in slowed metabolism, the opposite of every dieter’s goal. This physiological response is your bodies way of showing you it works!
So how do we escape this trap? We choose the road less traveled and go against societal norms. We choose to come back to the basics of being human. We eat when we are hungry, we stop when we are full, we learn to trust that our bodies will show us how to be our healthiest self. Trusting our bodies is hard when we are constantly reminded that we don't know what or how much of anything our bodies need. It takes practice, a whole lot of patience and it takes time. Be patient and most importantly be present; this is after all how we learn most things right?