It’s easy to get wrapped up in the number on the scale, but when it comes to weight loss, noticing how you feel is more important than what you weigh. Learn why today on Wellness Wednesday.
You might not know it, but today is actually a holiday, a really important one at that. No silly, it’s not National Nurse Your Margarita Hangover Day 🙂 Although, judging from all the margarita pictures I saw on facebook last night, maybe it should be?
Today is International No Diet Day, a celebration body confidence and diversity. A day to say no to deprivation and get angry at the unrealistic image of beauty perpetuated by the media. Today, we question the notion that there is one “right” body type, and instead, appreciate our differences and recognize the amazing things our body does for us. On May 6th, we break free from food obsessions, fad diets, and the idea that food is good or bad. Instead, we nourish our bodies with delicious foods that make us feel great. If there’s ever a day to break up with dieting, today is it.
Most of my clients have spent years, sometimes decades, on the roller coaster ride that is dieting. They’re exhausted, stressed, depleted and feel like a failure. They know there’s got to be a better way, but don’t know what that looks like.
By some twist of fate, they end up with me, the diet-free dietitian. All of sudden, they’ve got someone encouraging them to honor their hunger, stop calorie counting, and eat foods that make them happy. Someone who is more concerned with how they feel than how much they weigh. It’s relieving, empowering, refreshing…and absolutely terrifying.
They want to have a healthy, balanced and sane relationship with food. But also, they want to lose weight and achieve their health goals. Totally understandable. Celebrating body diversity doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with wanting to look and feel great. My new clients want to know if it’s possible to lose weight without, well, trying to lose weight.
Short answer – yes.
Long answer – focusing on how you feel rather than the number on the scale is absolutely, positively the most effective and sustainable way to lose weight and improve health and wellbeing.
Diets are based on deprivation and restriction. This inevitably leads to overeating, binging and eating unhealthy foods that aren’t worth it. I often give my clients this example. We all had that friend growing up with overprotective and strict parents. Then they went off to college, partied too hard and made a few regrettable life decisions. Well, that’s like dieting, except you are your own parent, setting rigid rules that are broken as soon as boundaries are lifted. Paying attention to how you feel – your energy, mood and desires – allows you to choose nourishing foods because you want to, not because you have to. Noticing your hunger level teaches portion control by eating enough to feel satisfied and satiated, not stuffed. Clients are afraid that without rules, they’ll loose control and overeat. This is rarely the case. Focusing on feelings, you’ll likely eat foods that were once off limits, but by removing the guilt and noticing your satiation and pleasure levels, you’ll find yourself eating it in moderation rather than bingeing.
The scale seems like an accurate and scientific way to monitor progress. The effort we put in to our diet should equal the number of pounds lost, right? Calories in, calories out, and all that jazz. But actually, the scale is kind of a crock of shit. There are many factors that affect the number you see – hydration, whether you’ve gone to the bathroom, time of the day, what you’ve eaten, exercise. The scale can fluctuate by quite a bit in just one day. Check out the results of this experiment by my friend Alex, who weighed herself every hour for a day. She “gained” 7 lbs on a day where she exercised and ate sensibly! Think about that compared to what’s considered a healthy rate of weight loss, .5-3 lbs a week. You can see where day to day fluctuations can easily camouflage real results, which is incredibly discouraging. On the other hand, tracking progress based on real, measurable changes you’ve made and noticing how you feel as a result is always accurate.
Dieting is stressful. Stressful trying to figure out what foods are “good” or “bad” in a world of competing dietary dogma. Stressful trying to figure out how to eat in social situations. Stressful stepping on the scale. Stressful living with a constant fear of failure. All that stress sabotages weight loss efforts, not only by triggering comfort food cravings, but by causing real weight gain. Stress hormones, like cortisol, signal our body to store fat, especially around the midsection. You could be eating less, but your body is telling you to gain.
Stress is not only causing you to gain weight, it might be killing you as well. I’d argue that chronic stress is the greatest risk factor for death, a top cause of 9 of the top 10 causes of death. You often hear smoking or obesity cited, but what causes people to smoke and eat? Umm, that would be stress. And from what I see, our bodies, weight and dieting are a major cause of that stress.
Learning to eat intuitively and focus on feelings over the scale can be stressful at first, especially as you’re just beginning to trust yourself. It’s normal to have a little bit of yourself wondering “can I really do this?” But once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly freeing. Eating intuitively removes the stress of trying to eat perfectly. It takes away that nagging sense of failure, since technically, it’s impossible to fail at. And yes, it even helps you lose weight.
If you’re ready to break up with diets and be your healthiest and happiest self, I’d be honored to help you on your journey. Starting today, on No Diet Day, I’m offering a special deal on nutrition services that runs through May 13th, next Wednesday – 15% off all coaching packages OR add one complimentary session on to your package. To learn more, head to my services and shop page for a full listing and pricing information. Today could be the start to a healthier and happier you!
How are you celebrating No Diet Day?